Natasha Lee founded a company that helps others build the businesses of their dreams
By Claire Zulkey
Featured photography by Hayden Stinebaugh
At 23 years old, Natasha Lee was working for a call center in Highland Park when she learned that she had earned her employer more than $1 million over a six-month period, helping close potential clients like Harley Davidson and selling extended service plans for Ford and Chrysler.
“I started searching for ways to do that for myself,” says Lee. That aspiration grew into Make Your Dreams Come True (MYDCT), a Detroit-based call center that combines two of her areas of expertise: building virtual platforms and helping others fulfill their goals. At its height, the company employed over 700 global contractors offering virtual services like processing in- and outbound calls, web design, business consulting and project management.
Lee helps brick-and-mortar businesses update their online offerings (like virtual tours for real estate companies) and hauls others into the 21st century. “You go to a bakery, especially in the inner cities [and] they do everything manual like it’s 1990,” she laughs. Now, thanks to her expertise, bakery customers can order online and pick up without coming inside. This year she also helped ease the pain of those who suffered a loss during the pandemic by offering free obituary services to low-income families; she conferred virtually with families to write, design and distribute memorials to loved ones.
As a virtual industry, MYDCT was ahead of its time before COVID-19 demanded companies suddenly switch to a remote model. But Lee has been paying it forward since long before the pandemic. In 2018 she founded That Girl, a company inspired by the memory of her mother, Delores Lee-Starks (who humorously referred to herself as “that girl,” when she felt attractive and confident). Geared toward businesswomen, That Girl sells personalized merchandise (“That Girl is from Detroit”; “That Girl is a Doctor”; “That Girl is a Boss”) and offers business consultation, website services, mentorship and awards to recognize other women leaders in business and philanthropy.
Pamela Gurley, a Maryland speaker, author and entrepreneur, is one of the many people Lee has helped. The two met at a party in the mid-2010s and began chatting about Gurley’s five-year plan to start her own business. After speaking with Lee, she accelerated that plan and is now celebrating three years as the CEO of her own business-writing and editorial services company. “When I call her, and I’m at wits’ end, Natasha will say, ‘Hang in there. It’s not always going to be easy,’” says Gurley. “These are the moments you’re going to have to pick yourself up and keep building.”
Lee mentors proteges of all ages, including “kidpreneurs.” Two years ago, Detroit building administrator Stacey Doctor took her daughter Praise, now 10, to one of Lee’s entrepreneur events for children, where kids promoted wares like books, shirts and lemonade. Over time, Lee counseled Praise to start her own company, Future Dreamzzz, which sells inspirational apparel. “It doesn’t matter if they’re 8 or they’re 80; if someone brings an idea to Natasha, she’ll do her best to walk her through it,” says Doctor. Praise says that from Lee, “I learned to keep pushing and stay strong even when times are tough.” That includes making promotional videos in the morning, “when I’m really sleepy.”
Lee herself got a lesson in perseverance in 2009, when she was one of over 500 patients defrauded by Farid Fata, a Michigan doctor who prescribed chemotherapy to patients who didn’t warrant it. After being treated for nonexistent blood cancer, says Lee, “I could not walk anymore. In the summertime I had to wear triple goose down coats.” Lee took six years to recover. Looking back, she says the experience taught her about resilience, empathy, and working smarter.
The pandemic similarly re-oriented her. “I had made it to autopilot in entrepreneurship,” she says. “COVID gave me back the hustle I set on the nightstand.” After a career working virtually, she saw how she could help others learn her skills. “My hustle was rejuvenated. The thrill of it, the love of it instantly came back.”
Lee’s proudest achievement, though, is seeing her work ethic in her children: Her older son runs his own gaming company, and her younger son owns That Guy, a That Girl spinoff. Her kids, she says, “respect the legacy I’m creating and use it not just to build themselves up but anyone who is around them who says, ‘I want to have this sort of freedom.’”