We had the good fortune of connecting with Merlyn Oliver and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Merlyn, every day, we about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
The idea found me. I started my creative career as a social media coordinator for Iman Cosmetics and Jay Manuel Beauty in 2015. Snapchat was at an all-time peak, Instagram stories didn’t exist and I was unaware of having a career in social until a recruiter reached out to me. I learned all my basics there; how to take quality photos and videos from an iPhone, influencer marketing, PR, and event management. I was running 8 social accounts for two brands on my own and it wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t love what I did. Fast forward, every job I had since then involved me creating. I pride myself on being a visual person and building an idea/vision to reality is really my passion. When covid hit, I had no idea God planted a seed that would grow and lead me to create full-time. Within two weeks of being furloughed, I had my first client from a reference. I decided not to take the offer to go back to “corporate” and build my own creative empire. I can truly say the business idea never left and it was up to me to make it a reality. I now create and help entrepreneurs elevate their brands and I’m excited about this journey.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
No risks, no rewards. The amount of risks I’ve taken in my career, including this one is the only reason I’m where I am today. I wouldn’t be on this entrepreneur journey without leaving the job I disliked, creating a plan, changing my career and back, or trusting my instincts. I’m proud of myself for doing that. The mindset you have to encounter to be an entrepreneur is another level and I even got a mind coach to help me get to the next level. A story I never told about my journey: In 2017, I wanted to change my career and I did. I was still creating but in the event industry. I created my own opportunities, I networked and worked for free just to get the experience on my resume. No one would hire me and that was my first sign to be my own entrepreneur. The week I created my business logo, I got a call back that led me to work with the top luxury event production company in NY. I remembered telling myself “wow Merlyn, check you out!” You have to be your own hype man sometimes. Then Covid happened and God laughed at my plans. He didn’t want me to work another 9-5 and I received the sign multiple times and this round, I listened. My #1 tip is to ask for help. Whether working 9-5 or 5-9. As a true Virgo, I wanted to do it all by myself and it wasn’t healthy. Listen to your body, rest when you want to rest. Have a support team or an accountability partner (someone you trust) that will help you with your goals.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This is fun because one of my brands, @BklynMavens is all about Brooklyn and I can talk about my city all day! A week in Brooklyn would make anyone want to move ASAP. As a true foodie and someone who knows about every Black owned reaturant, we would start the week on a food tour in each neighborhood and continue throughout the week. Starting in Bed-Stuy, we’d enjoy jerk mac and cheese at Beso Brooklyn; loaded french fries at Spudz NY, and wine tasting at Bedvyne Brew! Shopping down Black Girl Magic and visiting thrfit shops like Blk Market Vintage will be the icing on the cake. Their stores are filled with one of a kind items that they’ll treasure forever. We’d continue the tour during the week by visiting’Little Caribbean’ aka East Flatbush to visit the famous caribbean ice cream shop, Taste The Tropics for rum and raisin ice cream. It’ll change their life! We’ll also go to Crown Heights for a bar tour down Franklin and Nostrand ave and we’ll explore other gems including Barboncino and enjoy their Sopressata Piccante drizzled with hot honey and gelato right after! A trip to the Brooklyn Musesum and roller skating (or ice skating depending on time of year) will also be on the intinerary. We’ll visit the new exhibits, take pictures on the museum steps and take in the vibes of the neighborhood and a walk through Prospect Park. During the week we’d explore Dumbo and walk the Brooklyn Bridge for an amazing view of Brooklyn & Manhattan. We’d end the week with brunch at at the rooftop spot Kimoto Lounge and vibe it at a chill lounge. Their week will definetly be made and I’m sure they would’nt want to leave. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First, I would like to thank my clients for trusting me and being patient as I build my brand. They continue to recommend me to their peers and that’s why I stay with a bag! Shannan McMillian, my first real manager. She was hard on me and now I know why. She saw something in me I probably didn’t see in myself at 22 years old. I was fresh out of college and didn’t know anything about social media. She taught me a lot and I never really thanked her. Thank you, Shannan. You’re the GOAT!
Instagram: @merlynmelesia and @bklynmavens
Monica Krystal Rose