We had the good fortune of connecting with Clifford Summerhill and Jazmine Reyes and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Á la Carte Team, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Jazmine Reyes: I think Cliff would agree that our business was a product of frustration. Frustration for the small business community and how unaccessible affordable marketing is. We ultimately decided to turn our frustration into something good.
Cliff Summerhill: Jazmine is right. We worked closely with a variety of small businesses when we were co-workers and we saw the frustration of not having an affordable, accessible resource for marketing. Funny enough, we came up with this idea over a year ago and after several businesses voiced their inability to afford a marketing agency, we took the plunge!
What should our readers know about your business?
We thought we would just answer the initial questions as they represent an answer to this section:
Jaz: We uplift the small business community. I think the pandemic made a lot of entrepreneurs realize that what was done in the past (in regard to their business model) wasn’t going to cut it anymore. We offer a reasonable solution by making professional marketing accessible. Also think about who makes up the small business community. Oftentimes, they are minority owned businesses with no background in marketing, just the love for their craft.
Cliff: Our business is both Black-owned and LGBTQ owned. We live and breathe the minority communities and our business is made accessible for those small businesses who may not otherwise have the ability to obtain marketing help. The world of marketing has definitely shifted since the pandemic and we are here to help your everyday “mom and pop” shops navigate this new world.
Risk taking: How do you think about risk, what role has taking risks played in your life/career?
Jaz: It’s scary to take a leap of faith. Starting our business was a risk. But I strongly believe that with risk comes reward. I also think that there’s still a long road ahead for us and we have many more hurdles to overcome. We are just gonna take it as it comes and hope for the best.
Cliff: Nothing can be successful without a little bit of sweat and tears. This business is a leap of faith, not only in our unique business model, but for ourselves. Jazmine and I work very well together and I think we have nothing but success in our future as long as we stick to our roots and keep taking risks together.
What is the most important factor behind your success/the success of your brand?
Jaz: Community. We would not be successful without our friends and family. Couldn’t tell you how many recommendations our family and friends have put out for us. We are so thankful for that! I also think that having such an amazing business partner helps just as much. I always try to remember that nothing good or of value is ever accomplished alone.
Cliff: I’m with Jazmine, community is the most important factor, 100 percent! We are seeing a boom in clients because we have amazing loved ones and friends who believe in us and our mission with this new business.
How to know whether to keep going or give up?
Jaz: That’s a hard one. I guess my response would be you never know what could come of your efforts unless you try and truly give it your all. I’ve found that even when you feel like you’re at a low point, there could always be worse. I’m not one for giving up so I don’t foresee that in my future.
Cliff: Well, I’m not one to give up when things get hard. I will admit, things can get rocky and emotions can weigh heavy, but at the end of the day, you always should keep going. As long as we are making a difference in our lives and in the lives of others, we will keep going.
Work life balance: How has your balance changed over time? How do you think about the balance?
Jaz: Another hard one! My work-life balance has changed tremendously. It gets harder as we grow, but I know it’ll be worth it in the end. Overall, I always ensure to put my mental and physical health first, and ensure that I squeeze in “me” time! You most definitely have to prioritize your life as a business owner.
Cliff: Aren’t we always looking for balance? Life can shift at a moment’s notice and new normals arise out of nowhere (I think the pandemic has taught us that pretty well). But the key for me is knowing that all my work will lead toward success and personal fulfillment. But my best advice is to take time when you need it. Feel like you need a break? Take it. Feel like it’s time to go to the beach? Plan it. Personal fulfillment isn’t always related to work. Rest is important too. Balance comes when your mental health is prioritized.
What makes you happy? Why?
Jaz: Helping people. That’s just who I’ve been since I was a kid. Whether it’s donating my time to a local charity, or now, supporting the Arizona business community through marketing. Helping others is what lights up my soul. It also helps that I’m doing something that I like. I have a passion for creating innovative social media content!
Cliff: In my life and career, I have always found myself helping people and I most definitely enjoy that above everything else. Out of college, I stumbled into social work and that drive to help others has never let up. Even in my public relations and marketing roles, they have always been rooted in helping individuals or the community. Now, with our marketing agency, our discussions are never about becoming wealthy, it’s always about how we can help our community.
Why did you pursue an artistic or creative career?
Jaz: Because I knew that I sucked at math and science mostly. But also because I knew that I would never get tired of it. The social media/marketing industry is constantly changing. Love this because it gives me a chance to constantly learn new things.
Cliff: I’m a writer at heart. I went into journalism to become the next big thing, but found myself just writing for fun (you’ll see my novel on the New York Times Bestseller list one day). This passion led me on an adventure into social media, marketing, and public relations. If I can’t be creative, I might as well just melt away.
How do you define success?
Jaz: To me, I define success as living out my dreams of being my own boss and living by my own rules. Beyond that, I would really like to grow our business to a point where we can start branching off to other industries such as the non-profit sector.
Cliff: Jazmine and I have a very similar goal — we want to work for ourselves. I want to live according to the schedule and work I create for myself. I think by growing this marketing agency, that goal is in reach.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Believe it or not, Arizona is full of downtown areas for people to explore. For example, Downtown Tempe is only a square mile or so and has a ton of restaurants (ranging from Mexican food, elegant preparations, pizza, Italian food, and so much more), a healthy bit of shopping, concert venues, and you can even stop at Tempe Town Lake and take a paddle boat out on the water! Within 10-20 minutes, you can be in another downtown area with a variety of their own unique, exciting events, restaurants, and experiences.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I huge shoutout the Black Russian Label for being our first client and being an amazing supporter of our agency.
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