I was born and raised in New York City. The 80s and 90s were my formative years. Hip Hop. Graffiti. Breakdancing. Cartoons. Wrestlemania ice cream bars. Those bikes with the banana seat and small front tire. Atari. Coleco Vision. NIN-TEN-DO. And, a girl named Joanna. Good times!
My parents are both college educated. Mom is a registered nurse. Pops was a high school teacher. Both were college professors at some point and both born and raised in Nevis and St Thomas, respectively. I usually check the box for “African American” but I prefer the more pointed term of Caribbean-New Yorker. That better helps define me, I think.
I graduated high school in 1997 and was accepted at Hofstra University, majoring in Marketing. I went there for one semester and hated it. Then, I wasted a year-and-a-half at Brooklyn College trying to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life.
This happened when a friend asked me to design a flyer for an event he was planning. He knew me to be into art as I was always with my unruled marble notebooks. I designed this flyer on Microsoft PowerPoint. It wasn’t until I spoke with the printer that I’d get an earful about design. THIS is the experience that would change my life. I loved designing and I respected the printer’s passion. In a way, it became my passion. I found my love for marketing again.
I ditched Brooklyn College for Baruch College, one of NYC’s top business schools. I earned my Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Marketing with a dual focus on creative advertising and graphic design in 2002. Some of my favorite courses include marketing strategy, layout and publication design, business policy, television and commercial production, marketing research, financial accounting, photography, sales and marketing, and computer design.
It was the computer design course that I had to take. I would learn these design software and use it to properly design future projects. Between 99 and 02, I had quite a few clients but for little to no pay. It was the true learning experience.
In the 2002 Spring semester, I interned at HBO in On-Air Promotions. I was hype when my supervisor tasked me with designing a cover for a proposal he was doing. I was taught Final Cut Pro and took the initiative to learn Avid. Now, I can add video editing to my resume. Unfortunately, the internship didn’t result in a job offer.
In the Summer of 2002, I started AVTDesign. I would use this as a side job to bring in some money while I hunted for a job. That first job out of college was with Advertising Information Services, a marketing research firm. I lasted about a year before the print unit was sold off and I was laid off. Jobs were scarce but AVTDesign held me together I found a job at Citigroup in Syndicate in 2005. It was a good job, good pay, BUT I had no love for finance. I left Citigroup in 2006.
AVTDesign was love. I met all kinds of people in almost every industry. What I noticed was an evolution in my business due to a void in business services. Most of my clients were new entrepreneurs. They had the urge to start a business but little to no knowledge. As many cases I’ve studied and plans I’ve developed, I had answers to their questions. Between 2004 and 2006, I saved people a lot of money.
In 2006, my evolution into a boutique marketing firm took place. My first client was an upscale hair salon, catering to the wives (and mistresses) of CEOs and the business elite. Well, the CEOs were retiring, taking their wives deeper in Long Island or out of state.
I asked, what have you been doing? I am presented with expensive advertising in upscale magazines. And? That’s it.
Realization: The clients he wants ARE today’s CEOs and business elite. They’re not home reading magazines. They’re at the office making million-dollar deals.
Solution: Guerilla marketing. Get to the clients where they’re going.
The final strategic plan was effective and efficient. And, I had my first successful consulting gig.