photo by Ten LaShon
“Maybe creative entrepreneurs wouldn’t have to always work so hard because one day, their intellectual property would start to work for them.” -Patrice
One of the questions I’m asked most often when people find out what I do is “How did you get here?” Initially, it seemed as if a random lightbulb moment landed me here (as an attorney for creative entrepreneurs) but that’s not the case at all. My ultimate decision to dedicate my life’s work to creative entrepreneurs, innovators and change agents had been unfolding since I was a child. I just didn’t realize it at the time…
I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart. I had two businesses as a youngin’. My very first business, I started around 8 years old and it was a children’s newspaper. I was the founder, publisher, editor-in-chief, and senior staff writer. I “employed” some of my closest dance school friends to work with me. I sold the papers for about $1.50 (it’s hard to remember the exact amount). It wasn’t much but I was serious. I carried around my steel cash box as if life depended on it. It did kind of, because this was when I really started developing my passion for writing. Writing was and is still my creative talent.
A few years later, I found myself immersed in the arts at my elementary school. It was an amazing experience. In fact, my alma mater was recently recognized for its unique integration of arts in education in an award winning called “The Curators of Dixon School.” Fast forward, to high school, I spent most of my working adolescent career (I always kept a job) at Michael’s Arts and Crafts. I taught classes and it was there, I was able to really develop my sketching skills, dove into the art of jewelry making (not to mention my mom made jewelry as her hobby).
I drew and created model homes, I crocheted and I cross stitched (thanks to my big sis). The ultimate win was being hired by one of my mom’s civic organizations to design and draw the cover for their organization’s scrapbook as part of a national competition. It was the skyline of Chicago sketched with oil pastels. I guess I was a mini maker. On top of it all, my parents kept me engaged in all types of creative arts – dance, theater, music. You name it, I was either involved or it was a regular part of my upbringing.
Fast forward to 20-something-in-law-school Patrice. Despite my love for the creative arts, I hadn’t considered exploring it professionally. Coincidentally (or maybe not so much) I found myself wanting to hang in creative entrepreneur circles. It was then that I learned two things about creative entrepreneurs. Many didn’t have attorneys because they didn’t think they were “big” enough to need an attorney. Or, they just felt intimidated by the whole “lawyer thing”. I also realized that many worked themselves to the bone because… that was the “norm”. I never expect my undergrad degree in economics to be useful at this point. But my nerdy, econ brain went to work (cue Rihanna “Work”).
I also started thinking about how much value was in the creative entrepreneurs’ intellectual property and how often it’s ignored. I came to the conclusion that if they only knew more about intellectual property (in a language that made sense) and could work with an attorney who was also right-brained and creative like them then they could start to protect its value. Maybe by protecting its value they wouldn’t have to always work so hard because one day, their intellectual property would start to work for them.
And, they’d make money from it without always being under the pressures of deadline and having to execute their creativity on demand.
Also, I understood what taking care of their intellectual property would not only mean for them, but also their families. See, as creatives — intellectual property may have value while we’re living, but it often becomes really valuable after we’ve passed on. If there’s no intellectual property strategy in place for it, then what happens? That’s exactly what happened with Bob Marley. His widowed wife spent upwards of $10 million in a legal battle fighting for the family’s ownership of his name and likeness.
I knew for most creative entrepreneurs it wasn’t always just about them — they wanted to make a difference for their families and their communities.
If a solid intellectual property strategy was in place then their work could continue to have impact, financially and otherwise. Even after they were gone. Later, I read the book, The Creative Economy: How People Make Money from Ideas by John Howkins. It confirmed everything I instinctively knew about the under utilized intellectual property of creative entrepreneurs. I included innovators and change agents in the mix of who I wanted to serve because these peeps are typically creative entrepreneurs as well.
I decided I wanted to create something to prevent this issue and give creative entrepreneurs freedom in how they earned money. And, that is how Creative Genius Law was birthed.
It’s the end result of being a child who loved the arts, an adult who’s a natural innovator, a problem-solver who saw a need, and a risk taker who took a leap of faith to do something completely “radical” in the legal industry.
Have you taken time to reflect on what brought you to this point in your creative entrepreneur journey? If not, I challenge you to spend some time on it.
I’d love to hear what you discovered.