Last Saturday, Karleen Roy kicked off her inaugural event #OwningTheBlock, a conversation series created for aspirational, Millennial women and Generation X’ers seeking the knowledge and tools to think BIG. A Memphis native, Karleen is known for the work that her boutique luxury event production company The Vanity Group has done for celebrities like Cardie B, Adriene Bailon and Mayback Music Group, but if you’ve been following Karleen for a while, you know that she’s also a no-holds barred business woman who shoots it straight from the hip (fabulously, of course).
I first met Karleen back in 2016 when she came into town for the Made in Memphis Motivational Mixer and I was hired to shoot the event. We stayed in touch over the years and when she announced that she was launching OTB, I was invited to be a Brand Ambassador. I’ve been dying for Karleen to do something in Memphis because if you’ve ever talked to her, even if just for 5 minutes, she has that type of infectious, motivational energy that makes you feel like you’re able to conquer the world when she leaves. She keeps it real, but she’s someone that truly understands how much hard work, dedication and building a great network of peers are key components of developing a sustainable business or advancing in your career. With that being said, who better to kick her series off with than Myleik Teele, founder and CEO of CURLBOX, the first monthly subscription service for naturally curly hair.
Like Karleen, Myleik is known for her straight, no chaser approach to business (just listen to a few episodes of her podcast MyTaughtYou and you will be hooked), and in a time where so many people (more importantly, women) are looking for insight on how to launch their own businesses (and do it right without shortchanging themselves), times up for the fluff. It’s great to have cheerleaders that support you, but in order to truly grow, you need to be able to look at things as they are, and start with a solid foundation.
When they talked about #owningtheblock, it’s not from the aspect of buying up everything; it’s a phrase that should make you take a look at what you’re doing with your business and how you’re trying to grow it for real life (and not just the gram). Sometimes we get so caught up on trying to be seen by everyone and take over globally, but we haven’t even worked to be known by the people in our own backyards. You have to put in the work, and there are so many levels to it, so make sure you start by trying to own your own block before you try to own the entire word.
So what does this mean?
Use your network and resources
The saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is around for a reason. The network that you build for yourself is so important for growth in business. Whether you are just starting out and need to barter services with a fellow entrepreneur to get a project off of the ground or you find yourself needing help when a last minute cancellation puts you in a bind, it is imperative that you learn how to cultivate relationships with people. This doesn’t mean be fake or that every single person you meet in business has to be your friend, but be intentional with who you surround with so that in the event you develop a business relationship, it’s mutually beneficial for everyone involved.
Don’t shortchange yourself (or your rates)
When you develop your pricing or services for your business, so many variables are involved, with one of the main ones being the type of clientele that you want to attract. It’s hard to build when you are startup, but if you’ve done your market research, don’t be afraid to price your work and services a certain way and to stick to your guns. Every client isn’t meant to be yours, and you have to keep that in the forefront of your mind. Myleik shared a quick story about the type of customers that she’s had over the years, and typically, the ones that haggle you or want you to “hook them up” are not meant to be your customer (and will probably be a pain to deal with). Someone else’s budget has NOTHING to do with you. Be smart with your pricing, but don’t shortchange yourself for the sake of gaining customers because you will almost always regret it. Instead, price accordingly and create a business that caters to your targeted clientele, no matter if you have 50 or 5,000.
Learn to work through fear
There will always be moments when things are scary or you’re unsure of what to do next, but that doesn’t mean that you give up. You have to learn how to work through fear. Life is filled with risks, and you can miss out on so many opportunities because of it. Speak up, ask questions, never stop learning and keep it moving. You WILL make mistakes, but you have too much to accomplish to operate from a place of fear.
One of the biggest things missing from female focused empowerment events are honest conversations about how to navigate both the corporate and entrepreneurial world, and OTB is designed to be a platform to help foster those conversations so that attendees know how to level up in all areas. There were so many more gems shared during OTB, and if you missed it, you missed a fantastic event. From the food and drinks to the music and conversation, it was a Saturday well spent and one that I will refer back to for many days to come.
images via: Toya Michele
Be sure to follow Karleen on IG (@KarleenRoy) to keep up to date for what’s next; she’s already announced the 2020 date for Memphis-this year was a sold out event so don’t wait to get tickets when they’re released!