In 2014 I left Cleveland City Council to continue working on projects in the community. As the Chief of Staff of the fastest growing ward in Cleveland, I was fortunate enough to have had exposure to many types of development and opportunities throughout the city. Several projects that we helped launch were on the verge of being great, but many of them were hampered by the same issue. They lacked the ability to build capacity and get past the ideation stage. Many of the nonprofits we partnered with were lean, running on stressed and overworked skeleton crews wearing one too many hats. In an attempt to problem solve, I created BlossomCLE, a resource that was flexible and adaptive to multiple needs. Can't afford to hire someone full-time? Is the work only unmanageable temporarily? Did your go-to-person just leave and it takes months to hire someone new? - Hire us! And so, BlossomCLE Consulting Group was born.
Initially, the plan was to focus on internationalization efforts in Cleveland to continue working on advocacy and policy. I had to create the LLC in order to conduct the Cleveland Police Department's Refugee Cultural Awareness training. Soon after the honeymoon of "being your own boss" the election happened in 2016 and politics changed. Refugee resettlement and all the agencies' budgets were slashed to about a fourth of the levels of the previous year. Supporting international communities through education, cultural awareness and policy no longer seemed like a viable business model.
BlossomCLE was going to have to diversify to make it to its' first birthday. As the figurehead of BlossomCLE, I began collaborating with other consulting agencies and contractors on various projects. Fun fact: there is an entire subculture of consultants in Cleveland and there is no shortage of people wanting to work independently under the catch-all title consultant. Turns out everyone wants to be their own boss, work on "passion projects" and shed the conformality of the traditional 9-5 life. Those perks come at a high cost though; the cost of having to be self-reliant and constantly pushing yourself to be entrepreneurial.
As a small business owner, one becomes even more of a renaissance woman. Quickly you have to master accounting, sales, marketing, web design, and be able to become a subject matter expert on topics you barely heard before that meeting. The hustle is real in the beginning. These past two years have shown that there are many ways to be helpful and to lead. To create positive change in an organization, it takes hard work and a willingness to go outside your comfort zone/area of expertise to be successful.
All of our clients, gigs, roles, and unanswered proposals have pushed BlossomCLE to profit but more importantly contribute in our community. On paper, the list of contracts seems eclectic but they all have something in common - they have made BlossomCLE even more well rounded and capable for the next client. With these lessons learned and years of experience, BlossomCLE is more capable than ever to be the value-add needed to help your organization grow.
Thank you to all our partners. Now, it's time to get back to work.