My work is done remotely, at home and online, in Spokane, just south of the downtown area. I grew up in Buffalo, New York, as an only child to a single parent. The community that I grew up in adhered to the belief that, “It takes a village to raise a family.” My mom did a phenomenal job raising me as a single mom, though I was fortunate to also have had many fictive and non-fictive kin who invested in me as a child with great positive influence. My grandmother allowed for curiosity and creativity and my aunts invested in my talents and skills.
I have early memories of me always wanting to try it all—from tap dance, African dance, drawing, acting, modeling, sports to singing! In my mind, there was never a limit to what I could try or do. My mom always allowed for me to try, and even when I failed, she was there to encourage and support me.
I engaged in entrepreneurship when I was sixteen or seventeen when my best friend and I started our own “illegal” locker store. We went to the Dollar Store, along with a couple of other cheap candy stores, and stocked up on the things we knew our peers craved throughout the day. Gum was huge, and this was during the time of five sticks of gum in a pack. For obvious reasons, students did not like to share. We had Twizzlers, candy bars, Pixy Stix, juice and other treats, which all high school students loved. In our first week, we practically sold out! It was a hit—we had the new market in our tiny high school.
While my locker store adventures represented my start towards entrepreneurship and a small part of me wanted this for my future, I wasn’t exactly sure how to make it happen. As a high school junior, I knew that college was an absolute must in my family. So, I did the thing that was deemed important—I attended a four year college and worked towards my passion—which at eighteen, was to become a lawyer. I had no real understanding of what that meant other than I was great at debate, therefore I would make a great lawyer.
My initial passion to become a lawyer was not realized, but fast forward to my now being a full-time professional for the past fourteen years, a business owner and creative, whereby I am now starting to set goals for myself and for my business.
My passion for entrepreneurship has been a pie-in-the-sky dream, with an especially increased burning flame over the last two years, though I have been writing, learning new art forms and creating art for about twelve years. Now, instead of planning for retirement, I am planning for my continued future as a business owner. I pursue my brand and the success of my business with ferocity, more than I have done in any other area of my life. Back when I was in college, I merely just got by and while I did find joy later in my job from working with students from the impact I had on their lives, it didn’t ever drive me like going after my business does.
“An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.”
Ideas and inspiration are in abundance all around me, from an element in a commercial to observing human behaviors. I love to follow graphic design and color trends. Music also energizes me to create, as though time does not exist. All the external elements aside, one of my biggest inspirations for ideas is being able to communicate to the viewer the ways in which we are and how we can be so much better together.
As an emerging entrepreneur, the full process has been my biggest accomplishment! It took me realizing my passion and taking steps to pursue it, and like dominos pieces began to fall into place. I continue to make connections in the community. I am able to be honest about my process with open vulnerability, which really draws people in.
Becoming disciplined on doing the business side of things has been one of the biggest challenges I have faced, as I just want to create and leave the paperwork and administration to someone else. As an emerging entrepreneur, however, I do not have that luxury. I have had to keep a tight to-do list with deadlines and dates and force myself to get good at the paperwork and administration side of the business too. This gives me autonomy over my brand, voice and revenue, so that when I grow and can be in a position to have a team, I know the ins-and-outs of the whole business and what I want for my business’ future.
In il•lu•mi•na•tion, the PORTAL Collective invites the viewer to step into a highly immersive site-specific installation. Using interactive projections and audio recordings, Shantell Jackson, Roin Morigeau, and Asia Porter have rendered their individual pen + ink work into imagined digital topographies. It is largely taken for granted how entrenched white hetero-patriarchy has become in our day-today lives—from the clothes we wear and the sidewalks we travel to the very buildings we inhabit. PORTAL′s il•lu•mi•na•tion answers the question, “What else?” Wielding poetry, visual art, digital design, and contemporary storytelling methods as tools, we are not dismantling the master′s house, we are building a home of our own. PORTAL is the antidote to creative isolation. il•lu•mi•na•tion is the doorway.
- Knowing how to price products can be extremely difficult when you first begin to sell your work, though it is important that buyers value your time and work. Do research and learn more about industry standards for selling work. Get out of the mindset your work has to be sellable to everyone and that you should market to them all—it is unrealistic.
- Leverage what you need with who you know. Come up with a list of people who have skills that you lack and consult with them. It is ok to ask advice from these individuals. You may find that they are also eager to help you sometimes for free, or sometimes through trading goods for services.
- Assess how you are spending your time. If you had to calculate it in terms of a salary, are you losing money, are you breaking even or making a profit. Determine what venture makes the most sense to spend time on so that you have optimal time and fiscal efficacy.
- Online learning modules have been my biggest resource. I use Lynda Campus to help fill in some of those nitty-gritty gaps. It is a paid service, HOWEVER, with most library memberships, you can access this service for free. Sometimes, we do not have the time to go to a course or to go back to school. By using online learning you can go at your own pace and really create the experience that is best for your business from industry experts.
- Be vulnerable to the process. In my vulnerability, I have created the most authentic work and been able to pursue my passion more fervently.
- In the midst of creating and building a business remember your why! Why do I create? What does it give me? How can I inspire someone else through my passion?