From severe weather and man-made threat detection to developing dynamic bio-field mapping technology for accelerated consciousness and now a new site that offers increased safety and privacy for parents, you are one of the most innovative people I know. What inspired you to be part of the founding team/advisory Board at iGrew?
My personal journey has given me a strong awareness of the importance of personal and public safety. I am passionate about protecting human beings against threats of all types. We’re all becoming more aware of how much our personal information is exposed even when we don’t think it is, and the 5G evolution hasn’t even hit us here in the U.S. yet. As a single mom of three young adults in their 20’s, I’ve already lived through the years many young parents are just now beginning. A simple truth in life is that you don’t know what you don’t know, and sometimes not knowing the smallest things leads to the biggest problems. With age, and the occasional glass of wine to steady my nerves as I used to wait for my children to come home safely from proms and parties, came parental wisdom.
When Art Fyvolent first told me about his vision for iGrew, I believed it was a project worth supporting. His idea began when he lost a precious voice message from his daughter and was further developed from his understanding of predatory threats our children face every single day today. Many times, even the most observant parent has no idea their personal life is exposed through social media. iGrew was born of that experience and knowledge.
iGrew is the first of its kind, a parent portal that empowers parents to save and share their children’s life stories in a secure environment, free from data collection and prying eyes. It’s a private social media platform where parents can add members of their family and friends to contribute to the memories of their family members. At the same time, they can invite and engage other parents in their network, whether they are friends, neighbors, connected through school, church, sports or wherever, to share stories about their children in a private space.
As iGrew builds out their app, I believe it will be THE parent portal, full of resources, parenting solutions, printing options, a place to sell their used clothing, toys and furniture and much more. There is, and will be, nothing like it. As part of iGrew’s fundraising efforts, we hope to attract a woman Angel or women-led VC (Venture Capital) firm. Moms understand what we are trying to accomplish and could become a better collaborative resource for our mission. Our website address is iGrew.com.
With January being National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, it feels like the perfect time for parents to migrate some of their sharing practices to this new platform. How does it work?
iGrew is a safe place to share your children’s life stories. No Ads. No Politics. Just Family. iGrew’s business model is to protect your information, not sell it. They believe that your information is precious, and they protect it like you protect your children. The problem with other social media apps is the surveillance capitalism that other sites gain from YOUR information. That is what iGrew is protecting, which in turn helps with both your security and privacy. Social sites collect and sell customer data, creating an unsafe environment for children’s images. iGrew does not collect sensitive customer data.
iGrew’s CEO had this to say: “Human Trafficking as it relates to social media cases is almost always children who had their own accounts where privacy features were not being monitored or utilized. In addition, parents not using correct privacy settings put kids at risk on social media. The advantage of iGrew is that it is in itself a privacy setting. Therefore, the potential for there to be a picture that is accidentally shared or visible to people outside the person’s circle is nonexistent. We can’t stress enough the importance of vigilance around privacy settings and rechecking them often, because Facebook and others change their settings so much. Parents can’t assume that everyone in their large Facebook network is safe. Do we really want that random guy we met at the business networking event seeing pictures of our kid? iGrew removes this need and problem for us as parents. In addition, iGrew plans to provide assistance where it can to support child trafficking and child abuse organizations.”
I know your incredible story as a survivor of oppression, a brave mother of three and an advocate of women empowerment who leads by example. What can you share with other moms about being more vigilant and protecting their children in today’s world?
Knowledge is power. Many caregivers and parents believe they know what their child is doing, sharing, creating and posting on social media but they may not. Parents themselves are so wrapped up in sharing the milestones, accomplishments and splendor of their child, that they may not realize they are playing into the hands of a predator sitting in the dark just looking for something to feed their pathetic interests whether personal or on behalf of a trafficking organization. Truth is, until now we’ve had little to no control or knowledge of how the world can actually be looking in on our family. Much of what is shared on the open or dark net can be hacked and viewed. It’s awful, but true. iGrew plans to provide a secure environment for the entire family. From pre-natal to 18 years and beyond, you, your children, your family and invited friends can store, share and feel confident and in control of who is looking over your virtual shoulder.
Erase Child Trafficking says that while no demographic is immune to trafficking, victims of trafficking were found to share similar life experiences such as:
- 57% had been sexually abused as children.
- 49% had been physically assaulted.
- 85% were victims of incest as girls, and 90% had been physically abused.
- 61.5% were frequently hit, slapped, pushed or had objects thrown at them by a member of their household.
- 40% of the above were kicked, hit, beaten, raped or threatened and/or attacked with a weapon by a member of their household.
As the head of your household and of your companies, what advice do you have for busy moms who struggle with balance between home duties and work responsibilities?
My message is this: Unconditional love! The best support a child can have as they grow and develop is unconditional love and support. Try not to over judge your child. Don’t be too hard on yourself either. Your number one job is to provide a safe place for your children to grow into who THEY want to be. This shouldn’t be confused with who YOU want them to be. I’ve been through the trauma of starting over with nothing and selling everything I had to make sure my children had food and shelter. I’ve managed companies and a household at the same time. It isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible. Create a safe haven with subtle but solid rules for them to follow early on. Listen to their sweet dreams and let them grow without trying to make your dreams or goals theirs. There is no “perfect”, but unconditional love, validation and support from their parent and/or caregiver is certainly a good base to grow from.
What is your favorite thing to do in Tampa Bay with your family?
When your children are young, it’s easy to tell them you’re heading to MOSI, Bush Gardens, The Florida Aquarium or a fun day at the park. One of my favorites was going to Barnes & Noble to grab a few books, curl up in a chair and pass time while occasionally looking up from my book to see them reading theirs. I loved that. Now that they are older and have their own opinions it doesn’t mean that I have stopped parenting. These days, and because I am a big proponent of supporting local small businesses in the Tampa Bay region, we enjoy trips to fresh produce markets, local antique shopping around Ybor or some of the wonderful art festivals. Because the COVID pandemic has unfortunately stomped on social outings for most of these, I’ve kept up a tradition I started when they were little called, “Crazy Friday.” Crazy Friday started as “What the heck is for dinner tonight?” We’d snuggle on the couch and watch their favorite movie with our pajamas on and their favorite foods and treat, no matter how crazy they were. As we all know, kids’ food choices can be crazy. But one night a week they were allowed to have whatever they wanted. Sounds crazy, but this gave me the ability to enforce healthy eating the rest of the week. I look forward to the day I will introduce Crazy Friday to my grandchildren, especially since I can send them home and watch my children deal with the sugar rush!
*Photo by Howie Mac Photo