WDB Marketing: Focused on Taking Entrepreneurship to the Next Level
Keeana Barber is the CEO of WDB Marketing, a design and printing agency. To date, the company services 800 to 1,000 businesses per year, focusing on supporting small businesses with their brand identity, marketing strategies and creation of the marketing collateral. WDB became a full-service, in-house print production company in 2016– truly becoming a one-stop shop for design, marketing and printing.
Q. Tell us about WDB Marketing and your mission?
A. The mission of WDB Marketing is to help small businesses and entrepreneurs grow! As a fellow small business owner, I understand first-hand how we need companies that can do more than sell to us, but be a cost-effective resource. I am proud to say that my team and I have built a company that is agile enough to support most of the needs of small businesses. From helping create a brand identity, to developing a marketing campaign or assisting with last-minute printing needs, we try to be a one stop shop for the entrepreneur that is trying to grow their company or brand.
Q. How has entrepreneurship changed your life? Can you also discuss the role of ChiBizHub in supporting your entrepreneurship?
A. Entrepreneurship has been a whirlwind for me! I am blessed to work with roughly a thousand businesses every year, so it keeps my mind fresh and my business focused! What I love about what I do, is that I’m able to use my 15+ years of experience and pour it into the next entrepreneur. I firmly believe that entrepreneurs are the key to growth in our community, so I feel like it is my job to offer guidance and mentorship to the next generation of entrepreneurs.
ChiBizHub has been a great resource for me! They have not only helped provide resources for me to grow but they have been a support system for all the entrepreneurs we work with every year. I appreciate how dedicated they are to helping small businesses grow.
Q. As February is Black History Month, why do you think it is important to expand your reach to more businesses owned by African Americans?
A. It is always important to work with African American businesses. A lot of the challenges we face in our community, can be addressed through economic empowerment, resources, and entrepreneurship. Historically, African Americans haven’t been provided the mentorship and guidance to grow our companies, but our interest in entrepreneurship is at an all-time high, so I think now is the time to help guide and support African American entrepreneurs on a pathway to success.
Q. What is the L.E.G.A.C.Y. Gala Awards? How was it created?
A. The L.E.G.A.C.Y. Awards Gala is a celebration of Black entrepreneurs. It started out as a celebration of our company, WDB Marketing’s 10 year anniversary and has expanded to an annual celebration that hosts over 600 entrepreneurs. What is important about this event is that it provides a platform for African American business owners to network, collaborate and celebrate each others success! The event features a black restaurant showcase, awards ceremony and a young entrepreneur pitch. All are welcome to attend!
Greater Englewood Community Development Corporation: Empowering Small Businesses
The Greater Englewood Community Development Corporation (GECDC) is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit, that exists to address stalled economic development in the Greater Englewood community. They believe that by empowering and educating small business owners and entrepreneurs within Englewood and the surrounding Chicagoland area, true transformation will happen.
Q. Your mission includes promoting the Greater Englewood business community and community relationships. Can you share your thoughts on the important connection between the Englewood community and the businesses within it?
A. The key to our success as an organization is making sure our efforts align with the Englewood community and surrounding corridors. GECDC is a part of the Englewood Quality of Life Taskforce: Jobs and Economic Development, which is made up of residents, community organizations and businesses. Through this taskforce, GECDC has the opportunity to work with the community to advance initiatives that affect everyone.
Q. How have you helped entrepreneurs of color get their products into major retail stores? Can you share an example?
A. One of GECDC’s first projects began in 2015 as a partnership with Whole Foods Market to host a 3-series supplier diversity training that affected over 400 businesses of which 75 percent were people of color. Of those businesses involved, 125 businesses completed training and coaching for the retail markets. To date, over 45 businesses have contracts with Whole Foods Market and are on their shelves across Chicago and Illinois and some supplying the Midwest regions.
Q. Why Chicago? Can you expand on why Chicago is a great city to support small businesses and entrepreneurs?
A. Why Chicago? Why not? Chicago is one of the most versatile cities in the nation. It offers the opportunity to become an entrepreneur and get your feet wet. It has so many diverse neighborhoods that create a gateway to explore and test the market for any idea you can imagine from food, entertainment, technology and so much more.
Q. As February is Black History Month, can you share your thoughts on why it is important to have a variety of community voices heard? How does the Greater Englewood Community Development Corporation ensure all community residents are heard?
A. Perspective is the key! And what better way to see beyond our own individual thinking than to hear the voices and thoughts of others from all nationalities and creeds. GECDC is an active member in the Englewood community through various taskforce groups. As an organization we are consistently seeking opportunities to work together with community partners as we advance and build a stronger community.
No Place Like Home, Q&A With Bobby Simmons
Chicago native Bobby Simmons, has an NBA career spanning from 2001 to 2012. Bobby’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to open several businesses in the Chicago area. He currently owns Succezz, a designer sneaker boutique which opened in June of 2008. In addition to fashion and retail, Bobby is also the owner of Society 2201, an elite events venue located in Chicago’s West Loop.
Q. As a Chicago Native, former NBA player, and a Chicago Business owner, you’re a Chicago legend. But, why Chicago? Can you expand on why Chicago is a great city to support small businesses?
A. As a Chicago native I felt that it was significant to continue my legacy here in the city that raised me. And because of my upbringing in a Chicago Housing Development, I felt the need to show kids growing up in the city that you can be successful outside of being an athlete. I feel that Chicago has provided support to bring small businesses to communities that have often been deprived. They’ve opened the doors for people in disadvantaged communities to have access to new opportunities. It’s great to see opportunity here, but businesses are still challenged by the lack of access to funding.
Q. Year over year, how have you been able to sustain and manage multiple businesses in different industries?
A. I have a great team that has expertise in multiple industries. This has allowed me to explore other industries and opportunities as needed that are in demand in Chicago.
Q. As an African American Business owner, what advice would you give to other aspiring African American entrepreneurs that want to open a business?
A. As an entrepreneur, it’s going to take hard work, dedication and perseverance in order to complete the task and stay ahead of the trends. As a business owner, it’s going to require structure, endless nights, passion and intense focus.
Q. Which would you say you love the most, being an entrepreneur or a (former) professional basketball player?
A. Both are a part of who I am. They require the same energy and system to run. Being an athlete was physically intense and required a mentality to take on any challenge or opponent. While being an entrepreneur, requires the same Mamba Mentality but less physical interaction.
Our team helps grow entrepreneurship in Chicago every day.
Our newsletter delivers insights, inspiration and events to keep you growing and knowing. Sign up below!