Alyson Rae Lawson’s end goal was to become a franchise holder just like her father. Her dad franchised three McDonald’s in the Oak Cliff area when she was younger. As fate would have it, she is now the CEO of RaeLawson Enterprise LLC, franchisee/operator of two 7-Eleven convenient stores with gas stations located right across the street from each other in Arlington, Texas.
She is the first black woman to own a 7-Eleven franchise in her community. She is also a motivational speaker focusing on high school and college student empowerment.
Her career began at the Budge Office of the City of Dallas. She subsequently picked up a job at Virginia where she worked for the City of Norfolk, Virginia as a Budget and Policy Analyst. She continued her career at Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board in Hampton, Virginia as a Manager of Budget and Financial Reporting.
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Motivated by the desire to pursue something different outside of the local government and into the private sector, she eventually moved to Houston, Texas where she became a Manager of Business Analysis in the automotive industry and later promoted to Project Manager.
In 2017, she reached out to 7-Eleven with the hope of purchasing a franchise on her own. “Shortly after, they had a Women’s Entrepreneurial Contest. I entered, and because of my background, entrepreneurial spirit, and hard work from my community over the months of the contest, I WON!!! The prize was a 7-Eleven convenient store,” she told VoyageDallas.
She opened her first Arlington, Texas, store in October 2018 and her second 7-Eleven franchise directly across the street in December 2019. She recently made record sales, selling out bottles of Black Girl Magic wine from McBride Sisters Collection, a brand owned by sisters Robin and Andrea McBride – founders of the largest Black-owned vintner in the country.
Lawson is a native of Dallas, Texas. She attended Bishop Dunne Catholic School and obtained her Bachelor of Science in Business Management at the Hampton University. She later earned her Master of Business Administration from Texas A&M University-Commerce and Master of Professional Accounting from the University of Miami.
Challenges along the way
The road has never been easy as an entrepreneur, she recounts. “Although 7-Eleven waves the purchasing fees, I was still left with the franchising fees and other costs that are associated with promoting my own business. It is always difficult financially beginning your own business.”
According to her, employment has always been the biggest challenge in her industry. Recruiting the best for the job is often tedious because she needs to get people she can trust and work with.
Aside from finding suitable recruits, she encounters new challenges that require the best strategy to deal with in order to keep her business running.