KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Daira Smith reads the three words "Never Give Up" on her wall every day.
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"Every time I get frustrated or I get beside myself or overwhelmed, you know, I read that sign," Smith said. "It means so much to me, coming from starting all the way over."
Last year, the day after Thanksgiving, Smith and her family lost everything in an apartment fire.
"Devastation, I was confused." Smith said. "I’m like, where do I go from here?"
Now, almost one year later, Smith considers herself a different woman. She said once her attitude changed, everything changed.
"2023 I’m trying to tell you, this has been the best year of my life," she said.
Smith went from down on her luck — with no job and no home — to running two businesses out of her brand new apartment. She's both Tha'LocLadi for hair and Tha'Ladi Sweetz for baked goods.
"I baked my first cake when I was 14 and my dad was like, 'You can bake me a cake any day,'" Smith said.
Baking has always been a passion of hers, but it was something she never explored because she didn't think it could be a full time job.
"My mom, she reminded me when I was a kid, I used to say I wanted a cupcake shop," Smith said. "Thanksgiving is approaching, and I have, like, a list of orders that I gotta get done Thanksgiving Eve to get out Thanksgiving."
Smith said the fire was the wake up call she needed.
"That fire just... took the scary away, you know, from the dreams that I had, and I was scared to pursue them, and now I’m out here just tossing cakes," Smith said.
Now, when she see's what's left of her former home, it's yet another reminder of how far she's come.
"That was a life changing moment," Smith said. "We were reborn, I was reborn that night."