A 23-year-old former waitress started her own restaurant marketing business that earns 6 figures. Here’s how she spends her days.

Sherane Chen
Sherane Chen

At 16, Sherane Chen started her first job at Steak-n-Shake as a waitress. By the age of 21, she’d launched a business specializing in restaurant marketing. Today it earns six figures, as seen in documents confirmed by Insider.

She got here by gaining restaurant industry experience, studying marketing, and having the confidence and wherewithal to spot an opportunity to combine her two areas of expertise. The hospitality industry was devastated by the pandemic, but the The National Restaurant Association is expecting some type of bounce back this year, with food and drink sales projected to hit $731.billion.

During and after college at the University of North Florida where she studied communications, Chen worked in restaurants. She made sure to build savings because she knew one day she wanted to start her own business.

After years as a waitress, she got a job in marketing at a local place called Oceanside Grill where she learned the operational aspects of the restaurant business. When she launched her own marketing firm focusing on social media management, graphic design, video creation, and hiring in 2019, Chen landed her first clients selling marketing services door to door.

“I would say, ‘hey I found your social and saw you weren’t active and I wanted to give you some tips on how you can get more customers in the door,'” she told Insider. She would leave behind her business card and wait for them to call.

Today her company has 17 clients and makes over six figures a year, according to documents provided to Insider. To Insider she reveals what her typical day is like, from walks on the beach, to endless Zoom calls with clients.

She wakes up at 7 a.m. making her first of many cups of coffee

Chen’s day typically begins at 7 a.m.

The eponymous restaurant company she founded has always been remote, which has allowed her to work from wherever, whenever. It currently has two-full time staffers including a graphic designer, a social media manager, and a part-time copywriter.

Before the pandemic, Chen used to work from local coffee shops, but now that she’s working from home, she invested in a top-tier coffee machine that keeps her going throughout the day. “I truly don’t know a marketer who doesn’t love a good cup of coffee to get all of the creative juices flowing,” she added.

Sherane Chen

After having her coffee, she then either makes breakfast or “treats” herself to a breakfast from a restaurant nearby. “Whenever I eat out for breakfast I usually take my computer so I can work on a few things while I’m out,” she continued. “The area I live in is peaceful and not very crowded so it’s usually just me getting things done while enjoying pancakes, eggs, bacon, and whatever else I decide to have that day.”

Around 9 a.m. she prepares to Zoom with her clients

After finishing breakfast, she prepares for her meetings with clients, which have been happening over Zoom since the pandemic struck.

Normally, she said, she would meet them at their restaurant to work on rebranding various parts of it, such as the menu, or develop new general marketing strategies. “We work on the strategy together and then I re-assign to my employees who took over most of the tactical things for me,” she said.

This part usually takes up most of her day. Meanwhile, Chen also makes ads for her own business, which she then runs on platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook to help attract new clients.

Chen always finds time to take a ‘breather’ during the day

Like most, her workload depends on what day she is having. “It’s not the same every day,” she said. “Some days are super chill and others are hectic. All holidays are really busy, and the start of each season – spring, summer, fall, and winter.”

Once Chen finishes the bulk of her workload, typically after lunch or in the early evening, she goes to get some fresh air. Her favorite place to go is the beach because it’s close to where she lives. “Taking a walk along the beach really helps to clear my head and gives me the boost of energy I need after being on the screen for so long,” she said.

Sherane Chen

Often during the day, Chen hops on the phone with her mentor Bruno DiFabio, a pizza chef who’s been helping her “learn the ropes” of the restaurant business for the past two years. Together they chat about ways to help grow her business.

And he isn’t the only mentor Chen has had these past few years – at 19, she met local business owner Nate Mayo, who does social media marketing and photography for various Jacksonville-based restaurants, and has a viral Instagram account that highlights popular food places in the area. Chen snagged an internship with Mayo around 2016 and began working for him, which inspired her to launch her own company.

After her ‘breather’ she goes straight back to work

She typically holds more meetings with restaurant owners throughout the evening, especially since the “lunch rush” is finished, which is usually around 2 p.m.

Chen says to manage the workload of having two jobs she makes sure to always take some time off. She books vacations and takes breathers such as the walk above. Chen also sometimes gets up an hour early to clear her head and prepare herself to stay focused for the day ahead.

After her breather, she usually goes back to work but likes to make a “quick snack.” She likes to recreate YouTube recipes, such as the snack she made pictured below. “I found this on Youtube years ago and have been eating it ever since,” she said. “Brown rice cakes, almond butter, and chia seeds are really filling and hit the spot when you are not a big lunch person.”

Sherane Chen
A snack

Around 6 p.m. she takes photographs outside

Chen’s favorite time of the day is “golden hour” – around 6 p.m. when the sky is a golden-tinted yellow. Chen takes advantage of the good quality light to take photographs of food she is seeking to help advertise.

Sometimes she has to hire someone to help her do it, as work can get busy. “I don’t really get a chance to do food photography anymore,” she said. “When I do have time to go, I love it.”

She eats dinner around 7:30, this day choosing to grab Mediterranean food. Afterward, she spends time studying – reading new books to help her gain knowledge in different areas outside of marketing. She’s currently reading “Zig Ziglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale” by Zig Ziglar and “Spin Selling” by Neil Rackham.

Sherane Chen

She goes to bed around 11 p.m.

Chen says she doesn’t really “finish” work until around 11 pm. “People always need me all day,” she said, of her marketing exec job. “It’s a management role so I always get my team texting me at all hours.”

But when the calls finally stop and the text messages slow down, Chen has time to think about her next business idea – a podcast agency that helps brands and entrepreneurs achieve success in podcasting. She’s already started running ads for the venture.

“I’m working toward seven streams of income to be a millionaire by 2025,” she said, adding that she has a dream board of other projects she would like to helm. Asked about possible burnout, Chen let her ambition answer for her. “Just keep your focus on what you’re working hard for,” she said. “If you want it bad enough, you’ll make it happen.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

ClassPass founder Payal Kadakia on how her Indian American heritage inspired her to create a $1 billion business

Bollywood Dance Group
Payal Kadakia launched ClassPass as a service to search for fitness options, but it has expanded into much more.

  • Payal Kadakia is an entrepreneur and founder of ClassPass, an app and subscription service for fitness classes.
  • Growing up she says she thought she had to separate and hide her dual identities – American and Indian.
  • She was inspired to create a space to celebrate both of her cultures, and it became a billion-dollar business.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Payal Kadakia launched ClassPass in 2013 as a service to search for fitness options. Today, it’s an international membership booking platform for classes and services, from Pilates to haircuts to, recently, Covid-19 vaccinations – and is valued at $1 billion. Prior to founding her company, Kadakia was a Bain & Company analyst with a passion for Indian folk dance, which she began practicing at age 3. Her parents immigrated in the late 1970s from Gujarat, India, raising her in a rich culture – though she felt ostracized from her broader community at times. The duality she cultivated and later broke away from shaped her entrepreneurial journey.

– As told to Christine Lagorio-Chafkin

I grew up in Randolph, New Jersey, where I was one of the only Indian girls. We were one of the only Indian families. People didn’t understand who I was, or where I came from. I definitely got made fun of. People didn’t want to be around the person who was different. When you’re a kid, that makes a very big impression on you.

I had been bullied for so long I tried to hide my cultural heritage.

For example, I was a cheerleader. And I would have Friday night football games. There was a huge Indian festival called Navratri, which is my favorite festival of the year. The whole next town nearby would get together. And we would dance until two or three in the morning. I literally rushed from the football game and changed in my car into full-on Indian garb to go to the festival. This was the duality I lived with.

In a town down the road, there was another Indian community. There, I started doing Indian folk dance, and I found a group of people who were like me. I found a place in this community where I could connect with people because they looked like me and understood me. My cultural heritage had been so positive at home. Seeing how my mom and dad lived their lives, being in a country where they didn’t always understand everything, had been inspirational. My mom never took the idea that she couldn’t do something just because she didn’t understand it. She worked the night shift, and my dad worked during the day, because they couldn’t afford childcare. There was never a dead end.

When I went to college, a beautiful thing happened where I started really feeling OK in both skins.

I began seeing other people who were Indian – who kind of fit in. Dance was a huge part of it for me. It allowed me to care about who I was even more. I stopped feeling like I was different and started owning who I was.

I started a dance company called Sa Dance. I was inspired by watching Alvin Ailey, one of the greatest African-American dance companies in the world. I saw that the messages of your people can be represented through dance. Art is such a beautiful way of sharing messages of culture. Let me show you the beauty of it, the richness of it, how ancient it is, who my ancestors are. I started feeling like I was creating and leading and communicating about my culture. Dance became a vehicle for my coping.

When I started working on ClassPass, simply by building a company in fitness, I was in a roomful of men, most of the time.

Investors didn’t really know what I was talking about. I was just so unique in so many of the rooms I was in. But I’m also 4-foot-11. I’m a very petite Indian woman. I didn’t look like anyone I was ever in a room with. It took me three years to get my product right. When it worked, all of these investors and individuals who I had talked to in the previous three years were all of a sudden saying, “Hey, let me give you money!” And I’m thinking, “Why didn’t you bet on me before?” That’s the conversation that I sometimes have with myself about it: I didn’t fit their mold.

One of the biggest reasons I became an entrepreneur is I felt like I never fit into those environments – even my job in corporate America. Part of it was my cultural background, part was because of my artistic background. I needed to create an environment where I knew I could be like all colors of who I am. We obviously see this problem in the female-male dynamic that’s happening right now where capital is being deployed. But it’s the same thing when it comes to messages of culture.

I remember needing to hide. I remember needing to hide dance, being scared of sharing that part of myself with people. I realized over time that it has made me only stronger in everything I do. But other people need to have that ability to be their whole selves as well. In the press, people who look like me are not always represented. I didn’t see Indian people on the cover of magazines or on billboards. This is America, you know what I mean? We are a part of the population! And I think we’re really proud of who we are, and we’ve accomplished a lot. I want people to know that.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A day in the life of a 23-year-old, 6-figure-earning marketing entrepreneur who started as a waitress at Steak-n-Shake

Sherane Chen
Sherane Chen

At 16, Sherane Chen started her first job at Steak-n-Shake as a waitress. By the age of 21, she’d launched a business specializing in restaurant marketing. Today it earns six figures, and Chen also works full-time as a marketing lead.

She got here by gaining restaurant industry experience, studying marketing, and having the confidence and wherewithal to spot an opportunity to combine her two areas of expertise.

During and after college at the University of North Florida where she studied communications, Chen worked in restaurants. She made sure to build a savings, because she knew one day she wanted to start her own business.

After years as a waitress, she got a job in marketing at a local place called Oceanside Grill where she learned the operational aspects of the restaurant business. When she launched her own marketing firm focusing on social media management, graphic design, video creation, and hiring in 2019, Chen landed her first clients selling marketing services door to door.

“I would say, ‘hey I found your social and saw you weren’t active and I wanted to give you some tips on how you can get more customers in the door,'” she told Insider. She would leave behind her business card and wait for them to call.

Today her company has 17 clients and makes over six figures a year, according to documents provided to Insider. Chen also works full-time as a marketing lead at a business coaching company. To Insider she reveals what her typical day is like, from walks on the beach, to endless Zoom calls with clients.

She wakes up at 7 a.m. making her first of many cups of coffee

Chen’s day typically begins at 7 a.m.

The eponymous restaurant company she founded has always been remote, which has allowed her to work from wherever, whenever. It currently has two-full time staffers including a graphic designer, a social media manager, and a part-time copywriter.

Before the pandemic, Chen used to work from local coffee shops, but now that she’s working from home, she invested in a top-tier coffee machine that keeps her going throughout the day. “I truly don’t know a marketer who doesn’t love a good cup of coffee to get all of the creative juices flowing,” she added.

Sherane Chen

After having her coffee, she then either makes breakfast or “treats” herself to a breakfast from a restaurant nearby. “Whenever I eat out for breakfast I usually take my computer so I can work on a few things while I’m out,” she continued. “The area I live in is peaceful and not very crowded so it’s usually just me getting things done while enjoying pancakes, eggs, bacon, and whatever else I decide to have that day.”

Around 9 a.m. she prepares to Zoom with her clients

After finishing breakfast, she prepares for her meetings with clients, which have been happening over Zoom since the pandemic struck.

Normally, she said, she would meet them at their restaurant to work on rebranding various parts of it, such as the menu, or develop new general marketing strategies. “We work on the strategy together and then I re-assign to my employees who took over most of the tactical things for me,” she said.

This part usually takes up most of her day. Meanwhile, Chen also makes ads for her own business, which she then runs on platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook to help attract new clients.

Aside from running her own company, Chen also spends her day working as marketing and sales lead for a business coaching company called The Unstoppable Entrepreneur owned by Kelly Roach. Chen has worked there for nearly two years and makes six figures there, as well. For that company, she helps manage the marketing team, ads, and helps coach Roach’s clients on the various aspects of marketing.

Chen always finds time to take a ‘breather’ during the day

Like most, her workload depends on what day she is having. “It’s not the same every day,” she said. “Some days are super chill and others are hectic. All holidays are really busy, and the start of each season – spring, summer, fall, and winter.”

Once Chen finishes the bulk of her workload, typically after lunch or in the early evening, she goes to get some fresh air. Her favorite place to go is the beach because it’s close to where she lives. “Taking a walk along the beach really helps to clear my head and gives me the boost of energy I need after being on the screen for so long,” she said.

Sherane Chen

Often during the day, Chen hops on the phone with her mentor Bruno DiFabio, a pizza chef who’s been helping her “learn the ropes” of the restaurant business for the past two years. Together they chat about ways to help grow her business.

And he isn’t the only mentor Chen has had these past few years – at 19, she met local business owner Nate Mayo, who does social media marketing and photography for various Jacksonville-based restaurants, and has a viral Instagram account that highlights popular food places in the area. Chen snagged an internship with Mayo around 2016 and began working for him, which inspired her to launch her own company.

Chen also counts Roach as a mentor as well. “Kelly has taught me how to be resilient and how to be the best what you do,” she said. “She taught me how to work for the things I want and never give up.”

After her ‘breather’ she goes straight back to work

She typically holds more meetings with restaurant owners throughout the evening, especially since the “lunch rush” is finished, which is usually around 2 p.m. She also continues assignments for Roach’s company.

Chen says to manage the workload of having two jobs she makes sure to always take some time off. She books vacations and takes breathers such as the walk above. Chen also sometimes gets up an hour early to clear her head and prepare herself to stay focused for the day ahead.

After her breather, she usually goes back to work but likes to make a “quick snack.” She likes to recreate YouTube recipes, such as the snack she made pictured below. “I found this on Youtube years ago and have been eating it ever since,” she said. “Brown rice cakes, almond butter, and chia seeds are really filling and hit the spot when you are not a big lunch person.”

Sherane Chen
A snack

Around 6 p.m. she takes photographs outside

Chen’s favorite time of the day is “golden hour” – around 6 p.m. when the sky is a golden-tinted yellow. Chen takes advantage of the good quality light to take photographs of food she is seeking to help advertise.

Sometimes she has to hire someone to help her do it, as work can get busy. “I don’t really get a chance to do food photography anymore,” she said. “When I do have time to go, I love it.”

She eats dinner around 7:30, this day choosing to grab Mediterranean food. Afterward, she spends time studying – reading new books to help her gain knowledge in different areas outside of marketing. She’s currently reading “Zig Ziglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale” by Zig Ziglar and “Spin Selling” by Neil Rackham.

Sherane Chen

She goes to bed around 11 p.m.

Chen says she doesn’t really “finish” work until around 11 pm. “People always need me all day,” she said, of her marketing exec job. “It’s a management role so I always get my team texting me at all hours.”

But when the calls finally stop and the text messages slow down, Chen has time to think about her next business idea – a podcast agency that helps brands and entrepreneurs achieve success in podcasting. She’s already started running ads for the venture.

“I’m working toward seven streams of income to be a millionaire by 2025,” she said, adding that she has a dream board of other projects she would like to helm. Asked about possible burnout, Chen let her ambition answer for her. “Just keep your focus on what you’re working hard for,” she said. “If you want it bad enough, you’ll make it happen.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

The return of Ebony magazine: After a $14 million buyout, its new millennial owner talks a historic relaunch

Eden Bridgeman
Eden Bridgeman.

In the early 1990s, Eden Bridgeman sat underneath a hairdryer in a Louisville beauty shop. She was just a child then and wanted to look pristine for Easter Sunday.

Next to the hairdryer stood a rack of magazines. Among them, a beautiful Black woman graced a glossy cover. She picked it up and flipped through its pages. This was one of her first encounters with Ebony magazine. 

As a pastime, Bridgeman studied Ebony, as so many Black girls did in hair salons, in their grandmother’s living room, and on their auntie’s kitchen counter.  

With glamorous celebrities and public figures like Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah, and Michelle Obama on the covers, Ebony portrayed Black women at their finest. “These were our superstars,” Bridgeman, 34, said. “The people driving the culture.”

Now, after a tumultuous 75-year history, which has seen a decline in the appetite for print products and the bankruptcy of Ebony Media Corporation, Bridgeman is the magazine’s latest owner, as well as the mastermind behind its rebranding.

On March 1st, Ebony relaunched. 

Ebony was founded in 1945 by publisher John Johnson and during the 1960s, the publication earned acclaim for its coverage of the civil rights movement. Ebony’s diminutive, sister magazine, Jet, was founded in 1951 by Johnson. For nearly six decades, the two publications defined Black culture with their in-depth profiles of such figures as civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael, Diana Ross, and its insightful coverage of the AIDS epidemic. In the 1980s, their circulation topped an impressive 1 million.

Ebony Magazine
Martin Luther King Jr. on the cover of Ebony Magazine in 1968.

Then came the 21st century, and financial woes struck the lorded publications. Both magazines suffered years of declining subscriptions and ad revenue. In 2016, Ebony and Jet were sold to private equity firm CV Media, and in 2019, both publications stopped printing physical copies. In July, Willard Jackson, the magazine’s CEO, was removed after an internal investigation of unauthorized use of company funds. 

Shortly after Jackson’s leave, Bridgeman’s father presented the family with an idea: he wanted to buy Ebony and Jet. Bridgeman was interested immediately.

To start planning, Bridgeman was introduced to former CNN and BET executive Michele Ghee through mutual friends. They spoke about what the future of Ebony and Jet could look like. A few days later, Ebony Media Operations filed for bankruptcy. 

In December, the Bridgeman family won the bid to buy Ebony and Jet for $14 million. Soon after the deal was closed, Ghee was officially appointed CEO and planned a relaunch for March. This gave them a month to organize Ebony’s rebirth. 

Jet is scheduled to relaunch in June. 

‘We’re a 75-year-old startup’

The new Ebony, Bridgeman said, has three core values: to be bold, brilliant, and beloved.

The magazine has at least a dozen people on staff. Both Ebony and Jet will be entirely digital endeavors, and there are no plans for either to return to print. Bridgeman’s day-to-day is ever-changing. She’s on calls, meeting with advertisers, and assisting in finding partners and contributors for the magazine. 

Ebony cover
The new Ebony cover, released March 1, featuring artwork by Jon Moody.

She tells Insider that throughout her years as a business professional, she’s come to appreciate the idea of servant leadership – the notion that she, as the leader, is not bigger than any entity. A title is just a title. 

“You have to understand every aspect within the business,” she said. “You [have to] show up in a way that people feel they can approach you. They [must] feel that they can work with you, not only just for you.” 

Purchasing the assets out of bankruptcy meant Bridgeman had an obligation to make sure her business strategies could sustain themselves, she said. And she’s been emphasizing the power of the Black dollar to advertisers, which was valued at over $1 trillion in 2019

“You are going to want to tap into that power,” she said. 

Rather than go back to print, Ebony will funnel money into the magazine’s technological expansion. “We’re a 75-year-old startup,” Bridgeman joked.”There’s plenty of room across the media space for all of us to live. We want to lift each other up.” 

Ebony’s first digital cover features a painting by artist Jon Moody, which portrays a woman with her locs flowing in the air. Tanisha Ford, historian and author of “Dressed in Dreams: A Black Girl’s Love Letter to the Power of Fashion” is excited for the relaunch. 

Growing up, it seemed every Black family in Ford’s life had a subscription to Ebony and Jet. Often spread out on coffee tables, the magazines became a collector’s item – a generational touchstone. 

That was then, however, and Ford is curious to see how the magazine will establish brand loyalty in the modern age.

Jet Magazine
Eartha Kitt on the cover of Jet Magazine in 1955.

“I think about folks who are finishing high school and on the verge of college,” Ford told Insider. “It doesn’t mean the same thing for them – they don’t have the same kind of nostalgia of having an aunt pass down old Ebony magazines in the same ways that I do.”

The next 75 years

Bridgeman was born in Los Angeles and raised in Louisville. Since 2009, she’s been working for her family’s company, Manna Inc., which owns hundreds of restaurants throughout the United States, including 130 Wendy’s locations. In 2013, she completed her MBA at Loyola University Chicago-Quinlan School of Business. She was named chief marketing officer of Manna Inc. in 2017, a position she will retain as she oversees the relaunch of Ebony and Jet.

Bridgeman wants Jet to produce fast-paced news targeted toward millennials, and there are plans to bring back its beloved Beauty of the Week section, which highlights beautiful, successful Black women. 

That section was an early memory for entrepreneur Maori Karmael Holmes, founder and artistic director of BlackStar Film Festival, who also recalls seeing Ebony and Jet magazines scattered throughout the homes of both her grandmothers. Last year, Holmes launched her own print journal, Seen, which focuses on filmmaking.

She is also hopeful for the relaunch, pointing out that Ebony was essential to opening the doors of Black writers, and gave Black entrepreneurs a chance to advertise their businesses. “I hope for the next seventy-five years, it can be a relevant chronicler of Black culture,” Holmes said.

There’s a chance for that – Ebony already has a million followers on Instagram. “We want to make sure this is successful,” Bridgeman said. “We’re sitting on 75 years of history. If we aren’t able to maintain the business, then what good are we going to be for our community?”

Read the original article on Business Insider