HALIFAX – In the 1960s, Lauren Sears’ grandparents moved from China to Truro, N.S., and opened a Chinese restaurant.
Sears inherited that entrepreneurial spirit, now the co-founder of social enterprise recruiting firm Placemaking 4G. She joins Duane Jones, who is originally from Bermuda, and Terrence Taylor, originally from the U.S., in weekly conversations about business, community and their experience as entrepreneurs of colour in Halifax through their podcast, Changing the Narrative.
“I came into the conversation later, but I think where we’re moving to now is really trying to give a voice to different entrepreneurial experiences and perspectives,” she said.
She said many people tend to pay attention only to entrepreneurial success in the form of unicorn tech companies – instant growth, early exit and a billion dollars in hand.
“That’s not 90 per cent of businesses…So it seems it’s important for us to highlight the creative entrepreneurship side, particularly because Terrence and Duane are both content creators. I came into the mix with a different spin on entrepreneurship and what business can really do with its outcome,” she said
Not only are we doing business in different industries that aren’t necessarily talked about all the time, but we’re also coming in with the perspectives of male and female, and also people of colour.”
Taylor and Jones started the podcast more than a year ago with their friend Peter Hemsworth, who has since stepped down. Taylor brought in Sears, who is also the Director of Operations at Common Good Solutions, a company that helps social enterprises start and grow through consulting, training and incubation. Taylor is a part-time videographer there as he takes part in the incubator.
Taylor founded Terrence Taylor Media (TTM), which produces the podcast, as well as promotional videos for events and companies. The Propel ICT alumni previously owned Charlottetown-based healthy meal delivery service, The TNT Food Experience. With TTM, Taylor wants to provide youth with the network, tools, and resources to find content creation work.
As an African-American, Taylor also wants black youth to see that creative entrepreneurship is a possible career option.
“We’re only encouraged to play sports and play music. I started to realize that if that’s all we’re showing people, that’s all little black boys and girls are going to aspire to be…so how do we show people that they can be successful in different ways and do diverse things?”
Taylor connected with Jones, a graphic designer, through social media. Jones came to Halifax as an international student at 19. He became an entrepreneur because he wanted his ideas to be heard and to develop his own products.
His clothing brand ArtPaysMe is “like a rallying cry to all the people that told me that as an artist I couldn’t or even shouldn’t want to make money,” he said.
On the podcast, they talk about issues like race in an effort to provide a comfortable and open space for difficult conversations. But they also talk about the development of their businesses in a frank way, by focusing on “shared learnings and growing pains,” Sears said.
For example, Jones often talks about juggling fatherhood, his business and his job, a topic that more often comes up for successful women entrepreneurs. He said in a family like his, where both parents have to work, balancing everything is a struggle.
“I don’t want to be an Instagram dad and only take pictures. I want to actually be there for the games and the events and for the important moments. But that means a lot of sacrifice for my business and my personal life,” he said. “People tell you, you can have it all. That’s bullshit. It ain’t that easy.”
Topics like the visibility of underrepresented communities and diversity in business also come up.
“To me, when I think about having more representation of a completely diverse tapestry of entrepreneurs, what I see is economic development, I see job creation, I see communities that are more tightly knit together. Particularly now, where we have population issues. We need more entrepreneurs,” said Sears.
A new episode of Changing The Narrative is uploaded on Spotify and Apple Podcasts every Tuesday, and a video version comes out on Youtube and Facebook on Thursdays.