A Publication of WTVP

In October 2008, Illinois Central College released Role Models: Profiles of Successful African American Professionals in Peoria, Illinois. The first book published in the African American Success Series, Role Models features 126 African American Peorians (63 men and 63 women) employed in 115 different occupations. The book has served as an effective and highly-used resource for connecting successful people with area students. 

In Spring 2010, Illinois Central College will release its second book in the African American Success Series, Role Models: Profiles of Successful African American Entrepreneurs in Peoria, Illinois. The book features 60 local African American entrepreneurs successfully doing business in a variety of industries.

The books are products of the Role Model Project at ICC. Proceeds from these publications support mentoring programs, at the college and in the community, that connect local role models with local students.

The books are edited by Rita Ali, PhD, executive director of diversity at Illinois Central College. What follows are two excerpts from the forthcoming book.

Supreme Accounting & Tax Services, LLC
Gia Jones and Kelly Stewart are co-owners of Supreme Accounting & Tax Services, LLC. Armed with extensive skills and experience in accounting and tax preparation, the two women eventually became business partners. Ms. Jones serves as business manager while Ms. Stewart serves as corporate client manager. Their pledge to create an environment that will cause every client to view Supreme as a trusted business advisor dedicated to providing quality service has resulted in lasting client relationships and continuous growth.

Background: Gia Jones is originally from Gary, Indiana. The youngest of five children, she was the first in her family to attend college. She received her Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting degree from Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. After graduation, Ms. Jones was hired at Caterpillar and worked in the accounting department of this corporate giant for 8 ½ years. She and two of her co-workers from Caterpillar started Supreme Accounting & Tax Services, LLC as a side business in 2001. Ms. Jones never imagined, at that time, that the business would grow into a full-time entrepreneurship.

Kelly Stewart was born and raised in West Memphis, Arkansas. She is the youngest and only daughter of three children. She received her Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from Jackson State University and her Master’s of Business Administration from Indiana Wesleyan University. She, too, went to work for Caterpillar, where she worked in the company’s accounting department for nine years. Ms. Stewart joined Supreme Accounting & Tax Services, LLC in 2003, eventually becoming a 50/50 partner with Jones.

Personal: Gia Jones married her high school sweetheart and is the mother of two children. Her spare time is devoted to family and community service.

Kelly Stewart also married her high school sweetheart. She and her husband have three children. Ms. Stewart enjoys spending time with her family, shopping, traveling and singing in her church choir.

Career Influence/Inspiration: Gia Jones’ life has been inspired by her uncle, Jimmy Brown; her husband, Johnny Jones; and her spiritual father, Rick Funkhouser. Her career has been influenced most by an accounting teacher, Ms. Wall Horace Mann, and her business mentor, Robert Kaiser, CPA.

Kelly Stewart’s life has been most influenced by God and her mother. Self-interest and a high school accounting teacher were the primary influences behind her career choice.

Community Involvement: Gia Jones works with Jubilee Ministries to help single mothers to enhance their standard of living. She is the first lady of Word of Faith Christian Center in Bloomington, Illinois, where her husband is the pastor. She also teaches at her church and encourages and motivates young people to choose or get back on the right path.

Kelly Stewart’s community work includes teaching Junior Achievement courses at Manual High School, acting as finance director of United Fellowship Ministries and serving as a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

What is the best advice that you would give an individual who desires to enter into your particular profession?
Jones: Make your clients first priority. Don’t be driven by money; be driven by service, and the money will come. Have high integrity and don’t compromise. Don’t quit or retreat, keep it moving!

Stewart: Always do what you really want to do—whatever you are good at—something for which you have talent and that is and will be in demand.


Supreme Accounting & Tax Services, LLC
3000 N. University Street, Peoria, IL 61604, (309) 682-4TAX

Supreme Accounting & Tax Services is an accounting, taxation and business consulting firm. Supreme offers a broad range of services which include: estate and tax planning, small business consulting, IRS problem resolution, financial and business planning, auditing, bookkeeping, payroll services, and accounting and tax workshops.

The mission of Supreme is to provide a complete range of professional accounting and tax services at affordable fees. The firm pledges to create an environment that will cause every client to view Supreme as a trusted business advisor dedicated to providing quality service and building lasting client relationships.

Supreme’s service portfolio includes Fortune 100 experience, financial and cost accounting, tax preparation and filing (business and individual), payroll tax, and fourteen years of compliance and review of financial information. The company is certified by the Illinois Business Enterprise Program as a Female Business Enterprise (FBE).

Business Ownership: Supreme Accounting & Tax Services, LLC is owned by Gia Jones and Kelly Stewart. It is a limited liability company with Jones and Stewart having equal (50/50) ownership.

Business Background: Supreme Accounting & Tax Services, LLC was started in November 2001 by Gia Jones and two of her co-workers at Caterpillar. The company started as a side business, affording each owner the means to meet several specific personal goals and make a contribution to the community by providing free financial workshops and educating the public on accounting-related topics. Kelly Stewart joined the company in 2003. She and Ms. Jones ultimately became co-owners.


Winters Barber Shop & Beauty Salon

Stephen Winters is the owner of Winters Barber Shop & Beauty Salon. He also manages the business and serves as head barber. Sixteen years ago, when Winters went into business for himself, there were only three African American-owned barber shops in Peoria. Today, he estimates, there are between 15 and 20 shops. “I have to stay current with hairstyles for people ages one to 75,” Winters asserts. “You really have to treat your clients right.” Winters indicates that the greatest satisfaction he gets from his business is “listening to people with wisdom give you bits of wisdom you can apply to your own life.”

Background: Stephen Winters started cutting hair when he was about 12 years old. His dad would cut his hair, and he’d watch as his father cut the hair of other boys and men in the neighborhood. Stephen acquired the skill and when he got to college, he cut hair as a means to earn money.

Mr. Winters is an alumnus of Peoria High School, where he became the first black captain of the swim team and where he continues to hold the high jump record in track and field. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in entrepreneurial finance from the University of Illinois and is a graduate of Midwest Barber College. The discipline associated with athletics, he believes, has helped him in school and in business.

After graduating from college, Stephen received his first house as a graduation gift from his father. His father didn’t want him to rent housing. That house, located at Hurlburt and MacArthur, was gutted in 1993 by Stephen and his father and converted into a barber shop. Later, in 1998, he built a brand-new business facility, adjacent to the older house, which he ultimately demolished. The business was expanded to include an adjacent beauty salon.

Personal: Stephen and his wife, Venus, have two children, Serena and Stephen Ray Winters II. He most enjoys spending time with his family. Mr. Winters loves weight lifting and “watching the Los Angeles Lakers beat every other team in the NBA.”

Career Influence/Inspiration: Stephen’s father, Allen Winters, has had the biggest influence on his career. He credits his dad as the driving force behind his success in athletics and in business. “Seeing his work ethic at Caterpillar and at home influenced me to try to achieve the same,” Winters shared.

Community Involvement: Stephen Winters uses his business as a community platform to talk to young men, discouraging their involvement in criminal activity and encouraging them to earn an education. “I explain risk-reward analysis,” exclaims Winters. “The penalty for an offense can be so harsh that it’s not worth the risk. I challenge young men to make wise choices.”

What is the best advice that you would give an individual who desires to enter into your particular profession?
Make sure you go to college for at least two years to learn the basics of business and find a market where you’re needed as opposed to one that is saturated. Despite the need, some communities have no African American barbers, or very few. This presents great opportunity.


Winters Barber Shop & Beauty Salon
904 W. Hurlburt Street, Peoria, IL 61605, (309) 672-2573

Winters Barber Shop & Beauty Salon is a full-service barber and beauty hair care operation. The company is staffed by three licensed barbers and two licensed beauticians that provide full hair care services from basic cuts and face trimming to hair relaxing, weaving, conditioning, coloring and braiding. The company operates out of a fairly new, 900-square-foot facility located on the corner of Hurlburt Street and MacArthur Highway in Peoria.

Owner Stephen Winters indicates that his business caters to everybody. “This environment is comfortable and accessible for anybody, anytime of the day. We treat our clients right, providing fast, quality service.”

Business Ownership: Winters Barber Shop & Beauty Salon is owned by Stephen R. Winters. The business operates as a sole proprietorship. Mr. Winters serves as owner, head barber and manager. “I’m also the plumber, equipment repairman, and clean-up crew,” he insists.

Business Background: The company opened originally as Winters Barber Shop in 1993. When Stephen Winters graduated from the University of Illinois in 1992, his father, Allen Winters, gave him a house for graduation. That house, located on the corner of Hurlburt and MacArthur, was gutted by Stephen and his father and turned into Winters Barber Shop. Several years later, when his insurance company demanded upgrades to the business property, Stephen decided to build a new facility on the land. The new building was finished in May 1998 and the original property—the house—was torn down. Stephen’s father, who had just retired from Caterpillar, then joined the company as one of its barbers.

Business Challenge: “Maintaining market share is the biggest challenge in this business,” Winters says. “You must work hard to try to make people want to stay loyal to you. This is done by providing good, fast service.”