How I Became A Successful Entrepreneur

What do you do when your salary is high six-figures and you are doing a job you love in an environment you hate, with a boss that you’re constantly at odds with? Try as you might to tow the company line, every fiber of your being is sending signals that there has to be more to life than this. Your hands are tied by “golden handcuffs.” 

This was my story during this pivotal point in my life (I was also engaged to be married!) If you are anything like I was at 28, you go with your gut! I left the J-O-B, said “I Do”, and three months after giving birth to my son, Salem & Salem Consulting was also born.

I wasn’t excited, it was more like scared! And I couldn’t have done it without the incredible support of my late husband, Steve Salem; he had so much confidence in me.  Also, Bob Broderick, my dear friend and business associate. He said “Rose, I can get you into this company.  It is a Fortune 500 Banking Company and I will help you.  You are a great recruiter.  You can do this!” He put me in touch with his manager who gave me my first job opening and Boom! Just like that, I was off and running. I later went on to be one of 14 preferred IT Staffing vendors for Citibank.

In six short months, from the $1,000 I initially placed on my credit card in July 1997, to the end of the first year the company generated a little over half a million dollars in billing. Two children and seven employees later, Salem & Salem revenues soared to over 4 Million. When my husband passed away from cancer in 2002, I was left as – not only the president of Salem & Salem Consulting – but also the president of a 2-million-dollar joint venture record label with Elektra/Warner and Salem Entertainment, and our budding non-profit Salem & Salem Equalizer. Coming from the Information Technology world – – let’s just say the music industry is very different.  But, being adaptable and well schooled by one of R & B’s ground-breaking managers/label owners, (Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam with Full Force and platinum artist Snow) again, I jumped in. 

Equalizer would be a fusion of both our worlds. The goal of this program was to help underprivileged youth by creating a workforce from people who lived in urban communities, train them, and equip them to work on Wall Street. In early 2000, there was a stoppage of H1 visas, similar to what’s going on today. This created a shortage of people in the IT industry, going out of the country for talent simply widened the gap. By 2005, I partnered with The Harlem YMCA, Sun Microsystems and a few great celebrities such as Russell Simmons and Alan Houston. Today there are a few organizations that have created programs that train and place individuals at companies. 

As you may notice, I am a strong believer in the old proverbial saying ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’.  And not going against the grain.

By 2006, I completely left the IT industry and I created an entertainment and marketing company, Blackwave Group with my now ex-husband. Blackwave merged with Blue Equity to become BEST, a sports and entertainment company, with a roster of clients such as Andy Roderick, Rasheed Wallace, Janet Jackson, Sierra and more. It was later sold off to Lagarde Sports.

Throughout my life, situations have arisen that have ignited a passion within me to make a change. It could be as simple as not being able to find a wedding dress for my stepdaughter ‘s wedding in 2011, which propelled me to partner with Robin Goldberg and open up a dress shop, One Mode, in Cincinnati, Ohio and later in 2014, a Luxury Celebrity online consignment shop. Although driven by passion, I was raised to be very analytical. My mother would often say, “measure twice and cut once.”

I bring this passion, years of experiences, and desire to help others succeed to each in-person, on-to-one business coaching session.

Today when I am asked, “What advice do you give entrepreneurs?”, I quote Walt Disney,”If you can dream it, you can do it.” and a Japanese Proverb “Fall seven times and stand up eight.” 

Rose Salem-Tilford

Rose Salem-Tilford

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