To Rosa Dalomba, owning a business is a way of creating something that does great things.
“I try to implement everything that I do with thinking ‘where can I give back?” says Dalomba. “I’m not trying to become a millionaire who hoards money. I ask myself ‘how can I brighten somebody’s day.’ That’s very important to my family.”
The Pop Porium opened in 2017 and offers handmade, gourmet popcorn flavors like butter caramel, maroon velvet, loaded baked potato, and buffalo wings as well as other sweet treats like chocolate-covered strawberries and gift baskets.
Through the business, she works in many ways to share kindness, build a better community, and pay it forward.
“I leverage my platform as a woman-owned, young-owned, black-owned business on Main Street to uplift the next generation, to bring attention to a cause,” states Dalomba.
Bringing Someone a Smile
When COVID began taking a toll on our community, Dalomba saw a chance to put a smile on the faces of first responders and teachers.
“As hard of a time as we may be going through, there is always someone that is going through a harder time,” says Dalomba. “Everybody loves receiving a gift. They love that you’re thinking of them.”
Dalomba provided 161 popcorn mini tubs to local police, fire, and Oktibbeha County Hospital staff. The Pop Porium also donated 218 tubs of popcorn to Sudduth Elementary School.
“It brought a smile to my face when I brought [the popcorn] to the police station,” confesses Dalomba. “Before I put the bags down, there were three officers debating who was getting what flavor.”
Giving Someone a Break
As the gourmet popcorn vendor for Mississippi State University, she has had the opportunity to hire more employees recently.
In the past, her hiring process was very traditional. Recently, she reached out to Brandi Herrington of Starkville Strong to find people that were looking for work.
“Everybody needs to be given a break sometimes. Brandi has sent me folks who are coming out of hardship,” says Dalomba. “This will be the first pool I pull from when I’m looking for employees [in the future].”
By hiring people who have had a tough time finding jobs, she feels that she is supporting someone who needs to be given a break.
“By hiring folks who are coming out of hardship, it puts my business in a position to help someone pay an electric bill or to feed themselves,” states Dalomba.
“Your next great manager might be the person who comes to an interview with paint on their shirt. We need to start teaching ourselves to look beyond the superficialness that society has taught us.”
She encourages every business owner to ‘think outside the box’ in their hiring process.
I try to implement everything that I do with thinking “where can I give back?” I ask myself “how can I brighten somebody’s day?” That’s very important to my family.
Mentoring Minority Entrepreneurs
Two reasons that she went into business was to pave the road for her nieces and nephews and so that they could see somebody successful in their own bloodline.
The road to owning a business was challenging at times; however, remembering that she was paving the way for her relatives carried her through the rough patches.
“It is extremely difficult as a minority individual to start a business,” states Dalomba.
As a result of her experience with starting a business, she began mentoring those who would like to open a business.
“It is very important that we pass down the business knowledge and experience to [others],” reflects Dalomba.
Dalomba began mentoring in 2020 and will continue expanding her work in 2021.
Giving Back Overseas
Growing up in Cape Verde, Dalomba watched as her family gave to those who were in need.
“As poor as we were, my parents had secure work and we had family in first world countries, so we were a little bit better off,” declares Dalomba. “My parents always found a way to give to their neighbors.”
Dalomba makes purchases of items common in the U.S. but difficult to find in Cape Verde and frequently sends them back to family, friends, and even perfect strangers. She often sends things like beans, flour, rice, and sugar.
“My parents always said, ‘You don’t give because you have, you give because they don’t have.’”
Do the Next Right Thing
With a truly nonprofit heart, Dalomba is continually seeking ways to improve the world around her.
“Do the next right thing. And if you have a chance, pay it forward. Even if that chance is slim and it might cost you a little bit, it’s still worth it.”
Support Starkville – Buy Local
Shopping local supports our business owners who are giving back to the community. For more stories about Starkville Business Owners giving back and how buying local can support Starkville, visit the Support Starkville page