Business Story: Zeallous, San Francisco

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Elijah Collins was one of San Francisco’s recipients of the SmartBiz (r) Boost a Small Business in Need Grant Program. The program was designed to empower Black-owned and minority-owned business in Austin and San Francisco. Collins, whose business was severely affected by the economic downturn and coronavirus outbreak, has devised creative strategies to rebuild it and continue to serve musicians in the San Francisco Bay Area. This is the story of Collins’ small business journey.

Collins has a Bachelor of Science degree in Audio Production from the Art Institute of California, San Francisco.

He says, “My main focus was music production, studio recordings and live performances. I started working in the audio industry in San Francisco-Bay Area.” As an African American man in the music industry, he found it difficult to find work. While my hope was to work in studios, my experiences lead me to build up a partnership with an up-and-coming entertainment company.

Collins has developed the ability to plan and organize trade shows, conferences and live performances of any size. He led events in some of San Francisco’s most prestigious hotels, and continued to develop his skills as a musician and photographer.

He observed over the years that many talented local bands struggled to gain an audience and move beyond playing small venues. He saw that the bands could benefit from a boost to their social presence and help with promoting and hosting events.

“Once they established themselves and had an income, then they could afford to employ other artists to connect their music with the fans. He developed an idea using his academic experience, passion for music and Bay Area culture and event production skills to promote independent music. He says Zeallous was created to invest in my community and to give back. His grandmother, his uncle and three of his cousins own small businesses. Collins says he “did a lot of cleaning” at his family’s salon.

Collins was able self-fund his new business.

He says, “I have been growing slowly from my own money since 2015.” “I’ve adapted to the market while keeping costs low with digital video and live streaming. I also have a remote office.”

In March 2020, however, the pandemic of coronavirus will put an end to live music. He had to rethink the way he managed the business while still remaining active in the music industry. He said, “I’ll continue to run Zeallous while helping musicians and bands establish themselves and learning how to navigate this new COVID world. I want to continue driving brand growth through new projects and prospects, while connecting local musicians with music lovers in the San Francisco Bay Area.

COVID-19 has impacted his business in a multitude of ways.

The music industry has suffered major losses over the past six months due to the social distancing guidelines and restrictions. The local music industry has already been affected by the closure of bars, venues, and event spaces. He says that there are no guarantees about festival attendance until 2021.

Zeallous has a great opportunity to build a digital network by overcoming these obstacles.

Collins remains positive. After COVID I expect the music industry to change dramatically. Nina Simone said it best: “It’s the artist’s responsibility to reflect the time.” Many services are available to support musicians in this challenging time so that they can focus on what they do best, which is bringing people together with music.

Collins can now invest in Zeallous to build the infrastructure needed to grow.

“I intend to spend the grant money on accounting software for a full year to track and bill customers. By using online marketing and campaigns, I’ll also expand Zeallous’ reach to other musicians through social media platforms. “I would also use the grant for my web hosting services so Zeallous is accessible to a larger music community,” says he.

Collins is trying to slow down its growth and avoid taking on too many new clients in the current economic climate. Zeallous is a company with a great reputation. “I am studying marketing trends in order to elevate my brand within the community.”

Collins is committed to building a diverse employee and client team. Collins wants to attract people with diverse backgrounds to help musicians build their careers.

Visit the Zeallous site for more information about Elijah Collins’ creative company. SmartBiz wishes you all the best!

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