How have the Arts impacted your life?
Art, generally, has always been a major influence on the way I’ve looked at the world around me. Since the age of about 11 or 12, I’ve been an artist, creating my original pieces for the world to consume. The exploration of color, line and perspective are usually my favorite components of any piece. Mix-matching textures, mediums, and patterns, I think, drive my love for the arts, including fashion. There is nothing more satisfying, with respect to art, when these components come together in one piece or a series of pieces. Now, I take my love for art and put it all into multimedia work Black With No Chaser.
Tell us about Black With No Chaser and your role.
Black With No Chaser is a for profit multimedia and consulting company with a straight forward mission: Think Black. Live Black Unapologetically. At our core, we create and curate safe spaces through a multidisciplinary approach for Black people and by Black people for the purpose of educating, motivating, and organizing. With an audience of 400,000, our platform reaches approximately 15 million highly engaged people monthly. We harness the power of communicating a spot on message quickly and effectively; however, we are not limited to digital spaces. Our reach and influence spans beyond the digital space through our national grassroots advocacy efforts and partnerships.
My role as Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) is looking at Black With No Chaser from a birds eye view approach to ensure we are building out our verticals in a manner that circles back to the overarching vision for the company. In addition, I’m the managing partner on strategic partnerships and advocacy. Lastly, I’m the co-host for a show underneath our Black With No Chaser umbrella called The Black Lunch Break, which was born out of COVID-19 but has become a household brand for our company. Season 2 is dropping in September with a couple of familiar faces and adding a new one to the mix. Stay tuned for more information.
Why is it so important that you empower the black community?
If not us then, who? Indeed, you have to be the change you wish to see. Black With No Chaser has an unflinching commitment to Black people and communities. The latter is why we started Black With No Chaser to begin with. Our vision, which is sustained, is to build a platform that centers Black joy while being able to tell and share all Black stories. From showing Black girls thriving in gymnastics to Black fathers sharing their journeys to politics to providing a platform for Black artists. We’ve received DMs and emails telling us about how empowering our platform has been to see #BlackExcellence on display, every single day. We would like to do that for years and years to come.
How have you had to adjust to the impact of COVID-19?
We’ve had to adjust to meet the demands of people consuming more content because more people are at home looking for ways to connect with people in meaningful ways. In light of this, we understand building safe communities within the larger community is so important because people compartmentalize their lives. For example, if you are a plant parent, which COVID has birthed plant parents like myself, you want to have these niche conversations with people who share a similar journey as you. That way when you raise a question or share a comment, you can trust that it will be met with a response that may or may not agree with yours but will foster meaningful conversations and hopefully relationships with those community members.
How has the entrepreneurial path been for you?
Not easy. But, it’s rewarding. There is so much to being a business owner than what meets the eye. It’s not until you have a “baby” of your own that you begin to see all the particular needs for it. The challenging part for me is being able to turn off work mode. The 9 to 5 mindset is thrown out the window the moment you step out as an entrepreneur. My biggest hurdle, which I suspect this is for most entrepreneurs and likely the entire Black With No Chaser team, is striking a balance with the life you once had working a 9 to 5 between the life you now live as an entrepreneur. I embrace the hustle and grind and wouldn’t want it any other way.
What was one of your most proud accomplishments from your work with Black With No Chaser?
For me, Black With No Chaser, in of itself, has been one of the coolest things I’ve been a part of. The entire journey is a series of proud moments. I say that because nothing but blood, sweat, tears and so many long nights and early morning have gone into the brand you see today. Black With No Chaser is bigger than me. It is bigger than any one person. #BlackWithNoChaser is a movement. If I had to choose a moment, however, it would be breaking the story that led to the national coverage of Parchman Penitentiary in Mississippi. It sparked national outrage that caught the attention of Roc Nation, Yo Gotti, Tamika Mallory, Dear Silas, Big K.R.I.T and other activists to shut down Parchman for its inhuman conditions.
What does success look like to you?
Success is such an abstract concept, especially when it comes to business. Some look at it from a dollars and cents perspective: the more money or wealth you accumulate, the more “successful” you are. Sure, there is some truth to that. But for Black With No Chaser, it has always been about telling stories – our stories – and building a brand that outlasts my generations and the generations to follow.
Where would you like to see your company in five years?
In five years, Black With No Chaser will be the premiere platform in the world that caters to and amplifies the voices and stories of all Black people.
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