For this week’s #HBIC I had the pleasure of chatting it up with the poised & zealous T-Kea Blackman of NSpire! I just adore her not only for the constant work ethic that she puts into building her brand but I also admire her ability to always NSpire!
How did the idea for Nspire come about?
I randomly thought, what if people had all of their PR, marketing, and communications needs in one spot and they wouldn’t have to go anywhere else to get anything done. I asked people if they would hire a company like that, and they said yes! I thought it was a great idea but I was worried about what I would call it. I knew that I wanted to focus on projects and events with social causes attached to them. Then I started to look at it from a production angle, since I had a background in production and now PR background, I thought wow, I really can combine these elements. Before it had a name it was just a way for me to bridge the gap between everything that I like doing PR, events, networking, marketing, and inspiring through social advocacy. When I pitched the name Nspire to my business partner I wasn’t really sure but she was like “That’s it! Don’t over think it.” You couldn’t even imagine how many names I’ve gone through and thinking back now I’m glad that I didn’t pick any of them!
What 3 pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs?
For one, I would say to make sure you surround yourself with people who believe in you. People who aren’t entrepreneurs won’t understand your way of thinking. Some people just want to get a 9-5, make their money, and depend on that job. Entrepreneurs don’t think that way so you also need to start surrounding yourself with like-minded people because you need a strong support system. Secondly, I would say never stop learning. Always read, I don’t care what it is just continue to educate yourself. Allow mistakes and learn from them, just know that you are not going to get everything right on the first try.
What has been some (or one) of the biggest mistakes that you have made so far, and what have you learned from them?
Considering that I am still in the early stages I haven’t made too many mistakes. My business plan, I haven’t completed it. I’ve worked on it but I haven’t been able to say “it’s done”. It’s a roadmap to your success and it makes your life much easier. If you want investors, you definitely want to have that business plan done. They are going to want to know things like startup costs, marketing costs, and so on. That’s the only thing that I wished I finished sooner and not have it lingering over my head because now that business is picking up, it’s hard to find the time to sit and complete it.
Who has been some of your biggest supporters?
My mom, my family, and especially my friends Destiny, Breann, Giona, Keeyah. I have a really big support system. These are people that I KNOW I could call in the middle of the night and they will come running to help me.
What is it that motivates you?
First and foremost, I would have to say God, because God has given me the vision for Nspire. Second I would have to say is student loans! I do not want to be one of those people who are paying off student loans for the rest of my life. Nspire is not going to be my only business or my only source of income so I do know how important it is for me lay the foundation and have it stand up on its own two feet. I want to have financial freedom. Third, is the fact that I have so many family members, siblings, and just people in general that look up to me, what would they do if I just stopped? I feel the pressure!
What are your hobbies? What do you like to do in your non-work time?
I like to hang out with friends, go to the gym, and I like going to the movies. I’m actually about to take myself to the movies tonight! I enjoy being around other people and it doesn’t take much for me to start a conversation with people. People call me the ‘networking queen’ because I’m always striking up conversation with strangers. Also, I like comedy clubs, laughing is one of my favorite things to do.
How do you handle stress?
Oh my goodness, I’m actually a person that drowns in stress. I don’t manage stress well. How I am able to move forward? I just start spitting out scriptures to myself. I just have to remind myself of God’s promises. My favorite is Romans 8:28 “All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.” It’s not over until it’s good. No matter how bad something may seem, it is always going to turn out fine.
Who has been your greatest inspiration/ role model?
Cathy Hughes, I love me some Cathy Hughes! She is the creator is TVOne, RadioOne, and InteractiveOne. She started as an on air radio personality and from there she built multiple companies. She was a single parent mother sleeping on the floor of her radio station because she did not want her dream to die. Her story is one of perseverance and hard work. I admire her for that. She wanted to give everyday people a voice, spread awareness about issues in the community, and effect positive impact. I’ve been able to meet her on numerous occasions, once when I was debating on going into business for myself. She told me to go for it! She asked me “what are you waiting for” and told me that she would look me up one day because she knows that I will be something great. In that moment I said “T-Kea you have to do it.”
What can our readers expect from you in the next year?
Next year, Nspire plans to have an inaugural event to celebrate our success. Expect to see our name more. We are going to be a part of a lot of upcoming events and campaigns throughout the next year. Trust me, you will know more about who we are and what our mission is because Nspire will be everywhere.
What makes Nspire different from any other PR company?
We are a strategic communications firm that is very clear about our mission. “Our mission is to create social change by bridging the gap between entertainment and philanthropy. To raise awareness of various social issues shift perceptions and ultimately change behaviors.” Whether we are working on an event or campaign; it will always have a positive impact. We help our clients leave their mark with a touch of “Nspiration.”
Thank you so much for Nspiring us, T-Kea! If you would like to follow along for tons of great pr tips you can follow NSpire on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter! You can also check out T-Kea’s feature in the Fall 2015 issue of Howard University’s Alumni Magazine.