Recently Envibrance’s founder Julene was featured in a profile on the Network for Teaching for Entrepreneurship (NFTE) website. NFTE is the program that enabled Julene to start her own marketing business when she herself was in high school.
From the NFTE Interview
NFTE Alumna Julene Fleurmond is the Founder of Envibrance Studios and DreamerENT.com.
Envibrance is a multimedia company that consists of an inspiring apparel and product line through the website www.envibrance.com. Envibrance produces motivational content and publications, including a youth website www.dreamerENT.com that features young entrepreneurs, dreamers and doers. Envibrance also includes a marketing and graphic design studio and youth entrepreneur & art workshops in the community. Julene recently took time to share some insights about running her business with NFTE:
What is the start-up story behind your business venture?
I had always been interested in writing, journalism and art since childhood, and began doing freelance art and graphic design for teachers, family and friends while in high school. By the end of high school I decided to start Envibrance and expanded it to also sell my original artwork, apparel and stationery products. Envibrance also became a motivational company when people began to ask me to do speaking engagements for youth…
Julene is also featured in the new entrepreneurship education textbook from NFTE. The textbook entitled Entrepreneurship: Owning Your Future, Written by Steve Mariotti, NFTE Founder, is used in the NFTE curriculum to teach high school students the art of starting and running a business.
To find out more and to order the textbook visit the NFTE website at http://nfte.com.
The webzine for youth http://dreamerENT.com was created to inspire other young people to be entrepreneurs, social venturers, and to basically follow their passions and use their abilities while they are young to make a mark in the world. I have interviewed and featured several NFTE students and alumni and would love to interview even more. Others are free to contact me through the site if they would like to be featured.
Where did you take the NFTE course? Who was your teacher?
I took the NFTE course in the 11th grade at Miami Dade College’s Institute for Youth Entrepreneurship in Miami, Florida. My teacher was Ms. Cindy Thienard; she saw much potential in me and encouraged me continually.
What three pieces of advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
1. Be sure to choose to pursue a passion for your business and not just something that is in demand or you think will make money. Meeting a need is very important, but if you are miserable or are wishing you were doing something else it will be very hard to continue and be successful. I experienced this when I first began and learned that it is better to build a business doing something you love – your passion is fuel that will keep you going.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I am naturally introverted and when I began my business I thought I had to do everything all by myself, which led to frustration and burn out. Find someone who can help you or you can hire or outsource to, and ask mentors in a similar field for advice. Building relationships is so beneficial and worth it!
3. Communication and building relationships, as I mentioned before, are even more valuable in a way than making a profit. I’ve met so many wonderful people through my business and getting to know them and taking the time to serve their needs made many of them more than just clients – they’ve become friends.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
Some of my failure has come from believing I could run the entire business on my own without help from others, as I mentioned. There were times when I overbooked myself and had to juggle too many projects at once because I was afraid to say no. I have learned that people are happy to help if you ask and will be happier if you let them know when you are unable to help them. When running a business it is also better to focus on areas that are you strengths and ask others to contribute in areas of you weaknesses.
Describe/outline your typical day?
My typical day includes spending time answering emails and corresponding with people, working on designs, and taking time to look through inspiration files to brainstorm new ideas. I also spend time planning future events and speaking engagements.
Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it?
I initially got a grant and loan through the NFTE camp, but also bought design software with earnings from my part-time job.
What is your definition of success and has your company achieved it?
My definition of success is utilizing the gifts and passions that were placed in me in a way that can support my family and I but also help others and inspires them to also exercise their own gifts. Whenever someone tells me they are inspired by what I do I am encouraged. I also try to encourage others to match their gifts with a passion to solve a problem for someone else.
Being able to share what I have learned to help someone who was in a situation similar to mine is also how I define success. I grew up in a poor neighborhood and I’ve been able to speak to other teens with similar experiences about being an entrepreneur. It is great to hear about and help them with their dreams to do so as well.
To what do you attribute your company’s recent achievements?
I would attribute my achievements to embracing my unique qualities and doing what I truly love to do, and knowing when to say no if an opportunity is not for me. It has taken a while for me to be able to discover what I’m really passionate about, but when I did my passion showed more through my work.
How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Most of my marketing has been through word-of-mouth and providing discounts for referrals, which has been most successful, but also attending business expos, social networking and doing speaking engagements.
What stops you from throwing in the towel and giving up during those frustrating days of running your business?
The fact that I am able to combine many of my passions and abilities into one through the business gives me fuel to keep going. I’m not sure if there is a job that encompasses everything I would like to do, but being an entrepreneur is like writing your own job description. The best part is that many times work doesn’t feel like work since I love it so much. Also when people send messages about how they enjoyed something I’ve created, this reminds me of how what I do can have positive effects on others.
Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
I don’t know if there is a formula that works for everyone but for me being a successful entrepreneur has been finding what makes me come alive and an issue or purpose that is important to me, and then applying my natural strengths and gifting to it to create something unique and beneficial to others.
Who has influenced you most or been your greatest inspiration?
My mother definitely has been my greatest inspiration. She came to America years ago from Haiti and has worked hard to give me opportunities she wasn’t able to have and has instilled in me the desire to work hard and the knowledge that nothing is impossible with perseverance and faith. I recently went to Haiti with her and the experience of seeing the condition of the country especially after the earthquake was a culture shock and made me realize how much I am blessed.
What book has inspired you the most? What film?
This might not be a traditional answer but one of my favorite books is the book of Proverbs in the Bible. It is full of wisdom that is applicable to every area of my life. I like many Pixar films because of the creativity and story, but a film that has really inspired me is The Great Debaters. This film makes me appreciate the opportunity to pursue education in this country when so many weren’t able to.
In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
I truly admire Oprah’s Harpo Studios, how it is aimed at inspiring people and the myriad of media identities under it, from television, radio, films and print. I would love to be able to expand my company in a way that motivates people around the world and helps others through philanthropy.
How do you achieve balance in your life?
I’ve learned to take days off where I can do other things I enjoy like reading, doing photography or going out to have fun with family or friends. Also taking time to do something for others, like helping my mother around the house or working with youth at my previous school, also keeps me balanced and breaks me free from thinking about business all of the time.
Where do you see yourself and your business in 5 years? 10 years?
In five years I hope I hope to grow Envibrance into a larger media company and creative product line that reaches many more people. I am currently studying public health education and hope to have graduated with my master’s degree and PhD in five years. In ten years I can see myself growing a program that gives back to youth in the community through the arts and entrepreneurship, possibly starting a national conference, and also continuing to expand Envibrance.
If you could meet anyone who inspires you, who would it be and why?
I would love to meet two of whom I call my “mentors from afar,” Dr. Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey. Dr. Angelou inspires me because she is a Renaissance woman who isn’t bound by titles but inspires others through any medium she is able to embrace: in poetry and novels, and as a filmmaker, producer, speaker, actress and a civil rights activist. Oprah Winfrey also inspires me for similar reasons; because she has risen from poverty and stereotypes by allowing her gifts to make way for her. She and her amazing media company are known worldwide, and yet she seems so relatable and grounded and continues to share with others through her abilities and through charity.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to be featured in the NFTE Profile!