Charonda Wills is the co-founder of Club Tilt & Grill, the Southeast nightclub and lounge known for soul food, old school R&B, live bands and karaoke nights. She also co-founded Dream Team Construction and Dream Home Interiors, she’s co-owner of Xpressions Beauty & Barber Studio — and she works in real estate.
You were in Indianapolis before Colorado Springs. How did you end up here?
I came out here in 2011 permanently, but my husband was out here in 2005. I was going back and forth the first five years because when we first came out here, we really came out on hope and a prayer. We started our own [construction and consulting] business in Colorado Springs — it was called The One Man Band. My husband was able to go to Home Depot in the mornings and pass out business cards. I worked at AT&T in Indiana for 17 years — then back in 2010 I stopped working at the phone company to help my husband out by doing office work from home for The One Man Band. We came up with Dream Team Construction in 2013 — and now we have a total of over 700 employees, contractors and contractors’ employees.
You have a lot of different businesses. Tell us about them.
I got my real estate license back in 2017 or 2018, and I became a Realtor. Then we started our own flooring company about four years ago — it’s called Dream Home Interiors and we [hired partners to run] that. We also have the construction company; I do the real estate; and then we started Club Tilt in 2019. In 2018 I partnered up to run Xpressions Beauty [& Barber] Studio. We also have two separate real estate companies that we run and operate [in residential sales and rental properties]. But that’s how I got out here. The first five years were the worst years — I thought it wasn’t gonna work. But it ended up working out.
How do you balance your time between all of these businesses?
I am a very easygoing person — I’m gonna find the best out of the worst situation. I might not get anything but three or four hours of sleep at night; I just tell people I’ll sleep when I’m dead. It’s a lot of hard work and dedication, that’s definitely for sure. You have a lot of moments where you want to give up, but I’m always looking at the end result. The construction company and the flooring company basically run themselves. I manage the real estate company, collecting peoples’ rent. My business partner at the salon kind of runs that; I just make sure rent is paid, bills are paid. Most of my time is spent at Club Tilt & Grill. That’s where it’s more time consuming. [As a Realtor], I get referrals; I don’t go out looking for deals. I came out of corporate, and I think that helps. We reward our employees for great work, and we have an open door policy — all input is welcome. In managing my time, I go by my calendar. My calendar is my livelihood. From 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. I do a meditation workout deal; from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. I’ll spend at Club Tilt. I just constantly have to be going and doing.
Tell us about your educational background.
I went to an airline school back in ‘89. I was going to be a flight attendant. They wanted to send me to upstate New York, and I didn’t want to go. I was like, ‘Eh, that’s too far.’ So then I went back to school for computer programming; decided it wasn’t for me. Then I went back to school and got my associate’s degree in business management. And then I got my master’s in human resources.
How did you get the idea for Club Tilt?
Club Tilt was something we did just to see if we could do it. My husband loves to cook. We were sitting down one day in our basement and he said, ‘I love to cook.’ Back in Indiana my mom ran a restaurant inside of a club, so I was like, ‘We can do a bar and a restaurant to see how it goes. All we would do is try it, and if it doesn’t work, shut it down.’ And he was like, ‘Let’s try it.’ And that’s how it started. We’d never run a bar or restaurant our entire lives — neither one of us — and we tried it anyway and it’s working out. And then when COVID came we were able to keep it because we had those other avenues of revenue. We fumbled along the way, but it worked out.