Barbara Choice is a woman who made the “choice” to continue on with her dream of creating a successful marketing and PR firm, Choice Management, LLC. Like many women, she experienced setbacks and had doubts as to whether or not she could continue. But, she got a second wind and forged ahead beyond the pain and the fear. She reminded herself of something that she wanted to share as part of the interview:
“Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.”
Barbara chose to fly. Her wings are not broken and Choice Management, LLC is growing by leaps and bounds every year.
What is Choice Management?
Choice Management, LLC is a premiere management and public relations company specializing in talent management, brand development, and creative marketing for all aspects of the entertainment Industry.
You said that you’ve always wanted to be involved in the entertainment industry. Why?
I had dreams of working in entertainment industry since childhood. I’m the only child so I used to sing and dance in front of my stuff animals. I wanted to be an entertainer. Once I realized that I wasn’t going to be an entertainer, then I thought maybe I can work behind the scenes. When I learned that my cousin moved to Los Angeles, CA to pursue her dreams, that is when I decided to reconnect with my cousin to get advice on to where to start on pursuing my own dreams. My cousin advised me, then told me she was going to reach out to her connections at WPGC 95.5 and Essence Magazine. I decided to send out my resume to WPGC 95. 5 and Radio One WKYS 93.9 for an internship opportunity. I received a call from WKYS 93.9 for an internship. When I received that phone call for internship, I was happy and felt that my dreams had come true.
I interned at WKYS 93.9 for 6 months. I left WKYS 93.9 to re-enrolled in college after postponing a semester to dedicate more time to my internship. But, upon re-applying for an internship with the station, I was not accepted. A lot of people told me that I was stupid to leave WKYS 93.9. I was so young then and thought I would be able to get another internship. I returned back to college and thought that I blew my chance of opportunity. I never in the millions years thought I would get a second one. What I didn’t know then that this was the beginning of my journey into the entertainment Industry.
There are many other well-established entertainment marketing firms. Why start your own company when you can work for someone else and gain contacts, experience and develop a foundation that way? Wouldn’t you have more fun doing what you love on a grander scale if you worked for someone else who is established?
My plan at first was transfer from UDC to Howard University to get my bachelors degree in communications. Then I was going to move to New York City to work at a PR Firm. My plans fell through when I was unable to get any more federal grants to attend school. I couldn’t afford to pay out of pocket so I had to drop out. After a brief hiatus, another opportunity presented itself via Facebook. I saw Tabi Bonney post a status that he was searching for interns to assist his company, Cool Kids Forever Films. When I first saw this opportunity I wasn’t going to apply for internship. I told my friend, who was also a communications major, to apply for the internship. I changed my mind and forwarded my resume. I happened to know one of the interviewers because we both interned at WKYS 93.9 and my work ethic and style was remembered. I began working with Tabi Bonney’s Cool Kids Forever Films as a Production/Film Assistant in 2009. I also briefly interned for a clothing line, Black Collection, and The Board of Administration. Then I began networking throughout the Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia entertainment industry. Local artists reached out to me and asked me to become their booking agent and manager. I felt honored being asked since I only had a little experience at that time.
I began working with local artists to build their brands and market their talent. My business associate/Cool Kids Forever Intern, Davon Duckett, suggested Choice Management as a name for my company. I never had plans to run my own company, but it seemed like everything fell into place. I love that fact that I am my own boss running my own company and I don’t have to answer to anyone.
I believed that creating from nothing to the point where you are your own boss is…Accomplishment.
What have been some of your company’s accomplishments that you are most proud of thus far?
Having my first client recording artist, Pert McFly, who has been with me since 2009, appear and interview on 106 & Park by Rosci in 2010 and perform at The Apollo Theater’s new series “Apollo Live” in 2012. I booked my former model a show at NYFW on September 2011. Another company accomplishment was able to get Vh1’s Mob Wives star, Ramona Rizzo, wear my client Kevin Lattimore’s FG Brand T- Shirt and wearing former client Lyndora Williams of Ekklesia Clothing dresses. I was featured on Business Minded Women Blog for Starzbiz of the month of January 2013. I was asked to be a guest speaker at The Art of Starting New: Networking Event for Professional Women on January 31st 2013. Linkedin social network sent me an email on February 11th 2013 congratulating me for having one of the top 10% most viewed Linkedin profiles in 2012. Linkedin now has 200 million members.
Do you run your company full-time or part-time?
I run my company part-time.
You mentioned that you had to learn how to separate friendship and business. Without going into great detail, what happened and how did you resolve it?
I wish someone would have told me to separate the emotions you have doing business with close friends/family. When you don’t separate the two it can deter friendship and family. I had to learn through experience after losing what I lost sight of friend/family relationship through the entertainment industry. The experience helped me grow. I live and learn, accept responsibility, move on and had a second chance with the friendship that I lost. I’m now able to take constructive criticism without getting upset or taking it personal.
What would you recommend for other women who may experience a similar situation with their own business operations or ideas about going into business?
My advice is to finish school or try to get an internship in your field. I also recommend joining organizations and to get a mentor. I’m a member of Black Public Relations Society – DC and Women In PR. I’m currently seeking a mentor in PR Fields. I also want to say it’s not easy to run your own business and success will not happen overnight. You really have to put work into your company and get out there and network.
What are some of the other obstacles that you have faced and how did you overcome them?
I decided to quit my business for a few months when my best friend/former business partner relationship fell apart in 2011. I was hurt and devastated. A lot of my friends, including my cousin why inspired me, asked me why I was quitting my business. A lot of people encouraged me to not to quit and to get back out there. I had to remember that I overcame obstacles before in my personal life and this is just another setback. I also found a few of my speeches from my public speaking classes back when I was in college. I read one of my old speeches about dreams of working in the entertainment industry and working behind the scenes with artists. I read the speech and broke down crying. I realized that I was living my dreams. I decided to get back out there in running my company.
2011 was the year I expanded. I started working with photographers, models, and authors in an attempt to broaden my markets and diversify my experience with management and PR. I talked about going back in forth to NYC to my friend/former business partner before we fell apart. In June 2011, I finally did what I said and went to NYC by myself and met with a business associate there to attend a DC local artist event. I have been going back in forth to NYC attend events, NYFW shows, and building connections ever since.
Where is Barbara Choice and Choice Management in say six years? What are your goals?
My ultimate goal is to leave my 9 to 5 job to run my company full-time. In six years my plan is to be ever more successful than I am now with Choice Management, LLC being a global company.
I just want to end this interview with a few quotes.
“Everything that is past is either a learning experience to grow on; a memory to reflect on, or a motivating factor to act on, the future is what we make of it.”
“I’ve learned that it is not what I have in my life but who I have in my life that counts.”
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