Posts tagged with "entrepreneurs"

Ms Banks at GRM Gala presented by GRM Daily & Beats by Dr. Dre on 9th August at the V&A_photcredit_ Richie Shots from Kate Head, Stoked PR for use by 360 Magazine

GRM Gala Presented by GRM Daily × Beats by Dr. Dre

Artists, entrepreneurs and key industry figures came together at the GRM Gala in London to celebrate black excellence in the UK Entertainment and Music Industry.

Collaborating with Beats By Dr. Dre, GRM Daily co-hosted their annual Pre-Rated Awards Gala at the iconic V&A Museum. The illustrious event was attended by a number of GRM’s extended family of influential artists and industry friends including: Adeola Patronne, Akala, DJ Semtex, Eva Apio, Krept & Konan, Miss La Familia, Tim Westwood, Tion Wayne and Zeze Millz. Also in attendance were GRM Rated 2021 award nominees: AJ Tracey, Arrdee, Fredo, Ghetts, Ivorian Doll, Michael Dapaah, Ms Banks, Nella Rose and Stormzy.

The GRM Gala, whose official sponsors included Chivas Regal Whisky and AU Vodka, brought the best in style and opulence to the V&A, creating an ambience befitting of the celebration. The event was curated by GRM Daily CEO and founder, Post.

Post says: “I was honored to celebrate the outstanding success achieved by friends and peers at Monday’s event”.

The GRM Gala took place for the first time last year. It was held in partnership with Beats By Dr. Dre at One Marylebone in Westminster, ahead of the GRM Rated Awards 2020.

GRM Daily, is an award-winning platform at the epicenter of UK Rap & Grime music culture for over a decade. An outlet where the very best of UK music is whole heartedly celebrated, GRM is renowned as an influential launch pad for the country’s emerging and established talent and as the hosts of Britain’s premier award ceremony for UK Rap & Grime music, The Rated Awards. With over 4 billion YouTube views, 4 million subscribers and a social reach of over 3 million, GRM is the most viewed British music platform in the UK.

Beats is a leading audio brand founded in 2006 by Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine. Through its family of premium consumer headphones, earphones and speakers, Beats has introduced an entirely new generation to the possibilities of premium sound entertainment. The brand’s continued success helps bring the energy, emotion and excitement of playback in the recording studio back to the listening experience for music lovers worldwide. Beats was acquired by Apple Inc. in July 2014. Beats’ latest product the Beats Studio Buds are available now.

Award Illustration by Heather Skovlund for use by 360 Magazine

Michael E. Jordan – Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist

From very humble beginnings, Michael E. Jordan has elevated the UNRL brand with core values, quality of product, and a spirit of giving back to the community.

UNRL announced that its founder and CEO, Michael E. Jordan, has been selected as a finalist for the prestigious Entrepreneur of The Year® Award, Heartland Region, presented by Ernst & Young. Based in St. Paul, Minnesota, UNRL is an athletic apparel brand that specializes in creating functional athletic clothing.

After an intensive nomination and selection process, Jordan was identified as one of 36 finalists within the seven-state Heartland region. This award honors game-changing business leaders who rise above challenges using ingenuity, courage, and ambition. Nominees are evaluated based on six criteria: entrepreneurial leadership; talent management; degree of difficulty; financial performance; societal impact and building a values-based company; and originality, innovation, and future plans. 

Jordan founded UNRL in his mother’s basement seven years ago with an investment of a mere $300 and has since grown the company exponentially year after year. Today, UNRL has 19 employees and is on track to reach 8 figures in annual sales. All of this was done with hard work and entrepreneurial spirit, without any outside investment or business loans. 

UNRL products are sold in various retailers throughout the country including Scheels Sporting Goods, PGA Tour Superstore, various NHL, and NFL Pro Shops. One of their most notable apparel partnerships is with the social media powerhouse Barstool Sports. UNRL takes great pride in the quality of their product and their attention to how business is operated. 

“It’s an incredible honor to be selected as a finalist for this award,” said Jordan. “I don’t view this as an individual achievement, this is a testament to my team. It’s been a collective effort with 100% buy-in from every member of our team. Without that, we wouldn’t be here today. I believe we are growing this business the right way, and it is meaningful to be recognized for that. I’m very grateful for all the support Ernst & Young has provided throughout this process.”

Jordan said that he has high expectations for the UNRL brand in the future; articulating plans to surpass the $10 million annual revenue marker within 12 months and reach the $100 million milestone by 2029. In doing so, continuing to donate 15% of net proceeds to nonprofits including the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.  

“I am very competitive by nature. I’ve been an athlete my whole life,” said Jordan. “I pride myself on continuous improvement and doing things the right way to leave a positive legacy on the industry. The Entrepreneur Of the Year® Award has my respect because it’s a challenge against the best in the business, and we have something to prove. I want to win this.”

Regional winners of the Entrepreneur of the Year Award will be announced in late July. The National Entrepreneur of the Year Award will be handed out on November 13.

ABOUT THE ERNST & YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR AWARD:

Entrepreneur Of the Year® is the world’s most prestigious business awards program for unstoppable entrepreneurs. These visionary leaders deliver innovation, growth, and prosperity that transform our world. The program engages entrepreneurs with insights and experiences that foster growth. It connects them with their peers to strengthen entrepreneurship around the world. Entrepreneur of the Year is the first and only truly global awards program of its kind. It celebrates entrepreneurs through regional and national awards programs in more than 145 cities in over 60 countries. National Overall winners go on to compete for the EY World Entrepreneur of The Year™ title. 

ABOUT UNRL:

UNRL is a clothing brand that bridges the gap between functional and casual. Their clothing is designed to take you from the office to the gym, or the airport to the golf course. UNRL creates all products with three principles in mind: style, comfort, and versatility. Everything is crafted from scratch with premium hand-selected materials and tailored for a great fit. UNRL is here to instill confidence in the athlete that strives to do more. 

Geneva Supply illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Geneva Supply Increases Minimum Wage

Geneva Supply Increases Minimum Wage to $15 for Hourly Employees

Co-Founders Jeff Peterson and Mark Becker lead efforts to boost worker wages in Wisconsin, South Carolina, and Arizona and offer new day-of-hire benefits.

Geneva Supply Co-Founders Jeff Peterson and Mark Becker, along with the company’s human resource team, Mariann Hunter and Emma Hobday, have announced a pay adjustment and wage increase to $15.00 per hour for all full-time hourly employees. The increase became effective on April 5, 2021. 

  • In addition, employees are now eligible for medical, dental, and vision benefits on the day of hire. 
  • Workers also can choose to be vested in the company retirement plan as soon as they have started their employment with Geneva Supply. 

The moves have impacted workers operating from five U.S. cities across three states, including employees at Geneva Supply’s corporate headquarters in Delavan (Wisconsin) and business locations in Wilmot (Wisconsin), Menomonee Falls (Wisconsin), Charleston (South Carolina), and Phoenix (Arizona).

“This has been an ongoing matter of great importance to us, and the employee feedback and support for these positive changes continues to enliven us,” said Jeff Peterson, CEO of Geneva Supply. “As we move ahead, we will keep focused on our workers and acknowledge the significance of what this increase means to each of them – their families – and the communities they live in.”

Wisconsin and South Carolina’s minimum wage is currently set at $7.25, the same level as the federal minimum wage. Arizona’s state minimum wage rate bumped to $12.15 per hour in early 2021. Although this is a considerable recalculation for Geneva Supply, it is one which Jeff and Mark feel is essential when offering competitive wages to current workers and for attracting potential employees. 

“As Geneva Supply continues to grow, we have made it a priority to invest in our people. Adjusting our full-time minimum wage to $15.00 per hour contributes to the people-first momentum our incredibly hard-working employees support each day. This adjustment is necessary, and we have no doubt it will open more doors for our workers and company in the future,” said Mark Becker, COO of Geneva Supply.

Part of Jeff and Mark’s mission has always included focusing on company culture and employee retention. By raising the minimum wage for all full-time hourly employees, the Small Business Administration award-winning entrepreneurs and leadership team are confident Geneva Supply is taking another step in the right direction.

“Raising our wages is also a smart business move. We know that paying people fairly leads to greater employee retention, which reduces the cost of hiring and training new people to replace employees who leave,” said Mariann Hunter, Human Resource Manager of Geneva Supply. “More important though, we value the people that choose to work here and hope that by increasing the hourly wage, they see and feel that.”

For more information, visit Geneva Supply or for available career opportunities, head to Geneva Supply Careers.

Filmstrip illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Best Places to Live × Work

The Best Places to Live and Work Abroad in 2021—InternationalLiving.com

While just about every country is willing to provide a tourist visa that lets visitors hang around for a few months, most will not grant permission to live and work within their borders without a job offer from a local employer. Some offer long-term residence visas that let expats legally live in the country, but they don’t typically allow for work. A new report from the editors at International Living highlights four countries where it’s possible to find easy access to a residence visa—and the permits that allow for work as well.

Source: International Living

It’s clear that an increasing number of Americans want a different life and are looking for countries where they can live and work legally. But the options are limited without a local employer willing to provide a job.

Expats able to earn from anywhere do have a few good options, however, according to International Living’s report. While a small collection of countries welcomes outsiders, who can qualify for the necessary visas, four in Latin America and Europe stand out as the best options in terms of cost, ease, and timing.

Panama

If your goal is to live and work remotely overseas, but remain close to U.S. borders, Panama is your best bet. Direct flights land in Panama City from at least nine U.S. cities and take between three and seven hours, depending on where you’re coming from.

Beyond proximity, Panama offers what it calls the Panama Friendly Nations Visa, a special program whereby nationals of certain countries (including the U.S. and Canada) can apply for permanent residence, which comes with a Panamanian cédula, the local ID card. That cédula is permanent, allowing holders to come and go as they please, as would a born-and-bred Panamanian. Separately, the program also allows holders to request a work permit through the Ministry of Labor, though that’s part of a different process.

Obtaining a temporary cédula takes about eight days. It will take another two days to obtain a multiple-entry visa that’s necessary so an individual can come and go as they wait out the roughly five-month process for the government to issue a permanent cédula. Once a cédula has been obtained, a person can then apply for a work permit from the Ministry of Labor, which will take about a month.

To start the cédula process, you’ll need basic documents—passport, proof from the FBI that there is no criminal record—and $5,000 in a Panamanian bank account, plus $2,000 for each dependent. And to obtain a work permit, then you’ll need to set up a Panamanian corporation (which can be disbanded after a year).

Uruguay

If speed is more important, then Uruguay is a great choice. Here, expats can land at the airport with the correct collection of documents, and if they already have a pre-scheduled filing date with the immigration office that day, they can file their paperwork and have a temporary cédula that afternoon or the next day. All that’s required is a birth certificate and an apostilled police record (meaning it has been authenticated and is acceptable across international borders). They will also need to show that they have the financial means to support themselves with a provable stream of income from anywhere in the world.

With a temporary cédula, they will also have immediate access to the state healthcare system, or they can immediately buy access with a local, private healthcare plan, which will cost about $70 to $350 a month, depending on the bell and whistles they want.

To manage the process themselves, expect to pay about $600 to $700. But they will also need to have a proficient level of Spanish, as none of the paperwork is in English. Otherwise, hire an attorney. It will be quicker and more efficient and will cost between $1,000 and $2,000.

­Portugal

Portugal has two visas that would apply to someone wanting to live and work on the Iberian Peninsula: D2 and D7. Technically, the D2 is for independent workers and entrepreneurs, while the D7 is for those who are retired or earning passive income. In practical terms, the D7 will make sense for most people, even if they’re not retired, because it’s based on income. The D2 requires proof that an expat can support themselves as a freelancer and can begin issuing Portuguese invoices on which the business will be taxed, though the tax rate is fixed at 20% for 10 years.

With the D7, instead, a person will need only to show that they have €8,000 (about $9,700) per person in a Portuguese bank account and that they have the equivalent of €30,000 ($36,400) in a bank account back in their home country.

To apply for either a D2 or D7 visa, an expat must enroll in the Portuguese tax system and become a tax resident. That requires obtaining a Portuguese tax number before they can even apply for a visa. And for that, they will need a sponsor, which can be a law office, accounting office, or migration office.

For that reason, they’ll need to hire a pro to walk them through the process and be their sponsor for the tax number. All in, that will cost you between €1,000 and €2,500 (about $1,200 to $3,000). The process will require two to four months to complete.

As a freelancer, an expat will also want to apply for Non-Habitual Resident status, or NHR, which is issued to people who’ve never lived in Portugal before and move to the country. With NHR status, income earned outside the country is exempt from taxes. They will have to file a Portuguese tax return and declare the income, though they’ll owe no taxes on it. The other benefit of this is that it shows Uncle Sam they’re a tax resident of another country, which then helps trigger their eligibility for the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.

A person is eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship and a passport after five years of residence, though they have to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language.

Czech Republic

It’s a two-step process in Czech Republic. First step: apply to join the živnostensky (zivno) list. This isn’t specifically for foreigners. It’s a trade license for any Czech resident who works independently, be that a plumber, masseuse, artist, or whoever. That will take a week at most. Zivno in hand, they can then apply for a one-year, temporary residence visa.

They must apply for a residence visa at a Czech embassy outside of the Czech Republic, show they have housing (a notarized lease agreement) for the full-length of the visa they seek, up to one year. That means they’ll need to visit the Czech Republic to arrange that. Some expats will move to Prague, obtain their housing and zivno, then take the train to nearby embassies in Berlin, Vienna, or Bratislava and complete their application.

They will need a signed letter from their bank stating that they have the equivalent of 125,000 Czech crowns on deposit (about $5,700). That will need to be translated into Czech, which a visa agency can handle. Be sure the account has a debit card, which must be presented at the application meeting at the Czech embassy, because officials will want to see it—it’s proof that a person can access the account.

An FBI criminal background check is required, though as an American an expat can also go to the U.S. embassy in Prague and sign an affidavit attesting to their criminal-free background. Along with a passport and an application form, that’s pretty much all the documents an applicant needs.

To hire a local agency to help with the process, it should cost less than 15,000 crowns (about $685) for everything. The embassy fee is a separate 5,000 crowns (about $230).

Once the temporary visa expires after a year, it can easily be traded in for a renewable, two-year long-term residence visa. After five years as a legal resident, a person is eligible to apply for Czech citizenship and a Czech passport, which like the Portuguese passport, is an EU passport and thus gives them free rein to live and work anywhere in the EU.

The full report on the best places to live and work in 2021, including more information for immigration experts in each of the countries mentioned, can be found at: The Best Places to Live and Work Abroad in 2021.

International Living has launched its new “Work From Anywhere” resource, devoted to coverage of innovative money-making strategies, ways to build a portable income, tips for boosting health and well-being, methods to maximize Social Security, and so much more. More information can be found, here.

Computer illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

VC Pitch Deck Advice

­­14 words to take out of your VC pitch deck

By: May Habib

170 seconds. Weeks or even months of working on your pitch deck could come down to the 170 seconds (on average) that investors spend looking at your deck. “Investors see a lot of pitches. In a single year, the classic general partner in a venture firm is exposed to around 5,000 pitches…and ends up doing between zero and two deals,” writes VC and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.

With all that pressure to make an impact quickly, founders spend an incredible amount of time on the design of their slides. Less consideration, however, is usually spent on the words on the slide. That’s a mistake, especially when you only have 170 seconds. When not used intentionally, the words in your deck can be distracting or downright off-putting. We used what we know about language and healthy communication from the millions of documents we’ve processed at Writer to come up with 14 words and phrases to remove from your VC pitch deck:

Negative Association

Runway”

  • Pitching VCs is a balancing act: you want to position your idea in the best light, but also show that you’ve thought things through. However, volunteering for certain types of information can have the opposite effect. Don’t write: I’m seeking $X in funding to provide Y months of runway. You certainly need to show how you’re going to use the funding you’re asking for, but you don’t want to frame things in terms of runway in a pitch deck. The word is associated with a looming cash-out date, which can put an investor in a negative state of mind.

Exit strategy”

  • Don’t write: Our exit strategy is…Yes, thinking through your business means knowing how you’ll handle worst-case and best-case scenarios. But putting exit strategy in your deck can only get investors thinking about the inherent risks. You want them focused on the opportunity. You need to know what to say when the topic comes up — just don’t volunteer the information on a slide.

Cliches

Just one percent”

  • A pitch deck is a tool to show VCs why your idea merits an investment. Using cliches can work against that goal. Don’t write: If we could capture X% of the market… It’s not only a cliche but also wishful thinking rather than a plan. Keep the text on your slides grounded in relevant facts and figures. Other cliches to cut include: the Amazon of X, imagine a future, and moving Y to the blockchain.

 Absolutes

Everyone”, “always”, “never”, “no one”

  • A great pitch requires nuance. Using absolutes to talk about your idea fails on that count. And, if you look closer, chances are there will be exceptions to the absolute that’s being set up. When discussing your TAM, target customer, or product value, your words need to reflect a thoughtful and measured approach. Using absolutes, such as everyone likes X falls short of that goal and casts doubts about the validity of your plan.

 Imprecise Language

Unique”

  • Precise communication makes it easier to bet that a business has the potential to succeed. But imprecise language is one of the top no-no’s we see in pitch decks. Take the word It may seem like an ideal word to show differentiation, but it’s imprecise as to the nature of the uniqueness. Just describe the uniqueness directly, or better yet, the plan to execute on the uniqueness. Ideas are important — but the plan is what gets companies funded.

“Intend”

  • Good intentions aren’t the same as a plan. Using the word intend in your pitch deck makes the discussion conceptual and somewhat nebulous. An intention is easier to reject than a plan backed up by compelling storytelling.

No competition”

  • Don’t write no competition anywhere in your deck. Like, anywhere. At best, it will be seen as an exaggeration: if there isn’t direct competition, there may be indirect competition to consider. And, at worst, it could make investors think that you haven’t fully explored the market, meaning your entire premise could be flawed.

“Good”

  • Investors don’t want good ideas; they want the best Using the word good to describe any part of your plan (for example, good growth) lacks specificity and lowers your pitch’s believability.

Qualifiers a.k.a Intensifiers

“Very”, “so”, “quite”

  • Brevity is key when you’re working with a visual format, like a pitch deck. Qualifiers not only clutter your slides with unnecessary text, but they’re also less precise. Don’t write: very, so, and quite. Ask yourself one question: What does very fast growth look like? Your answer would likely be different than someone else’s. Instead, you might say the growth of X% a year so there isn’t confusion. Again, you want to be as precise and fact-based as possible.

Other things to keep in mind:

Readability

  • In an analysis of successful decks, we found an average readability level of Grade 10 or 11. For unsuccessful decks, that number was higher — Grade 12 or college. Never use jargon, keep your sentences simple, and include a maximum of 1-2 sentences per paragraph. To analyze your own deck’s language, try out Writer’s readability

Humor: Just don’t

  • Cracking a joke on a slide can easily backfire. The last thing you want is to have a failed joke make your pitch awkward or throw you off. That could derail the entire process. So, it’s best to skip the deck humor and get to what really matters: your plan.
Empowered Women Illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

CÎROC × COMBS ENTERPRISES EMPOWERED WOMEN

The first cohort of the 2021 Empowered Women honorees, including Iman, Valeisha Butterfield-Jones, and Fadia Kader, are announced in celebration of International Women’s Day.

 

Ciroc and Combs Enterprises are proud to announce the continuation of its Empowered Women platform. Empowered Women, first launched in 2016 by Combs Enterprises women-led executive team, uplifts, spotlights, and honors an eclectic and dynamic group of entrepreneurs, creatives, and businesswomen.

This year, Ciroc and Combs Enterprises partnered with Culture Creators, a cultural connectivity organization that aims to spotlight the contributions of individuals who have shaped the global view of Black culture. To further amplify the initiative, fittingly launched during Women’s History Month, Empowered Women will honor 50 successful women and share the narratives that formed them. Championing discussions around the value of mentorship, allyship, and leadership, Empowered Women highlights the importance of celebrating the current and uplifting the next generation of fearless leaders. Honorees represent five categories including social impact, technology, entertainment, art and style, and business.

Ciroc, Combs Enterprises, and Culture Creators will spotlight the honorees beginning in March and culminating this spring. The series will include custom digital content and exclusive honoree interviews shared via Culture Creators’ platforms, curated vodka cocktails, and an exclusive media partnership with women’s lifestyle publication, Elle Magazine.

It is an honor to continue to build and strengthen the Empowered Women platform alongside Culture Creators and Elle Magazine”, says Ingrid Best, Vice President of Global Marketing, Spirits, Combs Enterprises. “As a Black woman, it is my personal and professional mission to honor those who are breaking boundaries, while also providing a platform for us to continue to do the important work of mentoring and showing up for the next generation. We hope this program encourages young, budding professionals to push boundaries and redefine the status quo in their respective industries.”.

The first round of March 2021 honorees is below, representing the industry leaders paving the way for future generations.

 

Empowered Women Honorees – March:

  • Adrienne Lofton
  • Alencia Johnson
  • Brianna Agyemang
  • Caroline Yim
  • Dawn Dickson
  • Donna Stewart
  • Fadia Kadar
  • Heather Lowery
  • IMAN
  • Jamila Thomas
  • Morgan DeBaun
  • Sarah Jakes Roberts
  • Stephanie L. Young
  • Morgan Dixon
  • Valeshia Butterfield-Jones
  • Vanessa Garrison
  • Yvette Noel Schure

Joi Brown, Founder, and CEO of Culture Creators commented, “I started Culture Creators because I envisioned a platform that gives individuals who push the culture forward and strive for inclusion that flowers while they are still here while continuing to develop the next generation of leaders. Partnering with like-minded visionaries at Ciroc to bring Empowered Women to life marries the spirit of celebration and mentorship.”.

As part of its mission to propel Black culture, Culture Creators has consistently celebrated the accomplishments of key luminaries across a broad spectrum of industries, including entertainment, fashion, finance, technology, business, and more. The Innovators & Leaders Awards Brunch, Culture Creators’ annual signature event, exemplifies this mission and has previously honored Sylvia Rhone, Byron Allen, Marsai Martin, Jemele Hill, Kenya Barris, Charles D. King, and the late Andre Harrell, to name a few. In 2019, Culture Creators launched the first-ever C2 Summit, a platform that targets students of color across all universities and provides interactive educational experiences, employment opportunities, and creates access to leaders across various career paths. Today, Culture Creators further advances its mission with the launch of the Empowered Women platform.

Mini Tocalini illustration for hair salon and Barbershop marketing for 360 MAGAZINE

SNAP AND SHARE

Black Salon and Barbershop Owners as Social Influencers

Wil Shelton, CEO and Founder of Wil Power Integrated Marketing 

All marketers understand the importance of sharing images and messages with their online communities. But what if your online community doesn’t reflect enough diversity for African Americans to engage? African American salon and barbershop marketing can breathe life into a campaign and enable brands to piggyback on the connection Black barbers and hairstylists already have within their communities—including those that are online. 

These cultural catalysts are considered to be taste-makers within the African American community because they are always the first to know about new trends, products, and sports or news information that matters to their customers. When they share an in-store promotion, their customers take it as a recommendation from a trusted source. And that’s when the word-of-mouth marketing really starts to take effect.

African American customers who happen to be in the shops are thrilled to be a part of this seemingly spontaneous, infused in-store experience, which turns another day at the salon into a behind-the-scenes sneak peek at the next big craze that’s about to blow up. In-store marketing means that not only do these customers get to be in the know before everyone else, they score some dope merch to prove it. 

You can be sure they leave that salon or barbershop ready to get everyone they know excited, too. But in-store marketing activations don’t end there. Because African-American-owned salons and barbershops tend to have huge online followings on social media sites such as Instagram.

In fact, almost all Black salon and barbershop owners are savvy social media influencers and often have hundreds of thousands of social media followers. You can see why smart brands are competing for their recommendation. Even better, most African American barbers and salon owners are more sophisticated in non-traditional marketing than a lot of senior media planners and buyers. But this hasn’t happened by chance! They are entrepreneurs who have had to teach themselves how to promote their stores and being seen as on-trend is part of the allure.

Shop owners have a history of doing more with less. In short, out of a lack of resources, urban barbershop owners have had to be nimble and develop the skills to become their own Black marketing creatives, media planners, and strategists.  

Barbers and stylists are engagement experts, and what they have accomplished can’t be devalued, because they have the power to monetize the culture and narratives in their shops and elevate the marketing strategies of the brands with which they choose to work. Even after COVID-19 hit, they have found ways to pivot and thrive. 

African American men and women gather weekly to spend money on self-improvement and discuss what’s new. This culture predisposes them to the idea of receiving brand messaging from the chair. Even as social media has expanded the realm of influencers, barbers and hairstylists have maintained and, in most cases, built on their role as taste-makers to become the micro-influencer stars. 

They’ve done it by leveraging their strong social-media engagement skills to develop an ever-widening circle of influence. This phenomenon is nothing new, but, interestingly, COVID-19 has put salon and barbershop owners in the spotlight, as people realize the critical role they play in their lives. This makes it more relevant than ever to leverage their influence to reach African American consumers.

About the Author 

Wil Shelton is the CEO & Founder of Wil Power Integrated Marketing, a full-service agency offering traditional and digital marketing services to reach multicultural audiences in the beauty and grooming industries.  

Herbalife article illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 magazine

The Entrepreneurs Top Tech Tools

Rhonda VetereChief Information Officer, Herbalife Nutrition

When the world shut down due to the pandemic, everything changed, especially for small businesses. Suddenly, the ability to connect to customers became even more critical, and the safe way to do so is through technology. While companies have long relied on email or text messaging to communicate, many entrepreneurs found they needed to expand their technology toolkit, becoming more creative and resourceful with how they conduct business and compete effectively. As a technology expert who advises more than 3.4 million entrepreneurs around the world on technology solutions that can help them serve their customers and manage their business, I recommend the following tech tips to help you power your business. 

Customer service 

We are living during a time of tremendous technology transformation. Gone are the days when people waited for what seemed an eternity to send or receive a message. Time has sped up, and with it is the demand from customers for immediate attention. According to recent research, 82% of consumers expect a quick response from brands. Keeping up or ahead of customers requires staying on top of technology trends and ensuring that you have the tools to compete in the digital age.  

For website support, many entrepreneurs use a live chat tool that can help customers with basic questions. Many of these tools can be used on social media as well. If paid chat options are price prohibitive, there are also useful and free tools, including Zoho Desk.

Communication and collaboration 

Video conferencing and video chat applications grew exponentially during the pandemic. In March, video conferencing apps saw 62 million downloads. Entrepreneurs are using video apps for connecting with customers, partners and vendors. While these tools are excellent for meetings, they are also useful for maintaining connections with industry organizations and networking groups. Many of the tools allow break-out rooms for a small meeting within a session, creating an intimate and collaborative space. 

As you continue to build your reputation as an expert in your industry, video conferencing can also be used to host a webinar for existing and potential customers. Many entrepreneurs are hosting panel discussions, bringing in other partners and collaborators. These sessions can be taped and repurposed as content for your social media channels, website and email marketing. There are many video conferencing options, including, Joinme, which has a free plan that lets you invite up to 10 video participants 

Social media 

Social media is not just for sharing videos and memes – it is a top business tool. Your customers are on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, and Instagram. Once you identify which channels you want to use, you need to post engaging content. These can range from news about products, sales and impactful information. Posting across several channels every week can be daunting. Thankfully, many social media tools help you schedule and publish your content that can be calendared and posted automatically. These tools range from Hootsuite (which has a free option) to Zoho Social to Buffer

Slack  

More and more brands, companies and entrepreneurs use Slack to communicate with their customers. It’s a great place to provide relevant updates, tips and advisement, and new product announcements. It also gives your customers a place away from social media to share stories and entrepreneurs a place to connect with their team more visibly easily. 

Storage  

There is a lot of discussion about the term “the cloud.” Think of the cloud as an off-site storage locker, where all your critical information is safe and secure – and easily sharable. Google DriveDropbox, or Microsoft Sharepoint safeguard your backups and allow users access from any location. Moving your work to the cloud not only benefits you to work from anywhere and any device, but it also makes it easy to share content with your customers.  

Email Marketing 

Your marketing toolkit may contain a variety of options – one of which is email marketing. Sending professionally designed, informative newsletters to your customers is a great way to keep in touch. One of the most popular companies in the business is Mailchimp. Even better, If your company sends fewer than 12,000 email messages per month to fewer than 2,000 subscribers, you can take advantage of Mailchimp’s Forever Free plan. 

E-commerce 

The pandemic has changed how we shop. Overnight, people began to purchase everything from groceries to furniture online and in record numbers. Customers now expect to buy their products online. They expect the experience to be easy and fast. There are many great e-commerce platforms out there, such as Shopify, a one-stop-shop for setting up your e-commerce store, to Amazon’s beyond popular platform. Shopify offers a 14-day free trial, and you can use it to chat with customers online, track orders and send invoices.  

One final note. As a technologist, I remind everyone that interaction with your customers is up to you. Nothing supplants human interaction and connection. With limits on our in-person meetings, it is even more essential to find ways to build businesses. Mix up how you connect with others – pick up the phone, or schedule a Zoom, to call a handful of customers every day. Don’t forego a personal email that is not meant to sell a customer or colleague – but to check-in with them and see how they are doing. Technology is a fantastic tool that helps small businesses act big. The challenge is to make the technology connections feel more three-dimensional vs two-dimensional. Technology can help us be more efficient and productive, and while it can enhance our communication, it will never replace the incredible power of the human relationship. That part is up to you.  

Justice illustration

Lucid Celebrates Women

In honor of International Women’s Day, meet the successful founders behind Lucid Communications’ incredible roster of women-led brands

This International Women’s Day (March 8th, 2021), Toronto/LA-based PR firm Lucid Communications is celebrating the victories and contributions of our incredible clients. We are proud to have women from all walks of life on our roster who continue to shape their respective industries, showing us time and time again how powerful women are.

Each one of our thought leaders is highly skilled and trained in their field. These women boast extensive knowledge and wisdom in areas such as mindfulness, movement, natural beauty, home decor & organization, and sustainable lifestyle. Today, we share their extraordinary journeys to success.

Check out the strong, inspirational, and intelligent women behind Mindful Collective Co (B Yoga & Halfmoon), Province Apothecary, Okoko Cosmetiques, Flax Sleep, Lorette Lingerie, NEAT Method Toronto, The Bare Home, and Pretty in the City.

Andrea Morris of Mindful Collective Co (parent company of B Yoga and Halfmoon)

As the Founder & CEO of Mindful Collective Co— the parent company of sister brands B Yoga and Halfmoon— Andrea Morris’ mission is simple: to support people everywhere in living their best and most balanced lives.

Morris’ passion for yoga began in Sydney, Australia, while she was completing a Masters Degree in International Business. She knew she would someday make yoga her career, but she wasn’t sure what that would look like. Fast-forward 9 years and Morris found herself employed at The Stewart Group, her family’s fifth-generation manufacturing and technology company. She was working with an innovative type of rubber and quickly realized that the material’s distinctive qualities—durability, sustainability, and a grippy surface— could make the perfect yoga mat.

After endlessly prototyping and fine-tuning The B MAT, B Yoga was born in 2014. Sparked by The B MAT’s success, B Yoga continued to grow beyond just mats, creating elevated, performance-driven essentials for all kinds of movement and meditation.

In spring 2018, Morris and B Yoga acquired Halfmoon, another female-founded, Canadian yoga and meditation brand. Where B Yoga speaks to the contemporary yogi, Halfmoon is rooted in tradition, making each brand a perfect complement for the other.

Morris currently resides in her hometown of Toronto, ON, with her husband, Fraser, and two daughters, Madison and Everly. As she helps B Yoga and Halfmoon grow across North America and internationally, she knows she’s fulfilling her vision of inspiring all people to live their yoga.

B Yoga’s products can be shopped online or purchased through their various retailers.

Halfmoon’s products can be shopped online or purchased through their various retailers.

Julie Clark of Province Apothecary

After struggling with allergies and eczema all her life, Julie Clark began crafting natural, organic beauty products out of her kitchen. Despite her busy schedule as a costume designer and stylist, Julie found herself drawn to holistic skincare, using her time off to experiment with oils, waxes, and herbs— all in pursuit of the perfect skincare regime. In 2010, Julie began studying Aromatherapy, Holistic Health, and Esthetics in Toronto. Here she formed the foundation of her skincare expertise, experimenting with raw materials and natural ingredients.

For Julie, natural beauty goes beyond simply organic ingredients; natural beauty means a pledge to helping clients feel good in their own skin. “I gather so much inspiration from my clients, the weather, and the seasons,” says Julie, of her individually-tailored approach to skincare. Her facial treatments often include hand-blended masks using local produce and seasonally appropriate, farmer-friendly ingredients. While PA has long outgrown the kitchen, Julie’s devotion to fresh, seasonal, and organic beauty continues. Now a certified holistic esthetician and aromatherapist, Julie remains committed to innovation, sustainability, and small-batch skincare of the highest quality.

Province Apothecary is available at 175+ retailers in Canada and the US, as well as online. They have been featured internationally in print and online by POOSH, Vogue, goop, Refinery 29, CBC, and more. They have also expanded their Holistic Skincare Clinic in Toronto, offering Custom Organic Facials and Full Brow + Lash Treatments. With a highly skilled team of experts and a stunning new space, PA’s clinic is a vestige of calm in the ever-hectic city.

Oyéta Kokoroko of Okoko Cosmétiques

Oyéta Kokoroko is an experienced cosmetic formulator, product designer, and creator of eco-luxury cosmetics from Montréal, Canada. She moved to Vancouver, British Columbia in 2016, where she founded her company Okoko Cosmétiques. Okoko is built on Oyéta’s passion for combining high-level formulations, luxurious textures, and delicate scents to beautify and rejuvenate any complexion.

Oyéta is inspired by the spectacular mountains, exquisite fauna, and extraordinary power of the Pacific Ocean, which together define the lush nature of the West Coast rainforest. Her product formulations also benefit from her multicultural heritage and sophisticated French-Canadian style. The result is Okoko Cosmétiques, a luxury skincare brand that creates sustainably-sourced, high-performance, and science-backed products.

Transparent labeling, ingredient purity, and environmental consciousness are at the core of Okoko’s mission. From sourcing to production, they invest in research and development to bring you products that are both sustainable and effective. Using only the purest botanical extracts and oils, many of which are sustainably wildcrafted, the Okoko range is rich in high-quality and precious ingredients that will work to transform your skin. No exaggerated claims or cheap fillers here!

While paving the way in green beauty, Oyéta has taken her years of knowledge and skills to launch OKOKO House Of Brands. This platform is dedicated to mentoring like-minded indie brands who are ready to take their business to the next level. To learn more about OKOKO house of brands, visit okokohouseofbrands.com.

Okoko Cosmétiques can be shopped online and shipped internationally, or purchased in person at any of their various stockists.

Anna Heyd, Oana Papuac, and Vivian McCormick of Flax Sleep

Originally in the fields of law and hospitality, these three passionate businesswomen made the switch to entrepreneurship in the fall of 2017 with the founding of Flax Sleep. Anna, Oana, and Vivian came together to share their appreciation of beautiful things, ethical business practice, and fantastic sleep. They saw a gap in the Canadian marketplace when it came to buying simple bedding online at accessible prices, and felt inspired to fill that void.

Quality materials, high production standards, and ethical manufacturing practices were their top priorities when they set out to find a factory with which to partner. Once they identified the perfect manufacturing partner, they traveled to Shenzhen to learn about the process of turning beautiful linen into the most amazing sheets, to see the quality of the working conditions for the craftsmen and women that are responsible for production, and to establish a long term partnership with their factory. From here, Flax Sleep was Born.

In addition to offering you luxurious linen bedding, the women behind Flax Sleep believe in providing #ASafePlacetoSleep to women and children in need. That’s why they are committed to donating part of their proceeds (and all returned goods) to Atira Women’s Resource Society. In doing so, they are reducing waste and providing essential products to members of their community that need it most. As ethical manufacturing is also a top priority, Flax Sleep actively partners with modern manufacturers to ensure clean and safe working conditions for all.

Laure Stromboni of Lorette Lingerie

Laure Stromboni is a Parisian designer and the creator of Lorette Lingerie. Founded in 2017, her Toronto-based intimates brand was created to empower women with the freedom to express themselves unapologetically. Their luxurious and small-batch intimates are inspired by Laure’s french heritage, blending contemporary cuts with unique embroidery techniques that weave a story into every garment. Offering a diverse range of bralettes, panties, bodysuits, camisoles, and more, Lorette invites women everywhere to revel in their unique feminine expression and self-confidence.

Lorette’s collections are designed in collaboration with female illustrators and graphic designers and are handmade locally by an all-female staff in Toronto. Each embroidery is thoughtfully chosen to represent symbols, concepts, and archetypes that resonate with women everywhere.

In addition to exceptional design, superior craftsmanship and environmental consciousness are central to Lorette’s ethos. Their hand-made garments are created using deluxe overstock material from Canadian and Parisian couture houses, ensuring superior quality without waste. By making the conscious decision not to outsource production or transport new materials, Lorette is able to offer a fair living wage to everyone involved in their garments’ development, all while reducing their carbon footprint.

Lorette Lingerie can be shopped online and shipped internationally, and local pick-ups are available for Toronto-based customers.

Jen Rowe of NEAT Method Toronto

NEAT Method Toronto is the organizing company that will transform your home or office from chaos to composed. Specializing in organizing, unpacking, and downsizing homes & offices across Toronto, they make the spaces you have functional for the life you live by focusing on creating uniquely personalized systems.

Jen Rowe, Owner of NEAT Method Toronto, offers an honest approach, a sharp eye for detail, and a personal sense of refined style. While Jen has spent the better part of her nearly 20-year career in corporate communications, she has always been a passionate organizer at heart. After becoming a parent to her now 5 and 7-year-old children, Jen began to dive deeper into the best ways to maintain a neat home— even during the most chaotic phases of life. She started to expertly maximize the space in her family’s East end home, making it highly efficient for their lifestyle. In 2019, she parlayed this skill set into a career with NEAT Method and now uses her extraordinary talents to help others live clutter-free.

Ashley James of the Bare Home

The Bare Home started as a passion project. Ashley remembers becoming very conscious of sustainable living during her time in Germany. She loved the simple things people were doing in their daily lives to be more environmentally conscious and quickly began to adopt this “new” way of life.

After 7 years, Ashley and her husband decided to move back to Canada with their young family. She knew Canada was going to be much different than what she had become accustomed to in Europe and was feeling inspired and excited to bring some of that lifestyle home with her. She had caught the entrepreneurial bug around that time and was actively looking to start her own business— but it had to be something that she could truly feel passionate and good about.

At first, the Bare Home was more than cleaning products. Ashley was offering a variety of fair trade foods and other zero-waste products. However, she quickly noticed that customers were most interested in the refilling options for her laundry and cleaning products. From here, the Bare Home was born.

The Bare Home is now Canada’s premier destination for sustainable, environmentally friendly, and beautifully-scented cleaning products. They are proud producers of eco-cleaners and natural soaps that are safe for you, your home, and the earth. The Bare Home’s products are made with only the highest quality organic essential oils, and feature unique at-home refill stations. Boasting a wide range of basic yet beautiful dish soaps, hand soaps, all-purpose cleaners, laundry essentials and more, The Bare Home provides clean convenience that you and your family can feel good about.

The Bare Home’s full range of eco-friendly cleaners can be shopped online here, and shipped to both the US and Canada. Be sure to use their store locator to check out their various North American stockists for in-person shopping!

Nathaly Nairn of Windfall Cider

Windfall Cider is Canada’s newest urban cidery based in Vancouver, BC. Created by Nathaly Nairn and her husband Jeff Nairn, Windfall is here to turn the world of cider on its head. They find the best BC apples, the purest juice, and experiment with old-world techniques to create a one-of-a-kind cider like you’ve never tasted before. Windfall stays true to their local roots, using only fruits and botanicals native to the Pacific Northwest. The result is a diverse roster of crisp, distinct, and playful ciders that you’ll want to drink year-round. Like a little sip of good fortune in every can.

Windfall was founded after a trip to Mexico City, where Nathaly and her husband fell in love with Spanish cider. After exploring cider-making as a hobby for several years, Nathaly and Jeff took the plunge and established their very own cidery, Windfall Cider. In an industry overrun with sweet and general ciders, Nathaly set out to create crisp, refreshing, and unique blends. After learning what she could from old-world methods passed down by generations of cider makers, Windfall experimented until their cider was just right— and entirely different than anything else in Canada.

Windfall’s bright and playful ciders can be shopped online and shipped to BC residents, or delivered across Vancouver,  or purchased at select restaurants and private liquor stores. 

Veronica Tran

Pretty in the City Founder, Veronica Tran, is one of the first estheticians in Toronto to train in the art of eyelash extensions in both Toronto and New York. She holds several certifications in various techniques, a diploma as a Skin Care Technician and Permanent Make-Up Technician, as well as several certificates for infection control. Attending workshops, seminars, and conferences on an annual basis, Veronica is always up to date with the newest innovations and industry standards. Her latest accomplishments include several master classes for Volume Eyelash Extensions and Microblading with well-regarded industry professionals such as Irina Levchuk, Daria Chuprys, and Branko Babic. Veronica is also one of the first in Canada to be certified with PhiBrows.

Veronica established Pretty in the City, Toronto’s most trusted lash and brow bar, in 2005. She believes that quality work takes time, and therefore, every appointment at PIC allows for individual customization, proper implementation of skilled techniques, and sanitation protocols. At Pretty in the City, Veronica ensures that customers experience unparalleled expertise and professionalism in a friendly and relaxed environment. It comes as no surprise that PIC has been named as one of the best places in Canada for microblading by Fashion Magazine online, one of the best places for microblading in Toronto by BlogTo, and one of the top salons for lash extensions in Toronto by Narcity Toronto.

Veronica’s work has been featured in many high profile publications including Flare, FASHION, Elle Canada, Elevate, and Best Health.

Make a passionate pitch—if you want investors

The brains of investors are wired to pay closer attention to entrepreneurs who pitch with passion, according to new research.

One would expect that entrepreneurs who pitch their startup ideas with passion are more apt to entice investors. Now there’s scientific proof the two are connected: enthusiasm and financial backing. According to new research from Case Western Reserve University, the brains of potential investors are wired to pay closer attention to entrepreneurs who pitch with passion.

Researchers examined investors’ neural responses to entrepreneurs’ pitches, conducting a randomized experiment that explored the response of investors’ brains using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging

(fMRI)—finding a causal relationship between passion of the pitcher and interest from investors.

“No one has ever invested in a startup they ignored,” said Scott Shane, the A. Malachi Mixon III Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies in the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve.

“Founder passion is essential to establishing investor attention, and our study demonstrates measurable neural effects that offer a biological explanation for their tendency to react positively to enthusiasm and emotion of entrepreneurs,” said Shane, lead author of the paper, published in the Journal of Business Venturing. By showing such energy in pitching their business ideas, entrepreneurs can considerably increase neural engagement in potential investors—increasing the odds these financiers will support a new, untested venture by having strong, measurable effects on their decision-making.

“Most of time investors just say ‘no,’” said Shane. “In fact, the vast majority of entrepreneurs never receive a dime from external investors.

“Entrepreneurs should know: More engaged brains are more likely to meaningfully evaluate pitches,” he said. “We believe our data makes a strong argument that displays of passion trigger heightened engagement that, in turn, makes investors more likely to write a check.”

The experiment

Videos of pitches—identical in content but different in delivery—were randomly assigned to investors inside an fMRI machine. Depending on the passion-level of the pitch, investors’ brains reacted differently: Heightened displays of passion increased investor fixation on the stimulus (the pitch) to override distractions—and demonstrate a causal effect of displayed passion on investor interest.

· Investors randomly assigned a pitch with high founder passion resulted in informal investor interest increasing by 26%, relative to the same pitch delivered with low passion;

· Data from fMRIs showed investor neural responses to entrepreneurs’ high-passion pitches increased investor neural engagement by 39% over lower founder passion.

“More engaged brains are more likely to meaningfully evaluate pitches—and not play on their phones or think about lunch which should result in more favorable investor assessments,” said Shane.

While it’s possible that other mechanisms may be present in the brains of investors—such as inferring from passion that entrepreneurs may be more capable or competent—the experiment showed that passion is a key mechanism because it causes investors to pay attention, said Shane.

The practice of passion

The findings offer strong implications for the practice of entrepreneurship. “Pitching with enthusiasm and passion—these are skills that can be taught,” said Shane. “Flat, unenthusiastic pitches are the enemy of attracting investor attention and to succeeding in a competitive, cutthroat environment.”

Each year, hundreds of thousands of early-stage entrepreneurs, who often lack established track records, offer pitches—widely recognized as the gateway to investor funding—to financiers across the globe. The study focused on Informal investors—referred to as “family, friends and foolhardy strangers” by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor who account for most startup investments, investing $1 trillion globally between 2012-2015, according to the organization.

The study was co-authored by David Clingingsmith, an associate professor of economics at the Weatherhead School. Will Drover of the University of Oklahoma, and Moran Cerf of Northwestern University also co-authored the paper.