What is your full name, title, and business name?
Give us a summary of your business in 200 words or less.
Creative Control Fest is an annual multi-day conference that centers around creatives of color, we aim for the mutual exchange of resources in the industries of art, music, design, activism, tech, scholarship, and entrepreneurship.
The Creatives Shop is an apparel brand that fuels the minds of makers, thinkers, and doers dedicated to fostering originality and ingenuity.
How did the idea for your business come about?
We noticed a lack of diversity in creative fields and we decided to do something about it. This conference is aimed at the creative with an appreciation for cultural diversity and the profound impact that it has in the creative community. Derived from the need to unite creative professionals in our local and global community, Creative Control Fest is a conference to learn from industry leaders, to create, and to grow.
What was the turning point for your business? Was there a moment you knew you had something special?
A turning point for Creative Control Fest came when we decided to partner with local businesses and organizations creating programming and events throughout the year. From that we developed some relationships which also gave CCF visibility and brand recognition.
What does it mean to you to be an entrepreneur and business owner?
Being an entrepreneur means you are willing to bet on yourself.
What does the city of Columbus mean to your business?
Columbus is the place where I have been able to build not only businesses but a community. It has given me the tools to be a successful creative professional.
Are you from Columbus? If not, please explain what brought you to here and ultimately what made you stay.
I am originally from New York City and moved to Columbus, Ohio to follow my dream of turning my love for art into a career. I’m a graduate of Columbus College of Art & Design. My first business venture was a design firm, Milkcrate Concepts, which I started during my senior year. I also serve on the board of trustees at Columbus College of Art and Design.
What’s the number one piece of advice you’d give to anyone wanting to start a business?
Start! Don’t overthink it.
What do you wish you knew about entrepreneurship before starting your business?
I wish I knew about the financial resources available to small business owners.
What’s the most challenging part of your business (i.e, what keeps you up at night)?
I think growth in general is challenging. We are in a pivotal point where we want to scale, and we want to raise our attendance numbers but keep our authenticity. I want Creative Control Fest to be a nationally recognized creative conference while still maintaining its true identity.
Every business owner has a flaw. What’s yours?
I think I am terrible about talking about myself, that’s why it’s taking me WAY too long to fill out this questionnaire, lol.
Why do you think most business owners fail? What has made you different?
They stop or never get started because they are afraid to fail. Failing and failure are two different things. Failing is trying something, learning from your mistake. Failure is throwing in the towel and giving up.
What was your biggest mistake and what did it cost you?
Closing my first business cost me a lot emotionally. I was young and in a place of uncertainty and it took a toll on my confidence.
What tool has helped you the most for your business (invoicing, accounting, shipping, plugin for website, etc.)?
My community and network, the people that support us and want to see us continue to grow, is our biggest motivation. Those relationships have helped our business the most and are priceless.
When did you know it was time to expand your business, make your first hire, etc.?
We are starting to gain a following in the midwest region, so I knew it was necessary to market in some of our surrounding cities if we wanted to grow. We are starting to identify those audiences and developing strategies to engage them.
What is something that you did that was a game changer for your business?
Since the conference’s inception, we have always had it in the King Lincoln Bronzeville community at the historic Lincoln theater. Now we are seeing a resurgence in that community and are happy to be apart of the Renaissance.
What is something that your business spends a lot of money on that’s worth it?
Content is king and we want to make sure that each year we have the best in class speakers and presenters.
What form of marketing is the most valuable for you?
Social media marketing by far.
Who is your best Columbus resource (accountant, lawyer, marketer, etc.)?
We have some great community partners and their continued support is invaluable.
Columbus College of Art and Design, Columbus Museum of Art, The Lincoln Theatre, GCAC, and The Columbus Foundation.
Who do you vent to when you have a business problem?
Communication is key so my business partner and I meet and discuss all the time to ideate and work through any issues.
Where do you see your business in the next 10 years?
Creative Control Fest will be a nationally renowned conference.
When you’re stressed or overwhelmed, what do you do to overcome this feeling?
I try not to stress over things too often because it’s not healthy. When I feel l need to pull away from something, I do and come back to it later when I have a clear head.
What’s one component of entrepreneurship that’s much different than what most people think?
People think that it’s easy, but it’s a constant race with no finish line.
What’s your end goal with the business? Is this something you want to pass down to your kids or would you like to eventually sell?
Creative Control Fest will be a nationally renowned conference to continue to be a resource to the creative community.
How would your business fare if the economy hit a nasty downturn like it did in 2008? Have you prepared for this?
The economy can impact any business so you have to stay flexible and be able to pivot.
What other entrepreneur do you look up to most?
I love the entrepreneur network we have here in Columbus and some of my closest friends are doing some fantastic things in this city. It is essential that we celebrate each other. Marshall Shorts (Artfluential & Co-founder of Creative Control Fest), Nate Damars (Pursuit) , Yohannan Terrell (Warhol & Wall Street), Jeni Britton Bauer (Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream), Kevin and Darren Malhame ( co-owners of Northstar Café, Third and Hollywood, and Brassica) and Stephan Thomas and Ashley Ingram (Thomas Ingram Law Group), just to name a few.
If you had to tell a visitor one thing to do/see/eat in Columbus, what would it be?
Columbus is a city of neighborhoods, so visit them all!