From Fired To Focused: Katrina Craigwell Shares How She Overcame It

Happy Thursday, friends! As many of you know, I recently was let go from my job - and I'm now on the hunt for the next cool opportunity. (#HireChasity is in full effect - tell a friend!)

Any who, I recently RSVP'd for an event that will be hosted in D.C. next week by Worn Creative, an agency based out of New York City that works with a pretty dope roster of well-known brands. (Think Jrink, &pizza.)

As I continued to explore their website, I came across a YouTube video of a pretty black girl with amazing curly hair and awesome shoes (#BlackGirlMagic is EVERYWHERE y'all.) She explains how she got fired from her job early on in her career, and while she had her moments of doubt and insecurity, she didn't let that moment define her.

Katrina Craigwell is currently the Director of Global Programming and Content at GE, and during one of Worn's F*it events in NYC, she encouraged the audience to stop, think, and breathe even in the midst of life's most chaotic moments. Her story just goes to show that you can get fired from your job, overcome it and STILL end up the Forbes List. (Katrina is on the Top 30 Most Creative List - pow!)

Check out Katrina's chat below, and if you're in the DC area, be sure to RSVP for Worn's F*it event next week - I'll be there! And Katrina, thank you for sharing your truth, reminding us all to take a moment breathe, and inspiring me to take control of my own debris so I can continue to move forward.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fc3WCdRcnA]

Millennial On A Mission: Kiersten Kindred

Happy Monday, folks! This week's "Millennial on a Mission" is an author, entrepreneur and branding specialist. Her new book, "Five Steps To Marketing Success: A Small Business Guide" provides tips and tools for small business owners who are looking to enhance their marketing strategies.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Kiersten Kindred.


Hailing from Houston, Texas, Kiersten graduated from Sam Houston State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication, specializing in Broadcast Journalism. "I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Sam Houston State University," Kiersten says. "It taught me a lot about my field and myself." Currently, she is the founder and CEO of her own media firm, Kindred Communications, which specializes in communications, marketing and branding for medium-sized businesses.

CC: What inspired you to pursue your choice of career? Who are some individuals you admire in and out of your field of work? What challenges have you faced in building your business, and what have you learned from them?

KK: I love everything branding and communications! When I graduated from college, I knew media and communications was going to be the arena for me. LaLa Anthony inspired me to choose my major and carve out my career path. I admire how to has been able to manage her career in entertainment and brand herself very well. When I first launched my Kindred Communications, I was trying to market my business and brand myself simultaneously, which was very difficult. But I had to combined the skills I learned in the classroom with my work experience in order to teach myself the trade. One of the biggest challenges that I have faced in building my business is having to say 'no' to people. I have now learned that to be a business owner, you must understand that you can't do everything. You have to learn what is important for your business and what will help you reach your end goal.

To Kiersten, being a "Millennial on a Mission" means to never give up and strive to achieve your dreams no matter what anyone says. "I strive everyday to build my brand, whether it is networking, seeking new opportunities or attending events- I am constantly branding.  Her advice to fellow young professionals? "It's a quote that is at the end of my book: 'Plan, prepare and grow. Repeat.'"

To learn more about Kiersten and her work, visit the Kindred Communications website and follow the firm on Twitter.

Millennial on a Mission: Damon Lawrence

Today's "Millennial on a Mission" is not only a budding entrepreneur, but he's blazing his own trail in the hospitality industry. Currently, he is working on a project to revive his own culturally rich community, all the while empowering millennials to change the way in which they experience travel. His company, Homage Hotel Group, aims to become the first Black-owned boutique hotel management company in the world. Meet Damon Lawrence.


A native of Pasadena, California, Damon is a graduate of Howard University, where he studied legal communications with hopes of becoming a lawyer. "It wasn't until midway through my senior year that I realized law was not for me," Damon recalls. "I began working in Hospitality my junior year as away to earn extra money." Damon had the opportunity to work at the Donovan House Hotel in Washington, D.C. during its grand opening, an experience that truly inspired him to step into the world of Hospitality.  "During President Obama's first inauguration, The Donovan hosted a party for the Creative Coalition that fostered great networking opportunities. It opened my world up to endless possibilities of where I could go in the field of Hospitality."

CCWho or what has inspired you to go into the hotel management & hospitality industry?  What have been some challenges in launching your own business, and what have you learned from them?

DL: My biggest inspiration in hospitality came when I decided to leave the Donovan House. I had been given the opportunity to teach a summer school course, and I really wanted to experience what it was like to teach.  When I told my General Manager I was leaving he told me, "You're not cut out for this [hospitality] business." He believed I was on the path to a career in social justice, which might had been true just given the political climate at the time. But it did sting to have someone try and 'predict' my future. That single conversation has stuck with me throughout my career, keeping me focused on advancing my career in this industry. I ended up going back into hospitality right after that summer school course, and here I am today. I look forward to inviting that GM to stay at my property one day. :-)

Through each opportunity I've ever had, I've taken it as a opportunity to learn. Most recently, I started a business called Hausotel in which I managed vacation homes. I started managing a portfolio of vacation homes and now I'm managing hotels. It feels like a natural progression. The biggest challenge has been trying to blaze a new path in a field where I really don't have any predecessors. Trying to leverage the responsibility I have to a community, versus the commitment I have to a business that must appeal to a larger demographic than just minorities is definitely an interesting challenge. I think slowly I'm learning just how important it is to create the BEST product. When you create an amazing product, it will speak for itself.


CC: Who is the ideal consumer for Homage Hotel Group? What other cities do you hope to launch your company in?

DL: Interestingly, we want to appeal to the Millennial Traveler.  The reality is that the millennial traveler is the largest growing member of the travel sector. We (millennials) are always looking for a new, unique travel experience, and we consider the cost later.  Recently, there's been a trend of all these companies shifting to new business models to cater to the growing millennial demographic. New lifestyle brands are popping up as hotel companies scramble to get their foothold on this market. I feel that we have an edge over all of them because the Homage Hotel Group team is comprised of millennials.

I see Homage Hotels heading to historically Black cities like Philly, DC, Brooklyn, Harlem, Detroit and Atlanta. But I really look forward to expanding the vision internationally. I would love to see people experience our resorts in other parts of the world even in Asia. The Ivory Coast, Thailand, Brazil and South Africa are all as places I would love to venture to as well.

To Damon, being a "Millennial on a Mission" means not wasting your youth, but making sure your youth and ambition drive you. "Each day, I'm working to make sure that accomplish something meaningful to the purpose I have set forth for myself," Damon says. His one piece of advice to his millennial peers? Keep in mind what you want your legacy to be. "What do you want people to say when you expire? Write it out if you need to. When you reflect on the end result, it starts to open up a path for you to get there."

To learn more about the Homage Hotel Group, you can visit their website, like their Facebook page, and follow them on Twitter.

Millennial On A Mission: Avonda Turner

Happy First Friday of 2015! I've had the pleasure of knowing this week's "Millennial on a Mission" for a few years, and I've been blown away by her creativity since the day we met. She's not only a talented self-taught graphic and web designer, but has recently launched her own jewelry company, ERIN/ANDERSONthat looks to provide young women professionals with quality, stylish products at an affordable price.


I'd like for you to meet Avonda Turner.


A southern girl with a love for the city, Avonda is a graduate for Old Dominion University, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications & Public Relations. "While interning as public relations associate at two the nations top brand agencies BCF and The Martin Agency," Avconda says, "I decided that my passion was in the design of identities and campaigns and decided to purchase the Adobe Create Suite and teach myself graphic design." With 5+ years of freelance and corporate graphic /web design experience under her belt, she stepped out an faith to follow her passion and founded ERIN/ANDERSON, the online destination for #desktodinner fashion jewelry.

CC: Who/what inspired you to start ERIN/ANDERSON? Have you always been drawn to express yourself when it comes to jewelry design? What have been some challenges in launching your own business, and what have you learned from them? 

AV: It seemed simple enough. As a shopper I couldn’t help but feel as though retailers treated jewelry as an after-thought, a fact that was apparent by the shopping experiences of myself and many of my peers. Either jewelry was way “out-of-the-budget” or extremely cheap in quality. So I set out to fix this. Honing my brand architectural experience I founded ERIN/ANDERSON, the online retail destination that curates distinctive, versatile, quality jewelry and delivers them directly to woman’s wardrobes with the simple click of a button – at a guilt-free price point. Founding ERIN/ANDERSON has been a dream as well as the most intense learning lesson I’ve ever experienced. As a graphic/web designer, that’s exactly what I did – graphic/web design. Now, as CEO of E/A, I am also merchandiser, e-commerce expert, publicist, accountant, customer service rep, the list goes on. Although some days I feel admittedly overwhelmed, I would not trade it for the world. With every challenge comes a learned lesson. And with every learned lesson, you’re one step closer to success. And for every other challenge, there’s a Starbucks Frapp, Latte, or Macchiato for that. ;-)



CC: Who is the ideal E/A woman? What are her dreams and aspirations? How do you hope to inspire other millennial women with your entrepreneurial venture?

AV: Created for the fashion-forward, stylish professional, ERIN/ANDERSON is for the on-the move millennial woman that makes a statement in all that she does. From the office to date-night or Pilates to brunch, the E/A woman enjoys comfort and style as she wills to take on her next challenge. Growing up, I was always taught that dreams and aspirations were synonymous to ones goals. “If you can dream it, you can achieve it”, as my parents would say. This still rings true to me today. We were created to be extraordinary individuals with divine purpose. Find your purpose. Align it with your aspirations. Go #MakeAStatement!

CC: How intricate was the process for you to decide how you would ultimately turn your dream into a living and breathing brand? Who are some of you entrepreneurial inspirations space, and what's next for "E/A"?

AV: “Start before you’re ready” - it's simple, but so profound. Nicole Melton of Melton Digital gifted me with this jewel of advice one autumn morning and ERIN/ANDERSON has been growing ever since. Oftentimes when following our dreams it requires taking risks – risk that can fill us with fear, doubt and 10,000 never-ending ‘things to do’ before one can successfully launch. Research, make a plan, say a prayer and go for your dreams. There is no better time like the present.

Next up for E/A ... The E/A Pop-Up tour. ERIN/ANDERSON has been widely successful as an online retailer but we look forward to making it possible for woman to #AccessorizeEA in-person. The E/A Pop-Up Shopping Tour is set to launch May 2015.

To Avonda, being a "Millennial on a Mission" means to be a passionate, purposeful, and out to make a statement. "For me, the thing that keeps me on track with my daily goals is my Joyce Meyer daily devotional and my planner," Avonda says. Her advice to young entrepreneurs? Just go for it. "Growing up we’re taught it’s a clear path to success, and that is false," she says. "Turning your dreams into a living is an adventure filled with ups and downs, challenges and lessons, great days and tough days but through it all, you will be okay. Network, study your craft, listen, learn and go for it."

To learn more about ERIN/ANDERSON and make a purchase, visit their website, www.erinandersonco.com