Since 2018, Dimetrious Woods has started two businesses in Columbia, Woods Auto Spa and Munchi’s Fish and Chicc’n food truck. It wasn’t his first entry to entrepreneurship, but it is different this time around.
Woods started the businesses after serving 11 years in prison for a nonviolent drug offense and being released on parole. He was later granted clemency after a three-year court battle.
He started the businesses with one of his sons and built them from the ground up. He sees that his story and efforts provide hope to the hopeless. He talked more about his experiences in this interview, which was edited for length and clarity.
On his introduction to entrepreneurship:
I had two businesses in Columbia in 2006 when I was arrested. I had a window-tinting company, and then I had an urban clothing store. At my age, I had a quarter million (dollars) worth of inventory in my clothing store and my tint shop did that in a year. I just hadn’t matured to get away completely from that lifestyle, which I’m open about nowadays. When I was going through court and stuff and the federal government, I wasn’t so open. But now I noticed that me being open helps people.
On his time in prison:
It gave me a lot of things that I adhere to now that equals success. My name used to be “Money Meech,” and I changed it once I got released. I said, “I need a different persona.” I don’t want what came with my niche. ... Nobody messed with me, and I had money. They knew I was a big-time guy. So I didn’t really want that, that wasn’t who I was either, and I didn’t want that persona, I didn’t want what came with it. So I changed my name to Motivated Meech. My store used to be called Motivated Fashion. So some people call me that anyway, so I put that with it and I put action with it. I just started talking about the stuff I learned, and the pain.
I (was) scared to death to do a brick and mortar again because I lost my businesses when I went away before. And remember, the attorney general was fighting me rigorously trying to put me back in prison, right? But after a year, Nipsey Hussle gets murdered in front of his store in his community, and that touched home on different levels. … He was a guy who was a young knucklehead and grew up, so I related a lot to him. That just hit home with me, I’m like … I could die tomorrow, you know, anything can happen. I got my freedom. Right now, I’m (going to) open up a shop in Columbia. ... I’m going to show them that you can do different.
On opening and maintaining the Auto Spa:
I have restricted myself when I opened this shop. I made a ton of sacrifices. I started this, the money I earned with my blood sweat and tears. It’s hard work. Extremely hard work. I closed on Sundays. That was like cutting off my right wrist because I believe in seven days a week. ... But it became so draining, I had to close it. I have a few people who are around who are like family, that’s the only way this thing works. ... It was a big step opening a business.
On finding hope:
I know what this means, these small accomplishments. I know what it means to a culture. And when I say culture, that’s the culture of the hopeless. That’s who I represent. Because that’s where I come from, that’s why I made those decisions. People in these illustrious positions and stuff, they wonder why we make jacked up decisions. You take away hope and see what a person will do. I understand that was me, but I found some way.