How CEO Imani Ellis went from side-hustling VP to full-time entrepreneur

Abu Mubarik May 19, 2023
Imani Ellis, CEO and Founder of CultureCon and The Creative Collective NYC. Photo credit: sidehustlepro

Imani Ellis is the CEO and Founder of The Creative Collective NYC (TheCCnyc), a brave space for black entrepreneurs, creators, and business owners. She started the company in 2016 from her bedroom in Harlem as a means to foster meaningful connections.

“We curate brave spaces for creatives of color so they can be their full and unapologetic selves. We also want to cater to people with a 360-degree approach. We don’t want to just know what they’re working on, we also really care about how they’re doing. We want to inspire action because the best way to build anything…is to just start,” she told  Forbes.

Since then, the firm has grown into one of the fastest-growing communities devoted to people of color in NYC who are looking to cultivate relationships that go beyond the business card, according to Forbes.

Before becoming a full-time entrepreneur, she worked at NBA Universal and run TheCCnyc on part-time. She started at NBC Universal as an assistant, then became a coordinator, and later grew to be vice president.

According to Ellis, her company started as a whisper, telling her that she won’t be at NBC forever. She initially tried to suppress it because she was happy working at the cable network. However, the whisper grew louder and louder, and at that point, a seed for her side hustle was planted.

“And so I definitely wrestled with it because it wasn’t comfortable,” she told  Side Hustle Pro. “But ultimately, you know, left in November of last year, and now I’m you know, full-time CEO of culture con and Creative Collective, which is still so unreal to say.”

However, leaving NBC to go into full-time entrepreneurship was not easy for her. According to Ellis, she was emotionally attached to her job, but she quickly had to learn that in life, there is a need to mourn and grieve chapters of one’s life.

“But by the end of like my deciding and grieving period, I had decided, like I had just decided I had really said pros and my cons, I would say, and for me, I’m someone that like I take a long time in the what are my options phase? It’s annoying,” she told Side Huslel Pro.

According to Ellis, she found the need to create because people often find themselves completely defined by their careers and it doesn’t give them much breathing space to the rest of who they are.

“I am a publicist but I also really love working on creative projects and there didn’t seem to be a place where I could do both,” she said. “I also wanted to help create a safe space for curious creatives of color. Little did I know that we didn’t need a safe space… we had been playing it safe for far too long. We needed a brave space.”

Last Edited by:Editor Updated: June 11, 2023


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