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Five Lessons Learned from Kellie Markey, Founder of Dorothy's House

Des Moines Startup Stories Five Lessons From Dorothys H

April 10, 2017

Kellie Markey, Founder and Executive Director of Dorothy’s House, was the speaker at the March Square One DSM Startup Stories event. Dorothy’s House provides a safe place for the practice of life for teen and youth girls whose lives have been interrupted by sex trafficking and related exploitation. Markey told a compelling story about her time working at eBay and discovering her calling by founding Dorothy’s House in 2014.

Key Presentation Takeaways

Know How to Assemble Your Own Chair

Markey recalled that as one of the early employees at eBay, she had to assemble her own chair on the first day. She later said that the experience of working in an environment of a startup in rapid growth helped prepare her when getting Dorothy’s House off the ground.

Find Yourself

Markey said that she believes all of her experiences in business and life have led her to this point. She said it is important to find personal motivation, because the job is difficult and the circumstances surrounding the people she serves are challenging. But, “It’s almost a calling,” she says. Markey spoke about her journey of moving around the country before eventually coming home to stay in Iowa, and how she worked to discover her identity through those experiences.

Think Outside the Box

Rather than working traditional hours, employees at Dorothy’s House work three 12-hour shifts on consecutive days before taking four days off. They receive stipends to try activities completely different from working at Dorothy’s house, with the intent to keep themselves mentally healthy. This way of scheduling allows employees to step away from the work, and it also gives residents of the house a consistent schedule of what to expect, which she finds very important.

Embrace Change, Learning

Having the nature to not fear change and being willing to learn are two things that help entrepreneurs, Markey said. Those are important skills to develop when running your own business or organization.

Combine Passion with Financial Viability

When asked what makes Dorothy’s House work, Markey said that she had to look at it as a business. She also credits timing, as she became passionate about helping girls in need through her volunteer roles in the community and more passionate as she did more and more research into the issue of sex trafficking. Through that, she discovered there was a need for something like Dorothy’s House in the community.

Click here to register for the next Square One DSM Startup Stories event on Wednesday, April 19, featuring Max Farrell and Andrew Kirpalani, Co-founders of WorkHound.