Fashion Model Turned Exterminator to Receive the 2005 Madam C.J.Walker Award

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MWIB, Minorities and Women in Business, magazine announced that Genma Stringer Holmes, of Holmes Pest Control, is the recipient of the 2005 Madam C.J. Walker Award for Outstanding Acheivement in Business.

Paula Miller Lester, Publisher of MWIB, says that the 2005 Madam C.J. Walker Award is not based solely on a business owner’s financial success. “We want the Award to serve as a reminder that one does not have to sacrifice serving others in order to be successful,” said Miller-Lester. “Madam C.J. Walker set the standard of the ideal female entrepreneur and this year’s recipient Genma Stringer Holmes, is definitely walking in her footsteps.”

Before there was Mary Kay Ash there was Madam C.J. Walker. Orphaned at age seven a daughter of former slaves, Sarah Breedlove, who later changed her named to Madam C.J. Walker, overcame illiteracy and poverty to achieve the American dream. An uneducated farm laborer and laundress, Breedlove became one of the twentieth century’s most successful, self-made women entrepreneurs.

Networking and forming friendships with African-American women who were members of St. Paul A.M.E. Church and the National Association of Colored Women exposed Breedlove to a new way of viewing the world. Like Walker, faith plays a major role in Holmes’ success. “I know that we all have a God-given purpose, a calling that we must fulfill. Some people may think it strange to see me helping folks when there is nothing in it for me. But I tell them, ‘I succeed when someone I help succeeds. As fulfilling as helping others can be; taking on the responsibility of helping others can sometimes be a little intimidating. For me, overcoming that intimidation was a positive step for my personal growth.

Holmes could also be described as the queen of networking. With disarming charm, she ‘works a room’ like few can with an almost uncanny knack identifying businesses that could benefit from each other’s strengths.

Miller-Lester said that Holmes’ approach to her business mirrors that of Madam C.J. Walker: faith in God, tenacity, perseverance, belief in yourself, quality product, and honest business dealings. “It took courage for Ms. Holmes to leave her safety zone of modeling and acting to enter the white male-dominated pest control industry. Nothing comes easy for entrepreneurs–especially for people of color and women. There is no shortage of people telling you what you can’t do. Instead of becoming mired down in negativity, Ms. Holmes understands that the best way to silence the naysayers is to succeed.”

Giving, says Miller Lester, is another Madam C.J. Walker trait evidenced by Holmes is giving. “What impresses me the most is her penchant for helping others without an ulterior motive. Stories abound on how Holmes lends her assistance just because there is a need. One person was moved to tears while recounting how Holmes provided much-needed help without being asked.”

Genma Stringer Holmes is very active in the community in the Middle Tennessee Area. She in a member of the Nashville Rotary, an Ambassador for the Donelson Hermitage Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Donelson Hermitage, Young Leaders Council, Urban League Guild, Coalition of 100 Black Women, NAWBO, and NAFE. Genma also is an active volunteer for Bethlehem Centers of Nashville, the YW, and the Cumberland Valley Girl Scouts.

Madam C.J. Walker once commented, “There is no royal flower-strewn path to success. And if there is, I have not found it for if I have accomplished anything in life it is because I have been willing to work hard.” The same sentiment is expressed in the way Genma Stringer Holmes, the Minorities And Women In Business 2005 Madam C.J. Walker Award recipient conducts her business.

Minorities And Women In Business Magazine features Holmes and other Women Who Make a Difference in the February/March issue.

Paula Miller-Lester may be contacted @ or by phone @202-277-6600

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