We had the good fortune of connecting with Michelle Jackson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Michelle, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I became intrigued by online businesses in particular after seeing a number of friends do well in that space. Initially, I didn’t have a clear idea about what the business would be, how I would design it and who I would serve. Also, because it was a digital business I also had to suspend my OWN disbelief that what I was trying to create could become “a thing.” As for the process there were a few things that I did. I created a vision board about how I could design a life forward business. Living in Colorado made this framework pretty easy to create. I sought out community and connected with other online content creators who were great for giving guidance and support. I lucked out and was able to join a free Mastermind group that helped keep me focused on my goals and where I could ask questions or share my own expertise with others. Finally, because I was creating a digital business I really focused on respecting my energy and personal pace.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve been creating online content since 2012 but have made a career of it since 2017. I run two very different websites one is about personal finance, the other is about Colorado. What makes what I do unique is that I focus on both topics from an equity and underrepresented community perspective. I didn’t really lean into this wholeheartedly until 2019 and I’m so glad that I did. What sets me apart in my business is my willingness to have conversations with people. It’s part of why I created podcasts to support my content. I love spending time with local business owners, founders of non-profits, or interesting people that I randomly connect with out in the world. Anyone who says that building a business is easy is being a bit disingenuous. It’s now easier because I’ve worked on my business for years. I’ve made mistakes, got sucked into squirrel syndrome, got distracted by shiny objects, rebranded. You name it, I’ve done it in my business.

Lessons learned:

1. Every business has its own pace
2. Respect your energy
3. Take breaks whenever possible
4. I get the best ideas when I’m out in nature or working out.
5. Mindset is everything and you have to work on it daily.

About my brand, I want people to know that I live the life of my brand. I don’t just interview local business owners. I try to shop local and uplift them also as a client. I don’t just focus on social justice as a part of my content. I make sure to support POC and allied entrepreneurs, etc. and avoid elevating those who do harm. Finally, I believe in “do no harm.” If I don’t care for your product or business, I’m never going to share that on my website or social media. Positive energy only!

As for my story, it’s still being written.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I share this type of content on my Square State website. The itinerary really depends on the friend, their likes and dislikes, and what makes them tick. Given all of the changes due to COVID I would lean towards a mix of old and new. If this were a Friday-Saturday visit.

Coffee Shops:

1. Steam
2. Unravel (Virginia)
3. Blue Sparrow Coffee-Backyard on Blake
4. Third Culture Coffee-RINO/Five Points location `

Fun Experiences:

1. Meow Wolf Denver-I am so excited about this opening!
2. Red Rocks-Yoga on the Rocks or Movies on the Rocks
3. Epic Trek
4. Denver Art Museum-They have INCREDIBlE exhibits! Excited about the renovated wing opening up soon.
5. MacGregor Square-I just checked this place out last week. Amazing.
6. Cherry Creek Bike path-Go for a nice bike ride
7. The bike path from Westminster to Boulder
8. Museum for Black Girls Pop Up
9. 41st and Tennyson shopping district
10. RINO for all of the murals

Where to Eat

1. Mimosas (Five Points)
2 Hoja Garden Cafe (Platte Park)
3. Somebody People (Platte Park) Vegan
4. Bacon Social House (Northside)
5. Urban Burma (Aurora)

Ice Cream!

1. Heaven Creamery-Cherry Creek location
2. Smith & Cannon

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are a couple of different people and groups that I credit with helping me grow my business. The first, is of course, my mom. To be honest, she really had no freaking clue what I was trying to do with an online business. It was outside of her scope of experience. Her biggest concerns were “Will you make enough money?” and “Are you happy?” I’m happy to say that the answer to both questions are yes. The second is an online community of personal finance creators that I’ve known for almost 10 years. They were the initial entrepreneurs who truly inspired my journey, supported my goals, and gave me access to their platforms without hesitation. The Elevate Community, founded by Sandy Smith, is a community of personal finance influencers of Color who elevate, support and share the work of other creators of color in the space. In this community we talk about projects we’re working on, compensation, negotiating with brands and the random funny experiences that come up in day to day life.

Website: https://squarestateco.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/squarestateco/

Other: My primary project “Michelle is Money Hungry” is in the personal finance space. Here is the information for that project: https://michelleismoneyhungry.com and Twitter: @MichLovesMoney

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutColorado is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.