“Embrace What Makes You Unique” The 5 Lessons I Learned Being a 20-Something Founder

I had the pleasure of interviewing Candice Simons, full-time lady boss. She is the owner, CEO, and founder of both Brooklyn Outdoor (an outdoor advertising company) and J’adore Detroit (a lifestyle blog surrounding Detroit). She’s been the recipient of Crain’s Detroit Business “40 under 40”, DBusiness’s “30 in their thirties”, Detroit Young Professionals Vanguard Award, and more.

Jean: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory” of how you become a founder?

After establishing myself in the outdoor advertising industry for 10 years in Chicago, I felt that it was time to move back to my home state of Michigan. My previous job helped me develop my skillset further, and I knew that I didn’t want those, or my creative energy, to go to waste. Combining these two together, I started Brooklyn Outdoor.

Jean: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Brooklyn Outdoor is the only national, certified woman-owned business with fill coverage. We have access to unique outdoor inventory that most vendors do not, and we work directly with property owners to help them develop, maintain, and market their assets. All the while, we put a creative spin on advertising, utilizing atypical spaces and making them vibrant.

Jean: Are you working on any exciting projects now?

I’m currently collaborating with local Detroit artists near Brooklyn Outdoors’s loft space. We want to feature them in the area inpreparation for one of Detroit’s most creative events, Murals in the Market.

Jean: Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?

Definitely The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. It was the first book that had me thinking about how other people give and receive communication, and what’s the most effective way to work with others depending on their communication style. After reading this book, I started doing more coaching too.

Jean: What are your “5 Lessons I Learned as a Twentysomething Founder” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

My five lessons are lessons that I live by daily.

1. Embrace what makes you unique. I’ve always been a very outspoken woman with an eccentric style. Instead of hiding these, I use them to help me stand out. Fitting in isn’t always a good thing!

2. Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not. Whether it be a shady potential client or a deal that just seems off, listen to your gut.

3. Know your business. Knowing your market and target audience helps you grow your business. Do your research — the more you understand the business you’re in, the better entrepreneur you’ll be.

4. Get a mentor. Get five mentors even — I have several! Having a mentor has given me someone who will guide me and provide a boost of confidence, which is essential when you’re building up a business when you’re so young.

5. Make mistakes and own up to them. Even though I’m now a CEO, I still have some mishaps. Make an effort to communicate powerfully with others and act with positive intention. Karma is real, and it will stay clear if you act with integrity.

Jean: Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)

Michelle Obama! She’s one of the funniestyet poised powerhouse females I’ve known of. I admire her movement initiative for young kids, along with how passionate she is with everything she does. I think that anyone could learn a thing or two from her.

— Published on June 27, 2018