The Clever Agency is a communications and content creation consultancy that was co-founded by creative stalwart Molaundo Jones. Persistence and creativity helped build the agency and continues to be the hallmark. Having utilized the constant change and development of artistry and emerging evolution, Jones’ forward-thinking ideas keep him abreast of the use of modern technology.
BLACK ENTERPRISE talked to Jones about how he does business and how hardships actually help his business thrive.
BE: What is The Clever Agency?
Jones: The Clever Agency is a branding, communications, and content creation studio. We’ve been around since 2012 and have expanded from primarily doing client-based work to lifestyle marketing, product design, and original content production. We produce tons of video and digital media. When people work with the Clever Agency they can expect to have a good time and to collaborate with a nimble, diverse, and creative crew with integrity.
What is your philosophy when it comes to taking care of business?
My philosophy is creating solid systems of communication between my team and with our clients and partners. I’ve learned that the more clear people can be on process, expectations, and deliverables, the happier everyone will be on the other side of any project.
How has your approach to working within the entertainment industry changed?
The Clever Agency has shifted a bit to focus on deepening the relationships that we have with the artists and companies that we’ve already worked with. New business development is key to our growth and sustainability. But it takes a lot to develop a sort of symbiotic relationship with artists and companies where you understand their processes, their value systems, and what makes them tick. I’ve learned to highly prioritize the creation of space and time to develop a deep understanding of a company or artist’s brand and mission while maintaining our own integrity and core values.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned since starting The Clever Agency?
You have to be able to pivot and adapt to realities on the ground in order to survive as a business owner. The more married that you are to one idea or way of doing things, the more difficult it will be to become sustainable and to bounce back from hardship and losses.
Are you involved with other companies? How do you juggle the priorities of what you do?
I’m a visual artist and have the opportunity to combine my natural artistic compulsions with my business experience and entrepreneurial spirit in many interesting ways. This has allowed me to work with many NYC-based arts institutions including Queens Council on the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, the Museum of Art and Design, and Fractured Atlas.
What advice would you give someone who wants to sustain relevance in the entertainment/creative industry?
I believe that you can sustain relevance in the creative industry by being consistent, remaining grounded in authenticity, and by not giving up when the hard times come (because the hard times are inevitable).
Is there any trend or idea you see emerging soon?
I think the impact of COVID-19 has pushed creatives to think about the ways that technology can be used to get their work out there and how to, quite frankly, survive when your work is usually dependent on being physically present with others. I also think it’s still just the beginning of the evolution of smart technology, voice marketing, and artificial intelligence in marketing and sales and that most creatives have barely scratched the surfaces of their uses.
How have hardships helped your business grow?
Hardship has pushed the Clever Agency into making countless uncomfortable decisions over the years. But many of those moments have actually allowed us to venture into new business sectors and ways of doing the work that we enjoy. The best example that I can give was the move that we made from where Clever began in Bed-Stuy (Brooklyn) eight years ago to Jersey City. It wasn’t an easy decision considering how grounded we were in that specific community as a team. But that move allowed us to grow from working out of my apartment and a few co-working spaces into our own brick-and-mortar storefront studio in a community that reflects many of our values that I would argue are much harder to find in our old neighborhood these days. You can see some of our studio work at VeryCleverStudios.com.
What are your future plans?
While it’s hard to project what will happen considering the precariousness of the times, I envision the Clever Agency’s expansion into commercial real estate with a focus on developing more spaces for creative professionals. I’ve learned that if we as artists don’t make an effort to center ourselves in that space, we will always be worrying about the rent being “too damn high.” Clever is also looking to expand our original content creation into more formats including interviews and short film.