Kier Gaines of Gaines Creative Group is making content that matters
Running a business

Kier Gaines of Gaines Creative Group is making content that matters

Name: Kier Gaines (pronounced Keer) 

Location: Washington, D.C.

Pronouns: He/Him 

Business: Gaines Creative Group—A Digital Media and Advertising Agency

Describe yourself in three words: Practical, empathetic, and relatable

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Why did you decide to start your own business? How did you get started? 

I started my business in 2020 after seeing the overwhelmingly positive response to my content. I had a couple of viral videos and eventually left my full-time, six-figure job.

What is the biggest lesson you learned in the first year? 

There is so much power in letting go of power. You must outsource tasks and processes in order for your business to grow.

What was the most surprising thing about becoming a business owner? 

Sometimes I work more than 50 or 60 hours a week for the better part of a month. Didn’t see that coming.

How does running your own business make you feel? 

I feel empowered, but I also feel appreciative. I’ve worked in enough corporate settings to navigate the small decisions and interactions that allow my business to thrive. I would not be here if not for those experiences.

What are some of the challenges you’ve overcome or are working to overcome? 

Pivoting. I have a vision for the services that my company provides, but time and resources don’t always allow me to carry-out the mission as I intend. I’ve been working on being fluid, using what I have and being proud of the best product that I'm able to produce under the circumstances. 

What challenges do you feel are unique to Black small business owners? 

In my field of influencer marketing, the pay gap between black creators and white creators is around 29% on average. Black creators also don’t have the same amount of followers on average, as their white counterparts.

And in general, access to capital and the fundamental understanding of the proprietary systems are two huge barriers.

What are your proudest moments? 

My proudest moments happen when I’m flying around like a mad man splicing and filming images, and it all comes together as a dope video in the end. Indescribable moments.

What are the next big plans you have for your business? 

I want to connect more with people directly. More live events, city-to-city group therapy session offerings, merch, a video podcast, a book—this year will be full of surprises.

When you’re having a tough day, who or what inspires you to keep going? 

My family and my followers. Talking to my wife or going live with my IG and Patreon audiences always kindles my fire and makes me feel better.

How can Black business owners support each other and their community? 

By sharing knowledge, de-pedestalizing luxurious business ownership and prioritizing integrity.

What advice would you give to other Black business owners just starting out? 

Nobody has to support you. It’s nice if they do, but nobody owes you that. Focus on serving a need, investing in quality material, understanding your customers’ wants–less on whether auntie Deb reposted your promo ad.

How do you make time for yourself while running a business?

Forcefully so! I build in off days and maintain reasonable expectations for my own bandwidth. When I'm done, I'm done—and that’s ok.

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You’re going to fail a lot, and it’s the best thing for you.

What advice would you give new business owners about balancing work and mental/physical health?

A business is like a new baby. It will trick you into focusing all of your energy into it, completely neglecting your needs and wellness. Embrace the feelings of fear, confusion and exhaustion as side effects of doing something very hard. Not a lack of strength or aptitude. You’re going to fail a lot, and it’s the best thing for you.

What is the single most important healthy habit you've developed that you feel makes you more successful? Why?

I time the work that I do. After two hours, no matter where I am, I'm taking a little break. Walking away for a minute allows me to clear my mind, stretch my body and change my surroundings. I come back refreshed.

What’s your “power song” and why? 

“Pure Souls” by Kanye West. 

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