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Shaneisha Dodson | Texas | Build Your Brand!!

Born in Arkansas and raised in a matriarchal household. At a young age, my mother instilled in me the value of hard work. I admired my mother’s strength and determination to succeed. Therefore, I pushed myself to reach my full potential. My hard work paid off and resulted in me being the first person in my family to graduate from college. I earned degrees in psychology and education. I believe everyone should have an opportunity to attend college so I give back to the community by offering an annual scholarship to a deserving high school or college student.

From 2012-2015, I worked a full time job and did my productions on the side. I kept getting this feeling that it was time to let go of my six-figure income to pursue my God-given purpose in the arts. I prayed about it. Once I received confirmation that it was time to let go, I went to my job and emailed my bosses that I planned to resign effective 10/15/2015. I felt that it was a higher calling on my life, so I boldly stepped out on faith. My journey has been full of ups and downs. But, I never quit. Now I'm able to reap the fruits of my labor. I have successfully written, directed and produced the following full length productions: Cheating on my Mistress, I'll Be Single Before I Settle and the Coffee Shop. In 2017, my one-act play Vagina Rights debuted off-Broadway in NYC and won best theatrical presentation at the Success in the Arts awards. My children's play Dog, Cat & the Red Bird was published in Drama Notebook. In addition, I've won numerous awards such as 2019 Top Artist of the Year, 2018 Top 25 Women in Business, 2018 Top 30 under 40, Best Playwright, 2018 Top 35 Women in Business to Watch, and honoured for my contributions in women empowerment and entrepreneurship.

What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business?

How did the idea for your business come about?

My writing career began with me writing books. I self-published a few titles. One morning, I decided that I wanted to see my words come to life. So, in 2015 I founded Black Girlz Productions. Our motto is "Dream Big or Go Home." We bring awareness to social issues through theatre.

What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?

The biggest hurdle is being able to find people who share my vision. And, finding people who are trustworthy. When I first began producing stage plays, I ended up with two bad promoters. They took my money, but did not promote my show. I had about seven people in the audience. This taught me a lesson. I learned that it is important to use discernment and to research people. Make sure they are capable of doing whatever it is that they are selling. Now, I pray before I work with anyone.

What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?

I've been busy lately producing and planning my next events. I haven't had much time to read. However, I enjoy self-help books. One of my favourite is an older book by T.D. Jakes titled Reposition Yourself.

Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?

How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?

When I decided to quit my job, many people could not understand why I would give up a six-figure income to step into the unknown. This is ok. Everyone will not understand the vision that God created specifically for you. I did not listen to the naysayers because I was at peace with my decision. In hindsight, I would not do anything differently.

What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?

My single most influential factor is hearing from the audience that they were touched by my work. If I'm not causing my audience to feel, I'm not doing my job.

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?

I wish I would have known the importance of being patient. I like to have things complete by a certain time. I'm very goal-oriented. Sometimes it's important to just wait. When it's your time, God will bring you out of the shadows. Don't feel like you have to rush and do something. Take your time and put out the best product that you can.

What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?

My advice is to do your research and to build your brand. You should know how to operate every aspect of your business. Don't give up if things don't happen when you want them to. Success does not happen over night. Keep pushing until you get the results that you desire.

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