Message from Montie

Business owner Archives

The Freelance writer's blues, tax season 2010

user-pic
Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

Taxseasonlong.JPG

One of my file cabinets

By now you should've gotten all of your W-2s and 1099s, and you're preparing for tax season before the deadline date of April 15, 2010. For some people, it's a time to roll in the dough and get some much needed dinero. You're dancing around your home like you're Swizz Beatz and saying, "Somebody bring me back some money please," but don't let Uncle Sam switch up the chorus on you. For others, like me who usually end up with an underpayment and have to pay the state, tax season can be a frustrating time. Even worse, I completed my taxes this weekend and owe the Feds and the state.

Here is the downside of being a freelance writer and an independent contractor. Although you do get more money up front for projects and are paid in full, you are held responsible for paying your own taxes. This could end up being pretty expensive come January for any contracted job that pays you $600 or more. But with the right recordkeeping, you can make doing your taxes a little less painful.

Continue reading...

Wyclef comes back to U.S., 'disgusted' by profit accusations about Yele Haiti Foundation

user-pic
Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

Thumbnail image for Wyclef.jpg

Haiti's musician Wyclef Jean, left, arrives at the airport in Port-au-Prince on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010, the day after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit his country. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

I read "The Smoking Gun" report "Wyclef Jean Charity's Funny Money" in full, and although the tax issues need to be dealt with, I strongly stand by Wyclef Jean. CNN Money stated, "Experts say that lackadaisical accounting is common among non-profits and is not necessarily a red flag for suspicious behavior." The worst thing the Yele Foundation did was turn tax papers in late, but these accusations that Wyclef was trying to get over on the money end are preposterous to me.

 

I had a discussion on Facebook earlier today with an FB friend about the costs that go into concerts, travel, management, administrative work, etc. That money just doesn't fly out of thin air, and if someone is donating to the cause, they're donating to all of that. And just being realistic here, how much did you hear about donations to Haiti from any other artist or even news programs before last week outside of Wyclef? When selfish people like Bill Maher could've cared as much about Haiti before the earthquake as he does now, Wyclef Jean was still spending time improving the economic situation in Haiti. Even the music artists who are donating now weren't thinking about Haiti before it became the "in" event to donate to while Wyclef was. 

 

 

Continue reading...

Photo Gallery: Commonground's 40 Under 40 Chicago Crain's List honoree reception, Chicago adventures

user-pic
Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

This past week, I was honored with interviewing two of Crain's 40 Under 40 professionals, Sherman Wright and Ahmad Islam from Commonground, a marketing agency that embraces multiculturalism. I think it's so respectable how they're building a bridge to encourage diversity where there was none. Other marketing companies are jumping on the bandwagon slowly but surely, but I knew about many of Commonground's products before I'd ever heard of Commonground so to find out that they'd achieved the honor of Crain's Chicago list for 2009 wasn't a surprise. I talked with these two entrepreneurs about social networking, diversity in marketing, their advertising and marketing background, and the economy.

 

And on Monday, Nov. 23, I was flattered to be invited to their 40 Under 40 Honoree Reception at a Chicago bar and restaurant called Clutch, located at 459 N. Ogden Avenue, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

 

 

 

Gallery sneak peek (28 images):

View the gallery...
Continue reading...

African-American visibility in advertising, Chicago's Commonground businessowners discuss marketing

user-pic
Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for commonground.JPG

Ahmad Islam (left) and Sherman Wright (right) at the 40 Under 40 Honoree Reception

A commercial is a food or bathroom break for me. I usually don't pay attention to advertisements, but in the past few months I've noticed a pattern in marketing. It's not just the Walmart or McDonald's commercials. I'm seeing it in Tide, Pine Sol, Sprite, Lever 2000, Crest and the Roomplace commercials too. I'm seeing a boost in advertising visibility with African-American families, especially African-American fathers. Recently I saw an entertaining ad about relationships on the #65 bus after I left an appointment in the Chicago loop. I thought the ad was amusing and refreshing to see such a common moment in a relationship.

 

 

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for TwoofUsad.JPG

Photo by Shamontiel

 

I wonder if advertising agencies are starting to get the hint about diversity in marketing or did President Barack Obama's family have something to do with the diversity, but either way I love it. It's nice to see multiculturalism on camera. And this year is also an important year for African-Americans in the marketing industry, including Chicago's own Commonground, owned by Sherman Wright and Ahmad Islam.

 

This two-team, African-American owned marketing company had their success honored this year on Crain's Chicago 2009 40 Under 40 list. I knew about their products and I saw some of their work, like the Sprite Step Off commercial, but I didn't know who the brains were behind these operations. I was delighted to be introduced to the owners of Commonground this week and talk to Wright and Islam about the change in faces, the increase in diversity in the marketing industry, and how Chicago influences the advertising and marketing industry.

 

Neither owner is from Chicago. Sherman Wright, a Texan who has a bachelor's degree in journalism, came to Chicago from Texas A&M for a diversity program when he was 22 years old. Ahmad Islam, who holds a master's degree in sports marketing and a bachelor's degree in business psychology, came to Chicago after traveling to various cities from his home state of Ohio.

 

"My family is still from the Midwest," Islam said. "Chicago is probably the only city in the Midwest that I really wanted to live in. It gave me the benefits of being close to my family, being in a city that was great from a marketing and advertising standpoint, and also being able to live the city life."

~

 

Continue reading...

Angela Simmons rocks "yes" on booty pants, fashionable or raunchy?

user-pic
Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

AngelaSimmonsYesFront.jpg

Who do you think this is wearing these pants?

There are fashion do's and fashion don'ts. Some of the "in" fashion is stuff I'm rocking already and sometimes I take notes from fashion magazines if I'm comfortable, but one thing I never could get into was pants or shorts with words on the booty. I always thought women who wore these crazy bottoms either didn't have anything back there and needed to bring attention to it or wanted to bring more attention to it.

 

But wearing these pants is like wearing shirts with the cleavage showing. (I'm guilty of that one.) I have more than a little bit of V-neck sweaters or fitted tops. But words? I saw a tweet from @entertainreal about Starcasm.net's coverage and several photos of one-half of "Daddy's Little Girls" Angela Simmons, daughter of Reverend Run (Run DMC), rocking purple spandex pants with the word "Yes" in white letters across her butt.

 

Continue reading...

Diamonds & Lace EventScaping presents The Makeup Bar of Chicago's official launch party

user-pic
Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

relana.png

Relana, co-owner of Diamonds & Lace EventScaping

 

If you're a fan of BRAVO's "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," then you probably know about Atlanta's Makeup Bar parties with women being photographed and socializing while getting makeovers. Chicagoans will get to experience these "Girls Night In" events with The Makeup Bar of Chicago's official launch party on Thursday, Oct. 29, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The Makeup Bar of Chicago will be located at the Dream Boutique Lounge at 1750 N. Clark.

 

"I saw ["The Real Housewives of Atlanta"], and I loved the concept," said Relana Johnson, the Creative Director and co-owner of a Chicago wedding planning company called Diamonds & Lace EventScaping. "I saw that there were lots of inquiries about it. As an entrepreneur, I saw that this could be something fantastic to bring to Chicago instead of us being the ones that get the trend last."

 

Similar to the "The Real Housewives of Atlanta's" third episode of season one, women will get makeovers, take photographs and liquor will be served. However, The Makeup Bar of Chicago adds some unique activities to the event. Diamonds & Lace's event will include eight or nine licensed professional makeup artists, two or three photographers, a chocolate martini sampler provider and wine tasting provider, a tarot card reader, a "resident eyelash diva" and one henna hand artist. Other entertainment will include complimentary mini-makeup applications; a body art fashion show; samba, burlesque and Caribbean dance performances from Sensuality Training for Good Gyrrls; and complimentary appetizers. The Dream Boutique Lounge has a full bar and restaurant. Valet parking will also be provided.

Continue reading...

Soul Vegetarian Restaurant creates Feed the People Program campaign for 350's Oct. 24 International Day of Climate Action

user-pic
Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

soulvegfood.jpg

BBQ delight, vegetarian macaroni and cheese, collard greens from Soul Vegetarian Restaurant

On Saturday, Oct. 24, at 1 p.m., the Feed the People Program campaign will be visiting Higgins Grammar School on 11710 S. Morgan St., on Chicago's South Side. The purpose of the event is threefold--to promote veganism by distributing free, hot vegan meals; to encourage anti-violence from dietary consumption; and to bring awareness to the environmental crisis. October 24 is also 350.org's International Day of Climate Action, with 181 countries creating 4,500 events bringing environmental awareness.

 

The South Side Chicago campaign with Soul Vegetarian Restaurant was created by Zarakyah Ben Ahmadiel, Chairman of RBG (Red, Black, Green) Environmental Restoration Agency, with the help of Soul Vegetarian Restaurant and the Office of Environmental Affairs for the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem. Soul Vegetarian Restaurant is located at 205 E. 75th St.

 

Special appearances and performances include GOOD Music's Grammy Award winning artists Malik Yusef and J. Ivy, Chicago emcee Mikkey Halsted, music by Soul Selector DJ Lee Farmer and other poets, singers and music professionals. Ahmadiel and Fred Hampton Jr., the Chairman of Prisoners of Consciousness Committee, will be at the location supporting veganism, but there will be no speeches.

Continue reading...

Figgy presents 'Let's Create New Media in Chicago' event

user-pic
Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

James Gustin (modelpose).JPG

James Gustin, owner of Figgy, mimicks a model in the photograph behind him

 

I lived in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood for three years, passed the building that housed Figgy just about weekly, and never once did I peek in to see what the company was about. So when I heard about the networking event tonight from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., curiosity brought me to the mysterious company underneath the Granville Red Line station. Tuesday's event had small business owners, entrepreneurs, media content creators, ad agency representatives, writers, photographers, video editors, image editing specialists and local entertainers. It was the type of event that temporary agencies would've drooled over because of all the fresh and hungry talent networking with other like-minded individuals.

 

The "Let's Create New Media in Chicago" event was thrown courtesy of 15-year-old company, Figgy, and I volunteered to be one of the registration people primarily to meet the talent as soon as they entered the gate. They were ready to mingle, party, eat and drink, but most of all, they wanted to know what everybody else there did in their specialty area. It was a networking event without the drawn-out speeches, PowerPoint presentations and lecture halls.  

Continue reading...

Chicago celebrates the UniverSoul Circus coming to Chitown

user-pic
Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

HPIM2841.JPG

I used to say I didn't like the circus. Clowns freak me out. The threatening sound of whips make me think of animal cruelty. And circus music reminds me of horror flicks. My family has dragged me to quite a few circuses in my younger years (specifically my mother who has a bit of an obsession with elephants, and no, she's not a Delta Sigma Theta member). But I'd never been to the UniverSoul Circus before, and after leaving there tonight during opening night, Sept. 23, I can never say I don't like circuses again. The term "soul" is an understatement. UniverSoul Circus brings the funk, the rhythm, the heart and the love of music to the most outstanding circus I've ever seen in my life.

 

UniverSoul Circus was founded by Baltimore, Maryland native Cedric Walker. According to UniverSoulCircus.com, Walker and his brother Frank enjoyed circuses since they were little. Walker had an obvious love for the music industry considering he became a producer and stage manager for R&B group the Commodores, a promoter for the Jackson 5, organized a rap music tour called the Fresh Festival with rappers Run DMC, Salt n' Pepa and the Fat Boys, and he helped produce gospel plays "Wicked Ways" and "A Good Man Is Hard to Find."

 

And in 1994, Walker blended his love for music and the circus to create the family friendly UniverSoul Circus. Sixteen years later and it's still a hit.

 

Gallery sneak peek (38 images):

View the gallery...
Continue reading...

African-American Chicago Entrepreneurs inspire potential new business owners

user-pic
Message from Montie

Shamontiel is the author of two novels: "Change for a Twenty" and "Round Trip." Check her out at shamontiel.com.

On Aug. 25, I attended an annual Chicago Women's Entrepreneur networking event, courtesy of Sr. Account Executive Robert F. Wimberly II, and met so many women business owners and aspiring women business owners, including fashion experts, internship recruiters, lawyers, health experts and bank owners. When I was in college, I helped write and edit a business plan for a Chicago music company called MidWest Incorporated, and the more I talked to the owner, Phillip Cavil Sr., the more intrigued I became at owning my own business someday. And my favorite restaurant in all of Chicago is Quench!, owned by Quentin Love. I'm fascinated with those who are brave enough to branch out and start their own company--from hiring employees to finding a location to dealing with the expenses and taxes that go into owning your own business. When I meet business owners, I always stop and ask them what keeps them going and what drives them to continue in their entrepreneurships during the tough times.

 

 

Continue reading...

Most Active Pages Right Now

ChicagoNow.com on Facebook