Today we’d like to introduce you to Alicia White.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
My journey with graphics began in 1995 as an undergraduate sophomore student at Central Michigan University. My original path was to become a pediatrician. That was always the goal growing up. However, once I began to partake in the science classes in college, I realized that maybe I need to change my path. I changed my major to Journalism and took my first graphic class and fell in LOVE! My concentration for this degree was Advertising, so everything aligned. I graduated 3 yrs. later with my degree and began my career in corporate America. I obtained a job with a local non-profit as a Marketing Manager, and my design career began. I designed many marketing items for the company using the skill set I obtained in my undergraduate studies. After a 3 yr. stint with this job, I was laid off and began my graduate studies at the University Of Phoenix. While in between jobs, I would do odd jobs for friends and family members (obituaries, business card design, brochures, etc.). to help make ends meet. But this also allowed me to develop my graphical skills even more. I began a career with another local company in their Advertising division and figured this was the break I needed, or so I thought. But I wasn’t being fulfilled, so I changed careers and went to work for a government entity in their IT department as the Telecommunications Manager. (As you can see my skill set is very diverse). Here is where I met my business partner and friend. Surprisingly she worked for the same local company I had previously worked for and just so happened to be my account manager for my division. I learned that she also had a passion for graphics and had been working in the area doing obituaries and business services for people and businesses. We made a decision to combine our forces, and B’Jade Custom Graphics & Design was born. That was January of 2007.
Now let’s take it back a bit, and talk about the event design portion. Prior to all of the graphics side, my love for event design and decor started as a teenager when I along with my friends would help my grandmother and her friends put on events for church and help decorate. Their group was called the Renaissance Women (because they were seasoned) and so we developed the name “Junior Renaissance Women” as we were a reflection of them. We helped to decorate many weddings, showers, church events, and the like. So, this always stayed in the back of my mind. Whenever someone would mention putting on an event my wheels would start turning and I would have planned out and entire event in my head without them even knowing. I would always want to be prepared in case my help was needed.
After I was laid off from the government job due to budget cuts, I began to do freelance work with events and graphics. This was when I knew I could make a career out of it. Social media was just getting started so I wasn’t fully familiar with it for advertising. But I began to do more work with funeral homes and businesses (small start-ups, etc.). So much so that I obtained my first major client, a marina, as their marketing manager. Here I created the logo, all materials needed, signage, etc.
Now that I had that under my belt, I began to learn how social media worked, and from there I developed a business page and began to market the graphics business because that is where my true passion lied. While growing the graphics side, I obtained jobs with two major companies starting out in IT and then moving to the web development side of the business. Back in my comfort zone with designing, I was responsible for creating the ads that appeared on the website. However, as the company began to change, my excitement for designing faded, and I knew I had to get out of there before I lost it. So, I resigned from my position and went full-time into graphics again. Full-time graphics works lasted three months and alas, a position became available with my first major Marina client. I secured the position of Events Manager. I thought, WOW, look how things come full circle. Now I can combine my graphics and event planning into one job. And I did. Both businesses began to grow by leaps and bounds. I met clients who would need both services and fulfilled a lot of those requests. This was a dream job. But as with all dream jobs, they come to an end. In September 2021, I was back doing graphics and events full time. The good part is, I became the resident event decorator for the marina, so any client that needs linen or the such is referred to me. Additionally, the graphics business grew by obtaining a contract with another funeral home for obituaries. We also obtained several small business accounts, helping several start-ups, essentially START-UP! Our business is continuing to grow, and we are so excited about where we are going. We have developed an umbrella company “The B’Jade Group” which will house all of the different services we offer, which include business services, obituaries, notary, travel arrangements, event management, and much more.
We are a double minority-owned company in that we are both 100% black owned and 100% women-owned. As we continue to grow and elevate, our goal is to make sure our clients do the same.
Our tagline has been and will always be YOUR Ideas…YOUR Vision…OUR Creativity will equal YOUR SUCCESS!!
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
With any business, there is always challenges. Starting and growing a business is a challenge in itself. As you were made aware, I have flip-flopped with working in corporate and working in the business realm full time because while business drives me, I am also a mother and have responsibilities so money will always be a driving factor because I have to take care of my family. In addition, this market is heavily saturated with people who do graphic design and event planning, so being creative with product offerings has also been a challenge, but we have always been able to come up with creative ways to promote. Because we are very detailed with our clients, many of them are repeat clients and refer other clients to us. So that is the silver lining in this. We have also had to offer additional services, which are somewhat related to our main products to keep us afloat. The pandemic was a wake-up call for us, but our business expanded because of the funeral business increased. While that wasn’t ideal for us, we were very sympathetic with our clients and even offered our services for free to those families affected by the pandemic. It was our way of offering a bit of comfort during a difficult time for the world. We partook in grant funding during that time to help us stay afloat, and it did. But we have to continue to think of creative ways to stay afloat and keep our clients coming back.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Our main business is graphics and printing. We offer a wide variety of services in this industry that include:
*Business services – Providing logo design, business card design and printing, website design and marketing material design and printing, and much more
*Personal Services: This would include party invite design and printing, showers, document creation, wedding invitations, signage, backdrops, and much more.
We also offer the following services. All of these services and business fall under The B’Jade Group Umbrella.
*Small Business Consulting – this includes helping businesses with their start-up (obtaining their LLC, EIN, etc.) (Altre Group LLC)
*Notary Services – We provide notary services for all of our clients
*Event Planning & Design – we are a full-service event planning company (Special Day Productions, LLC)
*Linen and Event Rental – event linen and rental (The Linen Shop)
*Wealth Creation -includes wealth education, advanced financial education (The Gold Solutions)
*Travel Services – we are a full-service travel agency which provides one-stop shopping for your travel needs.
*Photography Services – This is a new service that we are developing but hoping to have in full gear by the end of the year.
As you can see, we provide and array of services for our clients, and I think what sets us apart from others is that any service that you need, we can provide and if we can’t we surely know someone who can. We are all about spreading the wealth with other small businesses and believe that there is room at the table for everyone to grow and eat.
How do you define success?
Success is what you believe it to be for you. Success for me is making sure my clients are successful. Because if they are successful from what I have provided for them then we are all successful. I don’t need awards or main recognition from entities to define my success. My client’s success will create my success because I will gain more by helping them to succeed.
- Instagram: bjadecustomgraphics
- Facebook: The Bjade Group
- Youtube: Bjade Custom Graphics