Sparq-ing Entrepreneurs: Meet Cyatta Siler, the Visionary Behind IMAGES 

8 minute read

Cyatta Siler

To the cosmos–and beyond! 

That’s the vision of Cyatta Siler, executive director of IMAGES, an outreach ministry dedicated to bringing restoration to individuals, families and communities in the Piedmont Triad. No, she’s not a Space X wannabe. The cosmos she’s referencing is a universe where every individual is empowered to overcome the challenges they will face in life.

Siler founded IMAGES, which stands for “Imparting Motivation Achieving Goals Expecting Success,” in 2012 to accomplish a dream she had for the world. From her own experiences as an at-risk youth and emancipated minor, Siler knows firsthand the difference having the right mindset and support system can make. She wants anyone facing negative circumstances and traumatic situations to have the resources and perspective they need to overcome those obstacles–whether that’s a child, a family, or an entire community.

Siler initially founded IMAGES as a youth mentorship program, but her vision for the organization expanded quickly as she saw more ways to support and serve at-risk youth and their families, a journey that led her to Sparq in the Innovation Quarter.

Cyatta Siler became a member of Sparq when her organization, initially founded in Greensboro, NC, expanded to serve clients in Forsyth County. She shared how IMAGES grew from a mentorship program into a multifaceted outreach that offers a variety of programs for people of all ages–from youth mentoring and enrichment programs, to parenting help and financial workshops–in four counties in the Piedmont Triad area. 

Sparq logo

If you don’t know Sparq, it’s a startup and small business launch pad located in the heart of Innovation Quarter at Bailey Power Plant, providing space and amenities to help companies that are getting their start. This series explores the diverse endeavors that get a “spark” from this iQ resource. 

Q: Why did you decide to start IMAGES? 

A: My main goal in life is to have a career that I am passionate about, which led me to found IMAGES. Having been a trauma survivor, teen mom, and emancipated minor, I understand the challenges that people in similar situations face. I came up against a lot of obstacles and challenges as a child, but I was able to overcome those. I wanted to help other people face the negative cycles they experience and help them become restored to the fullness of who we were created to be.

Q: Did you have a different gig before starting the IMAGES organization?

A: Actually, I have a bunch of businesses that I do, as well as this outreach ministry. The ministry work is more of a passion-fulfilling thing than a bill-paying situation! My other businesses include a financial services business and a print shop that I operate from my home, and I’ve been a hair stylist since 2004. I’m a mom and a minister. It’s a lot, but I like to stay busy.

Q: What are the problems that IMAGES is trying to solve?

A: When I founded IMAGES in 2012, the organization was specifically targeting at-risk youth through mentoring. What we discovered was that it’s easy to take one hour and supply a positive role model for kids, but for the other 23 hours in a day that child is exposed to influences in their neighborhood, in their environment, in their schools. They need the tools and mindset to cope with whatever they’re facing, and their families and communities are a big part of that. So, we started providing support to the parents and caregivers, because their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing is going to have an impact on their children. 

We expanded our services to include enrichment programs, parenting help, professional development and more, and everything is designed to assist the family as a whole and their surrounding communities. We have something for everybody.

Q: What “Sparq-ed” your interest in the Innovation Quarter?

A: When IMAGES expanded into Forsyth County, it was imperative that we had a place for professional meetings with clients and members. Even though we were able to make many of our programs and services virtual during the pandemic, we still have partners and clients who want face-to-face interaction. We needed a place that had the space, the ambience and environment we were looking for. I found Sparq through a partnership with HUSTLE Winston-Salem, and I loved the space so much. 

Cyatta Siler also shared some of her favorite things–not just about her outreach ministry, but also some of the things that have helped her as an entrepreneur–and her favorite lunch getaway. 

Q: IMAGES provides a lot of programs and services. Do you have an offering that is one of your favorites? 

A: Our Mini & Me workshops! At these sessions, kids come with their parents–or caregivers, it doesn’t have to be a parent–and we work on creative activities that help children and caregivers develop a bond, as well as social behaviors, through things like yoga, art, music, and story times. 

Q: What resources have really helped you as an entrepreneur and small business owner?

A: One of the great things I value about Sparq is the facilities. The board rooms and meeting rooms are awesome. There are different sizes, so we have the right amount of space whether it’s a small group or larger gathering, and whoever comes, whether they are people from other businesses and organizations or our clients, they are always complimenting the ambience and the environment. And since we are the new kids on the block here in Forsyth County, I like networking with other people in the space. We’ve come across some really amazing people! 

Additionally, a big part of moving IMAGES into Forsyth County was due to support from HUSTLE Winston-Salem. I was able to get an Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) position with them, which opened a lot of doors. HUSTLE was based out of Sparq, and it was through that relationship that I moved IMAGES to the Innovation Quarter. 

Q: What is your favorite spot or activity in the iQ?

A: I love the oven-fired pizza at Cugino Forno. The Margerita D.O.P is my favorite!

Q: What is your favorite bit of advice that you give someone who is thinking about entrepreneurship?

A: The advice I would give to any entrepreneur is to keep a positive mindset. We are capable of great things, and sometimes those things are going to be outside of the box that society has painted for us to stay in. Stay encouraged, and stay connected to other people for support and advice. 

Cyatta Siler has always been a woman of vision–from her childhood dream job to the areas where she sees IMAGES expanding next. No small visions here!

Q: What did you want to be when you grew up?

A: When I was growing up, I actually wanted to be an evangelist, like the ones I saw on TV. That was my dream job. 

Q: Onto your current dream job: In five years, where do you see IMAGES? 

A: I would love for IMAGES to have its own building and facilities, where we can operate all our programs and services from the same place. I want it to be somewhere that is accessible from public transport, so that it makes us accessible to more people in the community. 

I also want to help address Winston’s homeless population. A few weeks ago, I was working at my salon and saw a group of homeless people being evicted from the woods nearby. I can’t imagine that most people would want to live in the woods if they had somewhere else to go. I want to add transitional housing to IMAGES’ repertoire of services to assist the city in providing for the homeless population. If we work together, I think we can come up with a solution. 

Q: If you were going to write a headline about your company, how would it read? 

A: That’s a good question! It would probably say something about working in unity and empowering people in Winston. No, not just in Winston–into the cosmos!

Visit the IMAGES website to learn more about Cyatta Siler and see how you could get involved in one of the organization’s many programs–they’re completely powered by volunteers! 

You can also check out Sparq and its amenities online, and stay tuned for more conversations with Sparq entrepreneurs.