This Feel-Good Friday story holds a special place in my heart because I am a Chicago native and transplant, who left to pursue a dream. Took me way longer than the Walkers, but that really doesn’t matter. The older I get, the more I realize it’s really about the journey and what you learn in the midst of it than it is the destination.
In 2009, Kelvin Walker relocated his family from Chicago to Charlotte for work opportunities. Walker and his wife Latoya have been married for 20 years and have three children.
“Our kids mean the world to us,” Kelvin Walker said. “Being able to make sure we can spend time with them. They all participated in sports.”
Walker was employed with a human resources outsourcing company but wanted more flexibility to be there for his family. Walker also wanted to run his own business that was centered around his passion for Chicago’s staple foods, like the Chicago Dog.
In 2019, Walker launched A Little Taste of Chicago food truck business. Walker ran the company while still working at his outsourcing job.
Then in 2020, right before the pandemic hit, Walker decided it was time to leave the corporate world altogether.
Thank you to A Little Taste of Chicago Food Truck for providing dinner and amazing customer service to our families recently! We can't wait to have you back again soon. 🚚
— RMHC of Greater Charlotte (@rmhclt) February 1, 2021
“I had already spoken to my boss, I had already moved to a part-time status,” Walker said. “I was slowly transitioning out on my own terms.”
But two weeks after talking with his boss, Walker started receiving notifications about Charlotte-area events vendors he depended on getting canceled because of COVID-19. Walker decided to stay at the corporate job a bit longer.
But even in the midst of the pandemic, Walker’s part-time hustle was pulling in full-time business, so in October 2020, Walker finally walked away from the day job and now the food truck is his only enterprise.
Walker says the investment in being his own boss is beyond worth it. His dream job is giving him something his former employer couldn’t provide — flexibility.
“Make sure I can financially provide for my family without any compromises,” Walker said.
His wife Latoya attests to the fact that he does provide not only financially, but he is present as a husband and father.
“I’m just grateful for my husband always keeping us first,” Latoya Walker said. “This means a lot for us to be able to have a business and him to still be that husband and a father to his children. He hasn’t missed a beat.”
As an owner-operator of a truck, Kelvin and Latoya Walker and their dream are the types of small businesses under threat thanks to the Biden administration’s U.S. Department of Labor Rule.
Despite that, and other pitfalls, Walker still encourages dreamers to go for it.
Walker says the food truck continues to be in high demand in the Charlotte area. He hopes his story motivates other aspiring entrepreneurs to take a leap of faith.
“I say go for it, now is the time,” Walker said. “More people are willing to invest in small-business ventures. You have a lot of people supporting small businesses. Look forward to doing your own thing.”