Latesha Williams is the co-founder of Cards For All People, the parent company of the hit card game, Black Card Revoked. Latesha and I first crossed paths as fellow associates in the MTV Summer Associate program. As a freshly minted college grad, she had impressive work experience (having interned for VIBE and Rocawear) and had rubbed shoulders with the who’s who of hip-hop, yet was always humble and most of all, hungry. Hungry to learn more, work harder and do more. So it was no surprise to me when she landed the career opportunity of a lifetime to work for LeBron James and was willing to leave her beloved Brooklyn to relocate to Cleveland. Although life and careers would take us to different cities, we always managed to stay in touch. When I learned that she had moved on from LRMR to launch her own venture, I was inspired by her bravery to leave the known behind and step out on her own. Check out what Latesha has to say about staying hungry, developing your brand and entrepreneurship.
What was your dream career in undergrad and what steps did you take to pursue it?
My dream career in undergrad was to become an entertainment marketing executive and entrepreneur. I wanted to manage the talent, create the deals, influence the decision making and make money. I started interning when I was 14 and never looked back.
You’ve had a really interesting journey. How did you land your first job out of undergrad with MTV?
I was interning at VIBE Magazine during my senior year of college when I randomly came across the MTV Summer Associate Program while on a message board. It was literally twelve days before the deadline. I submitted the application and miraculously got the call for the interview. From there I put my best shoes on for the interview and with God’s grace I landed it.
How did the opportunity to work for LRMR and LeBron James come about and were you scared to take the leap to Cleveland?
The opportunity to work for LRMR came from me hustling and pursuing all my passions including journalism, sports, music and television. While at MTV, I was also a freelance writer and basketball enthusiast. I actually went to the NBA draft the year LeBron got drafted. I read an Ad Age story about the basketball phenom from Akron starting his own company so I pitched a story to Black Enterprise Magazine while simultaneously reaching out to contacts from my Rocawear days who knew LeBron’s inner circle. It all culminated at the same time and while I was interviewing for a position, I was also writing a story. I was young, hungry and was fueled by my instincts. I love an adventure and was excited to take the leap.
But I definitely cried every day for the first three months. It was a tough transition for me. Despite the tears, I knew in my heart it would develop my abilities and growth in ways I couldn’t image. Giving into fear of the unknown wasn’t an option.
You rose to be Director of Digital and Business Development with LRMR. What did your role entail and what is the accomplishment you’re most proud of?
My role was to create new lines of revenue and grow the consumer base for the LeBron brand using digital extensions. My role involved working with existing partners (and their agencies) while creating new partnerships, and value around LeBron globally in the digital space. The Carmex deal is a favorite as it confirmed my business forecast that digital-only deals around the LeBron brand are possible.
What motivated you to make the leap from LRMR to a more entrepreneurial path?
I needed to learn more. I needed a new adventure to help me develop and mature as a professional. Being around that kind of startup environment is inspirational and always motivated me to eventually build my own company.
How did you develop the idea and team for Cards for All People and bring the product from ideation to execution?
The team is made up of myself and my best friend Jay, a Huck (from Scandal) super whiz kid! The idea for Black Card Revoked came from Black Twitter. We had been toying with game ideas for a while but the hashtags that popped up around Rachel Dolezal brought it to the forefront. That moment and moments like it (e.g. #cookoutnewsnetwork, #celebritiesonlyblackpeopleknow, #thanksgivingwithblackfamilies) brought a light to the shared experiences that every cultural group has.
Jay and I just believe in getting stuff done. A week after our initial conversation, it was designed and we were plugging in questions, researching vendors, etc. I put together the marketing strategy, we decided on a vendor, and from there we hit the ground running. I did influencer seeding, hit up game nights in the NYC area to personally introduce the product, reached out to bloggers and magazine editors. I really grinded to get our initial placements and social media following going. Our family and friends have been an amazing support system not to mention our order fulfillment backbone.
What advice would you offer to those aspiring to be in your shoes?
Trust your instincts. Listen. Listening is a skill that will tell you a lot more than talking ever could. Brand yourself. Highlighting your accomplishments is the first step in making others believe in your ability.