Alyson Rae Lawson, 28, is opening her own 7-11 store, according to news reports. The 2010 graduate of Hampton University in Virginia was chosen as one of three finalists in the convenience store chain’s first franchise giveaway contest designed exclusively for female entrepreneurs.
Lawson said her desire to win the contest was fueled by the example her dad set when she was growing up. He owned and operated two Dallas McDonald’s restaurants.
“Every time I ride down the street I’m like, ‘Ah, a restaurant,’” she said in a recent interview with Fox-4 TV in Dallas. “I keep it in my mind, I jot it down, and I look up the franchising rules to it.”
Then an administrator from 7-Eleven called her in March.
“He said they were having a contest,” said Lawson, who graduated from HU with a bachelor’s degree in business management. She has two business-related master’s degrees from other institutions.
“Thousands of people apply to contests,” she told Fox-4 TV. “There’s no way in this world. But I’ll go ahead and apply,” she said. “I’ll play along and just see what happens.”
Smiling, she added, “When they said you’re in the top 25, I said, ‘This is becoming a little more real.’ And then there was the top seven.”
Lawson’s competition video has now been shared tens of thousands of times on social media.
As one of three finalists, Lawson won the waiver of the franchise fee, which is valued at up to $190,000.
“It has been a long journey, and a rewarding one,” Lawson said in a recent 7-11 news release. “I’m glad to come to the finish line and seeing not only was I a winner, but all the women were victorious.”
The contest also awards $10,000 to a charity of the winner’s choosing.
Of her new franchise, Lawson said, “In the beginning, it was a long shot. However, over time, you keep building up all these levels. I could do this! This could happen!”