Waking up to the buzz of an alarm clock, rushing out of the house to arrive at the office on time, spending the next eight hours glaring glossy eyed at a computer screen, then going home and doing it all again the next morning, has –– for many twenty and thirty-somethings –– become a thing of the past.
Young people are quickly learning that in order to stand out in the business world, they must step it up and take some risks. The traditional blueprint from past generations of finding a job and remaining there until retirement has drastically shifted. Highly publicized layoffs of employees who have put in 20 years have partly contributed to this change.
This reality has left many in the next generation in a state of utter trepidation. Yet with this generation’s uneasiness comes courage, and often an innate desire to seek a solution. That is exactly what Jahra McLawrence, Heru, Kesha Davis, and Irvin Daphnis have done.
Instead of anticipating a change, they decided to create one by pursuing their own business ventures. Although each differs in trade and specialty, they all share the same entrepreneurial passion to be the best at what they do.
ATTORNEYS IN PRIVATE PRACTICE
For the past two and a half years, Jahra McLawrence, 36, has headed the Law Office of F. Jahra McLawrence P.A. in Fort Lauderdale. Created in March 2006, the Law Offices of F. Jahra McLawrence P.A. has harbored its niche in criminal defense. The firm specializes in all criminal matters, from traffic tickets to murder. It also handles the restoration of civil rights, sealing, expunging, bond, probation and community control (house arrest) matters.
Prior to starting his firm, McLawrence worked within the ranks of the Broward County Public Defender’s Office. There, he discovered that not all cases were held in high regard, and decided to do something about it.
“As a public defender, I observed the poor quality of private representation that many accused received, and knew I could do a better job with more compassion and attention to detail,” McLawrence told the South Florida Times.
Starting a business can be quite challenging; maintaining one really requires a special set of skills. For McLawrence, obtaining clients in a consistent manner, budgeting and personal and professional scheduling were the thorns in his side. With strategic planning and careful risks, McLawrence managed to combat these challenges. As a result, he is now able to provide criminal defense services at a discounted rate.
Attorney Irvin Daphnis, 36, graduated from Oakwood College in Alabama with a degree in religion. He later received his Juris Doctorate from Hofstra University. In April, Daphnis created The Law Firm of Irvin Daphnis, P.A.
As a general practitioner, Daphnis has the ability to address criminal defense, civil litigation, contracts, immigration law and personal injury. These specializations allow Daphnis to fully impact and contribute to the community he serves.
Prior to starting his own firm, Daphnis worked as a criminal defense attorney at the Office of the Public Defender in West Palm Beach. It was not only the need to end a long commute that prompted Daphnis to start his own business, but it was also the desire to expand his knowledge of law and the ability to serve the legal needs of the South Florida community.
The first steps weren’t easy. Daphnis said that in order to succeed, you must talk with people who are currently doing what you want to do, for guidance.
“I faced a few challenges from obtaining start up capital, learning the ABC’s of starting a law firm to advertising. However, I spoke to over a dozen practitioners who remain mentors and advisors to this day. I believed that I could do it!” Daphnis said.
Daphnis is looking forward to networking and actively engaging in public service to serve the legal needs of our community; one client at a time.
LAWYER TURNED POET AND BUSINESS OWNER
Heru, 36, a native of Ghana, West Africa, moved to the States as a child. Life’s experiences have warranted him many talents and skills that he possesses to this day. As an award winning Spoken Word poet, Heru utilizes his mesmerizing performances and lyrical messages to bring awareness and inspiration to the world.
Heru’s path to molding his artistic nature began quite traditionally. He holds a Biopsychology degree from Tufts University in Boston and a Juris Doctorate from Northeastern University School of Law. After passing the Florida Bar in 1998, he practiced law until 2001.
Although successful, Heru always concealed a burning desire to contribute a lot more substance to society. He soon decided to retire from law and embark on a career as a professional spoken word performance poet.
Spoken word has encouraged Heru to create his own niche, brand and business. He launched MovemenTunes.com and Audioin-Books.com in October 2007. MovemenTunes.com is an online source for music downloads similar to iTunes. The business provides digital downloads from world class artists all over the globe.
The site includes a variety of artists with diverse musical styles including, Reggae, Hip-Hop, Spoken Word Poetry, Soul Music, World Music, and many others.
Audioinbooks.com is an online audio book production and digital distribution outlet that records and transforms any book into an audio format. Heru’s concern about the dearth of positive music websites led him to start these businesses.
“I saw there were no websites that addressed the people who were interested in positive uplifting music. There was no way for them to access it. So instead of complaining, I wanted to be a part of the solution in order to expose people to some of the great artists all over the world,” he said.
Heru currently co-hosts an internet radio show Black Star Lion 9 Time on Harambee Radio. There, he features poets, singers, musicians, filmmakers, visual artists and playwrights.
BOOK LOVER OPENS STORE
Kesha Davis, 35, owns The Book Lovers Lounge in the heart of Lauderdale Lakes. The book store, created in March 2006, came into fruition simply for those who love books. Davis prides herself and her business as Florida’s best source for general top sellers and urban reading materials, including authors Zane, E.J. Dickey, Wahida Clark and more.
Davis’ ten year experience in the corporate sphere led her to open her own business. As a supplier diversity manager for an auto company, she observed business owners taking risks and excelling in their fields.
“I worked with entrepreneurs from Mom and Pop Shop owners to major Fortune 500 companies, and I would look at these people and say if they can do this and be successful then I’m sure I possess a similar skill set that can allow me to excel and have that same level of opportunity,” Davis said.
With a degree in Business Administration from Florida A & M University, Davis was aware of the basics of starting her own business. She decided to create the bookstore not only to feed her passion for reading, but also because she felt the major book stores were not fairly representing black authors.
“I wanted to fill a void in the marketplace. I wasn’t happy at how the national chains were serving black literature. They didn’t give us enough value and exposure for our dollar and I wanted to change that,” she said.
Just three years old, The Book Lovers Lounge is looking forward to establishing book festivals in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
Each of these young entrepreneurs has taken control of their careers by owning their own businesses. Because of that, they can set their own days, manage their own schedules, and have become their own bosses.
Photo by Khary Bruyning. From left to right, Jahra McLawrence, Kesha Davis, Irvin Daphnis and Heru each started their own business.