By Alex Popa
Sonel Normil is an emerging Haitian American entrepreneur based in New Rochelle, New York. His mother was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Sonel experienced Haitian culture firsthand since he was raised in the country until the age of nine. He and his mother then moved to Brooklyn, New York, where Sonel attended grade school. He later relocated again, earning his degree in business marketing from Springfield College in Massachusetts.
Growing up in two different countries wasn’t easy for Sonel. As he told us: “Being different from those around you can be confusing. You might not be very confident because you don’t fit in, and you don’t know who you are.” But this experience helped him build his character and discover his passion for motivational speaking. He believes anyone can build confidence and become whatever they want to be. He now feels proud and confident and wants to inspire the same feelings in his community.
Learning to Love His Haitian Heritage
Sonel told us he wasn’t always self-assured and driven to accomplish his goals. He shared his early struggles: “Growing up as a young boy in America in a single mother household after coming from Haiti, I was embarrassed about my background.” He admits he tried hard to hide his Haitian roots because being known as Haitian often made him the butt of jokes.
However, after some prolonged introspection and developing a better understanding of the history and politics of Haiti, Sonel says he’s done a 180. He’s now unapologetically Haitian and proud: “There’s no other ethnicity I’d rather be than Haitian,” he told us. He now wishes to motivate Haitians and help his homeland through his future business endeavors. In his own words: “I would love to see my people thrive.”
Inspiration in Life
Sonel’s biggest inspiration in life is people who give everything to achieve their goals. He has a deep admiration for people who endure what life throws at them with dignity. Hard work, purposefulness, and stoicism are important values for him. He finds all these qualities to be ever-present in Haitian culture and history.
Knowing his home country made history as the first independent Black country fills him with pride. Besides his heritage, Sonel finds inspiration in his family, especially his mother. He’s very grateful for his mother’s efforts to support him growing up. Even if life was not always easy, she was always by his side and ready to push through for her family’s sake.
Life and Business Goals
Sonel currently works as a firefighter in New Rochelle. He says it’s one of the ways he can give back to the community. However, his dream is to become an accomplished entrepreneur. He hopes to make it big in real estate and use his resources and influences to contribute to Haiti’s infrastructure. In the short term, he wishes to give his mother the most beautiful gift of her life— buying her a house of her own.
In the meantime, Sonel’s already working on a different business project. He has launched his own apparel business. His range of products currently includes shirts, gym bags, and jewelry. Staying true to his passion for motivational speaking, his business’s motto is “Promoting Self Confidence and Motivation.” Interested clients can find his online store at https://gwapparell.com/.