Member Spotlight: Meet Anistia Phiaria Thomas – Entrepreneur, Community Leader, and Advocate

Women who engage with Walker’s Legacy through membership are aspiring and existing leaders in business and entrepreneurship who are looking to enhance their knowledge of achieving success in corporate America. Walker’s Legacy members join a global network of like-minded progressive women of color and our Member Spotlights highlight the journey and achievements of our members. In this Member Spotlight, meet Anistia Phiaria.

Bio: Anistia Phiaria is A Planet Designer whose career evolved from being a fashion designer for A-list celebrities to funding scholarships for underserved students in New York and founding both the Ann Arbor Ypsilanti Black Chamber (US Black Chamber) and the new Walker’s Legacy Detroit Chapter. She is also Principal of Phiaria Insurance Group – an international clientele insurance brokerage.

Current City: Detroit, Michigan

Hometown:Detroit, Michigan

Social: Twitter: @Phiaria / Facebook: AnistiaPhiaria / Instagram: @anistiaphiaria / 

URL: www.phiariagroup.com

Getting Your Start

First Job: Working on a Project with LSO Designs for the artist formally known as Prince.

What has been the biggest inspiration behind your career? My biggest inspiration is my mother, Honei Bea. She was born in the South of Georgia and wrestled alligators as a child on my grandfather’s farm. From that alone I understand where I inherited my courage and resilience. I was born into a family of entrepreneurs. I never witnessed either one of my parents going to a job. They always had their own.

Your Business and Inspiration

Tell us more about your company/organization/effort… Phiaria Insurance Group is in Ann Arbor, MI. It was voted Ann Arbor’s #1 Insurance Agency and Consultant. Phiaria Insurance Group is undergoing expansion to its second location in Downtown Detroit and hiring 38 new employees. Phiaria Insurance Group has been providing Property & Casualty, Life, Accident, and Health Insurance Products since 2010.  We currently have access to over 200+ insurance carriers in both wholesale and retail markets. We bind insurance for both domestic and international markets. Our company offers products in the auto, home, life, commercial, bonds, and health insurance industries and premium financing. Phiaria Insurance Group has received numerous awards, both locally and nationally, having earned over 10 awards in a less-than-4-year period, including being recognized as the top African American-owned insurance agency in the State of Michigan. Generating an average of $10 million in revenue annually in addition to averaging $4 million in new business accounts each year, Phiaria Insurance Group has proven a strong model of business success from being a startup with zero revenue.

What was your inspiration for creating/supporting the company/organization/effort? My inspiration for creating my company was our inner-city community, including the side hustler, the mother on welfare, the struggling student, and the often forgotten. I am passionate about helping others. It has been my mission to create generational wealth platforms in the arenas of finance for communities of color. Our communities of color often are not taught about finance, operations, management, profit in a business, or professional realms from our parents because they weren’t knowledgeable neither. This is part of the reason Phiaria Insurance Group is launching a financial literacy curriculum for Metropolitan Detroiters in low-income communities.

“Hold your head high and check the feeling of being inferior in non-color-dominated spaces of professionals who do not necessarily look like you. Recognize your strength and the necessity of diversity in that room and own it.”Anistia Phiaria

What accomplishment are you most proud of in your professional life? My proudest accomplishment has been being able to start a business from $0 to a $10 million dollar book within 2 years as a startup sole entrepreneur. I was the sales, manager, operational, and cleaning woman. I wore every single hat in my insurance startup business. Then I became wiser and realized that I needed to replicate systems in hiring staff. Being able to expand into a brokerage with our second location opening soon and counting is rewarding. We are the sole African American-owned female brokerage in the State of Michigan with 200+ insurance carriers, and we don’t plan to stop there. We are both domestic and international in our clientele service reach.

On Women of Color in Business

What advice do you have for women of color who are starting their careers? My advice for women of color is this: hold your head high and check the feeling of being inferior in non-color-dominated spaces of professionals who do not necessarily look like you. Recognize your strength and the necessity of diversity in that room and own it. I also advise women to reach out to connect with other women to learn and grow. Network outside of your communities—in other states, in other countries, in other continents. Expand your world. Lastly, don’t think that you can run a business as a sole proprietor and be wealthy without hiring. You will be living in the “just to get by” lifestyle. People say they can’t afford to hire someone, but you cannot afford not to.

What are your thoughts on the importance of women of color in business? Women are crucial to the business realm. Statistics show that women of color dominate as the most educated in business . This sets a tone for women to see themselves as limitless and free. We are seeking alternatives to income and not allowing lack of startup resources to halt our due diligence in achieving. We are doing this in honor of our ancestors, those who faced the adversary for these opportunities. We have big shoes to fill, but most importantly, as we build, we must be mindful to pass the baton to the future prowess.

Balancing Act

What’s your favorite place to unwind? Any spa resort where I can get a massage on the golf course green.

What’s running through your mind before you begin a presentation? Now that Solange Knowles’ “A Seat At The Table” is my new soundtrack, it will rotate prior to my entry. But B.S. (Before Solange)—before my presentation—always prayer. I ceased preparing for presentations, for they were always scripted. I learned that being natural and having key talking points to refer to helps me to have a stronger presentation. I relax more in those settings. I get nervous when I prepare for a presentation, but I don’t get nervous when I don’t. I simply understand who I am.

What are your thoughts on balancing work and life? Boundaries. Set them. I observe many millennials (since they are the next wave) posting of work hard bragging rights and how they are always working themselves to death—literally. They are robbing themselves of their youth and emotional/mental self-care. I am concerned for so many who will wake up one day and ask where has the time has gone. You really haven’t truly identified who you are. You think you know, but you have been too busy for YOU. I should know—I was one of them and can relate. I sacrificed so many precious moments that I will never regain. Humility is important. We don’t know it all no matter how witty we are in public. Get advice from the G.O.A.T.S on personal areas of concern.

Why Did You Join Walker’s Legacy?

Why did you decide to join Walker’s Legacy? I serve as Detroit Chair of Walker’s Legacy. I joined because I believe in Natalie Cofield’s vision for our women of color. She has her own Underground Railroad of 14,000 women leading us all to the promise land of wealth. I am fully vested in this organization with all of the impactful work we produce. I wanted to be part of an organization that exemplified results and impact. Walker’s Legacy is ultimately that.

 

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Walker's Legacy Membership

Walker’s Legacy Membership engages with our members to further cultivate an ecosystem of access designed to inspire, equip and engage a global network of emerging and established business women of color. Members of Walker’s Legacy join growing global movement to empower and inspire women in business to achieve their professional and entrepreneurial goals.

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