Millennial entrepreneur Danielle Jeter talks her journey and keys to success
“Creative, visionary, and inspiring” are just a few words used to describe Ms. Danielle P. Jeter. Jeter’s a graduate of Spelman College where she majored in history, dance, and theater arts. After honing her skills through her experiences serving as Director of Marketing with several Atlanta-based companies, Danielle decided to take her unique combination of communication skills, leadership, and expertise to launch her own business.
Jeter founded AOI Events & PR in 2009, a full-service creative communications firm headquartered in Philadelphia, PA, which specializes in event production and public relations, representing clients nationally. Focused on professional growth, Danielle completed the Public Relations Society of America Philadelphia Chapter Nancy Bacher Long Public Relations Institute. In addition, Danielle completed an Event Planning Certificate from Temple University. AOI’s ongoing signature Internship & Mentoring Program called Pipeline has had over 26 high school and college students since 2009 successfully complete the curriculum for hands-on experience in communications and business. As an award-winning, acclaimed, sought after social innovator, business, and civic leader, Jeter helps build national brands with her strategic approach and creative solutions. Rolling out got a chance to catch up with the entrepreneur to talk about her journey.
Beyond the scope of your work, what causes do you support and/or participate in?
Outside of my work as a Communications Specialist, I am passionate about kingdom building, women’s empowerment, arts & culture, education, & legacy building.
○ Women’s Empowerment: I’m really passionate about Women’s Empowerment. I grew up a Girls Scout Member in West Philadelphia at Mt. Olivet Tabernacle Baptist Church from the age of 6 years old until I graduated from high school. What I didn’t know as a child that I am aware of now as an adult is the fundamental impact the Girls Scout experience had on my life. I believe it helped to fuel my decision to attend Spelman College, become a business woman, and co-found my very own women’s organization called Women In Media.
○ Kingdom Building: At 6 years old I met an amazing woman named Denise Jackson, then the Director of Dorothy Emanuel Recreation Center. I didn’t know as a little girl but what Mrs. Denise did for me would be considered mentorship today. She introduced me to dance and taught me about performance and West African Dance. I became really great friends with Mrs. Denise and she had two kids of her own my age so we became a family. I spent a lot of time with the family in Mt. Airy and started attending their church Brand New Life Christian Center. At the time, my parents both worked Sundays and I remained at home with my siblings. Being introduced to God and Kingdom Building thru the arts is truly what my life has been about ever since. I will always dedicate myself and time to spread the message of Love to the people, which is God. God is love. Over the past year, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to perform and do business with John Graves Productions, an entertainment company based in Philadelphia, PA. For as long as I could remember, I’ve always danced and performed all over the country spreading peace, love, and God.
○ Youth Development: On a daily basis, at least twice a month you can find me at a local school or university sharing experiences, information, and my story to young people. Encouraging them to follow their dreams, be community leaders, and to impact the world for the better. I enjoy giving back and telling my story. I believe the experiences I have been gracious enough to have are not just for me but for the building up of our communities as well. I gain a lot of personal fulfillment from spending time with youth, motivated young professionals, and students who have a passion to learn. I attended Spelman College with the dream of becoming a school teacher but instead I became a businesswoman. In college, I majored in History and Theatre Arts with a Dance Concentration.
○ Wealth Building & Community: Everyone in our families and communities, should not have to start from the bottom. So many issues within our communities stem back to the lack of resources and capital which leaves room for poverty. I went into business not just for myself but because I have a desire to build an empire that will afford opportunities for my future family, their children, and our community. There’s a huge need for the black community to become economically empowered, financially sound, and owners of businesses that will create generational wealth, including legacy building.
I’ve taken an unconventional path in life and allowed my gifts and passions to become the business and scope of work I do today. This allows me to not be money hungry and loving what I do, whether I get paid for my gifts or not. I’m mission driven.
Has competition–being driven–been a key factor in your success?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had this internal desire to be great and the best at everything I touch or do. A part of that nature could have been influenced by my upbringing, the youngest and only girl of four older brothers. My older brothers were the first people I’ve always wanted to impress. Healthy competition is a good thing, it drives a person to be diligent and hardworking. I am mostly competitive with myself and wanting to always improve, doing better than my last self. Being driven has allowed me to remain on my toes, attentive to the task at hand, while reminding aware at all times.
Tell us about how education has played a role in your success?
I attended public schools for the first part of my life in Philadelphia, PA and Willingboro, NJ. Similar to the typical stories you hear of public schools in black communities, being underfunded and understaffed. What made the schools I attended so special were the people and its incredible arts community. I was a studious and involved student, so each school experience was very impressionable upon me. Attending Spelman College, really prepared me for the real world, taught me how to work well in groups, retaught Black history to me in a deeper manner, matured me as a young professional, and broadened my entire world. Through my college experiences, I’ve gained a national and international network. I was able to study abroad in Trinidad & Tobago and visited Egypt. The educational experiences I’ve had at Spelman College really set up me to be successful because of all the great things instilled in us as students. My choice to attend Spelman College really has benefited the level of success I’ve touched thus far.
Please describe your personal achievements. What pinnacles of success have you reached?
[First] I founded AOI Events & PR in 2009, a full service creative communications firm headquartered in Philadelphia, PA, which specializes in event production and public relations, representing clients nationwide. AOI’s ongoing signature Internship & Mentoring Program called Pipeline, has had over 30 high school and college students since 2009 successfully complete the curriculum for hands on experience in communications and business.
[ Second] I am the Visionary & Co-Founder of the Women in Media Network. Women in Media was created to empower, equip and encourage women from all walks of life who are in the media field or seek to enter it. This organization was founded as a response for the need of more upper leadership from women at media brands and to continue to challenge women to pursue every area of media from ownership, management, leadership, operations, and in front of the camera talent. Annually in September, the organization produces a professional development conference which equips and encourages hundreds of women to be forefront leaders in the industry of media.
[Lastly] I am the Visionary & President of the Progressive Impact Coalition. The YP Social Meetup collaborated with GEN USA to host the Inaugural Global Entrepreneurship Week in Philadelphia Monday November 14, 2016 through Sunday November 20, 2016. The Director of Commerce for The City of Philadelphia, Mr. Harold T. Epps officially joined GEW Philly as an Honorary Co-Chair for the inaugural international business week. YP Social Meetup made history bringing a resounding global event to the city of Philadelphia for the very first time called Global Entrepreneurship Week! For the past eight years, the Global Entrepreneurship Network has hosted an annual global business conference where over 160 countries would participate. During one week each in November GEW/USA inspires Americans from all walks of life through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. These activities, from large-scale competitions and events to intimate networking gatherings, connect participants to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors—introducing them to new possibilities and exciting opportunities. Philadelphia had never participated in an official capacity and was not considered a focus Startup City according to GEN for the opportunity to forge a beneficial relationship together. The YP Social Meetup is an outreach and programming initiative of the Progressive Impact Coalition (PIC), who noticed the absence of GEN in Philadelphia but also understood the vast growing population of entrepreneurs in Philadelphia.
How did/ does mentoring factor in your career and/or personal life?
My mentors have changed my life. I often say, I am a village child because I have such a large community of wise leaders around me who truly have my best interest at heart. Mentors who are there for me personally, professionally, and invest in me selflessly. They share their wisdom, experiences, treasured time, and guidance with me as a young woman blazing my own trail. My mentors invest in my business and entrepreneurial goals and have literally taught me everything I know about business. I did not attend college for business but ended up a businesswoman. Due to what my mentors have done for me, it encourages me to do the same for the next generation of talented young people coming up. AOI Events & PR, has a Communications Internship & Mentoring Program called Pipeline. Pipeline provides opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience in the communications industry. Over 30 students have successfully completed our program in Georgia, Pennsylvania, or New Jersey and have gone on to job opportunities at Comcast, Temple University, The City of Philadelphia, 900 AM WURD, WHYY, Universal Companies, and others have started their own businesses.
Tell us about how building and fostering relationships has been key to your success?
My entire resume has been built off the relationships I have. All of the positions on my resume, I technically did not qualify for but because I had a relationship with someone who inherently had faith in me, I made it into the door with God’s grace. Relationships are a key component to my success and has allowed me to move my career forward on this very unconventional path. AOI is a brand based off the value and importance of relationships. It is through solid and positive relationships that I formed a business at 20 years old with no formal training in what I provide, and no real startup capital to get me going. It was good relationships with people who believed in me, that helped me successfully launch the company as a student at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA. It is those same principles of building meaningful relationships, that has allowed my firm to successfully deliver outstanding communications campaigns used to achieve overall organizational goals for each of our clients.
Finish the sentence: Expressing gratitude to those around me…
Expressing gratitude to those around me demonstrates to others my appreciation for them. It always shows how much you value their gifts, time, and dedication. Expressing gratitude to those around me also displays humble characteristics. Expressing gratitude to those around me, allows me go in a healthy direction in building a community, team, or organization which requires valuing people.