Successful entrepreneurs come from all unique walks of life, but being innately driven is a story they all share. While growing up in the bustling neighborhood of Jamaica, Queens, it was destined for Shante Bacon to acquire her entrepreneurial spirit. Her relentless ambition set ablaze what would become an eight-year career at Def Jam.
Dream Job At Def Jam
As the iconic record label’s senior director of marketing and product/brand management, Bacon was behind the marketing for the likes of Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and Kanye West. Her role at the company constantly kept her on her toes and ultimately prepared her for any curveball the business world would throw her way.
“Those years they were what I call boot camp for entrepreneurship and marketing,” Bacon told AfroTech. “[Def Jam] was so young, vibrant, energetic, and scrappy. And, when I first started working there, it was like 36 people. And, they were doing the amount of work that a large label would be like, ‘How are they doing that much work with just those few people? The number of releases they have every year and how they’re nailing it with every single one.'”
She continued: “Everybody used to say in the industry that we didn’t leave any stone unturned in terms of all the teams working together. And that had a lot to do with the leadership of Kevin Liles and Lyor Cohen.”
It’s the lessons learned as an executive that served as a catalyst for the next pivotal stage in Bacon’s journey — starting her own marketing agency, One/35.
With her agency, Bacon is on a mission for companies within the industry to heavily invest in Black business owners, and not just on Black History Month or Black Business Month.
“Those businesses need support and customers all year long,” Bacon said. “So, if supporting Black businesses is still a holiday for you, then you’re still not all the way there yet. And I’m seeing that for all the money that goes around in the tech world, from VCs and startups to these big companies that are established, it’s still not there yet with injecting the kind of support and capital into Black-owned businesses that it should.”
The company has made its impressive mark in the communication & digital lifestyle market through its commitment to prioritizing Black-owned businesses and media. With clientele ranging from Google, YouTube, and The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), the One/35 team specializes in pushing forward the importance of brands connecting to multicultural youth and entrepreneurs.
Bacon's Entrepreneurship Journey
Bacon describes entrepreneurship as a “battle” and being steps ahead ready with her armor has kept her agency running and thriving for nearly two decades.
“There is not a single day in almost 17 years of having this business that I do not apply one of the scrappy principles that I learned at Def Jam, not a single day, whether it’s just a stubborn determination when times get hard because it’s very cyclical,” she said. “Entrepreneurship is the wildest ride you will ever take.”