Urban professionals nationwide face a similar dilemma when they clock out after a day’s work – what to do with their few hours of freedom. Big cities offer plenty of options; but it can be hard for young, Black professionals to find the right fit.
This is especially true in Chicago, where the nightlife scene is marked by venues that shy away from encouraging diversity. One group of socialites decided to turn their weekend headache into a business opportunity. And they chose the biggest party night of the year to put their idea to the test.
Kisha Keeney, Diamond Ingram, Paris Tyler, and Lesley Martin met the way most young professionals working in the city do: through work, college, and mutual friends. They decided to try organizing events when they couldn’t find a personal, affordable party option to ring in 2012. They pooled their resources and respective networks. If their New Year’s Eve loft party was a success, it would be a sign to move forward with their business idea.
A success it was, and Posh Entertainment was born with Keeny as director of event coordination, Ingram as director of new business development, Tyler as director of operations, and Martin as creative director. The quartet hasn’t looked back since, planning events at top venues in the Chicago area that expose their clientele of African-American young professionals to new places, and show venues.
I caught up with the ladies to find out how year one of entrepreneurship was treating them, and what lessons they are learning along the way.
Madame Noire (MN): What made you take the risk of launching this business?
Lesley Martin (LM): So many times we let haters dominate the social scene. We are not open to supporting one another and building a foundation of positive interaction in our city, which leads people to have cliquish behavior. We really wanted to launch Posh because it was what Chicago was missing. We all believe Chicago is filled with a ton of amazing talented people and is an amazing city which so much our demographic has not discovered yet!
Kisha Keeney (KK): We all have a different reason for starting Posh, more than anything it’s the desire to work for ourselves that drives us. We each have our own individual goals and skills that really help us continue to evolve as a group.
MN: What is Posh’s current focus?
Diamond Ingram (DI): We focus more now on individual events and helping clients bring their ideas to life while creating a lifestyle and experience for all people.
KK: Our focus is to continue to get more clients; we want to gain enough profit so we can do this full time. The only way we’ll be able to do that is if we have enough clientele to support that goal.
MN: Where do you want to take Posh?
Paris Tyler (PT): We enjoy hosting our own events but want to work with businesses and individuals to make their ideas come to life. We currently have our website being built, which will include a blog where we will talk about Posh Picks around the city. We want native Chicagoans and even people who are new to the city or visiting the city to see this as the hub of what’s happening in Chicago. We also are planning a couple of events so that we can finish out 2012 strong.
We have an opportunity to expand into Atlanta next year. We’re making sure that we have home base in a good place so that we can move forward with expansion, but we want to also have hubs in NYC and LA.
KK: Long term, the sky is the limit. We definitely see this developing into a boutique agency that provides a variety of services to include but not limiting talent management, corporate event development, and media provisions.
DI: We would love to get more into corporate events, conferences, and fundraisers. We want to expand our philanthropic efforts and volunteerism.
MN: What separates you from your competition?
KK: We focus on our brand, and we don’t offer events on a weekly basis. Our goal is to keep it fresh and creative, and most of all keep our customers wanting more!
PT: We want to create the Posh lifestyle that we think that our peers are living or folks will want to live. We’re learning and researching new ways to stand out from the competition. Not just through the venue and the DJ, but what guests can walk away with or experience while there. The industry is so saturated and we want to have long-term success.
MN: How long did you plan before launching?
PT: We thought long and hard about the name and what it would mean. We made sure that it would be a reflection of our own personalities and the events that we wished to create. From there we began the LLC process, writing of the business plan, and implementing operations and procedures that we may have learned on our individual jobs to help with how we operated.
What surprised us was the number of resources we each bring to the table. We know so many people in different industries and fields that we knew we could tap to help our launch and growth. Their response was so positive, and it definitely reassured us that we were making the right move.