Do you know Michelle Danage-Sanders? If you do, you know she is a very busy lady. One reason she’s so busy; she owns five businesses. Her path to business ownership began when two of her mentors, Doris Symonds (TALK) and Denise Moore (Black Business Alliance of Peoria, Inc.) encouraged her to use her fundraising and grant-writing experience to help people. In 2005, she started MDS & Associates offering grant-writing and 501c3 application services. Grant writing is very time-consuming, and paying a grant writer with no guarantee of receiving the grant puts people in a difficult position. So she decided to take on more of a consulting role for grants and fundraising events, which were more affordable for clients and less time-consuming for her. Then business started falling off as the grant funding and 501c3 guidelines changed.
In 2008, Michelle teamed with friends Willie Henley and Ronald Wisler (a promoter) for a fashion show titled, “What’s in Your Closet.” Her son, Andrew Sanders Jr. (aka Pain DaPailor) joined the team, which produced the show, “One for the City” at the Peoria Stadium (Rocky Vonchen). The show was aimed at promoting independent artists in the community, supported by then-Councilman Clyde Gulley.
“One night, God woke me at 3 a.m. with a message about my next venture. I grabbed the notebook I keep next to my bed and started writing,” said Michelle. This led to an online talk show, Evolve Web Services with the goal being to impact, empower, and influence the community with information and resources. Michelle hosted and son, Leland Parker Sanders produced and was cameraman. Another friend, Ivan Williams, offered his living room as the studio. They interviewed people, had guest hosts, and covered a variety of topics. “People really liked what we were doing,” she said.
From Evolve Web Services evolved Evolve Midwest Productions, which Leland took over, and Impressive Diva Solutions for event planning was established. Ron Davis (Gospel Peoria TV) caught a web show on Facebook and offered a spot on the Comcast Public Access Channel, which became Stage 729. She then met Jonte Strickland, heard his “radio voice,” and now he’s part of her shows. Stage729 airs on YouTube and the radio (WAZU 90.7 and WPNV 106.3).
When asked what motivates her to do what she does, she answered, “I inherited the bug.” Father, Fred Danage, set the example for her business model. He owned a construction company, was a realtor, and sold insurance. Her mom, Royce Danage, was the one who encouraged her. The main goal behind all her businesses is to help people (Galatians 6:9-11).
When asked what advice she has for anyone who wants to start a business, she advised people to “discover your God-given purpose, get to know your target market, and educate yourself on how to run a successful business. God has given us all an assignment.” Free resources are available in the community to help.