Sure, Coltrane Curtis is his actual identify. And the founding father of Staff Epiphany is certainly christened after the nice John Coltrane.
“I’ve named my two children Ellington and Depend and collectively, not a single one among us play an instrument,” mentioned Curtis. “We’re taking a look at names only for aspirational functions and purpose functions, however I at all times imagine in fulfilling a prophecy. And I feel the very first thing it actually begins with is your namesake.”
However naming children after jazz legends isn’t the one long-standing household custom. Advertising additionally runs in Curtis’ blood. His story begins in Nineteen Eighties Mattress-Stuy because the son of John Curtis, who ran one of many first Black-owned, multicultural advert businesses within the nation. Beneath his dad’s wing, Curtis discovered himself growing a complete advertising and marketing toolkit whereas working within the household enterprise at as early as age 7.
He left the nest—or extra precisely, Brooklyn brownstone—to attend Morehouse Faculty in Atlanta, rising his community on the hallowed liberal arts HBCU. In 2004, he opened the doorways of Staff Epiphany. Right now, he runs the “influencer” advertising and marketing company together with his spouse Lisa, who he credit because the lifeblood of the enterprise. Due to their sole proprietorship, Curtis is ready to focus completely on caring for his employees of 97 with considerations starting from their 401Ks to “how comfortable the bathroom paper is.”
“My dad at all times instructed me, once you market—and you are taking one thing off of the shelf—you need to put one thing again up of equal or higher worth,” mentioned Curtis. “It’s virtually like fishing. The distinction now could be that we dwell in a really take, take, take advertising and marketing world, and it’s not reciprocal. That’s the distinction between Staff Epiphany and the whole lot else. You may have a look at all the opposite tactical issues we get proper. However the actuality is, our intent is correct.”
He says the company provides the identical 110% to mom-and-pop retailers because it does to its blue chip shoppers like Jordan Model and AirBnb. Curtis provides that his work opens the door to range in advertising and marketing—he says 70% of Staff Epiphany employees are individuals of shade. And 70% of employees are additionally ladies.
Those that watched MTV again within the day may bear in mind Curtis as an on-screen expertise, interviewing celebrities about style throughout purple carpet occasions. However he’s not a giant TV man exterior of documentaries and sports activities. Curtis is actually no Don Draper, regardless of the slick outfits.
“I haven’t watched [AMC’s “Mad Men”], however I do know the setting of what promoting appears to be like like and it was principally a dramatized model of it,” he mentioned. “And does that exist? I might say sure. Is it poisonous? Most likely. However I might in all probability let you know a roomful of white males, it’s in all probability poisonous it doesn’t matter what business you’re working in.
“Is our company any reflection of that? I might say the toxicity, no. The eagerness? Sure.”
Tandy Lau is a Report for America corps member and writes about public security for the Amsterdam Information. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps preserve him writing tales like this one; please contemplate making a tax-deductible present of any quantity at the moment by visiting: https://bit.ly/amnews1