Jennyfer Crawford is a risk-taker. In 2014, she stepped out on her own to run her business – Ask Jennyfer – full-time.
In many ways, she did so without a net.
With about $1,500 in the bank, she forged ahead and grew a reputable brand marketing firm that now represents more than 250 small businesses and draws more than 12,000 guests to successful small business showcase events like All Things Detroit.
“What inspires me most are fellow entrepreneurs or people who risk it all for something they believe in,” said Crawford.
That’s precisely her story.
Crawford, a 2016 recipient of Crain’s Detroit Business’ 40 Under 40 honor, initially found her profession by accident.
Crawford grew up in Detroit, attended Detroit Public Schools and began working in the construction industry following graduation. Her experience as a construction assistant on major construction projects in both Michigan and Florida required that Crawford hone her project management skills.
She held positions with Wharton-Smith Construction assisting with a water treatment project, then returned to Detroit to work with Inland Waters Pollution Control.
Crawford served as a construction coordinator for Little Caesars before taking her passion for promoting small businesses full-time in 2014.
“I always wanted to learn the ins and outs of the business and always ready to go to the next level and when I started to feel that I would only go so far working for someone else that is when I realized I wanted to be my own boss,” said Crawford.
As a self-taught entrepreneur, Crawford works twice as hard to master and stay current in her industry. As an event planner and consultant, she found she uses all of the skills she acquired in her previous work. Crawford prides herself on her ability to manage projects, teams and details.
She officially founded Ask Jennyfer in 2012, while still working in direct sales part-time. Crawford started hosting small events – first at home, and within months at larger and larger venues. “As the events continued to grow I knew that this is what I wanted to do full-time,” she said.
Among other services, Ask Jennyfer conceptualizes, manages and executes the successful small business showcase All Things Detroit. After 7 years and many events, Ask Jennyfer has expanded: creating an online community – All Things Marketplace – and fostering collaboration among business owners nationwide through the brand, I Rep Small Businesses.
She recently launched Conversations, an independent web series devoted to shining a spotlight on small business owners and their stories.
When she isn’t planning an event or advising clients, Crawford spends time volunteering for local charities, reading, traveling and teaching children about entrepreneurship as well.