'Ask Jennyfer' is reshaping Detroit's small business marketplace

A Detroiter through and through, Jennyfer Crawford believes in the talent in her city and empowering the small businesses in it. That belief inspired her to launch her first business in 2012, Ask Jennyfer, to create opportunities for small businesses through one-on-one coaching and brand advising. A self-described “solopreneur” who started her first business from her bedroom, Crawford was uniquely positioned to offer invaluable insight and perspective to local business leaders in the Detroit community.
 
“When starting this journey, my goal was always to be the cheerleader for the underdog and to help them go after their dreams and work toward their goals,” says Crawford.
 
Over the years, Crawford’s entrepreneurial ideas outgrew the size of her four walls, starting with the launch of All Things Detroit – a small business convention that has grown from 60 businesses to roughly 250 business, 14,000 consumers and 20 food trucks in just seven years. The event has helped some small business owners earn more revenue in a single day than they had in two years of being in business.
 
Like many other business owners, Crawford’s most recent hurdle was a force of redirection from COVID-19, causing marketing and event cancellations for herself and her clients. To keep spirits (and sales) high, she launched yet another endeavor, All Things Marketplace – an online marketplace that not only showcases items handmade by small business owners and creatives, but also offers shipping and fulfillment services.
 
While an experienced owner of four businesses, Crawford is mostly self-taught. Solopreneuring might be where it all began, but she realized she needed a team, financial guidance, and structure to sustain the health of herself and her businesses. Little did she know she was already being sought out by Bre Mills, a senior business consultant at Chase Bank.

Bre Mills is helping Jennyfer Crawford realize her business dreams.

 
A different kind of pivot with Chase's new program

 
Mills first noticed Crawford on social media, recognizing her well-oiled multi-business platform and commitment to helping Detroit entrepreneurs thrive. She knew she wanted Crawford to be part of Chase’s newly launched initiative that helps strengthen sustainable business growth for minority entrepreneurs. From their first meeting in March 2021, Crawford was equally excited about the partnership and could not believe the level of mentorship, one-on-one coaching, and access to resources that is available through the bank’s new program. 
 
As part of its $30 billion commitment to racial equity, Chase launched a new initiative to support minority business owners in 13 cities across the U.S., including in Detroit, matching them with a Chase senior business consultant who provides advisory services such as mentorship, business development coaching, resources, and financial planning. The program is available to all, Chase customers and non-customers alike.
 
“Mills encourages me to see the value in organization and staying aware of my long-term goals,” says Crawford. “For once, I feel grounded in the change happening around me, like building a team and adapting to an accounting structure. I’m anchored with resources beyond my imagination that I know I can offer right back to my clients and the wider community of small business owners in Detroit.”
 
Mills finds Crawford’s passion to serve the community special. More specifically, as a member of the community and the Chase team, Mills believes in the work being done by Chase to break down opportunity barriers for long-term residents of Detroit, especially Black Detroiters, to help them better access job training, become homeowners and grow small businesses. In 2019, Chase announced plans to expand investment in Detroit’s economic recovery, committing to reach $200 million by the end of 2022. 
 
“For many solopreneurs like Jennyfer, they don’t know what they don’t know. It comes down to breaking old patterns of doing it all by yourself and welcoming opportunities for growth, team support and adopting valuable solutions that can take your business to the next level – maybe even larger than the original goals you set for yourself.” Mills says.
 
Through Mills’ guidance at Chase, Crawford is realizing it’s the small moments and leaps that matter most and are often what will take her business to the next level. She’s also finding new ways to grow and connect in the area, including being a voice for local entrepreneurs like herself and participating in a recent round table with JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon on the state of small business in Detroit. Even after launching four distinct businesses, Mills knows Crawford is just getting started as a leader in the Detroit business community.
 
To learn more about how Chase is supporting minority entrepreneurs in the Detroit area, reach out to Chase Senior Business Consultant Bre Mills at [email protected] or visit chase.com/businessconsultant
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