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5 Questions: Featuring Celebrity Designer Charles Harbison and Owner of Fashion Brand HARBISON Studio

founder interview Feb 24, 2021

Charles Harbison has always colored outside of the lines in his career. While in undergrad, the North Carolina-native left an architecture program to pursue a double degree in fine art and textile science. There he went on to fall in love with fashion studying indigenous fabric design in Uzbekistan

After graduating from the Parsons School for Design, he became a top designer at Michael Kors, Luca Luca, and Billy Reid, before starting his own line, HARBISON, somewhat by accident after experiencing industry burn out.

Over the years his work has caught the attention of Michelle Obama, Solange, Beyonce and Ava Duvernay, who are fans of his luxury, gender-fluid brand. Harbison will be designing a sustainable fashion line for Banana Republic in partnership with Harlem’s Fashion Row, available September 2021.

We asked Harbison a few questions about fashion, sustainability, and starting and running a creative business. Watch the full interview right here:

Or read on to...

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5 Questions: Featuring Mandy Bowman Founder and CEO of Official Black Wall Street

founder interview Feb 17, 2021

For some, the idea of quitting a stable 9-to-5 to take a blind leap of faith is terrifying, but for Mandy Bowman, a Brooklyn native and the founder of Official Black Wall Street, the largest digital directory for Black businesses, it was liberating. Shortly after receiving a degree in Entrepreneurship and Global Business Management at Babson College, Bowman decided to pursue her passion: Empowering the Black community overall by becoming a driving force of the #BuyBlack movement. 

In 2016, Bowman created Official Black Wall Street — a digital platform that connects consumers to Black-owned businesses in the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, and the United Kingdom. In addition to alerting users whenever they’re near a Black-owned business, Official Black Wall Street also provides Black entrepreneurs with the tools and resources they need to thrive. Bowman named the website and its corresponding app after the Black Wall Street Massacre that occurred in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in...

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How Serial Entrepreneur Jeff Lindor Built a Business Around Serving Black and Brown Men

founder interview Feb 12, 2021

Jeff Lindor believes the future of business lies in the strength of community. As the founder of two businesses, Lindor spent years working in brand marketing and urban policy, where he realized something was missing in the many powerful boardrooms he worked in: representation. 

“I just realized that I was mainly the only Black person in the room. So then, I was really on this quest to help to solve this isolation problem amongst Black professionals,” says Lindor, who graduated with a Masters in Urban Policy from the New School in 2014. 

Structuring a thriving community has been at the cornerstone of Lindor’s career. In 2015, the Haitian-born, Brooklyn-native served as a strategic advisor for The New York Department of Correction, where he led the city’s law enforcement executives on policy, operations and strategic planning. Prior to, he worked as a marketing manager, leading a major healthcare company during the first roll out of the Affordable...

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6 Tips for Finding Your Creative Path from AOC’s Career Coach

founder interview Jan 13, 2021

As an entrepreneur, finding a purpose that will keep you going through long nights and challenging days is the most important first step you can make. But what if you’re feeling lost, unsure of what your purpose is? Maybe you’re looking to make a career shift and you’re unsure of the path forward.

Enter Megan Hellerer. She had eight years at Google under her belt when she realized something was wrong: she didn’t want to go to work. She wasn’t lazy — she was unhappy. After leaving her job to embark on some soul searching, she decided to take a career coaching class.

These days Hellerer helps other “underfulfilled overachievers” like her former self figure out how to move forward in their careers, whether they’re just starting out or looking to be their own boss after several years on the job. (She counts Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as one of her clients, who came to her before her 2016 run for Congress was even on the...

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From College Headshots to Cardi B: How Flo Ngala Became a Professional Photographer

founder interview Jan 06, 2021

Cardi B getting glam for the 2019 Met Gala in a crimson Thom Browne gown that took 2,000 hours to make. Young Harlem figure skaters competing on the ice in the New York Times. Sarah Jessica Parker masked up on the cover of Footwear NewsIf you’ve seen these images you’ve seen the work of Flo Ngala, the 25-year-old New York-based photographer who has turned her creative passion into a full-blown career as a professional photographer—one that’s still very much growing.

From her figure skating roots to her obsession with Tumblr to her eventual pivot to a professional photographer, Ngala has created a line of work born out of natural curiosity, hard work, and her impulse to bring her camera with her wherever she goes. 

Here, Ngala shares her story and advice for photographers hoping to turn their passion into a career.

Simple but true: hone your craft

Before figuring out how to get your big break, Ngala says you should make sure you have a solid...

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Why Being Great Is NOT Enough for Today's Creatives

entrepreneurship Dec 30, 2020

Being good at your creative craft isn’t enough to build a career.

Being great at your creative craft isn’t even enough to build a career.

You devote yourself to cultivating your craft and developing your gift, while your friends and family cheer you on… or perhaps, against their wishes, because your passion gives you no other choice…

And after YEARS of hard work, the message everyone sends your way is, 

“Wow, you’re really talented. Good enough to really go somewhere with it, if you get lucky!”

And yet, for 99% of the artists who are “good enough” at their craft, in the eyes of the layperson, to make a career of it…

The “powers that be” couldn’t care less about your talent, your discipline, your focus, or your passion.

This is the uncomfortable reality of the digital era which we find ourselves in…

It was harder for creatives to become GREAT

As a species, we’ve been building...

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The 4 M's of Successful Entrepreneurs

What does it take for a creative entrepreneur to succeed?

What separates the artists and musicians who never get their ideas off the ground from the self-made icons who create global brands, perennial best-sellers, and have a lasting impact on their market - and society as a whole?

This is a question that the team here at Parsons Entrepreneur Academy have studied obsessively…

And the insight that has emerged… is that there are some key “factors” that nearly ALL successful entrepreneurs have in common.

Let’s call them… 

The 4 M’s of Entrepreneurial Success:

1 - Mindset

2 - Mentorship

3 - Methodology

4 - The Mastermind Effect

Now, to be clear, these 4 factors are the things that allow a talented, creative genius like yourself to make it in BUSINESS.

You wouldn’t be here, reading this, if you didn’t already have something incredible to add to the world… You’re already a talented and innovative artist,...

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How ShopShops CEO Liyia Wu Raised 20 Million for Her Startup

To say Liyia Wu is a Jane of all trades would be an understatement. 

Parsons Entrepreneur Academy had the chance to chat with Liyia Wu, the CEO, and co-founder of ShopShops — an innovative shopping platform that connects brick-and-mortar stores with consumers across the globe.  

From Parsons to Entrepreneur: How Liyia Wu Went From Graduate to CEO

Shortly after graduating from Saunder’s Business School of the University of British Columbia with a double major in finance and accounting, Wu decided to delve into the media industry in Beijing. It didn’t take long, however, for Wu’s true passion to find and persuade her into moving to the fashion capital of the decade — New York City. 

“I've always loved fashion,” says Wu. “When I graduated from the program [Associate of Arts and Sciences (AAS) Fashion Merchandising at Parsons], I worked in New York for about three years and then went back to China. I opened a...

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Make a Startup Budget in Seven Steps | For Artists, Designers, Musicians

finance startup tips Dec 08, 2020

You’re starting a new creative business and you’ve got all the feels. You’re excited about the possibility that your art, music, designs, or creative work might impact more people. You’re eager to jump in and start making money from your art. And you’re worried about how much it’s going to cost and if you have enough money to cover your startup expenses. 

If this sounds like you, you need a  startup budget. A startup budget helps you plan your startup expenses, prioritize what’s most important, and keeps your spending on track. So you can spend less time worrying about money and more time being creative. 

Startup budget vs operational budget

Not all budgets are created equally, which is why it’s essential to understand the difference between an operational budget and a startup budget. 

An operational budget is a plan for how you’ll allocate the money you earn from your creative work. It’s based...

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Why Every Creative Entrepreneur Needs a Business Mentor

DOUBT is a natural feature of the human mind, coded into our psyche since the dawn of time to help us survive as a species. But it’s also the #1 stumbling block for an entrepreneur and/or artist who wants to build a business and career around their art.

That urge to double, triple, and quadruple check our safety in any given moment was INVALUABLE back in the paleolithic period - so we could avoid stepping on a venomous snake that looked like a root, or poisoning ourselves by eating the wrong kind of berry... 

...but that instinct hasn’t evolved to match our current conditions, and the types of stressors we deal with in the modern world. 

Playing the "mental game" as a creative entrepreneur

As creative entrepreneurs, when left to our own devices, we can become our own worst enemy when it comes to making smart business decisions… and sticking to those decisions.

See, it’s not hard to come up with a business plan on your own.

With the...

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