Altrese Hawkins is an entrepreneur at heart

A heart for entrepreneurship

Altrese Hawkins has always been an entrepreneur at heart.

That passion began in 2017 with Little Miss Turbans, LLC, a company that creates handmade, pre-sewn stylish turbans for babies and adults.

When Hawkins and four others were laid off from their full-time jobs in April 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they discovered another entrepreneurial passion as the virus spread around the world.

“Instead of throwing a pity party for ourselves, we saw an opportunity where we could make a difference in the world,” Hawkins said. “We came up with Purivy, which is a device that cleans PPE and other items with UV-C light.”

Since creating Purivy, the company has grown quickly. It was chosen by NextEra Energy for its 35 Mules program, which offers accepted companies dedicated workspace in FPL’s headquarters, access to experts in energy sectors, free executive coaching, and a grant of at least $50,000 to scale their businesses.

For Purivy, being accepted is an important milestone.

“This program gives my team the ability to use a vast amount of resources provided by NextEra/FPL that will help build and drive the success of Purivy,” Hawkins said. “I am surrounded by founders from five other companies who are brilliant and have innovative ideas. The founders of the program truly want for the ‘Original 6’ (the six companies accepted into the program) to succeed and become 100-year companies.”

Today, Hawkins is as an Operations Program Manager at Microsoft on the company’s Protection Services team. Hawkins is also a student in the UF MBA Online program and will graduate in the spring of 2021. But adding an MBA to her three bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree in biomedical sciences won’t take away from her passion in entrepreneurship.

“I believe that society constrains people to choose between either corporate America or entrepreneurship, but I love both worlds and I want to show others that it is possible,” Hawkins said.