Chatoya Antwine is the Creator of Creative CoLAB, where she provides entrepreneurs with an exclusive learning experience that allows them to accomplish more in a co-working community than individually. She launched this members only community in hopes of filling a void where she struggled to connect with likeminded entrepreneurs that she could bounce ideas off of and grow with. Chatoya has been featured in several publications include Black Enterprise and in this interview she shares her story as well as some really valuable business advice and exactly how she intends to scale to become a 7 figure business. Enjoy!
"My biggest accomplishment to date was setting fear aside and launching Creative CoLAB."
Please introduce yourself and tell us about your business. What is it called and what services / products do you offer?
I am Chatoya Antwine, born and raised in Detroit, MI, I’ve lived in Chicago for the last 5 years, and I am currently residing in Atlanta, GA. I am the Creator of Creative CoLAB, an exclusive learning experience that provides entrepreneurs and creatives with the opportunity to accomplish more in a coworking community than individually. Creative CoLAB is a members only online institute where I help entrepreneurs build, grow, and take their business to the next level with my intensive curriculum.
Creative CoLAB members only community consists of:
- Monthly Worklabs
- Creative Mastermind Sessions
- Digital Products
- Accountability Group
- Book Study Club
- Creative Coworking
- Live Office Hours
- Live Chat Discussions
And more! I also am a self-published author of the Shift Your Creative Mindset Journal. This content journal helps entrepreneurs and creatives set intentional goals, conquer fear and procrastination, achieve unmet goals, and teaches how to use obstacles and challenges to your advantage.
Can you share a bit about how you choose this line of business? What transition did you make to owning your own business?
I gained a passion for coworking because I was trying to fill a void. When I decided to take a leap into entrepreneurship I didn’t have a handbook, manual, or mentor to help me through the process. I had to research, bump my head, and fail to figure out how to create and maintain a successful business.
I also struggled with being able to surround myself with like-minded individuals. Specifically, with me working a 9 to 5 at the time, it was hard to meet up with other current, aspiring, and thriving entrepreneurs to cowork in the middle of the night during a work week and even on weekends. I didn’t have anyone who I could call when I wanted to ask a quick question or get someone’s perspective on my business.
So I started first by hosting monthly coworking sessions where I taught a workshop providing various tips, tools, resources, and strategies on all things entrepreneurship. After the workshop everyone would work on their individuals goals in a collaborative environment. The coworking event allowed for networking, partnerships were formed, individuals gained business besties, and everyone was able to bounce ideas off of one another. After hosting this monthly event in multiple cities around the world and seeing the impact it was having on entrepreneurs and creatives, I knew I had to do more.
About 7 months after launching my monthly coworking event, I decided to turn it into its own brand, Creative CoLAB. Creative CoLAB is available 24/7, 365 days a year serving as a global community focused on growth and support.
Do you have any special training?
My background is Finance and Accounting. I obtained my B.A. in Finance from Michigan State University and M.S. in Accounting from Wayne State University. I worked for 2 of the top 5 accounting firms, my clients were Fortune 100 companies, and I helped build a credit department for one of the top global financial institutions.
Corporate America has taught me so many valuable lessons, it has helped increase my knowledge of business, and helped me to shift my mindset while building my own empire. I have also invested in entrepreneurial courses and conferences. My mentor and business coach has also helped me a great deal with my brands.
What are some of your biggest accomplishments as a business owner?
One of my most memorable accomplishments as an entrepreneur was being recognized this year by the Detroit City Council and receiving a testimonial resolution from Councilwoman Mary Sheffield on my contributions to the women entrepreneurial community. A few other accomplishments have been receiving features in Rolling Out, Black Enterprise, PYNK Magazine, and Fox 2 News Detroit this year.
My biggest accomplishment to date was setting fear aside and launching Creative CoLAB.
How soon after you started did you start seeing profits? Or when do you project to begin earning a profit?
When I first launched Creative CoLAB my focus was building my audience so I hosted free worklabs and provided free content in order to build trust and relationships with individuals before I asking them to invest. A few months later I began to see small profits after launching products and a journal.
My goal is to reach six figures by 2018 and create a million dollar stream of revenue once I have obtained 5,000 members.
How did you decide how to price your services? How did you determine what your services were worth?
With Creative CoLAB being a membership program and knowing that entrepreneurs are typically on strict budgets, I wanted to be able to provide services of great value, but at an affordable rate. I just want to see us all win. My goal is to help as many women and men reach beyond their fullest potential without allowing money to hold them back.
I shifted my mindset and came to the conclusion that less is more. Instead of traveling the world trying to get people to sign-up and purchase my workshops, I could make them available globally and virtually 24/7, 365 days a year. Since I am able to reach more people and cut costs and the stress of traveling, I decided to lower my rates and make my program accessible to more people. So instead of traveling to host $97 workshops and trying to fill a room of 50 people, I now have a membership program priced as low as $19/month with a goal of 5,000 members.
$97 x 50 = $4,850
$19 x 12 = $228 yearly per person
$228 x 5,000 = $1,140,000
This is proof that less is more! I can provide the same value at a lower rate and help more people through entrepreneurship. It’s all about shifting your mindset.
What mistake(s), if any, have you made with your business? What have some of your biggest challenges been? What did you learn from the experience and how did you bounce back?
A mistake that I have recently been able to overcome is multitasking. I read a book called The One Thing and it taught me how to focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking does not increase your level of productivity it actually slows it down and decreases the quality of your work. It is better to give your undivided attention to one thing and do it well, than to work on multiple projects and not do your best work.
One of my biggest challenges has been dealing with copyright infringement. On multiple occasions I have had someone steal my brand content and market it as their own. I have had someone duplicate my entire membership program and I have had someone steal and use my entire event content all the way down to my event ticket descriptions. I had a complete meltdown because I have worked so hard to create original and creative work to help and inspire entrepreneurs and in a moments time it was swept away from me and portrayed as someone else’s work.
I had to come to the realization that if people are copying your work then you must be doing something right. I met with lawyers to ensure that I was properly protected and I used these experiences as motivation to help me to keep pressing forward. I always tell my clients that the longer you take to do what God has called you to do the longer you hold someone else up from their future successes. I couldn’t stop what I was doing because someone decided to steal my work. What’s for me is for me and no matter what anyone does to try and steal what I’ve created they will never be able to steal the favor that God has on my life and they will never be able to duplicate my success.
Someone in this world is counting on me and I vowed to not let a copycat stop me, distract me or get me off course. I also learned that a copycat is really the last person and thing you should be worried about. They will never get ahead of you because they are always watching and waiting to see what you are going to do next.
What do you consider the most important elements of running a successful business?
Some key elements to running a successful business are:
- Invest in your business. Don’t be cheap. You get what you pay for.
- Be intentional when creating a brand
- Know your WHY
- Determine your niche and target audience
- Create monthly, quarterly, and yearly revenue goals
- Create multiple streams of revenue
- Build a solid team. You can’t build a booming empire with only 1 employee.
- Create systems and processes. Automation is KEY! Your business should be able to run without you being present.
- Be consistent
- Get feedback from your audience on what content, products, and services they want you to produce.
Do you have any start-up advice you can share with women reading this who would like to launch their own businesses?
Stop trying to find the right time to launch your business. There is no right time, the time is now. Someone in this world is waiting on you to launch and the longer you wait the longer you hold them up from their future successes. Everything does not have to be perfect for you to launch, in fact it won’t be perfect because as you learn and grow, your business will continue to evolve.
Also, stop talking yourself out of your goals. Self-sabotage is real. I encourage you to first determine what your why is. Why do you want to launch your business, who is it going to impact, and what benefit will it serve? Every time you begin to talk yourself out of your goals, go back and recite your why. Your why is a part of your purpose and nothing should ever stand in the way of what you have been called to do.
Do you have any advice on managing your small business finances?
All entrepreneurs should have separate personal and business accounts to prevent commingling of funds. Secondly, invest in an accounting software to help you manage your small business finances. I have a blog post on 6 Accounting Softwares for Small Businesses that can help you choose the right software for you and your brand. Lastly, hire a CPA to assist with your business tax filings, write-offs, financial analysis, etc. The last thing you want to be is in bad standing with the IRS.
How do you balance work and life owning a small business?
I started my first business 2 years ago and I was a true work-a-holic. I still am, but I’ve learned how to embrace self-care and take care of myself. I find balance by unplugging from my business at least once a week by treating myself to dinner, going to a movie, reading a book, or having a lazy day on the couch watching Law & Order: SVU marathon.
Aside from my weekly unplug and setting 3 daily time blocks to take a break from work, I also have yearly unplugs as well. Once a year I vow to travel internationally and to book a self-care vacation where I travel alone. So with all that being said, I find balance by taking care of myself first. If I am not well, my business can’t operate at its fullest potential.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years
In 5 years I would like to have successfully helped at least 5,000 men and women through entrepreneurship as well as help entrepreneurs and creatives scale their businesses and yield six and seven figure incomes. I also want to create jobs for others and run a fully staffed business that is able to operate without me be physically present. In order to do this my goal is to have a fully staff team that is committed to the mission and purpose of my brand long-term.
My ultimate goal is to help as many entrepreneurs reach their highest level of success. I want to eliminate the stereotypes that women can’t work together or collaborate with one another. My motto is “To the top we go” and I will help pull as many men and women to the top as I climb my ladder to success. I believe that there is enough room for all of us to succeed and collectively and collaboratively we can all achieve our highest level of success.
Please share a fun fact about yourself
I love to travel and I have no fear in traveling alone. I love beaches and adventurous outdoor activities like zip lining, jet skiing, and hiking.
How can readers find you?
You can find more information about myself and Creative CoLAB at creativecolab.co and you can join my free membership community on Facebook at Creative CoLAB Community.
I am on all social media as @creativecolabco and you can email me at [email protected].
Thank you so much Chatoya! We have really enjoyed getting to know you and look forward to seeing you achieve your goals with Creative CoLAB!