After leaving a job as a television news producer in 1990, Sheila D. Brooks started her own company producing news stories and documentaries. She converted a bedroom into an office at the house where she lived in New Carrollton, Maryland, drummed up three small contracts, hired an assistant and persuaded a bank to give her a loan, reports The Washington Post.
“I applied to four banks and three turned me down,” Brooks recalled. “The fourth bank wanted me to hand over everything except my firstborn child for collateral.” She agreed to the terms, took the five-year loan, and paid it off in two-and-a-half years.”
“Eventually, I was able to get a line of credit,” she said.
According to The Post, two years after starting the business, “Brooks was doing well enough to lease office space on K Street in downtown D.C., just a few blocks from the White House. Clients included utility companies, government agencies and national nonprofits.
““I wanted to build an enterprise that created wealth and opportunity, and it helped to have the right address,” she said.
“But K Street was no sanctuary from the economic maelstroms that soon came roaring in. There was a federal government shutdown in 1995, followed by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, then the Great Recession in 2007 and the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
“Brooks’s business took some hard hits.
““I almost lost my shirt during the recession,” she said.
“To survive, she changed her business model, pivoted from a production company with 14 full-time employees to a marketing and public relations firm with 10. She diversified her client base, brought in more universities and African American service organizations. After recouping her losses, she found herself well-positioned to contract with public health agencies to produce coronavirus safety campaigns.
“Instead of going under like thousands of business have during the pandemic, Brooks was able to provide a public service — and prosper.”
“It took a lot of determination and resilience,” Brooks, head of SRB Communications, said. “When the economy is in decline, I just tell myself, ‘withstand, adapt and recover.”
PHOTO: The Washington Post