It All Started With 10K on Faith; She Believed in His Plan: An Interview with Lovepreneur Dhayany Walker

Hello Queen!!! Thanks so much for sharing your story with us and our readers! — Please tell us first, about who you were as a little girl. Please tell us about your move from Miami to Philadelphia?

As a little girl, I was fearless, very energetic, inquisitive, and independent. Definitely a mommy’s girl. I’m an only child and was encouraged to be strong. I had to make my own breakfast, pick out my own clothes and do my own hair without any assistance. Growing up, my parents had a travel agency and instead of going to daycare as a toddler I would go to their office and answer calls, make copies and greet customers. At the age of 5, my parents weren’t getting along. My father became physically abusive with my mom and unstable. He stopped helping with the business and stopped providing for us. I remember witnessing their last fight which got really physical and it was extremely painful to watch. The very next morning I woke up to 3 trash bags of clothes, 2 luggages, and a 1-way ticket to New York. My uncle waited for us outside to take my mom and I to the airport. I remember wearing my favorite pink outfit with the feeling of relief that we were finally leaving my dad.

I was overwhelmed with peace, even though the future was unknown.

Dhayany Walker

I was only 5 but I understood that leaving was necessary in order to see my mom happy. I didn’t cry. I wasn’t sad. I was ready for a new happy life with my mom. We stayed in New York for a few months and found an opportunity to open up a boutique in Philadelphia, “Dhayany” Boutique. But it wasn’t easy. We were homeless for 3 months. Stayed in a motel, rented a room until the store opened up and my mom purchased her house 6 months later. She was a fighter. We fought together.

What was life like growing up in a new city? What was your family setting like and how did you manage to adapt to new surroundings?

Adapting was never a challenge for me. My mom was an excellent communicator. We had conversations about everything. I believe those open conversations would prepare me for the unknown. We knew no one in Philadelphia. No Family just a friend of a friend that had a building for lease opportunity in Philadelphia. My mom was a hustler. She would drive daily to New York (Chanel Street) and pick up merchandise to sell at Dhayany’s Boutique. After school, I would be the cashier and help customers shop in between homework assignments. It was just my mom and I. She was my rock. She provided for me and never gave up. Not one time did she stop fighting. All I saw was her willingness to never give up on us.

When did you meet your husband and what was your initial dating process like? — Did you know that love and business would become a full-time thing for you guys?

In 2001, I met my husband through a mutual friend that insisted we were perfect for each other. Although we were both attracted to each other, we remained just friends for years. In 2007 we both were going through a breakup. Saw each other at a famous lounge in Philadelphia and have been inseparable since. At the time I just graduated from Temple University and I was a consultant for a successful fortune 500 company. My husband was an entrepreneur. He had real estate property and an Auto Body Shop. I was really intrigued by his lifestyle, and his ability to create his own schedule and not have to report to anyone. He had the freedom to be creative and think outside the box unapologetically. I, on the other hand, felt like a bird trapped in a cage so I was attracted to his lifestyle.

I wanted to learn more about entrepreneurship and he was willing to teach me. I remember overhearing an investment opportunity he had for flipping cars and I wanted to take part. So I did. One day he met me for lunch at my job, I walked over to my bank and took out 10k and gave it to him. This decision took faith because we were just dating with no title.

All I knew was that I could build with him. I loved his business savviness. He was shocked and didn’t know what to make of it. I said, “I want in!” I further explained that I would love to help him with his auto Body Shop and add my corporate knowledge and help scale the business. This is when LOVEPRENEUR was birthed.

Tell us about your business degree; what were your initial plans when you thought about life after college? How also, did you begin to position yourself for philanthropy?

When I graduated from Temple in 2007 with my BBA my goals included climbing the corporate ladder, but I never had a vivid picture of what that would look like or what it would take. I now realize it wasn’t a vivid vision because it was never my reality. I always wanted to own real estate. I remember that first overnight conversation I had with my husband in 2007 where we spoke for like seven hours until sunrise. One of his questions was where do I see myself in the future? My answer to him was I saw myself owning blocks (real estate). Now, that image was vivid in my mind, and to know now that my husband and I have achieved it is mind blowing and proof that manifestation is real.

In 2010 my husband and I were already giving back to the community by way of school drives and feeding the homeless which was a personal fulfillment for us. But we quickly realized if we really wanted to make an impact, then we need to make an impact on the mindset of those that were in the inner city in the very communities that we were purchasing properties from. So my husband and I decided to start a nonprofit called HIMIO and get into the schools and teach entrepreneurship. With our real estate company, we would also team up with our nonprofit and teach the younger kids about Real Estate, Investment, and ownership. To us and in our position this blueprint created a bigger impact because we were able to influence the youth and their mindset from as early as middle school. To us, this is true generational wealth.

Did your husband always align with you on the vision of your progression as a couple in life and in business?– What were some of your biggest challenges there, and how did you overcome them?

Yes! The power of alignment has always been our strength as a couple. However, support doesn’t necessarily mean agreement. For example, when Demetrius and I agreed that I would play a role in his auto Body Shop and with his real estate properties, it took him some time to get used to my eagerness to contribute with my corporate mindset.

I wanted to set up systems that could be implemented for his companies. Demetrius as an entrepreneur was not used to organized systems. I have been working since the age of 13 as an administrator, attending and graduating from college, and working in a corporate setting; systems were the only way I knew how to implement anything. At times Demetrius felt like I was trying to be too rigid and controlling, trying to take over his business.

During this time it was a lot of friction and conflict because I had a certain amount of power, value, and strengths that I can bring to the table and so did he. Trying to marry those two powers was difficult. However, through building businesses in the childcare industry, automotive industry and a very diverse real estate portfolio, we have mastered alignment which has catapulted our online Lovepreneur platform. Demetrius and I have always had similar values and goals personally and in business.

We’ve always been compatible, but at times we did not understand the roles we needed to play in the seasons we were in. Compatibility is not the same as similarities. That’s when we quickly realize that our roles are not gender specific, but strength specific. Where I’m weak, he adds his strength. Where he’s weak, I add my strength. Where we are both weak, we hire to complete. Hiring where we are weak reduces stress & friction and the loss of vision in this LOVEPRENEUR dynamic.

When did couples become a focus for you in the areas of mentorship and guidance?

Before my husband and I made a decision to get married in 2008 we opened up our daycare center together. We started meeting couples that will come into the daycare with their children and their marital problems as well. We would sit down with them and talk to them about their relationships and give them our advice on potential resolutions for their issues. We would schedule meetings with families when there were unsatisfactory behavior patterns from their children, and there grew a love, not only caring for the children but also nurturing the relationships of the parents as well.

In 2012, two years after Demetrius and I got married, we decided that we will start an “invite only” relationship community where couples that are entrepreneurs will get together, discuss business resources, have date nights, and travel together. This was something very exclusive, but it quickly grew into conferences and in 2016 we had our first love and business. The “Is it worth it?” conference. Since 2012 we’ve had couples in our community where we have case studies and follow their journey of love and entrepreneurship.

How do you manage to maintain personal peace within your roles as wife, mother and business owner?

As a LOVEPRENEUR, life is full of anxiety, I use spirituality, self-development, and family to control those emotions and live life with grace and gratitude. I live my life with a purpose by keeping my sight on the mission and keeping the joy by giving. I love my children so as a mother, I fight to provide a safe haven and peaceful home. I love my husband so as a wife, I fight to love and respect him. As a businesswoman, I work to support the couples in our LOVEPRENEUR community. In our real estate business, I work to leave generational wealth for our children. In our philanthropy work, I am adamant about making an impact in our communities. So everything that I’m tied to has a personal purpose that doesn’t allow me to give up on any of these roles.

At the end of the day, it gives me peace to know I’m making an impact in areas I most care about.

Dhayany Walker

As a powerhouse WOC, what are some ways you incorporate your culture into your lifestyle? Have you ever dealt with push-back due to your gender or culture?

On the contrary, being Hispanic has helped me become the greatest addition to my husband as a partner in our businesses. Mainly in our real estate investment business. As real estate developers, we purchase properties and land in communities that are deeply rooted in the Hispanic culture. Also, me being bilingual, enables me to speak Spanish to non-English speaking sellers. Speaking Spanish allows me to connect and understand them. As a result of this, we are able to purchase parcels of land and properties that the average non-Spanish-speaking investor wouldn’t.

Many times when we are proposing to build certain properties with the city, they may require us to get community approval. There have been quite a few times that the community pushed back attempts to stop the progress of our projects. Realizing change can be uncomfortable and sometimes painful to some. We take our time and communicate with homeowners in the communities we have an interest in. We nurture relationships that allow homeowners to be vulnerable and express their real estate concerns. This is important for us because we enjoy educating our people and offering real estate investment opportunities for them as well. The pushback is a default when there’s a misunderstanding in our plans for the community. I understand information changes situations, but one has to be open to listening and learning from the community. Me being able to relate culturally gives me that advantage to connect.

What are some points of advice you can offer to young women coming out of urban communities, that know they are destined for greatness, but struggle with the odds stacked against them?

Don’t look at life like it’s happening to you, but instead, it’s happening for you. Living life with intention leads you to your purpose, power, and prosperity. Your current environment is not your final destination. Dream Big! Embrace your imagination! Pay more attention to the creative value rather than the odds stacked against you. Those thoughts and images you see are clues to the life you will live. Make intentional decisions based on those dreams and thoughts. Life has a funny way of pushing you towards your destiny. You don’t have to have it all planned out. Just believe that everything you imagine is 100 % possible. The key is to believe and take action towards it every day. Yield to the process of becoming. Focus on an intention and ignore distractions. Any decision you make should add to your desires, dreams, and goals. Seek a mentor that is already successful at what you are looking to do.

What are some of the next projects or missions we should look out for from The Lovepreneurs? — How can we stay connected to you and your platform updates?

Lovepreneur has two retreats a year. Our last retreat was to St. Maarten. The next retreat is October 6-11, 2022, where we will take a private jet to a private location.  This year it’s in the Dominican Republic where we mastermind about business and love. From meditation to couples activities, we understand the importance of recharging and reconnecting with themselves and with their partners. Once that happens, it makes it that much more enjoyable to learn new business principles together. We are also premiering a brand new season of our podcast, “Love & Business: Is it Worth it?”, coming out in November.  

Lastly, we are truly looking forward to our mission of helping 1000 couples start or scale their business and their relationship. Love and business is a difficult journey. It’s easy to give up because it can get challenging managing the two. But we are on a mission to help those couples not give up on their mission, dreams, and goals as LOVEPRENEURS. They’re no longer alone in this fight. There is a community that hears and understands them. 

You can find us on Instagram @Lovepreneur, Facebook group @LOVEPRENEUR, and our personal Instagram @Dhayany and @meettheemperor