Calynn Lawrence is a TV Host and Published Fashion/Beauty/Entertainment Writer with over 5 years of industry experience. She is also the Founder of the Fresh Faces Project which is a non profit campaign that focuses on giving young talent in the fashion and artistic industry free exposure on her website and her social media. She currently has a collective following of about 35 thousand across the board and her list of partnered businesses is quite extensive ranging from all walks of the creative industry. Read our interview with the lovely Calynn below…
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
I always knew that I wanted to do something creative for my career. Once I began working in fashion at the age of 15, I was certain that this was my calling. I had begun blogging simply as a hobby and it later turned out to be the seed that sprouted my entrepreneurship.
Tell us about your business.
As a freelancer, I wear many hats. I am a television personality for Africa International House and CAN TV. I am a published writer with a focus on fashion, beauty and entertainment. But my main focus in my career is running The Fresh Faces Project. Through this not for profit campaign, I am able to help so many aspiring talents bridge the gap between wanting success and gaining success, no matter how big or small. Some celebrity participants are: Miss Illinois Petite and triple CEO, Jegie Carrera, celebrity fashion and shoe wear designer Mark Schwartz, the YouTube sensations, TheGlamTwinz, former supermodel and CEO of K Models Talent Katrell Mendenhall and award winning Indie actress Lolita Price.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
Yes, I want to please encourage all individuals who have a talent that they are passionate about to apply to be featured on my blog as a Fresh Faces Participant. All that is required is a simple email application to firstname.lastname@example.org with 4 photos, links to your social media and a summary of your talents and experience. Examples of published individuals can be found on my blog.
I hold the following post secondary education:
- Business Degree of the Arts
- Business Accounting Certification
- Marketing Management Certification
- Fashion Design Business Certification
- Social Media Management- Blogging Certification
Where is your business based?
Chicago, IL, USA – but I am up for travel! 🙂
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
I had to stop working for other people. Although I definitely enjoyed my internships, especially my two year run as a fashion intern for Nordstrom, and my retail jobs such as being a sales advisor for H&M, I knew that I had to venture out on my own. So, I finished my internships and left my job to pursue blogging full time, as well as start The Fresh Faces Project.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Definitely using job boards in the beginning to build a consistent clientele and gain more experience. Because I was new to the idea of blogging for a means of income, I thought that using freelancer websites that hosted job ads would be the best route, and it served its purpose. Secondly, I think that my bold attitude of just going for it and being the first person to just email companies and ask if they would like to work together was beneficial as well. Many of times, they said yes!
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
I have certainly faced a few challenges. For one, as a woman of color it is a little bit more difficult for someone like me to gain a following as quickly as my fair skinned sisters. Because I am a minority, sometimes it might be harder for the majority population to relate to me and my experiences. Also, as someone who is overweight and has always had a fluctuating weight, it is harder for me to have the same image or rock the same fashion trends as my thinner sisters. However, I am content with these matters because I want to gain a following from more than my appearance. Working in an industry where so many individuals thrive on vanity, I choose to stand in my truth and let my good works and charitable motives speak for themselves.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I simply embrace them. Period.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I think about the end goal. I always think of how my hard work will pay off in the end for me to gain the ability of being able to take care of my family, develop The Fresh Faces Project to reach thousands as well as inspire many young women in the future. All of it serves as a motivation to keep going, keep working, keep pulling late nights and early mornings because one day I will receive my reward.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
My work ethic is different, it’s more than ambition, it’s passion and soul. If it is one thing that I hear almost every time I start a new business relationship it’s that I’m “so young.” Many people are shocked when they find out that I’m only 20 years old. That is because I started paying dues in the industry while most people were thinking about their high school crush. I had already amassed three years of work experience by time my peers were going to prom. (No, I did not attend, I was working a fashion show that evening.) And, I do not regret it one bit. The sacrifice that I have put into building my brand and grinding out my career has become so routine that I can not imagine being any other way.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
“If you have to cry, go outside.” That is one of Kelly Cutrone’s business mantras. In other words, if it’s something that you really want then you will suck it up, take the challenge and power through. If you really want to make a career out of something then complaining and whining will never be an issue, especially not in the workplace.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Start as young as possible. I say this because the earlier you begin, the earlier your success will come. Also, you tend to have less responsibility and much more energy in your youth. Therefore, if you start at 16, as opposed to 26 then chances are it will be much easier for you. That’s not to say that it’s ever too late because it isn’t. That’s just a good tip for those who can apply it.
What is your favorite business tool or resource?
Watching my superiors’ interviews and documentaries, and reading their memoirs. As someone who studied multiple facets of business in my schooling, I can honestly say that I feel that I have learned more applicable industry knowledge from watching thousands of interviews and documentaries than I ever have from reading a textbook and that’s keeping it one hundred.
Schooling taught me the technicalities of business such as how to crunch my numbers, or how to organize an ad campaign. But, it was the interviews and documentaries that gave me specific accounts and inside knowledge pertaining to my actual career, testimonials and experiences that I could learn from so that I would not make the same mistakes. Or even giving me good tips that I could follow! Things like that are not gonna be taught in a classroom setting.
College never taught me about how to go from minimum wage to millionaire fashion CEO like Sophia Amoruso did. College never taught me how to be the reigning editor and chief of American Vogue for three decades like Anna Wintour did. College never taught me how to build one of the largest international fashion PR firms in the world like Kelly Cutrone did. That is what I mean.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I am learning how to build my not for profit to maximum capability. Thus, the more hands on deck the better. What I mean by that is if you can please just share my blog on your social media to raise awareness that would be amazing! Also, I am always open to sponsorship ideas and/or social media collaborations. So, if companies would like to work together, please contact me through email and we can get started! I am willing to travel for the right projects 🙂
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
I am always trying to better The Fresh Faces Project. But, other than that I am in the process of publishing an ebook that is soon to release for sale through my blog so please be on the lookout for that! It’s all a matter of finishing the story and the editing.