By Taylor McKay Hathorn
Latisha Holmes spent twenty years as a career counselor in the Army, so she is well-acquainted with the struggles that soldiers face as they made the transition back to civilian life.
“A lot of soldiers didn’t know what they wanted to do, or they had misconceptions about how it would be in the civilian world,” the Clintonian said. “Once we take off the uniform, it’s a totally different animal for us.”
This is especially true for former service men and women who want to start their own businesses, as Holmes noted that the time they spend in the armed services sometimes leaves them feeling “behind” their civilian peers.
“You’re starting from ground-zero, and it can be intimidating,” Holmes stated. “I wanted to bridge the gap and give women a place to go if they wanted to start a business or if they needed support.”
Thus, the idea for “From Combat Boots to Red Bottoms” was born, and Holmes began a network of support for these female veterans. [EDITOR’S NOTE: The “Red Bottoms” refer to Christian Louboutin-brand shoes, a line known for its iconic red-soled shoes and which has become synonymous with luxury fashion.]
The network includes a membership program that allows a free exchange of ideas and support among veterans, a support center that connects female veterans to the resources they need to be successful and an apparel shop to fund and promote the visions of former service women in business.
Although COVID forced the organization’s storefront to close in order to preserve funds, Holmes says that online engagement has allowed her business to have a national impact, even reaching a stranded female veteran who was impacted by the recent storms in Texas.
“We worked with the Cajun Navy directly to get her out,” Holmes said. “Her home was flooded, and she was alone. They kept passing her street, and we got them there and got her evacuated.”
Holmes said the group’s rescue mission even attracted the attention of local television news media, ane she received a knock at her door from a news anchor during her negotiations with disaster relief organizations, which aided the group in acquiring the needed coverage to get the woman the assistance she needed.
In addition to meeting the material needs of female veterans in crisis, From Combat Boots to Red Bottoms also helps women bring their own dreams to fruition, a role which Holmes cherishes.
“I have a young lady I’ve been working with, and I’ll never forget when she became a member [of From Combat Boots to Red Bottoms],” she recalls. “She was on track, but she needed some accountability. Now, after completing our boot camp, she’s received funding from the VA for a portion of her start-up.”
Holmes says that these two women are only two examples of the many women who have been helped by From Combat Boots to Red Bottoms.
“People come into the military, and they take care of their command and their troops and they make sure the mission is done,” Holmes concludes. “We support the most amazing women in the country.”
The organization also has a “Grants for Greatness Program,” which awards funds to recipients to help them start and/or maintain their business, and applicants do not need to be a member of From Combat Boots to Red Bottoms in order to be eligible.
From Combat Boots to Red Bottoms membership is open to female veterans and women who currently serve in the United States Armed Forces. Members have access to a private networking community, training, information, events, exclusive opportunities and more.
For more information, visit www.CombatBoots2RedBottoms.com.