Having recently had her services to the community recognised by the Queen, there seems to be no stopping this young social entrepreneur and business mogul. With four established businesses under her belt Justice is always on the go! When asked what her exact job role was Justice replied, “I am a director but also I am a radio presenter, enterprise consultant, public speaker, artist manager, promoter the list could go on depending on what day it is to be honest!”
No two days are the same for Justice. As founder and editor in chief of Tru Life magazine and director of the Inner City Creative Media Group, Justice often divides her time between London and Birmingham as she trains young adults under 26 in the art of business and media skills. It is a far cry from the life Justice once led. Having served a very brief stint in prison for petty crimes and misdemeanours, Justice was inspired to turn her life around. On release she went back to university and completed a business and communications diploma. Justice then went on to set up workshops and training programmes for those in similar positions to the one she had been in. Her work ethic is indeed remarkable, especially when considering that Justice has only ever set out to give back to her community – profit being the last thing on her mind. Flavour caught up with justice to discuss her business do’s and don’ts as well as her new found celebrity status…
What is the mission statement or business philosophy that you live by?
Passion and purpose produces the profit – it’s that simple. Success is a journey and not a destination and my philosophy in business is to be different, break the rules, do not follow traditional business models and do what you like! Innovate and create. Work and business is my life. Someone asked me “what is sleep to you?” I said ‘A hobby’. I live and breathe everything I do and it is my career and my social life. My motto is go hard or go home! It’s that simple.
Name your greatest achievement/s to date:
Becoming the youngest black woman ever to receive an MBE from the Queen! The response from the public and my own community was overwhelming. I was featured in both Birmingham papers 5 times within that week, which was more than Beyonce! I found it a bit weird to be honest as I am usually behind the camera rather than in front of it. I must say equal to that was winning Most Inspiring Woman of the Year at the Cosmopolitan magazine Ultimate Women of the year awards. Other award winners included Kimberley Walsh (girls Aloud), Danni Minogue, Pixie Lott and a few other celebs. Part of the award was going to breakfast tea with Sarah Brown at 10 Downing Street the following morning, which also happened to be my birthday!
What has been the toughest lesson you’ve had to learn in business thus far?
I have learnt to be very selective and also ignore the critics and haters. It seems the more successful you become especially in my city the more people have something negative to say. In business you are not there to be everyone’s friend being a social entrepreneur means I sadly focus sometimes too much on the social side of what I do and care too much sometimes about people’s feelings even when they don’t deliver. I over empathise sometimes but realise that if people do not have the same passion and dedication to your business as you do they will not necessarily make the effort.
What has been your biggest hurdle in terms of business to date?
Lack of finances. I have never sold any advertising for my magazine or received any funding and it caused me personal financial difficulty but I would not change it for the world because that experience has made me look at my business and the industry I operate in, in a whole different light a good light and a firm focus on the future.
Who do you draw inspiration from?
I must say Russell Simmons. He is very successful and also powerful and uses his success to do good. At the same time he is down to earth, calm and collected and actually cares about the world, unlike some more ruthless entrepreneurs. I also admire Diddy’s style; he is a go getter and works very hard. Closer to home I must say Alan Sugar and Richard Branson.
What do you believe is your greatest strength/ asset?
Me. That may sound silly but I think my uniqueness in terms of my upbringing, social environment, and personal experiences and ambitions has led me to be where I am today. As I have been through it all and seen it all, I am down to earth and very much a real person. One day I can be talking to a bunch of inner city guys hanging out on the street corner and then I can be having tea with Sarah Brown. It seems to attract people to me as I am very much the same person I have been all of my life.
What is next for your business/ your ultimate business goal?
To expand internationally which we will be doing in 2010! I am planning to release a series of short motivational books with the first one due out when the magazine re-launches in February. I have also been approached to host my own online TV series which will also start in the New Year. My ultimate business goal is to turn over a million pounds through social enterprise and I know that it can be done!
Do you have any advice for individuals starting a business or company of their own?
Firstly research, research, research! Just because it’s a good idea does not necessarily mean it will make a good business. Find out all you need to know, go and train and do whatever it takes. Be passionate. If you are not then when the going is not so good you will not be motivated to strive forward. If you focus on profits alone you will never become successful in business as money can be made out of anything, however it takes someone with passion to really make it successful. Remember the sky is not the limit, the only limits are those placed on yourself.
Justice Williams MBE has been made an ambassador of “Shape Whats To Come” a new project launched by Levis where women around the world connect with peers and mentors alike. It’s a place to pursue your passion and channel it into something big – a new experience, a career or even a cause.
A community of women changing their worlds. Together, we share, inspire, grow. For more information visit their website.
Words by Toya Berry