Wednesday, February 1, 2017

LGBT Bold Introduces Samuel Cole from London, in Collaboration with Project Soaked

We had an opportunity to sit down with Samuel Cole from London, where we learned more about his latest film project, as well as his @ProjectSoaked stunning photography.



First, tell us about your business. What does your company do? What markets does it serve?
In short, my business is me. As a self-employed freelance performer you need to be a brand as you are the product. My role, I guess you could say, is creative director, if you need a title. One day I'm the writer, director, dancer and producer. I would say that a lot of my work is influenced by LGBT and equality as well as body image and the arts.

Next, tell us a little about yourself. What inspired you to start your own business and/or head down this path within your own company?
Like I said, I am a very creative and imaginative person and I'm constantly getting inspired by my surroundings. Mostly I try to use my brand to promote body image and a positive message as well as LGBT issues. There was a time when your sexuality would have to be hidden at work, but now I think it's important to not lead a double life. I'm not saying that you should use your sexuality as a business, it's more about celebrating it and knocking down stereotypes and boundaries. For me, the best thing about my work is that I get to bring my ideas to life, which is such an exciting process. But it can be stressful due to having a slight tendency to be a perfectionist. As well as my own vision, it's great to collaborate and help make someone else's idea a reality.

I became self employed quite soon after graduating which was and still is somewhat daunting. But it was the right decision, as I've know for a while that I want to use my skills and training to create and build a platform not just for myself but to spread a positive message through my work.

Do you have a project or goal you're working on now in order to take your business to the next level?
2017 is turning out to be a big year for me, as I'm really finding my voice and focusing on a film, which has been a real back burner and something that means a great deal to me. The plan is to really step up and push the limit to what a film can do. I'm bored of seeing videos and images that are not fresh and do not push the audiences imagination and mind.

What have been some of the challenges in achieving this goal?
The biggest challenge is sitting down and focusing on the one idea, biting the bullet and putting it into motion. Without any other ideas and concepts distracting me.

Overall, what have been some of the challenges to get to where you're at today?
I think some of the challenges are being heard and not getting lost in the crowd. It's amazing that this new generation of crowdfunders and independent brands are taking over, but now more than ever the competition is much higher. This can be construed as good and bad, as it will push people to make their business and brand better, but this also means it will be more difficult to have success. But don't let that stop you, people say everyone has a book in them, and the same goes for a business, everyone has one in them.

How does your business differentiate itself from its competitors?
I'm not afraid to develop and push myself, while others (individuals and brands) get comfortable. I will always research and develop, as at the end of the day, I don't want to miss out on an idea or opportunity.

And finally, tell us anything about yourself, your business and/or the business environment you're in that we may have missed in our questions above, and that you'd like to tell in your #LGBTBold story.
I believe we shouldn't settle! People might think I'm naive because of my age, but I have a goal and I'm not scared to work hard. I thrive on positive energy and open mindedness and giving people the confidence to believe they can do it. I do feel lucky to have collaborated with other creative people and to have had them help me with my success as well. It's all about doing favors and returning them. A business should give a sense of fantasy, otherwise why is anyone going to invest, participate and tell others it takes time and just like LGBT bold, you need to be bold.

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

LGBT Bold Introduces Shannon Morrison of IM Creative from Columbus Ohio

We had an opportunity to sit down with Shannon Morrison of IM Creative, an LGBT-owned company that is part of the event and meeting planning world.

First, tell us about your business. What does your company do? What markets does it serve?
IM Creative is an experience design and production agency. We create branded experiences for companies in technology, pharmaceuticals, financial services, consumer goods and more. We believe that Being Together Matters, and because of that belief, we are laser-focused on creating compelling meetings, events, conferences, activations, on-boarding, and culture-building experiences for audiences from 50-50.000.

Next, tell us a little about yourself. What inspired you to start your own business and/or head down this path within your own company?
My husband Scott and I both have a strong background in theater. He is the one with the entrepreneurial and managerial instinct while I am a big idea and branding. Between the two of us, we found a potent chemistry both personally and professionally that helped us transform Scott's initial endeavor - Ihrig Productions - into IM Creative. We wanted to create a new kind of production company that was focused on ideas and creativity rather than gear. Our philosophy has always been when you own a hammer, everything looks like a nail. We would rather create a company where the great ideas come first, and THEN worry about the tools needed to realize it, rather than trying to shoehorn things you own into what you sell. The strategy has worked, taking us to #1326 on the INC 5000 and earning us numerous awards for outstanding work in corporate events, non-profit galas, sporting ceremonies, and more.

Do you have a project or goal you're working on now in order to take your business to the next level?
We have recently implemented a new strategic plan titled our 10-10-2020 plan, where we aim for $10M in revenue with a 10% Profit margin. We have identified strategies to help us get there that include both business development goals as well as the streamlining and optimization of existing processes.

What have been some of the challenges in achieving this goal?
Ten million in revenue won't be the challenge - it'll really be in the 10% part of the goal, because it will be the accumulation of many many small efforts on the part of everyone at the company. That means that we must make sure everyone knows what they can do to help us reach that goal, regardless of job function. Everyone has a role to play, and we must work doubly hard to ensure people understand how their role can fit in to this strategy, whether working in a support function or facing clients.



Overall, what have been some of the challenges to get to where you're at today?
Two major challenges have characterized our growth thus far. First, growing too fast. Once we hit the right positioning and marketing message and the economy recovered, business took off, and we weren't as well prepared for it as we should have been. Talent was hard to find, so in many cases we made compromises that hurt us in the long run. We've had to slow our roll of growth by taking on only 3-5 new clients annually. Secondly, we have been challenged to distill what makes the partnership and value proposition of our founders translate to our entire organization and our culture such that clients know that even if they aren't working with Scott or Shannon, they are still getting the IM Creative experience. We have met that challenge through intense culture building and a refined hiring process that helps us identify fits for both skills and culture.

How does your business differentiate itself from its competitors?
We provide value through our values of Maniacal Client Focus, Infectious Excellence, Refreshing Creative, Relentless Collaboration, and Fearless Authenticity. Additionally, we perform the work of a production company with the consultative and creative chops of an advertising agency. Finally, we are laser-focused on experiences. We don't do social, we don't do digital, we don't do pure video - there are others who do it better. We aren't jacks of all trades. We are specialists who do what we do better than anyone we know.

What is the biggest mistake, if any, that your customers are making?
Our customers are used to working with traditional production companies, and often ask for "stuff" rather than "ideas". For example, a client might ask for a show with 6 microphones and a sleek modern, minimalist set. A traditional production company might provide a price sheet for that and then deliver it. We, on the other hand, ask our clients "Why do you think you want that?". We want clients to tell us the PROBLEM they are trying to solve, not the solution they think will get them there.

And finally, tell us anything about yourself, your business and/or the business environment you're in that we may have missed in our questions above, and that you'd like to tell in your #LGBTBold story.
Mentorship has been extremely important to us. In particular, over the last few years we have targeted Pharmaceuticals as a key market that can benefit from our approach and help us grow. Through our involvement with the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, we achieved a mentorship with Novartis that included a full year (and now, informal on-going mentorship) with Sheri Shafir, their head of Supplier Diversity, as well as staff members in procurement and other departments. That mentorship, along with our Supplier Diversity Certification, has helped us refine our marketing strategy and also identify inroads to companies where we might not ever even have a shot at getting noticed. We can't say enough about how Sheri Shafir and the team at Novartis - Todd Bittiger, Caitlin Mosco, Laura J Smith, and more, have helped. Mentoring is dramatically underrated, and will be a key part of the success story we tell years from now.

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Original Article:

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Introducing Armani Versace - TV Personality, LGBT Public Figure, Blogger, Motivational Speaker

Introducing Armani Versace, both from a business angle and, following the links below, from his own personal story of coming out as an African-American in Georgia.

TV Personality, LGBT Public figure, Journalist, Actor, Model, Television Host, Instagram Celebrity, Brand Ambassador, Blogger, Motivational/Public Speaker

For those who may not know Armani Walton, known as Armani Versace, he is a young, intelligent and extravagant male socialite who has many talents and skills to show the world. Having graduated Tucker high school in 2015, he has accomplished a leading male role in the hit smash Atlanta-based teen show ''The Bridge'' on PDSTV24 for two seasons, which first premiered in May 2014. Most people know Armani Versace via his Instagram profile, with a network of over 100,000 followers and growing. Armani has been seen in local hosting gigs such as talent shows and events. Armani has also been seen for his work in print modeling, social media promotions, and local fashion shows in Atlanta, GA.

LGBT Bold: First, tell us about your business. What does your company do? What markets does it serve?
AV: Promoting LGBT rights and equality through social media platforms and raising money for foundations.

LGBT Bold: Next, tell us a little about yourself. What inspired you to start your own business and/or head down this path within your own company?
AV: I'm a very bold , compassionate , and loving person that strives to bring change to my LGBT community through social media the best way I can.

LGBT Bold: Do you have a project or goal you're working on now in order to take your business to the next level?
AV: The goal I'm working on is to start my own organization through social media to get people more engaged in my LGBT beliefs.

LGBT Bold: What have been some of the challenges in achieving this goal?
AV: So far the only challenges I've been facing are getting investors and sponsors to believe in me and pursue me with this organization.

LGBT Bold: How does your business differentiate itself from its competitors?
AV: Other competitors don't have the type of urban influence that I bring to social media, that really inspires young gay boys like myself to be themselves and live their truth.

LGBT Bold: What is the biggest mistake, if any, that your customers are making?
AV: The biggest mistake some of my fans have made is not be themselves through the hard times and not believing in my message to live a free life.

LGBT Bold: And finally, tell us anything about yourself, your business and/or the business environment you're in that we may have missed in our questions above, and that you'd like to tell in your #LGBTBold story.
AV: What I thought was going to be the worse time and moment of my life actually made me the strong homosexual I am today. I'm an LGBT public figure, television personality and Instagram star . I want to better the young gay individuals around me and give them strength to do the same thing I did that made me very successful and true acceptance.

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Armani Versace
Stone Mountain, GA
Website: www.ArmaniVersace.com
Twitter: @ArmaniVersace_
Instagram: @iamarmaniversace
Facebook: @iamarmaniversace