Deanna "Dede" Sutton
Clutch Magazine and Brown Fashionista Founder
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Deanna "Dede" Sutton's Bio:
Deanna Sutton is the founder and creative/editorial director of Sutton Media. Sutton Media is the publisher of Clutch Magazine and Brown Fashionista. Since its relaunch last April, Clutch Magazine has become one of the leading online magazines for multicultural women ages 18-34. With a passion for all things social media, Deanna recognizes the power and opportunity that the new media platform presents. At Sutton Media, Deanna is responsible for business development, marketing initiatives, and editorial and creative direction. Prior to launching Sutton Media, Deanna worked as an integrated marketing professional where she assisted in media relations, account management and other client activities. Some of her accounts included Sara Lee, Kroger, Starbucks, Wal-Mart, and Philips Consumer Electronics.
Successful Sista Survey
Success Stories and experiences of Business Women that we all can relate to and learn from.
Did you always want to be a Business Woman?
Business woman...Yes. Business owner...No. I always thought I wanted to work in a top marketing/pr agency handling big accounts and when I finally reached that goal I realized it was not what I wanted at all. I am a very creative person, so in the corporate world I felt I wasn't getting my creativity or ideas out. Also, I am somewhat of a nerd and I always over research and dabble in all types of industries, so many times in my career I felt there were individuals over me that didn't have the knowledge and know how that I had and that was very frustrating. I hated being locked in a title, especially when you are and know so much more.
How would you describe your experience as a Black Entrepreneur?
I would say great! Mainly, because I come from a family of entrepreneurs. All my life my Mother and Father owned real estate and contracting business on top of working full time for GM. So, I always witnessed them working hard and I think that rubbed off on me. Don't get it twisted this is the hardest job I ever had, but I have a plan and I plan on seeing it out to the end.
Looking back on your business decisions, is there anything that you would have done differently?
Well when Clutch first started as a print magazine I was 22 -- so there were probably a couple, but I must say I researched and planned out Clutch for two years before I made any moves and that is one of the smartest things I have ever did. When I decided to relaunch Clutch as a online magazine a couple years later, I took two more years to research and learn the online game before jumping back in.
Did you have any formal business training? Do you think this is important to be successful?
If you mean by "formal" being college educated (B.S. in Marketing) - Yes. Honestly, I'm split on this, mainly due to me believing with God anybody can be successful, but I will say my education provided a blueprint to my current and future success. If you have no knowledge of all the aspects of business it can be very hard. You must understand everything that goes into running a business, if you don't you will get stuck and getting stuck for lots of people means the end.
What funding sources have worked for you?
I will say that I am very blessed to have a very supportive family. Also, I worked in corporate America until I got to a point where I could be able to do Clutch full-time. I went out on faith and I was rewarded.
I do want to mention, that new entrepreneurs should be very realistic when going into business. I remember when I first started I was stuck on the idea that a Venture Capitalist or an Angel Investor was going to scoop in and fund me and as we all know that rarely happens. Also, I was hearing about business loan this and grant that....that turned out to be untrue in my case.
I think entrepreneurs should have a growing business that is already functioning before approaching anyone for funding. It seems like lots of people think "oh...let me get a business plan and I should be able to get something"....no...that rarely happens. You need to depend on you and your product and build it and if it's good and serves an untapped niche or thirst then somebody will notice.
How has family/friend support financially or otherwise affected your business efforts?
It's been all positive. My family supported me financially for the first 3-4 months of business. But, I saved up for years before relaunching Clutch. My family and friends know how hard I work on Clutch and my other upcoming projects and I couldn't ask for a better support system. But, for those without a support system - I say keep it moving - do not let others stop you for what you feel you are chosen to do. Point. Blank. Period.
How do you work on making your business grow?
I am a social media junkie, as well as a seasoned Marketing/PR executive, so being able to execute tools from both definitely help.
What words of wisdom can you share with other business women?
I have a few....
- Be Smart. Please research for at least 6 months before starting a business. In that 6 months, read up on the industry, learn your target inside and out, execute surveys, put together some type of business plan and marketing plan (online and offline) before you move forward. Also, you don't need to pay thousands of dollars for a business plan or marketing plan -- check out sites like www.bplans.com
and mplans.com and look at their sample plans to get an idea of what you need to know and understand.
- Get a mentor. I am blessed to have very successful mentors from lots of backgrounds that serve as advisors and friends. They always listen to my problems and help me come to a smart solution. They also guide me in business decisions and are constantly grooming me for the big leagues. When looking for a mentor please make sure they have some type of knowledge in the field of business you are pursing. You can also check out www.score.org
for potential mentors.
- Don't concentrate so much on the identity of your business. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone who wants to start a business focuses so much on logos/business cards for their company. Yes, a logo is important, but concentrate on learning and researching your business before worrying or spending money to get a logo produced. It's not smart and most of the time, you will end up changing the name once of twice - hence waisting money and time.
- Be original. Don't copy - be original... be you! Don't copy another entrepreneurs style, bring something new to the table -- it will be rewarded and appreciated.
- If you are a online business....you must understand Social Media and Marketing. It's a must. Trends in social media, advertising, design, SEO, are all required to know if you are going to be successful.
- Network and attend business seminars and local funding meetups. Networking is very important, but you must make sure you are in the right networking circle. Also, attend VC and Angel meetups - it's a big eye opener on how funding works and what investors look for in an entrepreneur/company. Note: Many VC's and Angels will tell you they do not fund companies that are not located in their local area*
- Know that success that doesn't come easy or fast, it can take years before your desired success comes to fruition.
- Believe in yourself. If you don't..nobody else will.