Pittsburgh’s tight-knit entrepreneurial community is what makes this city home to many startup companies. When you engage with this community, you start to discover that Pittsburghers have a lot to teach others through lessons they’ve learned.
When you have as much experience as Ebony McQueen-Harris in entrepreneurship, it’s a no-brainer that she would be able to help others develop and grow skills of their own. By focusing on empowering and supporting individuals, McQueen-Harris’ startup – Levels Creative Empowerment and Consulting Group – is building well-rounded leaders in Pittsburgh, and we’re helping share their story.
Her team, one of our Winter 2017 Fellows, has a lot of exciting plans for the future in Pittsburgh. When asked what excites them most about working in Pittsburgh, McQueen-Harris responds “Our communities… our people and the stories they share with me about themselves, their families, the work they do, and their communities.” Read on for our Q&A with Levels!
Q: Talk about your startup journey – how did you get to where you are today?
A: I am where I am today by standing on the shoulders of others who came before me: My resilient mom, extended family, community and my faith. Levels started off as a dream and grew organically into a ‘tribe of women creatives’ equipping entrepreneurs to engage + create + transform. I am a storyteller and this is how I share my life as an entrepreneur.
I halfheartedly and jokingly like to say I am a serial entrepreneur—having more than one business. My first leg in this journey was running a successful domestic business in the service industry of stay-at-home mom for #teamharrisstrong, which is still in existence today.
#teamharrisstrong has endured the 5 stages of a business lifecycle. From seed and development – where my partner (husband) and I built the dream of creating a healthy and happy family and understanding the benefits we would reap from the venture – through the startup, growth and establishment, and expansion phases, #teamharrisstrong reached maturity and responsibility. Through all the ups and downs of this business, #teamharrisstrong is still alive and kicking and will probably experience another shift in 5 years during the teenage years of our family business.
My other business that helped me launch Levels Creative Empowerment and Consulting Group was in direct sales as a solo-preneur. It was a blessed three-year journey. It provided the building blocks of empowering the womanpreneur within me. It catapulted me to found Levels Creative Empowerment and Consulting Group. Levels’ is a minority, woman owned business creatively established in 2014. As Levels’ Lead Creative Empowerment Consultant, I emphasize collaborations and connections among startups and community led projects with an intentionality to align, develop and grow entrepreneurs and organizations.
Q: What is your product/business?
A: Levels Creative Empowerment and Consulting Group provides consulting services to startups and larger organizations. Our blueprint in the world is made by educating, training and developing those startups and organizations with tools and frameworks, oftentimes on a leaner scale, that are rooted in leadership and entrepreneurial development.
We create big things with our clients by eliminating barriers to growth, providing access to collaborations + connections with shared resources. Having a heart at the core of our work for women entrepreneurs; we intentionally inspire women with the tools and actionable steps to transform the work they are doing in their homes, communities and professional careers. We believe these processes are vital to how we can improve our tribes culture of clients.
Q: Tell us a little more about yourself, your background, and team (if applicable).
A: I am a Northsider and reside in Observatory Hill with my husband and our two youngest of the 9 clan #teamharrisstrong children and young adult children. Oh yeah, I also co-partner the business of managing a blended family. Now picture that-another story for another day! My values are Faith, family and my purpose work. Being a servant-leader is what I include in my personal life and business. My educational background includes having earned a B.A. in Speech Communications from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and a M.S. in Instructional Leadership from Robert Morris University. As much as I love education and consider myself a lifelong learner nothing tops experiencing life on life’s terms! These “life terms” are wisdom seeds that can’t be encapsulated in a text book. It’s those shared experiences you go through in life that make you a better person. When you’re able to share those experiences with others in helping them achieve their goals, it’s priceless.
Levels has always been and will always be a connector for people while empowering and supporting their individual work. We have our quiet storm, Ms. Jamie Johnson, who serves as one of our team consultants. Jamie is the founder and CEO of Build You Up, LLC which offers counseling, coaching & consulting and focuses on helping individuals and businesses to identify who they are at their core in order for them to ‘grow to higher heights within’.
Brettney Duck serves also as a team consultant; providing knowledge and expertise for our non-profit clients. She is the founder of G.O. Girls Incorporated, a 501c3 nonprofit organization. G.O Girls has a specific focus on young women aging out of foster care. Addressing the critical need for supportive services for young women transitioning from foster care into adulthood, G.O. Girls empowers young women to achieve a successful adulthood. Check out G.O. Girls at www.gogirlspa.org [Editor’s Note: Read our Fellowship blog on G.O Girls, as well!]
Q: What’s next for Levels?
A: Up next for Levels is deepening and widening our scope of services within the Pittsburgh area. We are eager to serve as connectors, collaborators and strategic planning consultants for startups/organizations that need clarity and/or management of programs. Two of our biggest projects currently are the program management of New Sun Rising’s-Ignite Northside 2.0 program and our Winter-Spring 2016/2017 series of Women on the Northside (W.O.N.) Learning Marketplace Creativity Hubs.
Ignite Northside 2.0 is a program in partnership with The Buhl Foundation and One Northside. The program propels next-stage development for businesses, projects and their leaders through cost-free training, resources, and connections. We are still accepting applications for this program! Click here to register https://www.newsunrising.org/ignite-northside/
W.O.N. is a program focused on the intentional, external change within self, professional work and community via innovative Learning Marketplace Creativity Hubs. Levels launched the W.O.N. Learning Marketplace Creativity Hubs in 2015. The hubs are designed to foster and support creativity, guide women to achievable goals, provide shared resources within community, networking and collaboration. The next hub will take place at Alloy 26 on May 31st. Click here to register http://www.twitter.com/home?status=I+am+attending+https://www.eventbrite.com/e/levels-creative-empowerment-and-consulting-group-won-learning-marketplace-creativity-hubs-tickets-29158082610?ref=estw