Susan Binkley, Founder and CEO of Blue Monarch

An Entrepreneur’s Journey

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Susan Binkley has long believed in the power of transformation.

As a visual artist, from early on in her life she’s turned ideas into artwork. And as a natural entrepreneur, she’s embraced the professional and personal changes that have arisen with each of her businesses: a horse farm, two bed and breakfasts, and eventually a bakery and coffee shop that grew into a full-service café.

She learned much during each of those ventures. Yet, it was her experience running the bakery and coffee shop that altered the course of her life.

Several employees confided in Susan that they were struggling with domestic violence and generational substance abuse. They told her about the physical and mental abuse, sharing stories of being locked in their homes or one being abandoned by her husband in a forest.

For decades, Susan had felt a calling to give back to society and even dreamed of opening a faith-based residential facility for struggling families. Hearing these stories solidified her long-held vision. It was time to fulfill that goal.

Making her vision a reality

Susan embarked on her mission, doing research and sharing the concept with others. In her networking, she met Madeline and Howell Adams, two strangers who embraced the idea and generously supported it.

The couple secured a $1 million bank loan to purchase a 50-acre Tennessee farm that had once been a bed and breakfast. The seclusion and picturesque scenery made it an ideal refuge for women to break free from domestic abuse and substance use disorder.

In 2003, Susan opened the doors to Blue Monarch. In the years since, she has assisted more than 850 women and children in overcoming trauma.

Its residential community provides a range of holistic, therapeutic support for moms and children — from family counseling and sober parent coaching to life skills training. Unlike most other recovery programs, Blue Monarch allows kids to stay with their mothers, keeping families intact as they heal, and focusing as much on the child’s recovery as the mom’s.

Finding a support system

Word spread of Blue Monarch’s offerings and the successes of the families who stayed there. As the number of applications swelled, Susan realized she needed help with expanding her resources and clarifying her vision.

She found the support she needed in Stand Together Foundation.

In early 2020, Blue Monarch became a member of Stand Together Foundation’s Catalyst Community, which provides funding, social connections, and business coaching to the nation’s most innovative nonprofits.

Susan was introduced to the Market-Based Management  (MBM ®) business philosophy, which helped her expand her leadership capacity, refine her goals, and create a viable growth strategy.

In reviewing Blue Monarch’s model, Susan realized that its focus on families vs. individuals —  in essence, helping two generations at once —  was a differentiator she should accentuate.

Walking hand-in-hand

Susan and her team embraced MBM’s core philosophy of principled entrepreneurship, the idea of practicing mutual benefit to create superior value for both customers and society. Her and her team continue to tap into those ideals for all daily decision making, as well as for staff performance evaluations, and their hiring processes. She’s also received pro bono legal services to help with things like registering trademarks associated with the granola business Blue Monarch runs on-site as a social enterprise.

Through its partnership with Stand Together Foundation, Blue Monarch also had an unprecedented opportunity to help its community as the COVID-19 crisis took hold. It participated in the Give Together Now initiative  created by Stand Together Foundation and fellow Catalyst Family Independence Initiative (FII). The effort mobilized the entire Catalyst Community to provide rapid cash assistance to individuals most financially affected by the pandemic.

Susan and her team identified 50 women who had graduated from the program and were still struggling to make ends meet to receive $500 each. Together through this campaign, Blue Monarch was able to support its community when they needed it most.

Expanding Blue Monarch’s reach

Stand Together Foundation will continue to support Blue Monarch as it metamorphosizes into an even more far-reaching, impactful organization.

Susan and the Blue Monarch team aren’t letting the pandemic slow down their progress. They recently broke ground on a new, eight-family facility and are developing an therapeutic equine program.

As they move forward, Susan says she is keeping the MBM principles and coaching she receives through her partnership with Stand Together Foundation top of mind as she grows as a leader and works to break the cycle of addiction and abuse in her community.

That work “has helped me build a stronger management team, and has given me the tools to better step back and allow people to really thrive in their roles,” she says. “I’m now in a better position to really focus on our future and the big picture.”

Interested in partnership with Stand Together Foundation, let’s get in touch.

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