We had the good fortune of connecting with Kevin Reese and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kevin, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I came from a very conventional family. My father is a lawyer and my mother is in property management. The notion of creating my own business came from watching their struggles. I wanted to build a legacy of my own. I wanted to create freedom for myself and prayerfully for future generations tied to my name. The idea of working for somebody else and building their dream was never an option. I became determined to figure out how to make my business work. This was not an easy feat. I can honestly say I wanted to quit hundreds of times. However, now more than a decade in… I can not be more proud of what I have built and what I am building.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My story is a story that should resonate with every entrepreneur that has ever created something. The road was not easy but it was necessary. I believe in Frederick Douglases’ quote that reads, “Without struggle, there is no progress.” You can never truly understand your success if you don’t go through a journey to get there. If I dig into the specifics of my Journey… I had to learn how to build a business. I needed to understand the structure. I needed to know what a business license was. I needed to know how to create an EIN and LLC. I needed to know how to buy talent. I needed to know how to coordinate with agents. I needed to learn about sponsorship. I needed to learn how to evaluate the artist. I needed to learn about outsourcing funds and finding investors. Everything I learned came with a struggle. I’ve been poor with no food and lights. I’ve had shows stolen from me. I’ve had businesses not work because I didn’t file the right paperwork. Every lesson has built character. When I talk about building a business with younger kids I tell them not to be afraid of mistakes because that’s how you build. Financially speaking you can’t have $1,000 till you understand how to get $100… you can’t have $10,000 till you understand how you got to $1,000. Those lessons are all part of the Journey. Your growth is never-ending. I don’t care where you are in your career there is always room for you to grow. I am very excited about my future steps. The Pandemic was very unfortunate for those in my sector of business but it was very fortunate for me. It reminded me why I loved what I do so much. It allowed me to take a step back and start from the beginning and learn to love my building process all over again. Being an entrepreneur is about PERSISTENCE. I can never stress that enough. That does not mean doing the same thing over and over again and praying for a different result. It means learning and being persistent through your failures. If I can pull out anything that I want people to know about me and my story is how I overcame my struggle and built a legacy for myself. I know if I can do it anybody can. There’s nothing extraordinary about who I am. I just never gave up on creating. I put the time in and learned and kept learning. I didn’t take any shortcuts. I’m still climbing my hill but I’m doing it the right wayIf you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Atlanta is an amazing city. I’m a beltline guy. I love to walk the beltline and people watch haha. It leads to piedmont park so it’s nice to walk and absorb the scenery. You always run into somebody while making that walk as well. It’s a very social place. There’s also a bunch of eatery spots off the beltline. It depends on my friend’s vibe but hanging out in Virginia highlands has never failed me. It’s right off the beltline there’s a ton of restaurants and bars to grab a drink. Also Krogstreet market is near there as well as Edgewood. All these places are very popular areas to visit in Atlanta.The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The list of shoutouts is long. There are so many individuals that took the time and energy to teach me the entertainment business. I think the list should start with my business partners Jhordan Gibbs, Chase Freeman and Gregory Burton. They took a chance on my creativity in 2009 with our first ever produced concert. It was Wale’s first-ever show in Atlanta. That show created the chain reaction that has resulted in hundreds of shows over the last 12 years. I will forever have gratitude for what I have built with them. The next shoutouts go to the mentors that took us under their wings and gave us space to learn. Tim Sweetwood who is now the owner of Shaky Knees Festival. Jay Carter who is the owner of One music Festival. Josh Antenucci who is the owner of center stage. Jeff Dixon who is one of the founders of DTP. Greg Green who manages Masquerade Atlanta. Scott Orvold who owns Terminal West. Bowe O’Brien who is our partner in the Milk and Cookies Music Festival. The countless booking agents that decided to give us shows. Artist Managers that believed in what we were creating. Local Influencers that pushed our vision to the masses. The entertainment business is political and about relationships and without them you would not find success. I am glad that I surrounded myself with partners that understood those messages or we would have been out of business a long time ago.
Instagram: @reesekevin_ @milkcookiesfest