majority firms, Leary, 47, felt it was time to venture off on her own.
“Once I realized the large companies had overseas offices, it became my goal to go abroad,” Leary says. “But this was denied me. I started my company to help Americans market in other countries.”
To prepare for doing business in Japan, Leary took language classes to master basic greetings and common phrases, studied the culture at the Asia Society in New York, subscribed to the international edition of the Japan Times and other magazines and newsletters and read books on Japanese business customs.
“I’m great at [the art of] observation,” Leary says. “I go into stores and homes in Japan to obtain insight into their consumer behaviors.”
Some of her clients have included Ben & Jerry’s, AT&T, Colgate Palmolive, Corning Consumer Products and Estée Lauder, as well as many African American- and women-owned businesses. Consulting rates vary, ranging from a daily fee to a negotiated per-project rate based on revenue projections.
Initially, she worked with clients with whom she had had a relationship from her corporate years. Other clients have derived from audiences at her speaking engagements and through referrals.
Diane Stevens, CEO and founder of New York-based Natural Face New York, hired Leary to help her with a $50,000 launch of a cosmetics and skin-care line in South Africa this year. Stevens will rent a small salon in an upscale shopping mall in Johannesburg. She is leasing space in a manufacturing facility where South African workers will mix, bottle and package her products to her specifications. She also has commitments from two major department stores there, including Edgar’s, to carry the line.
“Kathryn was able to provide me with business connections both here in the U.S. and in South Africa,” Stevens says. “She helped me develop a strategy to cut through the red tape so I could work with the South African consulate in New York to get things done. She has access to key business and government people, and made a point of getting information pertinent to my business to me. She has been an excellent resource for me.”
Leary also arranged for Stevens to attend networking events to meet top South African business, trade and financial representatives.
Jerusha Stewart, founder of Adventures of Jerusha in Oakland, California, wanted to market a workshop that teaches company executives how to develop product promotion and marketing strategies aimed at international firms. She sought out Leary last year to help her find a strategy.
“I contacted Kathryn because I realized brand development would be terrific to market overseas, especially in emerging markets,” Stewart says. “Kathryn identified and networked with companies in Asia and South Africa. We’ve developed the workshop and a seminar, and are finding groups who want them.”
Given these examples, African Americans looking to expand their horizons are apt to find distant shores where a wealth of opportunities abound.
- Know your product or service and focus on perfecting your market niche. Identify the need for your product in a market and familiarize yourself with the buying