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Meet Alexis Wilson of The Menternship in Los Angeles

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alexis Wilson.

Alexis, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’ve been immersed in the branding and marketing field for several years and in a variety of capacities, working for brands like Shea Moisture, The University of Michigan, and my parent’s non-profit, The Yunion. My first client as a branding consultant was The Lip Bar, whose products are now retailing in stores across the U.S. While studying at the University of Michigan, I was president of NOiR, a student-run fashion organization on campus. As president, I established partnerships with several brands like Domino’s Pizza and Steve Madden, who all contributed to our $30,000 annual fashion show. Today, I’m blessed to be able to share the knowledge and skills I’ve gained as a brand builder and professional to aspiring young women across the country, most notably through my non-profit, The Menternship.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
LOL, heck no! It definitely hasn’t been a smooth road. It’s been hard, but I am so grateful for the process. I’ve learned so many business lessons and even more about myself. I’ve gained a resiliency that I’ll carry forever because of entrepreneurship. Before the Menternship even started, I was told I could never do it by a businessman I pitched to. One of our early grantors breached contract. It was tough to struggle through the sudden loss of funds, but we still overcame it to run a successful program. I also recently made the decision to move across the country and leave my family to grow not only my professional ventures, but also myself spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Costs have gone up, the risks have gone up, but my grit and perseverance have all gone up too! Personally, I’ve lost a lot of people in 2019—my cousin to failed health, one of my first friends I made in college to suicide, and another cousin to gun violence. It’s been tough, mentally and emotionally, but I’m still here, winning every fight. I know I have to bring my best self to work every day in order to do my best work. This means I have to make sure I’m always taking care of myself so I can handle business.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with The Menternship – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
The Menternship is an annual intensive, eight-week personal and professional development program for aspiring women of color. The program is designed to teach our participants (we call them menterns) about business, brand management, and marketing while simultaneously refining them as future female leaders. What sets us apart from other programs is our ongoing commitment to cultivating distinguished young women of excellence who value their character as much as they value their careers. Every day of the program before we begin work, we focus on character and mindset development by meditating, reciting affirmations for ourselves and each other, and expressing gratitude. You can’t get that at any other internship. I’m a firm believer that internal hard work leads to external success. If we teach girls to nourish their mental, emotional, and spiritual health, they’ll be better equipped to succeed and achieve their career goals in the future.

Simultaneously, our menterns have gained practical experience leading and supporting client projects in brand strategy, creative marketing, and operations. We’ve also done weekly visits with our corporate and industry partners who have provided additional professional development sessions and candid discussions on topics like advertising, marketing, branding, and strategy. Our partners in LA include The Oprah Winfrey Network, the LA Sparks, Magic Johnson Enterprises, VaynerMedia, and BET. They all have been so gracious in opening up their doors for us, exposing the menterns to their infrastructures, and giving them insight into what it takes to be a successful leader. We end our program each year by treating the menterns to an all-expenses-paid one-week business trip. This year’s trip was to my hometown of Detroit, MI where we connected with our Detroit-based impact partners Quicken Loans, The Yunion, The Detroit Tigers, The Lip Bar, Naturalicious, and Detroit Dough. Social entrepreneurship is also a key component of The Menternship. Through our partner visit with Detroit Dough, for example, our menterns were able to visit an ongoing service project the company has in the Goldberg neighborhood in the city. We’re not just preparing our menterns to be future millionaires, but also to have an impact as future world leaders.

I’m especially proud to lead a program that teaches young women to understand and value the power of having a strong professional network as a resource. Our program invests in developing young women who are globally competent and possess the empathy to build and maintain strong professional relationships. When we meet with our corporate partners, the menterns aren’t just getting a quick tour and asking basic questions about day-to-day operations, but they’re taking the time to really get to know our partners and ask key questions about their journey and development as human beings. Those are the types of genuine professional connections that will endure and be useful for the menterns when they complete our program and continue to grow and develop.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Since The Menternship launched in 2017, we’ve expanded the program to several major cities across the U.S. Over the next several years, we will continue this expansion, with the goal of increasing our programs reach to have a global presence and impact.

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