Dr. Al Sharpton visits Trade Street Galleria
and speak to The Triad Business Network,
As Tanya Wiley’s career climbs, so does the help
she gives to the community
She’s active in Winston Salem’s Arts District
and has a real soft spot for children
By Carey Hamilton
WINSTON-SALEM – Tanya Wiley believes too many
businesspeople are obsessed by the almighty
At the young age of 30, she has learned there’s
a much richer side to life.
“I think sometimes we get too consumed by money,
money, money,” said Wiley, the owner of WB &
Associates development and property management
company. “I want to be able to make a difference
and the only way I can do that is by helping
Wiley said that her quest to help is part of her
strong relationship with God. And even as the
demands of her career climbs, she makes it a
priority to assist the community, especially
Wiley is involved in the Youth Are the Future
mentoring program; she gives seminars for single
mothers; she has won recognition for the March
of Dimes healthier babies campaign; and she
recently lent her support to the student formed
group Children Against Racism and Violence (CARV).
“I have watched her develop,” said Vivian Burke,
a Winston Salem alderman, who has known Wiley
for more than 15 years. “She has a community
mind. She is interested in uplifting and working
with people in a positive way. And for a young
woman who grew up here and has developed a
business here, she is really an asset for the
Wiley and her husband, Dorrel Brown, have not
decided whether parenthood is in their future,
by they adopt other people’s children and love
them as if they were their own.
Brimming with pride, Wiley enthusiastically
points at pictures of her “godchildren” in her
third floor office in the Arts District on Trade
Street. There are about a half-dozen photos of
grinning children, including the son of her good
friend Anthony Smith, a.k.a rapper Tone Loc.
“I just love kids. I’m just a sucker for them,”
Wiley said with a laugh. “I get teary-eyed when
I think of one of them coming up and hugging me
and saying ‘I love you, Miss Wiley’”.
The long hours
Part of her indecision over motherhood stems
from her parents bitter divorce and the state of
today’s world. She also wonders if she would
have the time to be a good mother.
Over the past few years she has put much of her
time into her career.
Since 1997, Wiley has grown her publishing and
printing business by 35 percent and boosted
revenues for the property management company by
Wiley puts in the time it takes to survive a
start-up venture. Days that begin at 7:30 a.m.
and end past midnight aren’t uncommon.
She’s also a diligent goal setter who doesn’t
believe in quitting.
“I don’t mind taking calculated risks,” she
said. “I envision goals first and then do it.”
But she admits there have been struggles.
“Being a black female in business is a little
more difficult,” she said. “People have
stereotypical images in their minds. It’s almost
like you have to work twice as hard to prove
yourself… and even then the good times are
An avid learner
After graduating from Winston Salem State
University in 1991, Wiley landed a job with the
US State Department in Washington DC.
While working, she took courses at George
Washington University to become a paralegal.
An avid learner, Wiley developed an interest in
graphics and publishing. In her free, unpaid
time, she observed the graphics departments at
the State Department and the Pentagon and
learned about the trade. That education set the
foundation for her future business.
Once she left the State Department, she landed a
job as a paralegal for TMG Records in Los
Angeles, California. She researched artists’
contracts, and it was there that she met Anthony
Smith, the rapper whose hits “Wild Thing” and
Funky Cold Medina” propelled him into the
The two became fast friends, and Smith even
provided a place for her to live when she
couldn’t afford the exorbitant Los Angeles
During this time, Wiley took an interest in real
estate as this was one of the things that her
good friend “Tony” told her would always yield a
While her time in California was exciting, she
missed home and her fiancé. She returned to
Winston Salem after Brown unequivocally told her
he was not moving to California. The two were
married in 1997.
Once back in Winston Salem, Wiley decided to
draw from her graphics learning experience in
Washington and form a publishing and printing
Using all her savings, she purchased a computer
and fax machine. She set up an office at home,
designed a portfolio and set out to secure
Eventually, Brown joined her and the two became
Dudley Products, the multi-million-dollar hair
care business owned by Kernersville
entrepreneurs Joe and Eunice Dudley, was WC
Publishing’s first customer.
“The first thing I really think about her is she
is a lady with true initiative,” Joe Dudley
said. “She’s got courage, she has integrity and
she has a vision. She’s a lady everybody needs
to watch. She’s on the move.”
After two years, the business outgrew the
couple’s home and Wiley went searching for a
Because she envisioned the potential that
Downtown Winston Salem could have, she started
her search there and would eventually lease the
Trade Street property from owner David Shannon,
president of JDL Castle Corp., with an option to
In two years, they transformed the Trade Street
building from an abandoned space to a small city
center. Wiley and her husband sublet the space
to 15 tenants and revived the once-dead
building. She would then exercise her option to
purchase and has now become one of the first
African American female building owners in
downtown Winston Salem.
Wiley has plans for roof-top dining in the
future and she also wants to add more
businesses, retail shops and studios. But most
important, Wiley wants 545 Trade and 550 Liberty
Streets to be more than just buildings filled
with unconnected people. She envisions a unified
center with a focus on the Arts District and
“My ultimate goal is to have a foundation where
we can give to children and help them to learn
how to become entrepreneurs,” she said. “When
young people make the decision to attend
college, they should not have to worry about
where the money will come from. If they start
businesses early on, this will not be a
problem,” she added.
During our walk on the roof, Wiley pointed out
many of the buildings downtown and said, “…Just
wait … by 2005 Downtown Winston Salem is going
to take on a whole new meaning”. After looking
at her track record, if she continues to be
involved with downtown development, Winston
Salem is in for a big surprise.
Taken from Triad Business News PROFILE July