Sophia Strother was 38 years old when she read an article that said that anyone with $10,000 could work for Amazon and potentially earn $74,000 to $3 million per year.
She was a single mother and sex-trafficking survivor residing in the Austin, Texas region at the time. Despite having a kid at the age of 15, she had been able to obtain both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in administration. With the support of her grandma, who had faith in her, she developed business skills.
She told Business Insider “At 20 years old, I started my consulting business, Trustworthy Consulting. By the time I graduated, I owned two homes and had two degrees. As I read the Amazon article, I was sitting down thinking, wait a minute. Why not me? I applied for the partnership and within a year, I was running a million-dollar business. After 18 months, my delivery company grew to become a multimillion-dollar business.”
Strother’s Amazon Delivery Service Partner application took roughly a year to process. After she submitted her online application, a resume, and some financial papers, Amazon ran its background check. Even though she didn’t have a transportation background, she mentioned initiatives she had managed and how enthusiastic she was about serving people and families in her community in the application.
Finally, in 2019, Amazon invited her to come to Seattle for an interview, however, she declined the offer since she lacked the funds for the trip and a babysitter, and she only had one week to prepare.
Strother recalled receiving an email from the company later that year, around Christmas, asking whether she was still interested.
“This time, I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t let things play out. I went to Las Vegas for the Amazon event and there were over 200 people in the room. Each candidate had to be interviewed by an Amazon executive,” she said. “During my interview, they asked a critical question I remember the interviewer asked, ‘Are you going to work every day?’ I said, ‘No ma’am. I believe in work-life balance.’”
In just two days, she was contacted by the company and offered a partnership with Amazon. They signed a formal deal for Austin, Texas, in July 2020, and on September 22, 2020, she established the first route for her company.
“I now own my own business called L2E Industries, which stands for Learning 2 Exhale Industries, and Amazon is my transportation client. We just cleared over $3 million in less than three years.”
In addition to owning 38 delivery vans, Strother, who is now 43 years old, said that her team has completed over 20,000 runs and delivered over 4 million products.
Her company, which she founded on her own, currently employs around 80 associates. She oversees the company’s operational tasks and makes advance arrangements for the several routes her associates have to take, whether they are rural, urban, or undeveloped areas.
She recounted a time when she faced a challenge due to the weather. “There was a quarter that was a very rough patch. A fatal winter storm came to Texas in February 2021 and shut down the business for one week. As a result, the succeeding quarter was devastating. I had to cash out my retirement and personal savings, and stop paying myself to pay my employees.”
To address the situation, she met with a temporary business coach Amazon provided and identified the people who were negatively impacting the entire company.
She said, “From that point, I had to learn to balance caring about people’s feelings and caring about the bottom line. The meeting propelled me to refocus and turn my company around. After that meeting, I gave those employees a deadline to bring their numbers back up so the business could get back on track. I immediately implemented a policy around our scorecards, which rates the driver’s service, and holding drivers accountable. I also started thinking about how to make smarter financial decisions that would make the business sustainable.”
In the same way that she wanted things done for her while she was an employee, Strother stated that she wanted to establish an atmosphere in which she could influence the lives of others. “I now try to mirror what I wish I had during my years in corporate jobs. I’m passionate and determined to succeed because of the families that are connected with my company.”