By Taroue Brooks
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
I became an entrepreneur because I liked the idea of creating something almost from nothing. Creating something that someone else can use, benefit from and just enjoy. I also love the independence of entrepreneurship and building financial freedom. I’m proud of my product. I created it. It’s mine. I can make it what I want it to be. I can treat people the way I want to be treated, and give people the best experience. I wanted to function at my own level of excellence, and with my own business I get to do just that. I also love that my failures and successes are all mine.
Tell us about your company.
Our mission at Dope Pieces Puzzle Company, is to work with talented artists of color that positively represent the black and brown diaspora. We take murals and fine art pieces and create puzzles. Representation is important, and we just do it piece-by-piece.
What is it about art that you love?
Everything. I love that it is more than just pretty pictures. It represents a feeling, a message, history, and culture. A piece of art can say so much and be a visual expression of a deep, deep feeling. Or, it can be a reflection of something that somebody hates or loves. It is a portal of so much information and emotion.
What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of being an entrepreneur?
It’s all hard. Every ounce of success as an entrepreneur is a byproduct of effort, sweat, tears and sacrifice. The hardest part is believing you can do it. Sometimes you just have to do it scared. You have to shake the disbelief. You have to do what others say can’t be done. You have to shake the doubt and just keep going.
What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of entrepreneurship?
The biggest payoff for me is when I see a customer experience the product in the spirit in which it was created. Also, it’s not natural for me to celebrate the wins in the moment. However, when I take a moment to look back or someone points out to me where I began and how far I’ve come, it is dope.
What advice would you give someone who seeks to become an entrepreneur?
There are a few pieces of advice I often give:
1) Just do it. Do it scared. If you’re scared, do it anyway.
2) Dream big, but focus small. Have the big idea but focus on the things that build a strong, firm foundation and help you realize your big dream.
3) Invest your energy in building the right team. So often as a small business we take the help we can get, but when you have a chance to build a team, make sure it is with people that can really get the job done in a way that will ensure your success. All help is not good help.
4) Find your tribe. Find the people that will support you and understand the journey. Entrepreneurship is lonely. You need encouragement along the way and people that know and understand the tough road of growing a business.
Where do you see your business in the next five years?
I will be the top selling puzzle company in all 627 Barnes and Nobles. We will be sold in no less than 100 boutiques, shops, stores, and retail outlets around the US and nation wide. I will have product placement in movies, television films, magazines, and videos. I will be a sought after option for artist to grow their base and expand their brand. I will have relationships with artists around the world. And I will host the largest, dopiest annual puzzle party called, Puzzle with your People…Questlove will DJ!