By: Jasmine Yates
Vivian Olodun is a master when it comes to entrepreneurship. Since she was in college Vivian has mastered the art of seeing something that she wants and creating a way to not only benefit herself but the people around her as well. Her business Flourish Media allows women of color to successfully manage their business by connecting with investors, other women and learning how to communicate their needs so that they can become the best version of themselves for themselves. With the help of her own tribe including her husband and children she has been able to successfully build a multi-million dollar company by staying consistent, true to herself and remembering that she isn’t alone. She has dedicated her time to unlearning behavior such as being a “lone-wolf” to now embracing the people that she has placed in different positions to help her build her dream.
Although there have been obstacles, hardships and learning to balance being a wife and mother, you can say that she has been able to successfully show many other women how to do the same. Flourish Media Company is a stepping stone for any woman whether you are a mother, fresh out of college or starting your small business, it gives you space and opportunity to become a thriving woman, who not only successful in business but can now live the lavish life that we all dream to have.
WaytoParent Lifestyle Magazine had an amazing opportunity to sit down with Vivian to speak to her about her start, obstacles and how she was able to create a platform where others can FLOURISH.
WTP: How did you get started with Flourish Media?
Vivian: First, I want to point out how organically Flourish Media came after a conference that we held. It is a 360 full service marketing agency that creates and maintains celebrity tax for their industry. The agency started due to holding our first Flourish Media conference in Miami, FL. The first conference we held was actually seven years ago, where the women would come all the way to South FL from other places. Many people were shocked at the fact that my business partner Tracy Timberlake and I didn’t know each other before we started working together. During our first meeting we explained that we met each other on the internet when she had a YouTube channel and I was just a follower of her channel. One day I told her that I wanted to do this conference in South FL, and explained that it seemed as though we had the same values as one another. From there I asked her if she would be my partner for this one time thing and we’ve been stuck ever since. The women that were at that conference started to ask us how we were able to build a community online and how were you able to get all of them to spend money and show up in Miami. Basically wondering how we were able to convert them into clients. So, Flourish Media Company truly did not exist until the conference, and it grew out of those 78 women who asked us to show them how we were able to build this online and how we were able to leverage messaging and very clear communication online through content creation and turn that into a marketing service.
WTP: Before you became this wonderful entrepreneur, you were working a 9-5 before? Tell us a little about that.
Vivian: Oh yes, I had the great privilege of working at the American Airlines Arena at the time working for Miami Heat. I worked in the VIP lounge there when I graduated college, that was my part time job. At the time, I was complaining because I graduated in a recession and I would tell people that there were no jobs and I needed someone to come and help me. One of my co-workers asked me, “Vivian, what did you study?” I said I studied political science and public relations but my master degree was really in public administration. I have been trusted a lot in my career with confidential information. So when I was referred to work for Giardia Logistics which is a cash security company. So if you have heard of Brink, Lumen they are competitors so I was working with the armored trucks and the cash money all day long. That was my job. I worked as a business development manager for Giardia and that put me in a position where I was very regularly talking to CFOs and different banks. Disney was actually under my umbrella at the time, the first time I ever went to Disneyland was when it was after hours with the CFO. It gave me a peek into what it would really look like to excel in a corporate environment and what it will look like to have funding and the capabilities of things that could happen. So that was a wonderful exposure in addition to working in the VIP lounge for the Miami Heat because again I was in the environment with very wealthy people and very successful people, so I knew that there were a lot of opportunities in the world that were available. But I also saw a parallel with the fact that all of the people were entrepreneurs. There weren’t many of them that worked for somebody. I told myself then that there was something about the luxury life that was definitely for me.
WTP: What have been the obstacles that have come your way from going to a 9-5 to now becoming a full entrepreneur?
Vvian: I think the biggest transition for me has been becoming a wife and mother as an entrepreneur not necessarily going from a 9-5 to becoming an entrepreneur because like I said the transition for me was very comfortable financially anyway because I was making more money as an entrepreneur than an employee. But there were a lot of mindset shifts that I had to make outside of the little middle class thinking. As a middle class person, there are many people of color who have gone to college, have followed the rules, they have done all the things to get a traditional lifestyle and therefore you are just trying to make it day to day, you’re looking for safety and entrepreneurship is not a safe environment. You take risks everyday. It’s the opposite of comfort so I decided to make the mind shift that is not working in my business to be my boss in my business, I am working in my business to build something that can operate on its own without me being there. That’s what entrepreneurship is. I have that conceptually, but I had to put it into practice when I became a wife. I couldn’t wake up at 3am with an idea and do something right then, I needed to rest well next to my husband. Especially as a mom because I became a mom during the pandemic which was its own set of obstacles, but being mindful of my body, that it is now a temple and it is nurturing another life. So I needed to take better care of the way I was eating, to rest more and also I needed to set healthy boundaries not only for myself but for my team who is supporting me. I needed to work on my communication skills on a team because to be a successful entrepreneur you need to build a team. If you want to go far you need a team if you want to go fast go by yourself. If you want to go far then you must, must, must build a team.
WTP: Do you believe that you have a balance between being a mother and an entrepreneur?
Vivian: I do feel like I am finding it more each day. I feel like I am in a really really good space today because I am in an amazing mood but I am in a pretty good mood most of the time and I think that most of that challenge when finding a balance is learning how to communicate with my partner and communicate with my self-care team. That’s another piece of when you’re an entrepreneur because it is a relationship that you have with yourself and your clients and customers but it is also a relationship that you have with your internal peace and your family because your family is in business whether they want to be or not. They didn’t sign up for this but because you’re an entrepreneur they have to be. It is super important for me to get rid of any lone wolf syndrome, get rid of any idea that I have to be a strong black woman. That I need to do anything by myself including being a parent or any of my relationships and realize that I am maintaining this relationship and partnership with my husband and the process of being an open communicator has helped me to become a better communicator in every other area of my life.
WTP: So tell us a little about Behind the Leaf?
Vivian: So if you ever see Flourish media you’ll notice that our logo has a leaf in it behind the leaf is our nonprofit our 501 C3. Where a portion of what we make within flourish media the marketing company we put aside to fund our 501 C3. Our mission is envisioning a world where women find joy through entrepreneurship. In that world we believe that women need access to funding. They need training when it comes to investor funding. So Behind the Leaf hosts the flourish media conference that kicks off this whole adventure in Miami FL every February. Next year it’s February 16 & 17 in 2024 here in South FL. We invite angel investors and funders and women with small business owners products based business and service based business so that they have an opportunity to pitch their business to real life investors but also nurture that relationship and practice their relationship building skills not only with investors but with women within our tribe, within our community. Throughout the year we use our community to facilitate investors’ readiness training. We’ve been with Capital One bank. We have ongoing training because when we say investor ready what we are talking about is when you are adding third party funding to your business and that looks different for many different reasons, That could look like qualifying for a loan, that could look like sharing equities or giving a portion of your business over to an investor so that they could give you funding to grow your business, Its like grants that are out there for women in business especially colored women in business and you know a lot of us don’t even go after the money because we have no idea how to apply for these grants. There are also government contracts when it comes to the pandemic as I mentioned before one of my degrees happens to be in government so I know public partnerships very very well.
Especially the fact that many are working in cash security and with those large corporations for such a long time. I know that those large corporations are able to sustain themselves for so long because a portion of their contracts are government contracts, and that’s what’s sustaining them. That’s the underlying purpose of the business. But your average small business owner has no idea that they could be selling their services and their products directly to the US government but also to their local city but they don’t know how. We believe in the leverage that we give to our tribe for the program that we offer .
WTP: How many women have you helped to flourish?
Vivian: That’s such a good question so like I said we have 1100 hundred women in our facebook group I like to believe that everyone is walking away with value our largest conference right before the pandemic was 238 business women who attended after the pandemic we did limit our conference to 80. So there were 80 women who attended in 2022 and then this past year we had just under 200 that attended. So for 2024 we are planning to be able to accommodate just under 300 so very excited to support women who are ready to step and who can benefit for this very new set of information because it is tailored specifically for women of colored and it is not tailored for mentorship because people who look like me are the largest demographics who are college educated. I think you got it girl, I just think you need them to know that they can cut the check.
WTP: What advice would you give women who aren’t quite sure if they want to take that leap or take that risk of becoming an entrepreneur?
Vivian: I would say that there are two different kinds of people in the world when it comes to being an entrepreneur. One of the two people are people who would see an opportunity where they have that drive to quit their job right then.They take risks and say “okay today I am going to quit my job” without having any plans on how to do it. Then there are people who are like me that need to have a plan.The only reason that I finally left my job was because of the circumstances that I was in. The fact that I come from a military family, it just so happens that both of my parents are immigrants who would constantly tell me to think about my future. So when it was time for me to make the step, I took it. I had been asking for a raise and I felt like it was taking too long for me to get it. My boss at the time told me that I was on track for the manager position but it could take up to 25 years for me to get it. I thought about that compared to my parents who also signed up for the military and was in the military for 25 years also. Truthfully, I said if an opportunity presents itself that allows me to make the same amount of money it might not have the same security like health insurance and all that kind of stuff. I said God if you show me that I am going to take it, and within weeks there was a beauty manufacturer in Miami, FL who was looking for a third party marketing consultant to help them with their branding and getting placed in the retail store, and they approached me. Due to the fact that I had my business years ago when I was in college and had been very successful working with apparel brands and getting them into boutiques and stores. The amount of money that they were offering me was 15,000 more than my annual salary than my initial job. The same job that I asked to give me a raise. So I am not the person who just jumps into full time entrepreneurship and there is no judgment for which person you are but the reality for me was I set parameters around what would make me feel comfortable and then when those parameters showed up I took action.
You can also stay connected and learn more about the business by joining the flourish incubator where you can get a subscription to gain access to all of their training and recordings. It is $97 a month, it’ll be able to give your business a chance to speak the right language to attract that client and customer while also being irresistible online to the people that need you the most. Also, Vivian will be hosting another conference next year February 16 & 17 of 2024, so make sure you stay in touch so that your business can FLOURISH!