Chicago native Chris Williams (Married at First Sight) was the youngest black Subway franchise owner in Georgia From The Atlanta Voice: https://www.theatlantavoice.com/articles/chicago-native-chris-williams-becomes-the-youngest-black-subway-franchise-owner-in-georgia/
Chris Williams II is a young entrepreneur and a recently sought after business guru hailing from Chicago’s South Side. After Williams discharged from the Army National Guard and finished a program at the Phoenix-based Automotive Dealership Institute in January 2018, he found himself homeless and jobless at the age of 25. Determined to figure life out on his own, he didn’t let being homeless deter him from pursuing his goals.
Williams said he opted out of returning to the comfort of his parents’ home in Chicago to figure life out on his own. While holding true to that personal commitment, things became incredibly tough for Williams financially to the extent of sleeping in his rental car, taking showers in local gyms and washing clothes via the cleaners. Even though this was his circumstance, Williams said he would still read books and study in his car at night.
Eventually, Williams’ sacrifices paid off—as now, a year later, he is poised to be one of the youngest black Subway franchisees in the country. He is still a few weeks away from announcing his store location here in Metro Atlanta, but he’s gone through franchisee training and is excited to share his store with the world.
In between speaking on a few panels during this year’s Essence Music Festival in New Orleans to traveling to Subway’s international headquarters, Williams sat down with The Atlanta Voice to share his story.
The Atlanta Voice: What can you share with us about your background?
Williams: I’m from the south side of Chicago where I grew up with an amazing family. We weren’t the poorest family, but we also weren’t the richest at all. We grew up in Inglewood, which was probably one of the roughest—if not the roughest area—on the South Side. I grew up in the same neighborhood that Derek Rose, Anthony Davis, and Jabari Parker were from. We were surrounded by gang violence, drugs, poverty, all of the above. I got to a point in 2017 where I decided that I didn’t want to have that be my reality anymore and I wanted to get out and help other people get out in the only way for me to do that was to take a risk. So I sold my car and I ended up moving to Phoenix, Arizona for finance school. I got through finance school.
After I finished, I literally traveled across the nation applying for jobs. I ended up getting hired in south Florida to work as a finance manager. By the time I started in this role, I’d run out of my reserve, so I only had enough money to pay for, uh, either a rental car or apartment. So I decided that I needed to get around within south Florida. It’s pretty long, the state of Florida. So I chose to get a car. I got the rental car and I figured that I would use my commission money to pay for an apartment. Well, I didn’t make a commission at all for a few months. So I ended up going from one month in the car to two months to, uh, three a total. So it was brutal. It was tough. Uh, you, if you know anything about South Florida is very humid and hot.
The Atlanta Voice: What was it like to experience homelessness?
Williams: At night I would try to let the windows down and I remember many nights waking up having to roll the windows up because it was raining in Florida. Yeah. I remember sleeping in the parking lot at Walmart and trying to find somewhere to sleep near lighting so that I would be safe while I was sleeping. And I remember the security guards knocking on the window and saying, “Hey, you can’t sleep here. No overnight parking.” And I would just cry like this. It was, it was a rough period. It’s cute now, looking back at things; but, at the time, it was, it was brutal. I would just want it to get out of the car.
Long story short, I ended up getting a job offer. I’m now making six figures in Atlanta since last June. So I moved here, took the job offer so that I printed out the car and I’m in the process. I would study, even while I was sleeping in the car—even the was repossessed and moving and stuff, I would still study business concepts.
I would look up a Harvard Harvard’s syllabus and I would buy books that were taught at Harvard University and I would teach myself, no self teach myself or those concepts, told myself, accounting, things like that in the process of me trying to build my reserve to try to become an entrepreneur. Okay. In the process of doing that the opportunity presented itself for me to be able to apply to become a subway franchise owner.