We had the good fortune of connecting with Danshelle Jones and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Danshelle, why did you pursue a creative career?
I’ve always been a highly creative individual. I would draw, dance, collage, write short stories and even style people from a very young age.
I will never forget the moment I decided I wanted to work as a full time creative. I was 9 years old and read it from a Mary-Kate and Ashley book of all places. As soon as I found out I could make money just by creating, that became my dream.
It was a natural progression because creativity comes as naturally to me as breathing.
What should our readers know about your business?
My business is called Gem Intelligence Agency. We specialize in creating businesses from the ground up by supplying logo’s, websites and cohesive branding that help give new brands a sense of legitimacy. We are women owned and love working with women, especially women of color as they account for 89% of new women owned businesses. We love seeing our queens shine but we’re also not opposed to helping anyone else win in business!
The idea came to me while riding a subway with my best friend in 2016. Back then I was working as a Visual Merchandiser at Forever 21 then doing my styling and graphic design on the side. In 2018 God called me out of full time retail and into entrepreneurship. I made the move into being self employed full time and it’s definitely been a learning experience.
At first I was so used to having people tell me what to do and when to work that I would feel like if no one was telling me to do anything then there is nothing I should be doing. When those bills came it was a great reminder that I needed to get to working. Then I would overwork myself and get burnt out and start the cycle over again.
Creatives tend to not be the best at the back end financial part of business so my biggest advice would be to build up a savings account and source of passive income ASAP so that even if you’re not getting clients during a season you’re not getting behind on your bills. And never see having a part time gig as a failure. It’s just another stream of income at the end of the day. Overall being an entrepreneur has been a very rewarding experience! Watching brands grow and expand using the tools and insight that my company provides fill me with joy. 😊
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m not an Atlanta local I just have a lot of friends (shoutout to all my SCAD alum) and family there. It’s a lot of fun (and a lot of driving) every time I visit!
I’d take my friends to Revery VR bar to play some games and chill with creatives then maybe hit up Woody’s for a Cheesesteak. We could shop around the next day and visit Ponce City Market, Little Five Points for an indie vibe and some thrifting, maybe grab some fried Chicken at Hattie B’s.
I don’t really do clubs but we could definitely get dressed up and do a fancy dinner somewhere that the ‘Hollywood’ types hang out in Midtown or go fancy late night bowling at the Painted Duck.
I would definitely take them axe throwing for a lil something different and we could hike Stone Mountain or visit the Botanical Garden for a change of scenery. Also we gotta stop by ‘prison tacos’ aka El Progreso for some local deliciousness.
For a true local experience though I would introduce them to Chilly-O. He is the plug for all things creative and a wealth of knowledge. One day let alone a week with him and you’ll have new friends, networking opportunities, be eating something delicious and have experienced the arts in some way or another.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to shout out to my mom who recognized early that sports were not my thing and instead fostered my creativity. As a single mother of 7 (then 4) she would take me to dance class and art class and even entrepreneurial courses all before I was even a teenager. She is my biggest cheerleader and praying for me. I’m so grateful for her for that.
And a special thanks to Auriia Perez who recommended me for this and is always seeing me better than I see myself.
Chilly-O (black and white image)