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Meet Jelani Cleghorne of CLFRNA in Inland Empire

Today we would like to introduce you to Jelani Cleghorne.

Jelani, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
It all started when I was given the opportunity to take photos by a friend while I was interning in DC for global business & trade. Instantly I fell in love for the art and passion for creativity. She went out her way to tell me that I should create professionally. At first, I was hesitant because that was not my goal at all but I will never forget when I had a conversation with one of my colleagues and they said: sometimes your calling presents itself in front of you without any warning. After discussions with loved ones and friends, I decided that this was my lane and I wanted to start freelancing full time. Being self-taught, there were many obstacles starting off which helped me gain experience on problem solving while I was creating for brands and influencers. Even though I was given the opportunity to create, I started to lose my lane because I was wearing so many hats. I lost direction and passion due to that I was creating content that was not my ideal content. I had to stop and make sure that if I do make this career that I have to start creating that speaks to me. I wanted to make sure that if I create a brand, the brand must symbolize me and the art I want to stand for. Thus, CLFRNA was born.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It was not a smooth road at all! But I am blessed to have went through those trails. I had to learn through a lot of failures to get where I am today. Those experiences allowed me to grow and teach others the lessons, so they do not make the same mistakes I did. One of my biggest struggles was going from my own freelance work to working with production companies. I quickly learned that there’s levels to production and you must match their speed to get content created. I failed every single day on the little things which made me discouraged on if I had what it took to push my goals and aspirations for major companies. With that uncertainty, I decided to take a step back and focus on refining my craft and learn the necessary routines to be self-efficient. Without that learning curve, I would have never known how it is to work with production companies, so I am incredibly grateful that I went through process as a creator.

Alright – so let us talk business. Tell us about CLFRNA – what should we know?
CLFRNA! My pride and joy. CLFRNA is a creative collective focused on creating innovative and vivid art through photography and film. We handle various projects from fashion to documentaries. Our goal is to create a platform that allows creatives to create content that will bring change. We strive to sharing stories that will inspire and motivate people to stay true and create regardless of the situation around them. I am the creative director/visual artist of CLFRNA, and I specialize in overseeing production and creating brand strategies for visual content. I am so proud of the way the platform was built. From traveling to handle TFP projects to self-funding campaigns, the passion for creativity has given me the opportunity to build a base that allows the vision to share compelling stories that resonate with audiences. I set apart from others because of my passion and willingness to go the extra mile to make sure the client is happy. Bring joy into bringing their vision to life. It is fulfilling and I am hungry for greatness.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My family and my best friend deserve the most credit. When I decided to take this challenge, my family never left my side and continuously supported my ambitions even when there was no benefit for them. I would not be here without them. Another huge factor is my best friend and mentor Otis Hall. He died in 2011 but his confidence was something I strived to have. His level of ambition and swagger was inspiring because he did not shy from telling everyone that he was going to make it. I struggled with self-confidence growing up and being around him, all the time gave me the ability to be myself and understand self-worth. Before he died, He told me that I must believe in my dreams and work harder than the next person. Since then, I have taken that approach full on and swore to myself and family that I will continue to bring this vision to life in honor of him and to make sure I bring this platform to create change.

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