Graci Harkema started her business months before one of the world’s deadliest pandemics, but she didn’t let it derail her. Instead, she used it to her advantage by telling her story.
She is the owner of Graci LLC, a diversity, equity and inclusion consulting and public speaking firm she started in November 2019. Months later, she began losing most of her clients due to budget cuts caused by the pandemic. Her seminars, conferences and speaking engagements got cancelled.
Instead of shutting down her business, she pivoted her business model and began offering virtual services. As a result, she was able to grow her Grand Rapids-based business to accommodate clients throughout the country and around the world, including customers in Canada, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Switzerland.
Along the way, she decided to write a memoir, which explains her work in diversity, equity and inclusion and her personal life experiences in being transracially adopted, moving to the United States from the Congo, being assaulted as a child, coming out as LGBTQ during a job interview and publicly resigning from a prominent position.
“I’ve had many adversities during my personal and professional life that I was fearful of sharing. Now I realize the power in sharing my story of courage and resilience with others so they know they aren’t alone and can see light at the end of the tunnel,” she said. “In December 2021, I received a book deal from a global publisher for my upcoming memoir, ‘Rising From the Mud,’ which is expected to be released late 2022.”