Just over a year ago, Chardae Jenkins decided that it was time for a change.
She had a job that she enjoyed as a junior publicist for Allied Moxy, the African-American marketing arm of Allied Integrated Marketing. She worked with a team that she loved—a small group of go-getters committed to bringing entertainment marketing campaigns to life for films such as Straight Outta Compton and Barbershop 3: The Next Cut. Not to mention that the pay wasn't too shabby either, enough for Chardae to stack almost eight grand in her two-and-a-half years at the company.
But as enviable as her job sounds, Chardae knew that she had more to offer than what the position allowed, so she cleaned off her desk and packed away her self-doubts and made the leap into entrepreneurship as the CEO of her own PR and digital marketing company, The Transparency Agency.
“All of our clients at Moxy were film," says Chardae. “I think film is great but it's not the only stuff I'm interested in, so to me it was like now that I get film, let me like try something else. Let me see if I can do music or brands or personalities because if there aren't any films booming, then what am I supposed to do?"
Chardae is just one of many millenials who've said goodbye to the traditional job and jumped head first into the role of b-o-s-s. But unlike those who take the leap because of poor paychecks, bad bosses, and unfulfilling positions, the California State University grad departed due to her discomfort with stagnancy and desire to go to the next level in her career.
Leaving a steady paycheck wasn't easy, though. In fact, it go to a point to where Chardae literally couldn't stomach the thought of making such a huge leap with no safety net to catch her. “I felt sick and I felt like something wasn't right with my spirit. I couldn't sleep. I would be up all night just thinking," she says.
She shared her concerns with a close friend who encouraged her to try out a beach meditation in hopes of coming to a place of clarity. “That was like a push forward because it was a very emotional meditation for me. I was thinking about my family, where I came from and not wanting to disappoint [them], and I had gotten a wave of reassurance like don't worry about it, you're going to be good. Walk by faith and not by sight, and just do it."
"Walk by faith and not by sight, and just do it."
On October 2, Chardae quieted her qualms and with little prior planning or preparation left her job with nothing more than potential leads, a working knowledge of running digital marketing and influencer campaigns, and a few thousand dollars in her bank account to keep her afloat in the costly city of Los Angeles. “I was determined that even if I get down to my last six dollars, I'm not going to quit. I don't have kids. I'm not married. I don't have any commitments and I'm young, so if I want to try something it might not work out, this is probably the time to do it."
It was risky, but rewarding. Thanks to her admirable performance while working with her former employer, deep knowledge of their processes and systems, and strong relationships with the company's clients, the same job that she submitted her two-weeks notice to reached out to become one of her first clients. “A lot of people that work places and leave, their boss is like okay have fun. I didn't leave on bad terms; they were like you know what, Chardae understands how we work."
It's a testament to the power of relationships and speaks to the importance of why it's better to close a door than to burn a bridge. For Chardae, it gave her an opportunity to not only work on her own terms, but to work with a client that she already knew and trusted. “I have love for Moxy because they gave me my first start, so when they came to me I was more appreciative than anything because they didn't have to come to me. And I knew that I was still going to produce the same work, if not better, even though I wasn't there."
Chardae with Clients
In just a few short months the 25-year-old has signed on clients ranging from film partners to radio personalities and lifestyle brands, and thanks to lucrative social influencer budgets, admits that she's far from struggling and was profitable enough this year to hire a digital coordinator. One thing that she wishes she would've don't differently, though, is taken out a business loan as opposed to tapping into her savings. “I think I could've educated myself more on applying for business loans. I could've done more due diligence on that instead of being like I got the money, I just want to do this now. Not that bootstrapping is a bad thing, but if you can use somebody else's money it's like why not?"
Lesson learned. Thankfully pinching her own pennies didn't stop her from pursuing her dream. Chardae credits her father, who suffered from a massive brains stroke that left him paralyzed when Chardae was just 12-years-old, for being the quiet motivation that she needed to keep going even in the moments of uncertainty. “Everyday for the last 13 years that he's been paralyzed my dad has not quit on trying to learn how to walk, talk, or trying to figure out how to learn how to eat. So when I was looking at my dad and the situation that I was going through, I didn't have an excuse. I would go home and tell my dad about stuff and he would just tell me to go get that money. So I'm like alright dad, if you're not going to quit on what you're doing, I definitely can't quit. If something doesn't workout then it doesn't work out, and I'm just going to keep on going and figure it out."
If you had asked Chardae a couple of years ago where she saw herself in her career, she would've proudly shared her goal of climbing the corporate ladder and becoming the Vice President of a company. Now that she touts the title of CEO, she's glad that she can create a life where she can go to the gym or get a massage in the middle of the day if she chooses. “Things change and life changes. You form into a different person, and I think that's kind of the beauty of everything, the growth to say that, you know what, this was cool when I was thinking about it two years ago, but I was a different person and this isn't fitting for the person that I am now. And that's not in a negative way, it's just a development of your experience as a person and as a woman."
For the San Diego native, making her own rules and fearlessly pressing reset has allowed her to define happiness on her own terms, and that's the most priceless reward.
Originally published August 30, 2017