Name: Vincent Kirkwood
Profession: Experiential Marketing, Entrepreneur
One word that describes you: Dynamic
What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?
There was a time when African American men had no platform of recognition for the ways in which we have contributed to society. I am grateful, honored, and humbled to be recognized by Black Enterprise. This distinction confirms I am on the right track. The right track to continued success in fatherhood, being a husband, mentorship, and entrepreneurship. Most importantly, the right track to making a difference in my community.
What are some examples of how you turned struggle into success?
I took my first leap into being an entrepreneur in early 2015. At the time, I had several investors that were interested in moving forward with the investment opportunity into the business. Once all aspects of the business were established, over half the investors backed out. I had opened up a business and was extremely undercapitalized. Through continued hard work, dedication, and prayer, I was able to get through the hardest of times as a young entrepreneur. The business is seeing its best numbers yet and now I am in talks with new investors for additional storefront locations!
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
In both personal and business, grit is the most important quality that I look for in others when it comes to building key relationships. It is convenient for friends and associates to support and stand by you when life is good and business is booming. However, there are times when sales are not where they are projected or you don’t know if you will even make payroll. During tough and challenging situations, I need folks around me that have grit. Strength of character that is persistent in motive and effort are the kind of folks that I know will stand the test of time.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
Experiential marketing for the last five years has been my forte. I’ve operated experiential programs with MRA Mobile Experiential for Rocawear, American Legacy Magazine, The Smithsonian Museum, and Eppa Sangria to name a few. Experiential marketing is a trend that corporations, agencies, and retailers are starting to fully understand and embrace. I just happen to be great at creating and executing mobile marketing campaigns. Currently, I am working on a few projects in the experiential marketing world with major corporations. In addition, I am taking on the role of executive producer, working on a short film project that combines film and marketing. I am excited to share this new venture with the world.
As the owner of Pink Pump, a high-end women’s shoes, clothing, and accessories boutique, I am working on creating a private label brand that complements the boutique as well as a plan to expand the store to two additional storefront locations in 2017.
As an adjunct instructor at Wayne State University Graduate School, where I teach sports marketing, I am working on an initiative that combines women’s fashion with women in sports. I am thrilled and count it a true blessings to stay busy.
What is the best advice you ever received?
My wife lives by the fact that your thoughts become exactly who you are. If you feel defeated, you will be defeated. Things that you believe and perpetuate will become you. Have a shift in your attitude and you will begin to attract what you truly want in all aspects of life.
What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
I used to say that I wanted to be rich so that I could make a difference in the world. Come to find out, money and wealth have absolutely nothing to do with making a difference. Follow your life purpose and continually attempt to perfect what you are good at. If you continue on that path, making a difference will be inevitable.
How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?
In a world of social media and the desire to stay connected, focusing in meetings can be challenging. The urge to tweet, or to scroll to the next status, or check out the image your favorite celebrity just posted can be tempting. For me, I try not to pull out either phone (yes I have two) during meetings. For two reasons: One, looking at a phone during a meeting can be considered rude in many cases and I want to always be as respectful of others time as possible. Two, when cell phones and other electronic devices are present, they will cause distraction. In a 30-minute meeting, I will probably have at minimum 10 e-mails come through. If I know this, my urge to look at the e-mail and respond is going to be great, therefore, what is taking place in the meeting takes a back seat to my e-mails or text messages. Overall, I like to have a clear mind and a clear focus.
As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation? Share a story about your best vacation.
Being in experiential marketing and an entrepreneur, most of my trips are business related. However, the best trips and what I call my vacation are when I can sneak away on business and bring my wife and daughter with me. My daughter will be two in June. So far, she has been on a plane probably 10 times. Definitely more times than I have when I was two. I used to be nervous taking my daughter with me on planes because I thought we would get those dirty stares from other business travelers if she even made a peep. However, I consider myself lucky because pretty much every time I travel with her there are usually a lot more kids on the plane. The other kids are usually the ones crying and my daughter ends up being considered the angel on those long plane trips from Detroit to L.A.!
If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
If I could travel anywhere in the world it would be Dubai. Almost everyone knows about Dubai and its vast expanse of riches. The city is a part of the United Arab Emirates and has been synonymous with oil for the major part of the last century. Most people think that Dubai became rich due to it being a part of the Gulf, the oil well of the world, but the major part of $100 billion revenue comes from prosperous areas like real estate, airlines, and ports. I would like to get my hands on some of that cash!
Anything else you’d like to say?
The story behind Vincent Kirkwood: I am a 30- year old metro Detroit native. I graduated from Wayne State University with a bachelor’s degree in Speech Communication and PR. I received my master’s in Sports Administration from Wayne State in 2011. In addition to being an entrepreneur and owning Pink Pump, I work as an experiential marketing professional, as well as an adjunct instructor at Baker College and Wayne State University, teaching intro level marketing courses as well as sports marketing courses.
I am on the board of directors for Art Road, a non-profit that works diligently to bring the Arts back into Detroit Public Schools. I am also on the board of trustees for the Coleman A. Young Foundation. CAYF is a foundation for the former mayor of Detroit that offers scholarship awards to Detroit youth.
My wife and I are the owners of Pink Pump, high-end women’s shoe, clothing, and accessory boutique in the prestigious community of Bloomfield Hills. We have one daughter, 2-year old Harper Rose. We reside in West Bloomfield, Michigan.
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