Entrepreneur Spotlight: Creative and Artist Ravin Lawson

Interview by Abner Jackson III

When did you realize you wanted to become an artist and was there any artist who work influenced you the most?
Art found me at a young age. I have been drawing as long as I can remember and started selling my graffiti sketches to my classmates in 4th grade.

Tell readers about your Mlndsoul and RavinFresh website? How did you come up with the idea to start those websites.
Melanated Soul (MLNDSOUL.com) was created to ‘Consciously engage the dynamic in Black Culture.’ In a world that constantly feeds us negative images, I felt it was necessary to put out positive apparel for our young Kings and Queens to look up to. RavinFresh.com is set to launch in February 2018 and will be another creative outlet for my Art and Apparel.

How long have you been artist for and did you take any specific training to become one?
I have been creating my whole life, however I didn’t take it seriously until college. I have no formal training whatsoever.

What do you feel separates your art from others?
I feel that my life, experiences, multiple talents, and perspective separates me from anyone else.

What is your biggest accomplishment in your field of work?
I’m not sure what my biggest accomplishment is but, hopefully, it is yet to come!

What is your favorite painting and why?
I dont have one specifically, but I love doing my “splash marley” paintings. I would say that’s my signature look right now.

Where do you see your companies at in five years from now?
In five years I see Melanated Soul being a well known clothing brand and my artwork (Freshpaintz) to be in thousands of homes across the world.

Bravo TV Reality Star, Entrepreneur, and Real Estate Agent Genise Shelton Covers the Jan/Feb 2018 Issue of VEU Magazine

Bravo TV Reality Star, Entrepreneur, and Real Estate Agent Genise Shelton Covers the Jan/Feb 2018 Issue of VEU Magazine. We spoke to Genise about her entrepreneurial journey, her journey to reality TV, and the start of her sex trafficking foundation Our Children’s Keeper.  In this issue we also feature R&B Singer VEDO on his musical career  from being on THE VOICE Television show, to his continued journey as a singer and songwriter, Orlando nightlife entrepreneur Tony Khuu, and Becky Davis. We also have our usual business, entrepreneurship and other lifestyle articles in health, fashion,  food and more.

How to Build a Successful Business With a Romantic Partner.

Written by Dominique Bancey

Building a business is extremely difficult, but building one with someone you are romantically involved with, can be even more challenging. If you wish to build a business with a partner, or if you are wondering how they do it, read on.

Celebration. Being business and romantic partners is indeed a challenge, however, neither one of you should forget that if something good happens, there is no harm in celebrating. With each goal that is reached, and each success that is attained, allow yourselves to take a break and celebrate each of these. This will allow the both of you to realize that you are doing a great job at being business partners.

Observation. Though the both of you are focusing on your tasks, take some time out to observe what the other is doing. After observing, compliment them. This will let them know that you realize the hard work they are doing to allow the both of you to succeed as business partners.

Accuracy. Before starting the business, sit down and have a talk. Ensure that the both of you have clear and accurate thoughts as to your strengths and weaknesses, what each of you could contribute to the business as separate individuals.

Agreement. Another thing you have to pay attention, make sure that you both agree as to what exactly you are working towards. Ensure that each of you share the same vision for the company. If one person starts to steer away from that vision, the other can talk to them about it to get them back on track.

Balance. This is one of the most important factors. Create a balance with work and life. Form a middle ground. Discuss what should be talked about at work, separate from at home. This will also inspire your team as they will take note that the both of you are goal-oriented and do not allow your personal lives to get in the way of business.

Many individuals tend to steer far away from building a business with a partner, however, it may not be as difficult as it seems, if you follow these simple tips.

Until next time.

8 Books That Helped Elon Musk Become a Maverick Billionaire

Written by Benjamin Roussey

Tech billionaire and SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk, is a role model for millions of people worldwide and he did appear in Iron Man II despite that movie being pitiful (the final action scene was about 6 minutes and totally anticlimactic). If you have always aspired to be like him and wanted to achieve even 10 percent of the success he has, you could always start by reading the books that helped shape the revolutionary entrepreneur.

Here are the eight books that Elon Musk thinks helped him become a billionaire.

1. Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down by J.E. Gordon

Musk has said that this book is good for those who want to know the basics of structural design. It also provides a lighter explanation about the science behind SpaceX.

2. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson

The maverick entrepreneur regards Benjamin Franklin as one of his heroes. The book showed Musk that how in spite of being a runaway kid and having nothing, Franklin still become so successful – as a diplomat, scientist, inventor, author, and entrepreneur.

3. Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson

Albert Einstein’s biography had a marked influence on Musk, especially famous quotes of the theoretical physicist which have a direct bearing on the entrepreneur’s vision for his companies.

4. Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom

Bostrom’s book discusses the challenges that can occur if computational intelligence rises above human intelligence, which is a real concern in today’s world with the advent of artificial intelligence.

5. Merchants of Doubt by Erik M. Conway and Naomi Oreskes

The book revolves around an argument by two historians who believe that the facts concerning many public health issues have been deliberately muddied by scientists with corporate and political connections. You may want to be careful about this since we know that global warming facts have been altered to suit socialist interests.

6. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

This is a classic book that talks about greed, competition, and survival. Musk said that the heroes of the books he reads always have a sense of duty to save the planet.

7. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel

The book focuses on the necessity of unique thinking among founders of startups. Moreover, it provides an interesting explanation for creating super successful ventures.

8. The Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov

Musk learnt that civilizations move in cycles from this book, something that inspired him to pursue his own radical ambitions.

All these books helped make Musk the man he is today and hopefully they will inspire you too in your professional journey. If you want to read another outstanding book, Taylor Caldwell’s Dear and Glorious Physician is amazing.

How to Make Your Small Online Business Appear Larger Than It Is

Written by Dominique Bancey

When just starting up a business, it tends to be nerve-racking, and for the most part, many will tend to underestimate you due to lack of size or experience. However, you can easily create an illusion to make others believe that your business is larger than it actually is.

1. Try to get your social media following ‘sky high’.

As customers, the first thing they will tend to look for, is how many followers you have on social media. With a growing time in technology, they cannot really help themselves because this is how they find out how many persons are interested in your business and what you have to offer. You may wonder how to gain more followers each day, but the best thing to do is network. Follow persons who have similar businesses, comment under their posts, get the attention of their customers as they just might come check out your page.

2. Create an email address that is specific to your domain.

Having a personalized or customized website domain is one thing, but having an email address that lines up with this domain will make individuals take you more seriously. They will view you as more professional. For example, if your company’s website domain is hairandlashes.com but then your email would be hairandlashes@yahoo.com, instead you should have an email like l.trish@hairandlashes.com.

3. Get A Virtual Office

This would come at a cost to you, however, it would impress customers to stick with you and they would recommend you to their friends or family. Some virtual offices allow you to get a mailing address, local phone number, book conference rooms and access to break rooms or reception areas. Depending on where you are from or the plans you choose, the prices will tend to have a wide range. However, you should do your research to find the one that works best for the type of company you have and type of customers you have as well.

Having a small, online business doesn’t mean that you should stick to being small. Sometimes it pays off to create an illusion.

Until next time.

4 Money Habits We Should All Keep

Written by Dominique Bancey

Set a major financial goal. Making goals for your finances is one of the best things you could do. Whether it be an amount you wish to reach at the end of a week, month, or year, it will allow you to save without even thinking about it.

Budget. Budget. Budget. Growing up you probably always heard your parents talking about budgets, and even though you may have overlooked it, you need to pay attention to budgets. Making a budget at the beginning of each month will ensure that you do not spend more than you need to.

➢ Keep track of your net worth. Hearing ‘net worth’ is usually associated with businesses or even celebrities. However, it is not that difficult to calculate your own net worth. You can do so by summing up all your assets then subtracting your liabilities. By doing so on a schedule (every 3-6 months), you will ensure that you are sticking to the budgets you make each month.

Make a payment to your credit card every week. Usually, most persons tend to make payments to their credit card at the end of every month. However, it would be better to pay it at the end of each week. This will make sure that you do not spend money that should be contributed towards it, on something else.
➢ Keep a journal of what you spend for the month. It is good to build up a good money habit. Impulse spending each month leads to a bad money habit. Having a journal will ensure that you make regular payments each month.

Keep receipts. Always ask for a receipt whenever you make a purchase.

You do not necessarily have to keep them for a long period of time, but you could copy them into your journal so that you can keep track of exact spending habits.

Forming a good money habit is not easy, but following these tips (and more), could make it easier. Try these tips and build up your habits.

Until next time.

Want To Earn Money While you Sleep? Here’s how

Written by Dominique Bancey

Many of us enjoy sleeping and sometimes wish we could easily make some money while we slept, but what if I told you that it is possible?

Here’s how.

Start a blog. In having a blog, you could find sponsors, sell advertising or earn commissions. Yes you would still have to do a little work to run the blog, however, you won’t have to do much and you can sleep as much as you wish.

Earn royalties. Are you talented in music or any other creative aspect? You could easily use this to your advantage and let others pay you for using your work. Can you produce beats? Write songs? Why not sell these to singers, rappers, etc.? Do you have a great idea for a book? Team up with a publisher and get that money rolling in.

Flip websites. If you’re quite talented in creating websites then this is perfect for you. You could do your research on a certain company, check out their website then create one from scratch for them based on the information you found. Then approach them with this new website and convince them as to why yours is better than the one they already have.

Sell products. This is common, but smart. You can use eBay or even Amazon as they will take care of shipping for you. Just post the products in which you would like to sell and you could earn money whenever, wherever

Invest in stocks or shares. This idea is becoming more popular as of recent, but it is still extremely beneficial. Do your homework, learn what you need to then check out the different stocks or shares you could invest in. Keep in mind that you have to keep an eye on these.

There are many other things you could possibly do to earn money by hardly lifting a finger. Think about them, and figure out which would be best for you.

Until next time.

The Next Big Shopping Platform is an App You Already Have

Written by Aysha Chaudhry

An announcement made earlier this fall is set to significantly change the way we shop: e-commerce giant Shopify is partnering with Instagram to create an in-app shopping experience on your favorite photo app.

Shopify has already rolled out in-app purchasing in Instagram to thousands of merchant to allow them to take advantage of the holiday season spending. Very soon, we will likely see shopping tags across all of our favorite brands.

This comes as no surprise since Shopify is already integrated within Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, and Facebook’s other app, Messenger.

Instagram shopping will change the way people buy and sell every day. It will be interesting to see what those changes are.

Women and the Growing Popularity of the Side Hustle

Written by Aysha Chaudhry

We all know that women are hard-working for sure, but did you know that women are more likely than men to have a side hustle, according to a CareerBuilder.com study? This could be for a number of reasons, such as the historical wage gap, but regardless, if you are one of the women who do have an extra source of cash outside of your “day job,” you are not alone.

A side hustle is a way for people to earn money in their spare time, hence the term “side” hustle. Side hustles can range from a variety of things, but differ from a second job or side job in that a side job is usually a part-time position with set hours and schedule.

While a second job may not be in the cards for you due to your schedule and workload, a side hustle can allow you to make money on your own time. Here are a few side hustles that give you the freedom of managing your own schedule:

1. Uber/Lyft driver
2. Freelance Writer or Designer
3. Selling arts and crafts on Etsy
4. Selling your gently used clothes on Mercari or Poshmark
5. Renting your place out on Airbnb
6. Babysitting/dogsitting

This Celebrity Assistant Speaks on The Importance of Building Good Relationships in Your Industry

Interview by Maria Rochelle

Darius Bradley is the founder and C.E.O. of GatekeepersAgency. GK-Agency is an Atlanta based assistant agency (staffing and recruiting) that provides personal, executive, and production assistants.

Darius shared with me an assistant story while he was working with his client Rotimi.

“In 2012 while working with my client Rotimi. Rotimi had a last minute photo shoot promoted by his publicist in LA during his meetings. He was to be out there for 2 weeks. It was during this year that we were currently seeking more TV/film opportunities with the success of “Boss” on Starz. With it being such a last minute thing (as the industry is typically like), I had to pull together a list of photographers in LA. The good thing here is that I had a strong relationship with celebrity photographer Kawai Matthews of www.Airphilosophy.com, and she did the photo shoot.”

Darius also adds “One thing I always suggest to assistants is to always build your network. Because assistants have a 3-5 year window when growth begins to happen. Clients let assistants go all the time, so you need to have relationships”

With your background as a celebrity assistant, would you share how it all began for you and what you have enjoyed about your position?
It started late 2010 when I was managing an artist, and he shared with me this R&B artist by the name of Rotimi based in Chicago who he wanted to collaborate with. So, I reached out to Rotimi on Facebook, and we spoke about it. We had a brief introduction, and he directed me to his then manager to set it up. Me and the other artist just ended our business with one another, so I emailed the manager to join their team. He got back to me, but once I sent my resume he never replied, so I took it as I didn’t have much experience. It drove me so much that I went to get the experience and landed an internship at Warner Bro Records. Seven months later, I was at my desk at Warner in mid April 2011, and I saw on Rotimi page it said looking for area reps email. I reached out to his then assistant, and she connected me to his publicist at the time. She and I spoke for close to an hour as I was running an errand for the SVP of Promotions. We set a date to meet her and Rotimi at his CBS charity performance. Then I was officially on the team May 2011. It was my dream artist to work with, so I was beyond joyed to have the opportunity. I knew he was going to be a star back in 2010.

How were you inspired to create Gatekeepers Agency?
I’m always thinking of how to inspire the next person, help the next person, and uplift the next person. So this company, which is my first, gives me that chance to help others begin a career in entertainment.

What challenges and rewards are there with being an assistant?
The reward is simply the opportunity to showcase what you can do. There are thousands of individuals that want to be in that space. Challenges come in so many forms, but one of them is living not only your life but the clients as well. I quickly adjusted to Rotimi and learned all his habits, so I can be the best person for him. It was my mission to always look out for him. Rotimi will concur on that.

You mention that assistants need to build their network, could you share a few tips on how an assistant would do that?

The assistant travels with the client. The assistant is the right or left hand person to the client, so this means majority of the contacts will come in contact with the assistant at some point. Sell your personality is what I’ll tell the experienced and aspiring assistant. I’m thriving in my career more than ever now because of it. I use what I built over those 5 years assisting Rotimi.

What are you looking for in assistants that you’ll be staffing?

I’m looking for the individuals that will be ready to sacrifice, willingness to help others become great (in turn making you valuable), and no excuse mentality. Now there are many more traits; these are the ones that pop up to mind because I embodied those traits. They’re the bedrock to who I was as the assistant and road manager. One time Rotimi in 2016 had a high school performance at 9:30am. He was already in Jersey, it’s a quick drive, and I was in Harlem where transportation will take me 2-3 hours depending on traffic. Name of the game sacrifice, and I woke up at 5am to arrive before him because that was one thing we always did to challenge each other was who can get there first. True professional in my eyes and we are very competitive which promotes nothing less of greatness.

Also, with your experience, what can future a client expect from your business for their needs and wants to be met for the assistants that they’ll hire from your agency?

Well the process is direct. Each assistant under GK-Agency will have a profile. These profiles help us identify the best places for the assistant (Personal, Executive and Production). The client will then have the opportunity to select a few to interview. Which then after that they can select the assistant they prefer, and then we handle the business end to get that assistant ready. We run this company like the white house (not like the current one however); they come prepared day 1 for the job. That is why we train them each day with the many tools and experience we have.

How do you stay motivated and encouraged to go for your passions and dreams?
It’s easy to stay motivated when I’m helping someone else. It’s a skill I developed over the years to make others become the best they can become.

Share with VEU readers three fun facts about you.

– I started my career in music at Hot 97 (Promotion department) in 2009 at 21
– My first international road managing spot date came in 2015 when Rotimi and me traveled to London and opened up for 50 Cent. I got to be on the stage in front of 15,000 fans!
– I also assisted Gbenga Akinnagbe (The Wire) and Saycon Sengbloh (Broadway/film/TV actress and singer).

Gatekeepers is currently recruiting in the following markets Atlanta, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami