I started my digital marketing agency in 2009, which was crazy because Detroit’s economy was suffering and I had no idea if I could make it happen. Seven years later, I believe whole heartedly that the reason I have become successful is because I built my business in Detroit, not despite it, and I have never been afraid to be proud of this fact.
I’m probably one of the most outgoing and talkative people you could ever meet, so the solo traveling entrepreneur lifestyle I have is always an adventure. From the minute I enter through the departures doors at Detroit Metro Airport to the minute I exit through the arrivals doors, I am meeting and talking to people from all over the world. If I didn’t have these conversations, I wouldn’t be able to keep my sanity!
Being originally from the south, but a Detroit metro resident for over 16 years now, there is never a lack of topic for discussion. What enthralls me is how people are just interested. Just as I am always interested in other people, they are interested in me: my story, my travels, my background, my career. But more so, they are intrigued by me. What is so intriguing about me? My life isn’t really that exciting. Well, I do have a dog. And she talks. Really, she does!
Here is what is interesting and intriguing. When I say ‘I am from Detroit.’ When I first started traveling a lot for work, it was alarming when I said this out loud. Reactions were generally displeasing in appearance. Raised eyebrows and scowled faces. People would repeat it back to me as if they just found out their ex is getting married. That sort of “what?” rhetorical question that comes directly after what is never good news.
That’s changing fast, right before my eyes and ears.
Over the past three years, my business has grown exponentially. I caught my first big break in 2012 when I landed a project that was in excess of $50K. It was a milestone for my company because it enabled me to finally invest back into my business as well as set standards for future business. Interestingly enough, I had only gained four or five Michigan based clients over the prior three and a half years in business. The majority of clients I had to date were out of state, and even out of country.
This got me thinking about investing in the future of my business, and what was really working for me. I had a niche. My niche was being based in Detroit. I don’t know if it was because people’s perception of Detroit was cheap labor and desperate for work, but regardless, I set out on a mission to change the perspective of Detroit.
On a recent flight home from Charleston, SC, the pilot spent over 10 minutes making an announcement about all of the cool things to see and do in Detroit. He even told passengers about the history of Detroit. It was inspiring and uplifting, it reminded me that Detroit is a destination.