- Can you tell us about your background and what inspired you to pursue entrepreneurship? YANA: I was raised in the projects in Boston, MA to a single mother that I had watched experience domestic violence and struggle to make ends meet for her 2 daughters at the time. She did the best job a mom could do on her own. She sent me into the METCO program in which I was transferred to attend school in Sudbury, MA the suburbs on the outskirts of Boston. Since the 2nd grade, I had to be at the bus stop at 6 am for the hour or more ride to school. Then I was bussed right back to my damaged neighborhood. Being able to experience the difference between the two areas inspired me to want more for my family. Before that I didn’t know more, better existed.
- What was your first business venture, and what did you learn from that experience?
2A. My first business venture was as a music artist manager in my company called FamTyte Entertainment. With that business, I managed artists from the Boston area and also created one of the first urban music conferences of its time for people from my neighborhoods Mattapan, Dorchester, Roxbury, Hyde Park, and beyond. Called the Mass Urban Music Network (MUMN) I had major music labels representation such as Sony, Def Jam, and Koch Records to name a few. My Keynote speaker was James Rosemond’s “Jimmy Henchmen” he managed hip-hop artist The Game at the time. Famed DJ Clinton Sparks was also one of my panelists. The host was MTV’s Amanda Diva” now known to us as Amanda Seales who starred in the hit series Insecure. From that experience, I learned that I can make anything I wanted to do happen.
- How have your entrepreneurial experiences shaped your leadership style and approach to business?
3A. My entrepreneurial experiences have shaped me to understand the possibilities of what can be if you apply hard work and consistency as the approach.
- Can you talk about a significant challenge you faced in your entrepreneurial journey and how you overcame it?
4A. The most significant challenge I faced was on my own account, sometimes not having the confidence or belief that I deserved to be in some rooms that I had the opportunity to be in because I wasn’t well known or I didn’t have the financial backing. I overcame that challenge by letting myself know I deserve to be in any room, next to anyone because I am the person who deserves it and I have something to offer.
How do you stay ahead of the curve and adapt to changes in your industry and market?
- 5A. Right now with my new nonprofit business A Year And A Day Foundation I provide services for those that have been justice impacted. I use my own experience as a formerly convicted felon to motivate and inspire others who have had the same experience and those facing that same hardship. I stay ahead of the curve by continuing to educate myself on the systems in place that prevent justice-impacted persons to move forward with their lives. There will always be a need to adapt to change in any industry and market keeping an open mind and being ready for them is key.
6. What is your approach to risk-taking, and how do you balance risk and reward in your business decisions?
6A. I use and extreme caution with my approach for any risk, the wrong risk can break all your trying to accomplish. I balance risk and reward by asking questions and educating myself.
- How do you build and maintain a strong team, and what qualities do you look for in employees?
YANA: I build a strong team by looking at those who know more than I do. The quality I want them to have is confidence in themselves the people who ask for forgiveness and not permission.
- Can you discuss a project or venture that you’re currently working on and what excites you about it?
YANA: There are so many projects/ventures to talk about but currently the venture I’m most elated about is just this past Monday I was invited as a panelist at Harvard University Radcliffe Institute by a brilliant young lady and fellow of Harvard University Britt White, alongside hip hop artist Meek Mill, Motivational speaker and Host of the infamous Million Dollars Worth of Game podcast WALLO, Robert Rooks CEO of the Reform nonprofit to speak about the importance of those that have been Justice Impacted to speak on the experience. It was an honor to sit amongst these super leaders.
- What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who are looking to build a successful business?
YANA: My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to continue to push forward in whatever business you want to do, there is no wrong answer to this, do it right and follow your dreams.
- How do you balance work and personal life as an entrepreneur, and what strategies do you use to manage stress and maintain a healthy lifestyle?
YANA: I balance work and personal life by using time management which is impossible most days but I do start with shutting off my phone after certain hours, giving myself 24 hours to respond to emails just small steps to manage until I can really strategically get it right but as an entrepreneur just know that you may never accomplish this! To manage stress and maintain a healthy lifestyle by really doing some self-care, meditating, working out, eat things I love in moderation (I try so hard!)