Marisa Johnson, owner of La Create Sp_ce, Inglewood, California’s first creative working space, along with her husband, Terell, are creating a positive community of creatives, entrepreneurs and small businesses. With a background that includes product integration for professional athletes and being a project manager on Beats by Dre, Johnson’s foundation enabled her to take a risk on herself.
“We started with just an idea,” she states. “We talked about having a photography studio, an editing studio and a space where people could gather and talk about their next productions.” Between Johnson’s digital and project management experience, and her husband’s background at Facebook and Snapchat, they were able to turn their idea into reality.
La Create Sp_ce is a place where everything is inclusive. The community includes designers, in-house copywriters, technology to produce music videos or comedy videos and the space even offers conference rooms to discuss projects. “We just wanted to implement all the resources we’ve always wanted into a no-excuse place,” she explains. “We talk a lot about what we want to do and what we are going to do. We may not have the resources or we have to go to Hollywood to get it done or we can’t find a designer. This space solves all those issues by offering everything in-house.”
Johnson’s career in the digital space started right after college graduation where she landed a position as a project manager for websites. She began managing web developers. Even though she studied marketing, she knew how to code and develop websites. “I used that as a stepping stone and to get my feet wet,” Johnson states. “Then from there, I got headhunted to Beats by Dre. They picked me up and I was one of the project managers on the first web release. My true passion was that I really wanted to do marketing in the entertainment and sports industry. On the side, they allowed us to pick up projects. I was doing product integration for different artists and athletes on different television shows. It was a really cool job.”
As Johnson began wrapping up on Beats, she was offered a job to work on the set of Kevin Hart television show. It was one of the shows where she had placed Beats headphones. “I took a leap of faith,” she smiles, “and I started doing integration for his television show. I started building relationships with different brands and learning the different products; how to do contracts, how to do sponsorships, what that even looked like on film. The importance of partnerships. It was different from managing web developers and being corporate. I became my own boss in a sense.” The opportunity from the Kevin Hart show allowed her to expand her network which helped her build her own brand. She began working on projects for Hollywood stars such as Nick Cannon and Floyd Mayweather. While working in Vegas with Mayweather promoting some of his fighters, Johnson was offered a senior digital role at an agency in Vegas. She began conducting web releases for small companies, hotels and small businesses.
Although she was working on influential projects, she wanted to pursue her entrepreneurial instinct. “I’m at the point of my career,” she smiles, “everything that I did in all the areas, the risks that I took, it is now coming out. I didn’t know what I was doing at the time. There was a point where I was like ‘How am I going to be an entrepreneur? I don’t get that steady paycheck. How am I going to do this? Why am I even doing this? Eating beans and rice and barely paying my phone bill?’ Now when I see people in my space creating their vision, creating their next thing, I get it. ‘Oh, this is why!’”
Over the years Johnson had to pivot her personal brand in order to succeed. “I was more spontaneous when I was single,” she laughs “I would do something first and ask for forgiveness later. I would hop on a plane and didn’t think things out. I was at a lot of people’s beck and call which burned me out; I was the girl who would get things done by all means. Now, I like to meet the person and have a partnership and see if we have the same type of synergy and if there is growth involved. More partnerships versus me trying to seize every opportunity. I am comfortable where I’m at.”
Pivoting is a constant reality in an entrepreneur’s world. For Johnson, she relies on the following essential steps to help make transitions successful:
Understand the concrete facts as to why you’re changing. Make sure you understand what didn’t work in the past so you don’t repeat the same mistakes.
Develop a plan. You don’t necessarily need to know exactly where you’re going, but having a plan will help you make the first move.
Have no regrets. It’s better to try and fail, then to wonder what would have happened.
Now as a new mother to a baby girl, Johnson has a new role to fulfill: role model. “I hope she lives her life,” she concludes, “where she’s never resentful, quick to forgive and always lets her talents shine.”
By Cheryl Robinson|Women@Forbes