Kristy Ramsey’s journey to becoming a one-stop content shop
The spark that lit Kristy Ramsey’s entrepreneurial journey was found in a darkroom. She had returned to school to study graphic design, but photography inspired her. For years Ramsey did photography for family and friends, but it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic that she had a chance to align her passion with her career.
Three years later, Content Maven Media, LLC has made a name for itself providing personal and strategic visual and audio content services—including robust video, photography, live steam and podcast offerings—to organizations in the Chicagoland area. In fact, in February, the company was recognized as one of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) Businesses of the Month.
Ramsey credits her quick success to staying up on the latest trends in visual and audio storytelling, and to crafting her service offerings with these trends and her clients’ needs in mind.
“[I’m] just kind of trying to be a one stop shop for what’s popular right now,” said Ramsey, who notes podcasting has grown exponentially since the pandemic, as has live streaming, but that many businesses are unsure how to approach developing such offerings without additional assistance.
It helps too, that Ramsey is broadly experienced, relatable, and has a knack for crafting stories that entertain, educate, and convert. “I can relate to just about anybody. I’ve worked in corporate America, I’ve worked in sales, I’ve worked with not-for-profits,” Ramsey says. “I feel like being relatable lets me put out content that everybody can understand. I really try to focus on telling a good story.”
Foundations in Work Ethic
Born and raised in Detroit, Ramsey always had a knack for design. She gravitated toward activities that let her express creativity through drawing and painting, but found the most gratification in combining her creative side with technology.
“In elementary school, we had art class, and I really liked it, and I won a couple of awards at the state fair and that sort of thing,” Ramsey says. “But I found I really liked design. I’m a technology person, and design lets me draw and use technology at the same time.”
It would be a few years before she had the chance to embrace her artistic side, but Ramsey was still busy learning. She graduated from Western Michigan University with her marketing degree in 2005. Ramsey couldn’t find a job in marketing, and took several jobs through the years to make ends meet. While she never felt fulfilled, the work ethic her parents taught her kept her going, and eventually gave her the mettle she needed to take a chance and start her own company.
“The years of being around my parents when I was younger, and working different jobs and experiencing different things has really helped me be able to run a business,” Ramsey says. “Being able to own my own business I think is really a testament to [my parents] and their work ethic and how they raised me.”
Time to Reevaluate
COVID-19 contributed to Ramsey’s plunge into entrepreneurialism, too. Like many of us, the pandemic gave Ramsey time to slow down and evaluate her goals; whether she wanted to or not.
“I was an executive assistant for a large company here in Chicago at the time, and I was let go early that year,” Ramsey says. “We were sitting around the house because we couldn’t do anything else. So I decided to start my own company.”
Ramsey spent the next several months creating a website, collecting her portfolio, and building a business plan. Part of that was seeking certifications that would help set her apart. Ramsey believes business is about building relationships through networking and community-building, and becoming certified helps her advocate for her expertise and her clients.
“Certifications help position you for certain jobs, for example in government projects. Many contracts that come down through state, local and federal governments require you to have a certain number or percentage of minority companies or businesses on the contract,” Ramsey explains. “If you have those certifications, they allow you to be in a directory of certified businesses, which can help you get work without doing any advertising.”
Ramsey also focused on the practical side of her business, investing in the latest video and audio technology to ensure she offers her clients the best product. She was fortunate to have the financial means to do so, but recognizes the setup cost can be steep.
“It can be a barrier to anybody starting a tech-type business or a business that requires a lot of tech because it is super expensive to buy equipment,” Ramsey says. There are often grants and funds available to entrepreneurs looking to get started, but Ramsey’s biggest tip for new business owners isn’t necessarily industry specific. Her advice? Focus on networking.
Elevating Her Small Business
Content Maven Media, LLC is a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE), LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE), Women-Owned or Minority-Owned (WMBE) and an Illinois Business Enterprise Program (BEP). Her certifications speak to Ramsey’s unique background and also helped her build a strong network of Chicagoland professionals who accept her for exactly who she is and understand the unique struggles of being a minority in business. Likewise, she believes networking goes both ways: it’s what brings her clients in, but it’s also the tool she uses to execute jobs at a high standard.
“Find people you like and can work with,” Ramsey says. “It’s only me at Content Maven Media so I have people I can call and say, ‘Hey, can you edit this for me?’ Or ‘Can you come out and do audio?’ It’s good to network and get those people you trust around you, so when you need something you can call on them.”
The future is bright for Ramsey, and her hopes are clear: “I’d love to have a warehouse type building with content space and offices. That’s a long term goal.” In the short term, Ramsey hoped that she can continue to be a convenient resource to business owners on their content marketing journeys.
As Ramsey said: “It’s rewarding for me to complete projects and see my business move forward, and to have all of these different kinds of people see the value in what I’m doing and have no issue supporting me.”