By Jamella Smith
Alicia Jenkins’ first successful business was a construction firm, which started while reestablishing a relationship with her estranged mother.
While she mended things with her mother, Jenkins also realized she was good at business, even during a pandemic.
“Everything that I ever thought would be a boundary for me, wasn’t. There are no boundaries, only what is in my own mind,” she said.
That positive attitude has enabled her to build numerous businesses, ranging from the construction business to companies in the East End of Pittsburgh ranging from Valhalla Indoor Axe Throwing, Paddle Pong, Kingsman Billiards, even Super Credit for You, all of which continue to flourish.
Jenkins grew up in Greensburg, PA. Her parents were divorced at age four and her father got full custody of her and her siblings. He was a hardworking man that worked to keep them afloat.
“I always used to ask him why he settled for his job when it was capped? I just think he spent so much of his time focusing on being a good dad and instilling core values into us,” said Jenkins.
He was always encouraging her to go after her dreams and to never see her failures as failures but see them as learning lessons and steppingstones. While her dad pushed her to always go for what she wanted, she longed for a relationship with her mother.
When she turned 13, she began to bond with her and build a relationship. At age 19, Jenkins and her mother started Angels Construction together. Due to a hailstorm and tornado in 2011, their business grew expeditiously. As a result, they worked on over 250 roofs in the area.
“This was the start of me realizing that it doesn’t matter that I am a woman, it doesn’t matter that I’m a young a girl, it doesn’t matter that I didn’t go to college, it doesn’t matter that I didn’t do things the way that other people did. If I carry myself in a certain way, if I can be respectable and if I can build up my name and do good work and give good service then people are going to continue to patronize my business and support me,” said Jenkins.
Amid working for the construction company and moving on to different jobs including being a cosmetologist, fate brought her and her husband together. Jenkins and her husband, Bobby, were recently married this year. They had an intimate wedding on the beach with their immediate family. Together they have four children. “One thing I am proud of is raising such well-mannered, God-seeking children; they are a strong support system in the home,” she said. Mariya is the eldest at age 12 years old, Gabriel is 11 years old, Maci is 5 years old and the youngest of the bunch, Axton, is 1 year old. When talking to both Jenkins and Bobby, they made it clear that God is the head of their lives and orders the steps that they make. Jenkins explained that they aim to bring people together through the business ventures they embark upon.
The first businesses that they opened together were four vape shops called Vaporium. They were in Westmoreland Mall (Vaporium 724), Monroeville Mall (Vaporium 412), Johnstown Galleria (Vaporium 814), and on Route 30 in Jeannette. Due to laws being passed that raised the taxes 40% on the vape industry, they decided to close those locations. Instead, they developed other businesses in Monroeville Mall. There is Valhalla Indoor Axe Throwing, Kingsman Billiards, and Paddle Pong. Super Credit for You, a credit restoration firm, is Jenkins’s newest project. Despite the economy shut down, these business ventures have continued to flourish. “We want to bring people to enjoy themselves and spread joy,” said Jenkins.
“One day my husband, then boyfriend, called me and asked me if I wanted to open an ax-throwing range and I thought he was crazy because at the time it was not heard of in the United States. There was only one company that was in the process of opening in Philly and that was it,” said Jenkins.
So naturally, she dismissed the idea until he called her back 30 minutes later and asked her if she wanted to open an ax-throwing range and call it Valhalla; she was sold! In Norse mythology, Valhalla is the great hall where warriors train for Ragnarök, which is equivalent to the apocalypse.
“I was so excited because I am Swedish, and I have Viking heritage in my family. This was a way to honor my family,” said Jenkins. When the doors opened, Valhalla was only the fourth ax-throwing arena in the United States. After learning many lessons through Vaporium, they decided to franchise Valhalla and continue to open multiple locations.
Paddle Pong and Kingsman Billiards are two of the newest ventures located in Monroeville Mall. Opened on Black Friday in 2019, Paddle Pong is the first and only all table tennis venue in an indoor shopping mall. You can host parties of all sorts, join a league, or just stop in and play a couple of rounds of table tennis. Kingsman Billiard, opened in July of this year, is available for date nights, parties, corporate events, reunions, and more. Billiards, darts, and shuffleboard are some of the activities available.
She accredits the family she has built as the one thing she is most proud of accomplishing. While the kids are still too young to work in the businesses, they do assist in ways that they can such as helping in the building phase. Every business they have has a welcoming family feel. Katera Carrington, an employee of Paddle Pong, said, “Jenkins is a very motivated person. She and her husband complement each other well.” Jenkins went out of her way to show humility and apologize to Carrington for confusion while on the job. “I appreciated that she showed her employees matter,” she said.
Jenkins is currently adding finishing touches to her newest project, Super Credit for You. This will be a do-it-yourself credit repair kit. “I grew up in a poor family and where I am from people do not know the importance of credit and how to understand it.” After repairing her credit, Jenkins realized how much of a difference it can make and the opportunities that it affords you; it has changed her life. The things that she paid lawyers to do are techniques that are easy and free knowledge. She wants to engage and educate everyone she can about this knowledge.
Childhood friend, Lakeisha Jones said, “I could always see the hustle in her. She maintained a positive attitude, never gave up, and worked hard for anything she ever wanted.” She described Jenkins as a selfless person, who has a pure heart and is always there to lift anybody up.
Bobby stated that he most admires that Jenkins does not give up. “I have enjoyed being able to watch her grow as an individual and watching her skills and capabilities grow in what we’re doing. Who she is now and what she is capable of is not who she was and what she was capable of when I met her,” said Bobby. When asked separately, both Bobby and Alicia agreed that they want to leave a legacy for their children.
Jenkins says she sees herself having a talk show, being a seasoned entrepreneur, and living her best life on an island. She hopes that her kids will have taken over the operations of some of their businesses and started some of their own.
“Our end goal is to be billionaire vigilantes because we want to save the world and be billionaires, but we want to make it count. We don’t want to have a bunch of money for no reason,” said Jenkins.