Fate led Kena Yoke into her career as a business owner, and she’s counting on it to turn her current dream into a reality.
Kena Yoke didn’t set out to be an entrepreneur. It just happened. But the businesses she owns certainly didn’t become successful by accident. Spend just a few minutes with Yoke and she’ll give you her take: It was just meant to be.
“I don’t push anything”, she say modestly with her “if it’s meant to be, it will be” attitude. A Naples resident who moved here with her parents in the early 80’s, Yoke started up Dax Enterprises 11 years ago thanks to the encouragement of friends and colleagues. As co-owner of Island Piling, with her then husband Scott, Yoke researched ways to save the company money by applying class section rules and other regulations. In an effort the help other businesses, she offered to share what she’d learned with the Collier Building Industry Association (CBIA), starting up the organizations Trades Council. It wasn’t long before other businesses were lining up for Yoke’s advice, and some started asking why she wasn’t charging for her consultations. With a friend, she created the bookkeeping company she owns and runs today, named after a character on the television show Star Trek: the Next Generation who shares her information and knowledge with others.
Yoke markets Dax Enterprises as a “virtual” office, taking care of everything from payroll, accounting, marketing and employee benefits for small business owners. “These are simple things people don’t have the time to do,” Yoke explains, adding that as the economy has declined and businesses have downsized, her company has actually experienced growth.
Part miracle worker, part networker, Yoke encourages relationships between all of her clients – no matter what their business. “Each of my clients benefits from the experience of other clients. It’s buying power and it works.”
So loyal are her business clients, many of them joined her to walk in this year’s Race for the Cure, honoring Yoke’s 43 year old sister who is currently battling breast cancer. It’s those relationships that make her smile with pride.
IN HER SHOES
Inspired by her love of shoes, Yoke – who has a collection that might make Carrie Bradshaw jealous – can’t stop talking about her latest endeavor: to start a shoe store with a mission.
Yoke’s vision is called “In Her Shoes”, a retail shoe franchise that will not only sell footwear, but hire low-income women as part of a six-month training program where they’ll learn all aspects of the retail industry. The company will also have a Non-profit foundation, and donate a portion of profits to area charities.
“When I put on a new pair of shoes, I’m a new person,” Yoke explains. “And everyone has a shoe story.” The more Yoke talked up her idea, the more it’s been embraced, and she says the right people keep getting in her path.
“We’re just waiting for God to give me a warehouse for 6 months,” she says, estimating the time it will take to get In Her Shoes up and running.
Although divorced for 10 years, Yoke continues to co-own Island Piling with her ex-husband Scott, in addition to running her office company.
Despite a busy schedule, this mother, step-mother and step-grandmother constantly gives back to the community by sharing her know-how with organizations such as the American Business Women’s Association, Christian Chamber and NABOR. She also volunteers for community events through her church and supports her son’s school as a Band Booster.
Yoke, who’s been working since she was in seventh grade, credits her parents for instilling in her such a strong work ethic. Combine that with her belief that giving back is one of life’s most worthy accomplishments, and you’ll understand what drives this mover and shaker.
“I think we’re all here for a purpose and you need to make your existence worthwhile”.