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Spotlight: Shani Syphrett
Written By: Erica Dias
What did you want to be when you were a little kid? I wanted to be a teacher and a doctor. And I got all the way through college still planning to be Dr. Syphrett.
Did you attend college? What did you study and does anything apply to what you do now? I did attend college where I majored in Biology and minored in Art. I didn’t think I could turn art into a career but I wound up going to graduate school for Interior Architecture. I would say that I apply the problem solving and reasoning from my biology education with the conceptual thinking of my architecture education in what I do now.
What was your first job?
Officially, it was an administrative assistant in my college campus’s event services department. Unofficially, I started babysitting at 14.
What was the worst job you’ve ever had?
I actually can’t think of one. They’ve all been great learning experiences for me….and I’ve never been afraid to quit something I didn’t like.
When did you decide to pursue your current career path? I think I’ve always been in love with branding and marketing but I had no idea what it was when I was younger. The summer after I turned 25 was a pivotable moment for me when I got exposed to marketing as a career and was surrounded by people who encouraged me to pursue it.
What do you love most about your job? I love that I can be a total nerd about art, human behavior, and culture and then turn it around into something dope that people can get behind.
In your opinion, what makes a great boss? What can bosses do to encourage creativity amongst their staff? A great boss knows how to get out of the way and when to step in. It’s a balance of being a great leader and being humble enough (and smart enough) let people do what you hired them for. Bosses can encourage creativity amongst their staff but not trying to structure it. Sometimes you have to give people space.
Do you have a mentor? I don’t have a mentor but I do have a tribe of people that I go to for advice.
How does the city you live in, and you rocking your beautiful natural hair influence your creativity? New York is all about individuality and I am constantly inspired by the people I see every day. And I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum when it comes to my personal style. I see it as another form of artistic expression.
Has rejection ever affected your creative process? Rejection helps to steer my path. I believe what is for me is for me, so rejection is just redirection. I use it to help me restrategize. Maybe I need to come harder next time or maybe it wasn’t for me.
Name 3 lessons you’ve learned from building your business:
1. Time is the only asset you can’t get back, so use yours wisely
2. Everyone started somewhere, so trust your journey and don’t be afraid to reach out to someone further along in theirs
3. Call your mom! She knows a lot more than you think.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to pursue the same career as you?
Learn as much as you can from wherever you can: school, friends, work, Google or just getting out there and doing it.
What has been the pit and peak of your week so far? Being in the creative services industry, my pits and peaks are often tied to my clients. My lowest is when I haven’t delivered on my client’s needs and my highest is when I exceed their expectations.
In your words, what does it mean to be a “creative”? Nike has a saying, “if you have a body, you’re an athlete.” And I think, “If you have a brain, you’re creative.”
Top resources for creatives and why you chose them (can be podcasts, websites, books, etc.) please provide links where applicable
Book: “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield
Podcast: “Behind the Brillance” hosted by Lisa Nicole Bell and “Freelance Transformation” hosted by Matt Inglot
Websites: Behance, Pinterest, Creative Market
Finish this sentence: I want people to remember me as: someone who was brave and stood up for what she believed in.
If I only had 24 more hours to live, I would: spend time with my family
If I had to choose a theme song to represent me it would be (please provide a link to the song, preferably on YouTube): “Masterpiece (Mona Lisa)” – Jazmine Sullivan
Where can we find more about you? Website, Social Profile Links… @shanisyphrett and www.jamilastudio.com