Some people see a void and complain. Others see an opportunity to fill that void and make it happen. Angela Davis and Marcelle English, partners in Jersey Girl Sports (JGS), an Atlanta-based media and lifestyle company serving women sports enthusiasts and aspiring fans, chose the latter path, and plan to make it happen in a big way at the 2012 Black Enterprise Pepsi Golf & Tennis Challenge at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami over Labor Day Weekend. After hosting one of the most popular events on the agenda at the 2011 Golf and Tennis Challenge, Davis and English are going for a “two-peat.” JGS will be back to bring their sports expertise to GT2012 via their “First and Flirty” Football 101 clinic, one of the many live event programs produced by Davis and English.
In 2009 Davis and English started JGS in 2009, with focus on helping women to become fully educated and engaged as fans of any sport. To many women’s elation, JGS breaks down the games and speak to them about the events and happenings of their favorite players and teams. Having evolved from a conversation to a corporation, JGS is helping women join the sports conversation, once seen as the near-exclusive domain of men, one clinic at a time. Black Enterprise spoke with the “lady bosses” of JGS about the genesis of their enterprise and their return to the Golf & Tennis Challenge.
BE: How did you two meet?
English: I used to be a producer of a morning radio show in Atlanta and Angela was coming on our show to talk about relationships. She was kind of like our “Single Woman on the Street.” I called Angela to give her directions to the radio station while she was driving to Augusta on business. We ended up being on the phone for the entire two hours she was on the road! It went from there, to hanging out, to taking road trips together and so here we are almost nine years later.
BE: How did you launch Jersey Girl Sports?
Davis: I do not know if we saw this being the company it is today in the beginning. We were actually at a sports bar having cocktails watching the pregame coverage. They showed T.O. (Terrell Owens) warming up in a cat suit and we were just loving his body. We were just commenting and talking about all of this stuff and Marcel said “All these commentators are not speaking to us [women]. We are listening to all these sports analysts and they are talking about everything but the fact that this man’s body is just amazing.” We looked around the bar and there were other women around who were “Amen’ing” us and we were like we should do a sports show for women.
Four months later, actually I believe it was during NBA All-Star Weekend, we were at her house and we ended up planning the company. From there we launched the website along with lifestyle marketing products. The original idea for the company was to do a sports show for women, which we are still on track to do.
As we continued to do research for the company, we really started to understand our market and that almost half of sports fans are women yet they are completely left out the conversation. Women enjoy sports as much as men; we just do not watch it in the same way. Angela and I set out to create a company that would cater to women like us – women who are girly girls. To paraphrase Steve Harvey – watch like a man, think like a lady, or as we would say – “a woman who can enjoy a game just as well as any man, just with better shoes.”
BE: What are your main products and services?
English: We work in two facets; we are the media company, Jersey Girls Sports, where we bring sports news, information, entertainment, latest updates and different perspectives. We cover the Super Bowl, NBA, Major League Baseball, hockey, tennis, golf and other sporting events. Then we have a lifestyle brand where we have apparel and Jersey Girls Sports University (JGSU) where we do events. Under the JGSU arm we teach women about their favorite pro sports. We have several courses including “First and Flirty,” our Football 101; “Hoops and Handbags,” for the NBA; “Strikes and Stilettos,” for MLB; and “Cars and Curves” for NASCAR. We have all the major sports covered.
BE: Who are some of your most prominent clients?
Davis: One of the things we do well is partner with a lot of different companies that are looking to get their product and services out to the female consumer. Loud Mouth golf is a recent partner, and we have also worked with Toyota, Macy’s, Sony, and Carol’s Daughter, to name a few.
BE: What do you feel are the benefits of attending the Black Enterprise Golf & Tennis Challenge for entrepreneurs and young women business owners in particular?
English: When you come to [the Challenge] you get to meet people who actually make the decisions in a relaxed environment, where they are not pressured and where they don’t feel as though they are being pitched around every corner. You also get to know them outside of their day-to-day business. You get to know them as peopl and enjoy time with them. They then may invite you to have a conversation about your company later on. Once you have those conversations, if it is something they see may be a beneficial partnership for their company, they will say, “Let’s talk when we get back to our respective cities.” I say this because that is how Jersey Girls met a lot of our connections. One of these relationships that came from the Challenge was with Rodney Green Golf. We have since had the opportunity to go down to his course in Tampa, FL, at Innisbrook and we are planning a Mother’s Day event with them in 2013. That will fall under our JGSU event called “Feminini-Tee,” a golf weekend for women.
Jersey Girl Sports “First & Flirty” Football 101 played to a packed house at last year’s Black Enterprise Pepsi Golf & Tennis Challenge. (Image: Courtesy of Jersey Girl Sports)
Davis: Entrepreneurs need to be strategic. We don’t just go down [to the Challenge] “willy nilly,” as Marcelle would say; we plan. We know what companies are there, who their representatives are, and we make sure not only that we have researched these companies but find out what their marketing initiatives and goals are. We ask ourselves “What are they trying to do with their digital branding and marketing? What new products and services do they have?” With this information, I know if I happen to be playing golf with [someone from] Wal-Mart and I know they have a new digital campaign I will speak to them about it. If I know Pepsi has a new “Live for Now” campaign I will think “how can I get involved in that?” so it’s not just a blind conversation. By doing research ahead of time, I am not only showing how my company can be a benefit, but I also make an impression that I am prepared.
English: One of the things I love about Black Enterprise and their events is that they don’t hide those people. They do not keep their sponsors in some private VIP section so you see their logos but not their representatives. They are a part of the event and are open and available.
They come to these events and want to talk to people like us [entrepreneurs] because they know that the next level of their company is an entrepreneurial partnership. They need us and want the synergy. They want to be able to present new things to their clients. That is how they are able to stay relevant and fresh.
BE: Can you identify the most important things entrepreneurs, especially “lady bosses,” should be doing to get the most out of their challenge experience?
Davis: Do things you wouldn’t normally do. If you are a golfer, play tennis and vice versa. Be open to new ideas and make yourself available and have fun. People are drawn to people who have fun.
If you want to do business with Pepsi, three or six months ago you should have been tweeting Pepsi. When Pepsi Max or their products come out you ought to be tweeting them, so much so they tweet back. They tweeted us back: “Hey Jersey Girl Sports. Can‘t wait to see you at the Golf and Tennis Challenge. Go check out this and tell us what you think.” Now when I step in front of Pepsi, they know who I am. When you have access to social media at your fingertips and it is free, there is an opportunity to engage companies at a different level. We have had so many opportunities come to us like that.
When you have a chance to get this close to major companies, take advantage. Black Enterprise has three signature events throughout the year and at the other two you learn a lot and have great opportunities to grow and build relationships. The thing that makes the Golf and Tennis Challenge so great is that the environment is relaxed; everybody is not so corporate and so structured that you really get a chance to have fun. When you think about the [unofficial] motto of G & T–“Deals aren’t made in the board room”–it speaks to the nature of the event. You get to make a connection in a meaningful way. If you are an entrepreneur or a lady boss, this is an event that you do not want to pass up.
Be sure to join us at the 2016 Black Enterprise Golf & Tennis Challenge, September 1-4, PGA National Resort & Spa, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Register now.