An entrepreneur with style and a dip of pageantry, helping shape childhood development in today’s Detroit youth is Pageant Atterberry, the owner of Atterberry Academy Beginnings Childcare which she began 2008. You can say the inspiration to head her own business and take an interest in the nourishing foundation of the city’s young people didn’t come from a place too far. As one of eight children, Atterbury grew up in a house of mostly male siblings and woke up every morning at 5 a.m. to help open up her mom’s childcare center.
“It was the start of this journey that I didn’t realize at the time. I was witnessing something great that was going to come from it later,” she said. “I went to school for something that had nothing to do with childcare, and then you come back full circle to where you first began and realize that is what you’re good at.”
The entrepreneurial bug clearly rubbed off on her at an early age.
“In middle school I would come to class with candy and sell it to students and my friends.” Her inventory of candy and snacks was supplied by grocery shopping trips to the store with her mother and asking, “Hey mom, can you buy this big jug of candy for me?”
With great demand and little money spent on supply thanks to mom, little Atterberry gained a nice profit. So, in high school she decided to take it up a notch. “I started selling shoes and purses.”
This entrepreneurial bug continued after graduating high school when she would utilize some of her financial savvy to rent event space for her new start up business, PBA Royal. “I wanted to teach girls modeling, dancing, acting and pageantry. At this time in my life, everything was about flipping what I loved to do, knew how to do, did well, and turning it into money.”
Evident in her first name, Pageant, contests are something she frequently signed up for as a preteen and did well.
“It was something pushed by my mother. My mom had six boys at the time and I was her first girl and it was she highly encouraged [pageantry shows].”
Highlighting beauty, elegance and her intelligence through pageantry was extracurricular for Atterberry, but in a household of boys she was a true athlete like the boys and wanted to play sports. Growing up, she ran track and even played football.
Yet, cultivating the development of young girls from her upbringing and family business or becoming a professional sports athlete weren’t her career desires.
Before college she joined a summer program at Wayne State University where she met a group of students studying journalism and discovered the cool factor of watching them broadcast television news. She mentioned to an instructor this would be a potential career path she would love to learn. “Oh, you want to work behind the camera,” said the instructor. “No, I want to talk in front of the camera,” Atterberry replied. “Oh, well once you clear your acne, then you can get in front of the camera, but not right now,” the instructor replied.
Atterbury said she was so hurt by the comment, but she used that blunt response and reality as motivation to pursue a career in this field.
She would go on to earn a bachelor’s degree in communications, Broadcast Journalism, from University of Detroit Mercy. She eventually left Detroit for Washington, D.C., where she earned her Master’s degree from Harvard University. She would become a correspondent for a news agency covering D.C. politics.
She ultimately returned to Detroit to focus on being a new mother to her son, Porter.
Working as a radio station producer and reporter back home allowed her to meet the late Wayne County Sherriff Benny Napoleon. Napoleon’s passion to host talent shows for youth and Pageant’s background in youth and performing arts were a match. An opportunity followed to work in his department as Director of Communications. The position allowed her to network and meet people across every sector of government, business and youth organizations.
After her time in the Sherriff’s office, the relationships she built helped foster her growth and expansion of her daycare operations and other business endeavors. It was a full circle return to entrepreneurship just as she had known life to be while growing up and being inspired by her mother.
“I knew that I could be the best at what I provide, and I am,” she said. “All of my students wear uniforms; all of my teachers are qualified. We have performing arts; we help parents who can’t read and with jobs and other resources for the household; we are more than just childcare.”
“We’ve realized you can’t just pour all this love and knowledge into the kid, we pour into the parents as well, so the child has a healthy environment.”
Atterberry has situated PBA Royal as the umbrella company in her portfolio of growing companies, from childcare to janitorial services, and traffic management supplies.
Despite an active business lifestyle, she remains humble and does so in style. “My dad was the fashionista in the family. He was who inspired me,” she said. “As a little girl, I would ask my mother to buy me shinning pants because I always wanted to dress like my dad and not wear jeans.”
Atterberry said you’ll probably catch her wearing jeans once in an entire year. Fashion became a way of self-expression, a contrast of being shy and being able to verbally express herself well as a girl. It was something she would grow out of by becoming a college communications major and something she helps students pursue every day – their ability to find and express themselves through the care her centers provide for children across Detroit.