Align Magazine got a chance to catch up with hard working Millennial entrepeneur, Tempestt Harris, to discuss her magazine and media outlets. She had much to say about her life and journey into creativity and entrepreneurship. Here is what she had to say….
So Tempestt, tell us a little about yourself: I am 32 years old born and raised in Charlotte NC. My family life is a bit complicated so I don’t talk much about that. I have many siblings by my biological father, however, I was raised with little brother by my mom and step dad in Grier Heights (we call it Grier Town), one of the most underprivileged neighborhoods in our city. At 14 I relocated to the eastside of Charlotte. I was extremely sheltered growing up, however, growing up in that bad environment motivated me to want better for myself and my family. It also gave me a desire to give back and help those in need; especially to victims with traumatic childhoods.
I am spiritual and I believe in God, the Bible, and that he gifts every person and that we all have a message. I love all things artistic and anything involving art comes naturally to me. My talents have always been in visuals and branding. I am an artist, having sold my first oil pastel painting in 7th grade at an auction. I sing, play violin, and can read music. I am also a cartoonist and illustrator. I absolutely love to dance and I am a huge goof ball with a love for cartoons and film. I attended the Art Institute for 2 years but was unable to graduate due to tuition cost. I paid out of pocket for school on my own but the financial obligation was too much at such a young age. However, I took those tools and experiences from that situation, and started my first magazine in 2010 with a few classmates called The Movement Magazine. One day, we received a call from the PR manager at Cash Money Records wanting us to feature Lil Chuckee on our cover. From that moment on I was hooked! I realized early on that I did not like the rap and hip-hop vibe for the magazine so I decided to go into Fashion. We still publish an annual Music issue for the magazine but our focus is fashion and fun interviews.
Wow! That all sounds exciting. Tell us more about your organization: Level21 Media is a multi-media news outlet with print and digital magazines. We also function as a production company. We have 14 talented people staffed. I am the Founder of the organization so I run the entire operation and I have a partner, Maresa Scott, who handles the day to day paperwork; she is also the Editor and Chief for the magazine. Level21 has a TV show that I direct and produce that was just picked up by Roku Television. I created the Level21 platform to help artists like myself have an outlet that truly cares and has integrity. We build upon on the energy that is entertainment and fashion on a corporate level. The goal is to become a household name in our nation and to help break as many new artist into the business as possible. We also have created the Fashion Excursion Event which is a huge fashion show we produce each year with famed fashion designer and producer Shukura Oni.
“It really pays to be great at your job and treat every customer or guest like they are your own family or loved ones, even if you don’t want to work the job. Appreciate what God gives you and your blessings will come for sure“.Tempestt Harris
That sounds amazing Tempestt. Seems like you have had quite a journey. Has starting a business been easy so far? Hell no! It is still not easy, but it is the single greatest joy of my life besides my relationship with the most high. Running a business is hard, especially when you do it right. My name clean, I don’t owe anyone, I didn’t sleep around, I always kept it 100% and I have not cheated anyone. The hard part is most people do those things in this (entertainment) industry and you can easily be a victim if you are not aware, discerning or awake. It was also hard because I come from nothing and I built it with nothing, from scratch. No money, just my brain and my heart. I never truly fit in growing up and I was extremely quiet, however observation has helped me navigate this industry. I understand people and I love to serve people and that makes the hard times worth it.
Kudos to you! Tell us one thing about Level 21 that people should know. I am here to serve the community of people in entertainment. Collectively bring awareness to artist, people and brands that work hard and have success. We also have a non-profit for underserved communities teaching them about media and entertainment.
Who would you say is your biggest competitor at the moment? I haven’t met my competition yet in a business sense. But I always say that I compete with myself. I also say I might meet my competition when my company is worth millions and competing becomes something fun to do. Even then, I probably wouldn’t; I am just not a competitive person. However I can compete… but my plan is to just stay focused on what I have going on over here. I always ask myself why smaller companies compete with other companies when neither has fully established their businesses yet. At least big companies have money to throw away competing; small businesses do not have that luxury,
I’m sure you’ve seen a lot and worked with a lot of people in your career. Looking back, what would you say is fondest moment? Meeting Bow Wow now known as Shad Moss about 4 years ago. We met randomly at a hotel I was working at. I’ve always gone above and beyond on all my phone calls, everyone receives the same care; with no knowledge of who I was speaking with I just so happened to be talking to Bows assistant, who was quickly trying to find him a room. After I booked the room the way they liked, he asked my name and then he introduced himself. He advised me of whom he worked for and then said “Me and Bow will be there soon to meet you. I appreciate how well you took care of us”. I was pleasantly surprised it was Shad Moss .
A few hours later Bow came in and told me that whatever I wanted I could have so I asked him to be a part of my magazine and help with my non profit. I also ended up getting hired as the travel and booking agent for So So Def Records and had the opportunity to take care of their whole executive staff including Jermaine Dupri for a year, thanks to Shawn Stovall. It was an amazing experience. Growing up, Bow Wow was my crush like many of us and I was a huge fan and now as an adult the crush days are over but the full circle was real, he has been apart of the journey in moving my company and vision forward.
That’s truly inspiring. So now looking forward, where do you see yourself 10 years from now? In ten years, I see myself being a movie director, headed for retirement and traveling the world.
Ok, that sounds dope. Who would you say is the most influential person in your life? I would have to say me. In all sincerity, I admire many and I can learn from all but I am not easily influenced by others. I do what I want, when I want and how I want. I would say God but you asked for a person.
Who was Tempestt as a child? Quit, artistic and brave. I’m pretty much the same person now as I was back then. I was so quite as a kid that my mom thought something was wrong with me. I really just started opening up and talking more about a year ago.
Would you say your city is good for what you do? Charlotte is not good for what I do. And that’s why I built it here on fertile ground.
Years from now, when you’re gone. What would you like people to remember about you? That I did my best to serve God and his people with the resources that he gave me and that I don’t believe in giving up. Giving up is blasphemy!
Give one piece of advice that you can share with fellow Millennials
1. God has to be the leader of your company
2. Just do it, and if you gone do it..do it well.
3. Keep your big goals to yourself until the right people come along that when you actually tell them your goals and dream, They will be able to do something about it.
4. Depending on your industry the more invisible you are the more power you receive. If you look to be not only rich but powerful, move behind the brand and make it about everyone else but you. Speaking through your brand is the ultimate expression of yourself.
I speak about power because in the times we live in, the only way to fight power is with power. To truly change society you have to have a significant amount of power to fight the powers that be.
Instagram: Personal : @tempesttceo Business : @level21mag