We had the good fortune of connecting with Calvin B Jackson II and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Calvin B, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
In the third grade, Calvin was called to the Principal’s office for having too much money in his pocket. He had been selling hand-painted ceramics to the other students. An entrepreneur was born. Though he loves painting, he feared being a starving artist so he channeled his creativity to the digital arts.
After growing and developing his management skills at a few different agencies throughout Chicagoland, it was time to step out and launch his own agency. The Lemon Ad Stand is a wordplay on an actual stand he built for his daughters to grow their own business. It’s just the love of entrepreneurship, the ability to build your own destiny, where you make the rules, and get to break them, too.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
The Lemon Ad Stand is built on and sustained by relationships and creativity. That’s the not-secret recipe. We want our clients’ experience to feel like pulling up to a lemonade stand on a warm summer day. You’re smiling, laughing, ready to be refreshed then quenched. For many years, most of our business was referral-based because our clients became friends then kept spreading the word. As the agency grew, we realized that we can vet our clients and ensure that they fit into our culture. The joy of entrepreneurship is choosing to work with amazing people.
In 1999, I had a door-to-door sales job. With no intention of being a sales rep, I would take my portfolio (back then it had a handle and pages for printed pieces) on my sales calls and ask to speak with anyone who worked in the creative field. I wanted feedback and a shot. On one of my, dare I say, sales calls I met a receptionist who knew a woman who owned an agency. She made the introduction, I walked into the agency in a three-piece suit clutching my portfolio. I started as an intern and stayed there for 8 years. If you want something, you work for it. Every day you work toward your goals, you tell others what you are working on and trust completely that it’s coming.
What I want the world to know about our brand is that we are diligent in providing the best creative, strategically focused on the consumer. We are your creative partner, working toward your goals but most of all, we’re a ton of fun.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love hiking and swimming. I grew up in St. Louis, then launched the company in Chicago so you can maybe imagine how great it is to be outdoors, “mostly” all year long. On this best friend tour, we’d start at Dutch Bros Coffee because tourists love to have what they don’t have at home, 10:15 am is the sweet spot – trust me. My girls don’t love to hike as much as I do so Papagos Park is a win for our family, it’s beautiful but family-friendly.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
First and foremost, God. Then my parents- who taught me about love and faith. My mother patiently taught me to paint. She painted ceramics and emphasized the importance of details, like a sparkle in the eye or shading in a feather. That attention to detail transferred into my graphic design and into my own agency. Either in digital design or web development, our focus is always on the end-user, how their eyes will follow information or consume a message. There are nuances, it’s psychological, that all come from learning to appreciate the details.
In my professional career, I wouldn’t be who I am today without Robyn – my first boss. She is a great mentor today but she started off as an amazing boss and business owner. She treated us well, spoiled us really. After working for her, other bosses just weren’t fun, they didn’t inspire. I had to go out on my own.
Once a year, I listen to the audiobook, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I’m an extrovert who loves to meet new people but work gets busy. This book reminds me of the important value people and friendship play in life.