This year and moving forward, UP is dedicated to finding and sharing more stories of talented female founders, entrepreneurs, and leaders as part of our Startup Women initiative. If you know an inspiring female entrepreneur, please email firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can tell her story.
Melantha Hodge is the recent founder of 1OFAKIND Entertainment, a marketing and entertainment consulting business. She has years of experience within the music and entertainment industry as a marketing professional, having worked with ASCAP, Chris Brown Entertainment, The Tina Davis Company, Universal Motown Records and Title 9 Productions. Learn more below about her experiences, her inspirations and mentors, and find out what she believes are the biggest challenges facing female entrepreneurs.
I was born in Los Angeles, CA, but grew up in Pittsburgh, PA. My parents played a huge role in my development, and helped me evolve into the strong, ambitious, passionate woman that I am today. Growing up, I always had a love for music, but when I went to Syracuse University, I was exposed to opportunities that opened my eyes to pursuing a career in the music and entertainment business. I entered college as a Business major, and I ended up graduating with a double major in Marketing and Finance and a minor in the Music Industry.
Upon graduation, I moved to New York City where I soon immersed myself into the networking scene in order to get a foot in the door. I had a short stint working at the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), and soon thereafter, I was offered the opportunity to work alongside Chris Brown and his management team, which served as my first big break into the music business. I served as Executive Assistant for Chris Brown Entertainment and The Tina Davis Company from 2005-2006, where I learned a tremendous amount about talent management, met amazing people, and walked away with immeasurable memories and experience.
In 2007, I joined the Marketing team at Universal Motown Records, a record label I had dreamed of working at especially since the President was music industry renowned Sylvia Rhone. Over the course of four years, I contributed to numerous artist marketing projects including Akon, Erykah Badu, Stevie Wonder, Ashanti, Busta Rhymes, Melanie Fiona, Kid Cudi, Shontelle, Kat DeLuna, and many more. I currently reside in Los Angeles, where I serve as a Marketing Manager with Title 9 Productions, home to Grammy Award winners Melanie Fiona and LeToya Luckett. I am involved with a wide array of projects with the management and production company, and currently serve as LeToya Luckett’s Day-to-Day Manager and Road Manager.
Two months ago, I decided to put my entrepreneurial prowess into action and launch my own marketing and entertainment consulting business, 1OFAKIND Entertainment. I’m excited to see what new experiences my business brings my way, but more importantly, I want to help make a positive impact in the careers of my clients.
When did you first self-identify as an entrepreneur?
In answering this question, I would like to share a recent remark my mother sent to me upon the launch of my business.
“Melantha, I am proud of you. As a youth you aspired to have your own business and as a young adult you were drawn to and immersed yourself in the music and entertainment industry. You pursued your passions, gained invaluable knowledge along the way and now have your own company – what a wonderful accomplishment.”
This pretty much sums up that I have always had the entrepreneurial passion within me.
Share a bit about your company and some of the highs/lows associated with your entrepreneurial journey — biggest learning curve? Most exciting moment?
After 8 years of working with artists such as LeToya Luckett, Melanie Fiona, and Chris Brown, I decided to package the range of skills I had acquired through my vast experiences and form my own marketing and entertainment consulting business. In February 2014, I founded 1OFAKIND Entertainment, and over the past two months I have been busy at work conducting market research, designing my logo, solidifying my brand messaging, creating a website, and exploring opportunities with prospective clients.
One of the most challenging parts about getting my business off the ground has been learning to juggle multiple roles and using time management effectively, since I am operating as a sole proprietor. The way in which I’ve learned to manage my time is by allocating certain parts of my day or week to specific projects. I create an ongoing to-do list where I prioritize my tasks and update it on a frequent basis as items are completed. One of the most important traits of being a successful entrepreneur is being able to manage yourself. You are now your own boss, and with that role comes a lot of responsibility to keep yourself accountable to your goals.
The most exciting moment thus far has been launching the 1OFAKIND website and receiving an incredible response. Another highlight is receiving the amazing testimonials from the esteemed artists and professionals that I’ve worked with over the years. It’s nice to know that I am making a positive impact on others’ careers, and it’s great to see that they are so eager to publicly share the role I’ve played in helping them achieve their goals. It’s an awesome feeling to receive recognition and support from both those individuals who have been in my life and the new people I continue to meet.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing women in entrepreneurship?
I believe one of the biggest challenges is the lack of female empowerment within the workforce. I feel that often times women are not encouraged to take charge of their lives and start their own business as much as their male counterparts. We, as accomplished businesswomen, need to unite and provide more platforms for girls and young women to learn from examples that they too can go after their dreams of successfully creating their own business. Also, having a great support system plays a vital role in how women pursue their goals and aspirations. If you don’t have people around you that are encouraging you, then you should re-evaluate your inner circle and find like-minded individuals who will be there to cheer you on as you pursue your dreams.
Growing up, or now, did you have one particular mentor that inspired you or helped you get to where you are today?
I have been fortunate to have several people in my life to help guide and inspire me over the years, including my family, friends, and colleagues. There is one person, in particular, who provided me with the opportunity to work alongside her at Universal Motown Records, and who still plays an impactful role in my life as my mentor. Music industry veteran, Shanti Das, has been paving the way for women in the entertainment business for years, and I’ve had the privilege to learn from her on a daily basis. In addition to being the owner of Press Reset Entertainment, Shanti is also an acclaimed author and philanthropist. We’ve known each other for over six years, and Shanti continues to serve as a source of inspiration for not only myself, but for countless others.
What are you reading now – or what have you read previously – that inspired you, that you’d like to tell others about?
I would highly recommend Shanti Das’ new book The Hip-Hop Professional 2.0. This book gives invaluable insight into the music and entertainment industry while providing encouragement and advice to aspiring young adults. The entertainment business is male-dominated, and it’s rare that you come across a book written by a well-respected female executive that is honest, relatable, and very inspiring. For more information, please visit Shanti’s website.
If you could offer one piece of advice to your younger self, or to other emerging female entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Believe in yourself and follow your passion no matter what obstacles come your way. You can do it!
READ more from Melantha – 5 Pieces Of Marketing Advice For Emerging Musicians.