The Power of Mentorship

In May 2014 I graduated college. At this point I had 10 internships, and held the title “President” in two campus organizations, and I was unable to find a job in my field.

Side note: If you’ve never read Let’s face it, your degree isn’t good enough, please do.

I was 22 and I knew I wanted to start my own business. When I applied for all of the great local agency’s that every kid in PRSSA dreamed of working at, no one called me back. I thought: Well if they don’t want to hire me, I’ll become their competition.

I knew nothing about starting a business or what was required to make me look “legit.” I had no idea what I should charge or how I should charge and this led to be being ripped off and unpaid for projects from time to time – YIKES!

Thankfully for me, throughout my time in college I attended every networking event I possibly could. I would stand out because I would be the only 18 year old kid in a room full of business professionals. Throughout my years of networking, I had made some connections I was able to reach out to who helped me begin to shape TJE.

Now at 27, I can keep it real with myself and say I had NO CLUE what I was doing trying to start a business at 22. I am lucky to have some amazing mentors in my life I can call on when I’m need and I encourage you all to do the same.

If you don’t currently have a mentor or two, here’s how to effectively find the right person for you.

1. Seek out local organizations that provide mentorship.

There are so many local organizations that provide mentorship as a perk of being a member. I’m currently a member of The Diva Movement, Black Career Women’s Network, and Women in Digital. If you’re feeling nervous about the thought of having a mentor, starting out in groups like this can help ease you into the idea and help you creative expectations for mentorship.

2. You should have something to give if you’re willing to take.

When I seek information from my mentors, I make it a point to offer something in return. All of the people in my network are bossed up and they should not be providing me with free advice every time I want it. You should be open and willing to give your time and resources to the people who are helping you grow.

3. Seek REAL connections, not people with a lot of connections.

Don’t fall for someone’s social media persona. Before you spend $100+ on a coaching session, you need to do your research. Be sure you are choosing someone REAL, authentic, and someone who aligns with your goals.

4. Ask your network.

Reach out to your network for a recommendation on a mentor or for any mentoring groups they are members of.

5. Your mentor doesn’t have to be in the same field as you.

Having a mentor in a different industry could provide you with a new business perspective. Broaden your horizon! Find someone who has a teaching style you can learn from.

Mentorship is truly powerful and I hope you all take the time to seek out mentors or become one yourself. If you have a mentor, what is some of the best advice they’ve given you? Comment below!

What I’ve learned in 4 years as a business owner

I didn’t even realize it had been 4 years until LinkedIn reminded me! Now we’re at 4 years and 1 month and in the last few years my life has significantly changed. I graduated college, purchased my first home, become a mother, bought my first car, and not to mention the physical, mental, and emotionally toll that those things bring.

I have had some really low, lows. I’ve also had some successes. Most importantly, I’ve gained wisdom. Here’s a few things you should keep in mind as you grow your business while not losing yourself in the process.

Support is not a given.

You want to know something? Let’s keep it real. Your friends and family don’t believe in you….yet. In my first year or so I had people “support” – share a post here, a RT there. But majority were still skeptical of what I was trying to do. Some still are. Save yourself the disappointment by understanding that support is not a given. Just because you’re besties or related, doesn’t mean you automatically get the support. It’s a hard pill to swallow but you have to respect it. Focus on building and giving people a reason to follow suite.

Stop giving away your shit for free.

Seriously. I’ve had soooooooo (I really want to put a billion o’s but I don’t have enough time for that) many people take advantage of me because I started off giving them free stuff. I thought of it as a way to “build my portfolio” and “gain some experience.” When in reality, people would take advantage of the free and when it was time to pay up, they “no longer needed” my services. Even IF you’re doing free work, you damn sure better be getting something in return.

Routines are mad important. 

I have a fairly strict daily routine for myself that keeps me on track! If I shy away from the routine even just a little bit, I have to accept the fact that I’ll be lacking in other areas. Trust me, I am FAR from perfect. And, no, I do not always hit my daily or even weekly goals. However, at least having them set gives me a general idea of what I should be doing for my business everyday.

Get you a hobby, or two.

I cut cable because I realized I was wasting so much time ready to hit the bed at 8PM so I could lay up and watch every reality television drama you can think of. I mean all of it. Sure these shows are still great in my mind, I had to shift my focus and truly get a hobby.

When I decided to stop working out to lose weight, and start working out to feel great, fitness quickly became a hobby. I compete with my own best results, and I find new ways to challenge myself and test my limits.

Working out truly allows me to clear my mind and relieve stress. If you want to keep a level head in your business, I suggest if you don’t have a hobby (like me until recently) you should do some soul searching to find out what makes you happy – other than your work.

Keep it cute.

People are going to try you, and that’s perfectly fine. Once you decided to become a business owner, you began representing something bigger than you. For me, I hope to build my businesses and hand them down to my daughter one day. That is why it is important to behave professionally at all times. As much as my want to “pop off”, it’s important to keep it cute. You never know who is watching you!

Make your seat unique. 

It’s 2018. More than likely there’s somebody doing what you’re doing. Your job is not to focus on how you can be like them, you need to focus on how you can stand out while staying true to your brand. Once you create a niche for yourself, you’ll be able to be more strategic and you will be much happier!

Disconnect.

Lastly, I’ve learned that at least a few times a week I need to shut it down. No phone, no email, no laptop, nothing. I enjoy taking a step back and just being present. All of the “noise” will still be there when you plug back in.

Thank you to everyone who has been along for the ride! I look forward to seeing where we are at 5 years.

Recap of HOA Fashion Experience

One word to describe the weekend: Wow!

The weekend was full of good vibes, great people and positivity. It was amazing to see so many companies such as Dr. Martens, Lip Lock Gang, Tune Heads and 4th Lane Clothing come together to give Columbus an upscale fashion experience in a trendy manner.

Heart of It All is a group of Ohio State students who have identified a need to culminate the state’s fashion innovators into one event in Columbus to assist with the prominence of Ohio’s image in the industry. It’s crazy to think that Ohio is still considered “on the come up” of being considered a state full of fashion innovators like NYC or Chicago – especially with events like HOA happening.

I honestly find it hard to believe that this was HOA’s first big show and some of the models were getting their debut! I could see the HOA Fashion Experience being an annual event that will continue to grow and bring in people from the major fashion cities to see that Columbus can play the fashion game just as well – if not better.

HUGE thank you to HOA for allowing me to attend the events this week! If you missed it, you can follow HOA on TwitterInstagram and Facebook for pictures and videos!

Join 1girl at their first Graduation Celebration

Over the past year, I have been a 1girl program facilitator. 1girl is a non-profit organization that provides a unique, proven curriculum that empowers middle school girls to develop the skills they will need to be successful. The program is designed around five core skills: public speaking, creative problem solving, critical thinking, goal setting and conflict resolution.
1girl is hosting a graduation and facilitator celebration event to celebrate the work we have done this year and the girls we have been able to serve. I was fortunate enough to speak with Co-Founder and Executive Director, Shelby Kretz about the organization, the Graduation Celebration and the future of 1girl.
What was the inspiration behind starting 1Girl?  1girl was started out of a conversation between myself and two friends, Aditi Bansal and Sheila Maina, while we were in college. We started talking about the barriers girls face, especially low-income girls, in reaching their true potential. This conversation spurred many other conversations that eventually led to us deciding we wanted to do something to help support women and girls in reaching their dreams.
How did you come up with the name? – One of the first questions we asked ourselves was, “How will we define success?” We all agreed that if we could have an impact on just one girl’s life, it would be worth it. That is where the name 1girl came from.
What steps did you take to create your organization? We first researched how we wanted to structure the organization, and eventually we decided that becoming a non-profit was the best path for us. We completed the non-profit and 510(c)3 paperwork while we were putting together our first pilot program.
Who are the girls you serve? Backgrounds? Cultures? Ages? – We serve girls in grades 5-8. Generally, they come from at-risk and low-income neighborhoods, or they are attending poor performing schools. A majority of our girls are either African American or of Hispanic decent. However, we are always open to serving any middle school girls in need!
What types of programs does 1Girl have? – Our main program is our “Educating Future Leaders Program”. This program is run through existing after-school and summer programs. It is one semester long, twice a week for an hour. We work on skills like creative problem solving, critical thinking, and goal setting. The programs are facilitated by local college women, which allows them the opportunity to practice their own leadership skills.
Where do you hold the programs? – We work through pre existing after-school and summer sites, including schools, churches, recreation centers, summer camps, and anywhere else kids spend their time regularly. This is a great partnership as our sites are often in need of high quality, meaningful programming to offer their students. It also eliminates barriers for the girls, like transportation or additional costs.
How can people get involved? – There are a number of ways to get involved. We are looking to expand our committees, which are made up of Columbus community members interested in supporting 1girl by helping with events, marketing, finances, programs, fundraising, and more! It is a fun group of people working towards a shared mission. College students can get involved through their campus chapter of 1girl, or by starting a chapter if their school does not already have one. Being involved with the chapter will also open the opportunity for facilitating a program. Another great way to get involved is to support 1girl by donating to our work.
What is the purpose of the event next week? – The purpose of the event is to celebrate the success of our girls and facilitators. They have done amazing things this year, and we want to bring the community together to congratulate them. We will also be giving out our first 1girl scholarship to one of our dedicated volunteers.
Where do you see 1girl in the next 5-10 years? – I expect 1girl to be national in the next 5-10 years. We are expanding quickly through college campus chapters, and we expand that growth to continue. Our goal is to serve as many girls as possible with the most effective leadership training curriculum!
Once again, I am so happy to have been a part of this organization this past year and I would love it if you would come out and support at the Graduation Celebration on Wednesday, April 22, 2014 at The Bosco Center in Downtown Columbus. For more information and tickets, click here.

Heart of it All Fashion Experience: A 3 Day Fashion Showcase

I am happy to announce that TJE Communications will be a part of the Heart of it All Fashion Experience!

Heart of it All Fashion is comprised of a group of students at Ohio State. Their vision behind creating the organization is to provide a platform for designers, fashion institutions, clothing brands, boutiques and blogs; serving as a vessel for aspiring talent throughout Ohio to show off their skills cohesively and contribute to the fashion capital of the Midwest.

The founders, Aaron Carey and Nadiyah Harper, had a vision to add to the fashion culture and are doing so with the Heart of it All Fashion Experience.

The Heart of it All Fashion Experience is a three day showcase of design talent from Ohio institutions and clothing brands.

The showcase begins April 24th with the 17th Dissent Art Exhibition at Dude Locker and goes through April 26th with the Flight HOA 1803 Designer Fashion Show being held in the Archie Griffin Grand Ballroom.

There are also two events on April 25th:

HOA Avenue: This event will feature vendors and pop up shops from 12-5pm at 527 Hudson St.

Turbulence Street Wear Show Presented by Dr. Martens: Check out designs from established and emerging street wear brands, business and boutiques.

I’m very excited to be a part of this experience because I cannot recall seeing anything like it before. The best part is that it is being put on by young professionals and entrepreneurs! 

Be sure to grab your tickets to these events ASAP because I am sure they will sell out! 

Also, keep your eyes right here as I will be attending all of the events and posting videos and pictures.

Check out Heart of It All Fashion right here.