Entrepreneur Gets Lesson in Strategy 101

Tenisha Percell, CEO of Skool Boye Agency, helps companies generate brand awareness among youths.

Tenisha Percell has experienced the highs and lows of entrepreneurship. In 2006, by the young age of 25, she started the Skool Boye Agency Inc., which creates brand awareness for companies, universities, and celebrities in the college market. It is a marketing and event planning company that caters to the urban and hip hop youth culture. Now at age 28, she is projecting gross earnings of $131,175 by the end of 2009 and currently manages college tours for Grammy Award winner Chrisette Michele and many others.

Skool Boye grew out of a love for hip-hop and urban music, the opportunity to intern at Def Jam Recordings since the age 14, and then work for the company after college, which gave her the skill set to help keep her business float.

“The experience alone was worth more than money,” says the Bronx-native, who interned eight years and received high school and college credit between 1995 and 2003.

But in January 2007, Percell decided to pursue another dream in the cosmetology industry for which her knowledge was far less. Floating on the success of the Skool Boye Agency, she thought the joy of entrepreneurship alone would carry her. So with $15,000 from her savings, along with a $4,000 microloan from The Greater Newark Business Development Consortium she opened a beauty salon in Newark, New Jersey.

She hired seven stylists, bought all new furniture, mirrors, and chairs and installed new pipes and a hot water heater. Initially, the shop was profitable because it was one of four franchises licensed under the The Burjazz Hair Studio, salons that had a strong customer base in New Jersey’s Essex County. But the success didn’t last long and she realized that if she didn’t close the salon soon, she would be jeopardizing the success of the Skool Boye Agency.

BlackEnterprise.com talked with Percell about how she started her two businesses and what lessons she learned when one of them became too much to handle.

BlackEnterprise.com: How did you come up with the name Skool Boye?

Tenisha Percell: The name Skool Boye is a promise fulfilled. It was the nickname of a close childhood friend. As children we always talked about being CEOs and running our own businesses in the Bronx. We made a promise to each other that whoever had the opportunity to start their business first would name it after the other person. I was the first one to start my business so I named it after him.