Dawn Simmons, owner and lead instructor at BLISS Driving Academy, LLC.
When Dawn Simmons opened the BLISS Driving Academy last October, it was the culmination of a long search for the right outlet for her entrepreneurial energies. Fun and engaging classes are what set Bliss apart, says Simmons, who may have found her entrepreneurial niche with her driving school but remains engaged in a number of business and social endeavors.
“I’ve always believed that training of any kind doesn’t have to be like watching paint dry,” Simmons told the AFRO about her approach to teaching driver’s education, in which she employs a conversational teaching style, with students and herself sharing their experiences.
Simmons, who holds a master’s degree in Business Administration from Walden University, says she always knew that she had wanted to be self-employed, but that she took her time, exploring various ventures, before settling on opening a driving school. Opening BLISS, which stands for ‘Being Licensed, Insured, Safe & Secure,’ made sense in no small part because it guarantees a captive market.
“It’s a requirement,” explained Simmons. “You can’t get a license in Baltimore—in Maryland—without going to driving school.”
Simmons also works as a business consultant and a virtual assistant, sells hand painted glassware, as well as running a program in which she guides high school students with a business idea through the start-up process. She has also taken her hand painted glassware and turned it into a social event called ‘Sip and Stroke,’ in which folks gather at an establishment for wine and to paint their own glasses.
“I know it sounds weird but when you hear the name it piques your interest,” said Simmons, ever aware of the importance of branding and marketing.
“I’ve got a couple things pulling at me but it’s all worth it,” said Simmons. “If you look at anybody who has gone from zero to millions, they have multiple streams of income, so I’m following that blueprint.”
Simmons says that her classes at BLISS are fairly evenly split between young adults just learning to drive and older residents who know how to drive but never received their licenses. The biggest challenge with the adults is getting them to break their bad habits, since many of the things experienced drivers do on a regular basis will cause you to fail a formal road test.
With her younger students, the biggest challenge is getting parents to realize that driving school is just part of the learning process, not its entirety.
“A lot of times what parents think is they come to driving school and they don’t have a responsibility to their child outside of driving school, not realizing that Maryland also requires 60 hours of additional driving outside of the classroom,” said Simmons, adding later, “the real practice comes in with the parent outside of driver’s ed.”
The BLISS Driving Academy is located at 132 W 25th Street, and anyone interested in learning more can visit its website at www.blissdriving.com. Driver’s education is a prerequisite for receiving a license in the state and BLISS’s program consists of 10, three-hour sessions totaling the legally mandated 36 hours of classroom instruction.