Single mother Latoyia Lackey set her sights on her dream in order to provide for her special-needs son.

Latoyia is wearing: Poncho, $30, and earrings, $12.50, both available at Colonial Designs
Makeup: Teresa Lanz, Hot Locks
Paper Flower: Tami Patterson

Marigolds may seem commonplace, but when planted at the border of your garden or in a container plant, this flower will remain prolific all season long. Marigolds, you see, are one of the fastest growing plants (they can germinate in five to 10 days) and remain hearty and full of vibrant orange, copper, and yellow blooms from spring through late summer. Full of aromatic charm, they also protect neighboring vegetable root systems from nematodes and deter aphids. They are a colorful companion plant, and that is what Latoyia Lackey’s dream to own her own car dealership reminds us of.

When Latoyia was 21, she found herself in college and newly pregnant. She knew that the little boy inside her would change her life, but she never expected the path little Charles would lead her down. At two, Charles’ father was murdered, leaving her a single mother to a child who was showing the signs of some major learning differences. Latoyia knew that Charles’ life was going to be complex, and she wanted to be able to meet his every need — from health care to specialized learning opportunities.

“My drive for success is my son,” Latoyia says about Charles, now 13. “I want to ensure he will have everything he needs to have a successful life. I want to be structured, informed, and provide all the resources that he needs. It hasn’t been an easy road, facing adversity so young, be we have grown up together.”

Latoyia began her dream by starting a business downtown. Her boutique, Treasure Box, was open for four years, but she realized that the business was taking too much time away from her child. So, she researched fields that would yield the fastest, most lucrative results: she settled on car sales. Latoyia’s initiation into the car industry began at KIA, where she became one of the top five sales people in just six weeks. After six successful months, she moved to Lexus, where she skyrocketed to the top there. “You know the car in Black Panther?” Latoyia asks. “There are only 300 made in the world. It’s a Lexus Brand Ambassador, and I sold the first one in the U.S. Yes, I did that!”
Now, at 35, Latoyia is watching her dream come to fruition. At the end of July, she will open up her very own car dealership, International Automotive Group. This endeavor will ensure that Charles will continue to benefit from the costly services he needs: speech and occupational therapies, private school tuition (currently de Paul and next year, Trinity), private tutors, and behavioral coaching.

Latoyia is also starting the Charles H. Mitchell Foundation, which will offer scholarships to other children with learning differences from single-parent families. “It’s not easy. So many kids have struggles, and everything is so costly. I know that anything can help. My parents helped me, and I want to be able to do the same for others.”

Like the marigold, Latoyia is shooting to the top of her industry in order to nurture her son and others around her. But at the root is Charles — he is, as Latoyia proclaims, “the fire under her feet.”

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