Chanel Cathey shares her strategic communications and public relations prowess via her boutique agency, CJC Insights. Cathay has long focused on working with female founders and BIPOC and minority-owned businesses, and saw a massive uptick in interest during the pandemic and with the racial reckoning of the last year. Interest in the agency’s diversity, equity and inclusion consulting also saw a surge as clients flocked for help building inclusive cultures through both employee (internal) communications and messaging and media relations. In 2020, Cathey received the 2020 ADCOLOR Change Agent Award for using her talents to enhance corporate cultures and create more inclusive industries. She is also on the Advisory Board for the Wall Street Journal's Women in the Workplace Series, helping to curate national events and conversations around the future of women and work – and is active in other communities supporting female entrepreneurs.
Notable long-term clients
digitalundivided, Esusu, IFundWomen, Luminary
What was your biggest business challenge this year and how did your team overcome it?
Like many entrepreneurs and small business owners, the uncertainty of the economic and social effects of COVID-19 was by far the biggest challenge we faced. The majority of our clients at CJC Insights are women and people of color entrepreneurs, a community that was hardest hit by the pandemic shut downs. Last year, our country also faced one of the largest social and political periods of unrest in recent history. We were not only faced with the challenges of maintaining our business needs during this difficult year, but also prioritizing the health and wellness of our team and our clients during this economic, political, and social reckoning.
As an entrepreneur myself, applying for the PPP loans was no easy task, and navigating the loan forgiveness process has been near impossible. Fortunately, our business today is stronger than ever and our current challenge is scaling operations and growing our team. Although it was an extremely challenging year to be an entrepreneur, my experience working through these new and difficult processes has further strengthened my purpose.
One of the biggest lessons learned from the past year is that there is strength in community. At CJC Insights, we are proud to have worked extremely closely with our clients to face these challenges head on. For example, we are proud to have worked closely with our client Esusu to activate the Esusu Rent Relief Fund, designed to help renters adversely affected by COVID-19. We also worked with our client digitalundivided to not only circulate critical information on the current state of Black and Latinx female founders with the first of its kind report, ProjectDiane, but also worked to announce the Do You Fellowship for Black and Latinx Entrepreneurs. We also launched the New C-Suite with digitalundivided and Cosmo magazine to spotlight and amplify inspiring women of color founders this year.
Although our agency started 3 years ago, before this critical racial reckoning was at the forefront of conversation, business trends have swept in our direction and also to our benefit. CJC Insights has worked to amplify voices of BIPOC entrepreneurs for years and disrupt industry standards by diversifying business coverage. I am proud of successfully making this leap into entrepreneurship, following my passion and purpose and helping founders find their voice and amplify their visibility. Although I am an unlikely entrepreneur, I hope this year and our successes encourage others to use their strengths and talents to create lasting change in our industries.