Veteran-Owned EMBA Business Featured on Drew Barrymore Show
While working for Naval Sea Systems, Kathy Oliphant-Wilson (EMBA’14) experienced the shooting at Washington’s Navy Yard. A harrowing experience that she says affected her years after the fact. After being diagnosed with PTSD, veteran Oliphant-Wilson decided to channel her emotions in a positive way.
“You have to put that energy, those experiences, those emotions, that trauma somewhere. You have to release it,” said Oliphant-Wilson. “That’s when I started to see my gifts and talents to help me deal and cope with the stress and a lot of the depression, stress, hypervigilance, and extreme bouts of fear that I was experiencing. That’s why I came up with the idea for Blush Box.”
Blush Box is a curated gift company that uses color psychology to assemble boxes with carefully chosen and thoughtfully organized gifts that hold special meaning.
“Color stimulates the brain and it creates an emotion,” said Oliphant-Wilson. “I usually think about how I would want people to feel if they were the recipient of this box. We’re in such a stressful environment, there’s so many things going on in our country. How can I help relieve that stress? I usually relate that to a color and that’s how I want that person to feel.”
She also channels what she has deemed her three gifts and talents to facilitate her business. Oliphant-Wilson believes that she was given the attributes of creativity, motivational speaking, and gift-giving. These abilities combined with her use of color truly creates a personalized experience when curating her products.
When starting her business Oliphant-Wilson drew from her Executive MBA lessons. While she enrolled at McDonough to be more proficient at her job building aircraft carriers, she never expected to use her degree to become an entrepreneur. Oliphant-Wilson’s background with market research, SWOT analysis, and market testing served as helpful building blocks as she got started.
Once she had her company off the ground, Oliphant-Wilson started reaching out to as many people and outlets as possible. Then, Oliphant-Wilson and her company were featured on the Drew Barrymore Show.
“It really came from nowhere, “ said Oliphant-Wilson. She had reached out to a local news station to see if they were featuring any Black businesses during Black History Month, but they said they didn’t have any stories that her business would fit into. However, when the Drew Barrymore Show reached out to that same news station for local businesses to feature, the woman who answered the phone remembered Olipihant-Wilson and Blush Box.
Oliphant-Wilson was featured on the show via the WJLA Washington ABC affiliate. In addition to speaking with Barrymore and being featured, her company has a static place on Drew’s Little Book of Small Businesses Gift Guide.
“Being on the show was just the most amazing experience ever,” said Oliphant-Wilson. “I’ve had a few perfect experiences in my life, and this was one of them. I was so nervous to talk to Drew, but when I started talking to her she was so down to earth, it just made me feel so comfortable. It was a mind-blowing wonderful experience that I did not expect to find me, but I’m glad it did.”
Beyond running her business, Oliphant-Wilson is focused on giving back to the community as well. She currently is in the process of setting up a nonprofit organization to benefit underprivileged children and those in need of medical care.
“I received a scholarship to attend Georgetown, and someone had to donate that money,” said Oliphant-Wilson. “I was the recipient of that donation. So this will be my way to give back and give students an opportunity to attend college.”
She added, “There’s a scripture that says your gift, meaning that thing that you carry inside of you that you’re supposed to give back to people, will make room for you in this entire universe and it will put you in the presence of great people. I rely on my faith because I know what God has put inside of me. He’s also going to make a way for me to give that to people.”