Sophia Cranney was a finalist for the inaugural Rising Innovator Scholarship.
By Sophia Cranney
Google defines an entrepreneur as “a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than financial risks in order to do so.” While this is an excellent technical definition, that is not what an entrepreneur is to me. An entrepreneur is a five-foot-two, resilient, fierce, and feisty blonde that I have the pleasure of calling my mother.
When I was 5 years old, my parents divorced. Unfortunately, my father suffered from Bipolar I disorder and subjected my mother, my sister, and myself to relentless abuse for many years. When they finally split, my mom took the few belongings she had, her children, and our dog to Harbor Springs, Michigan, where we sought refuge at the Women’s Resource Center of Northern Michigan. With one life-changing decision, my mom lost everything. She was suddenly a single mother of two with no money and no home. The one thing she didn’t lose, though, was hope.
We eventually moved into my grandmother’s home, where my mom’s future unfolded at a small and rather flimsy desk located in a mildew-smelling basement. Here, the vision for what would soon become Archer Full Throttle took form.
For several years, I watched my mother put everything she had into her business. Scattered around the bathroom mirror she shared with her five and ten-year-old daughters were sticky notes that said, simply “10%.” When my mom told people she was starting her own business, they told her over and over that 90% of businesses fail. My mom, seeing every glass half full, focused on that ten.
Despite the amount of work she had to put into her business, my mother was the best parent that she could be. Sure, she wasn’t perfect, and there were plenty of times we were both at each other’s throats. But she gave up everything for us and had to play the part of both mom and dad for my sister and me. She wore hand-me-down clothing from the women’s shelter so my sister and I could have the same high-end brands that other kids at our school wore. She stayed up most of the night to get caught up on the work she had missed from attending every play, parade, dance recital, track meet, band concert, you name it, that she attended. There was never a moment where she was not there. And she did it all with a smile on her face.
Today, Archer Full Throttle is among the most successful online archery and hunting companies. It is home to over 11,000 individual SKUs for individual products that people around the globe purchase every single day. My mother, Angelia (Angie) Snyder, is among the most respected people in the industry. She has won numerous awards for her hard work and is a hero not only to me but to hundreds of others, too.
She is now the proud owner of two warehouses in Indiana, where she has fulfilled her lifelong dream of fulfilling packages every day. While I fail to recognize the excitement she sees in putting various products, including deer pee and “beaver balls,” into boxes, I genuinely have never seen her so happy.
After surviving on the assistance of others for so long, my mom has dedicated her life after success to giving back to the community. She has received the Paul Harris Fellow recognition from Rotary International, which recognizes the tremendous financial and physical support she has dedicated to her community over the years.
Every night when I was young, my mom would take my hand into hers and whisper the words “if you believe it, you can achieve it” into my ear. While five-year-old me just appreciated that she knew how to rhyme, this phrase has become my motto as I enter the world as a young adult.
Those words took on a new meaning after a car accident I was in at seventeen. Because of a traumatic brain injury that I sustained in this accident, I developed a condition known as Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. Several months later, I realized that the only way I could attend college on my own one day was if I was able to get a cardiac and blood pressure alert service dog. I found a dog that could be trained for me with a price tag of $50,000. As I sat crying on my couch, telling my mom that I would never be able to raise that much money, she looked me in the eyes and said, “If you believe it, you can achieve it.” As I write this today, my service dog, Cinder, is sitting by my side.
After I received Cinder, I decided that, like my mother, I wanted to repay my debts to society by giving back to it. I started a small business on Etsy to sell matching dog bandana and scrunchie sets. I donate 5% of every order back to the organization where I got my service dog. While my 20 orders thus far do not compare to my mother’s thousands, I am proud to say that I am following in her footsteps. My long-term goals include starting a psychology service that treats people grappling with the devastations of a chronic illness diagnosis. I would also like to start my own charity organization or fundraising platform to assist people like myself in getting the medical equipment they need to lead a somewhat normal life.
My mother’s resilience has proven to me repeatedly that no mountain is too high, no obstacle too significant. She has shown determination like no other and inspired me to leave a lasting impact on the world. So, to answer the question, “What does being an entrepreneur mean to you?” it means being like my mom, my hero. If I can develop into only a fraction of the person she is today, I will truly be the most grateful girl in the world.