Verlen Mitchell
Small Business, Big Determination

Verlen Mitchell is the CEO & founder of Ship District Inc. He speaks on entrepreneurship, racial equality, and gives advice to aspiring business men and women.

Ruby McAuliffe: What is your perspective on entrepreneurship?

Verlen Mitchell: To me, entrepreneurship is being more than just a businessman. It’s creating jobs and opportunities for others, as well as creating a vision that you have that’s business focused and can meet different goals or problems that society currently has.

Ruby McAuliffe: Where did this passion ignite from?

Verlen Mitchell: Entrepreneurship has been throughout my family. I have an uncle that was an entrepreneur and my family has a very creative mindset. When we put our mind to something, we do it. 

Ruby McAuliffe: What is some advice you would give aspiring entrepreneurs?

Verlen Mitchell: Research. Definitely, definitely think about and plan out how you want to go ahead and start your business. Definitely have an endgame in mind. How big do you want to take your business? Do you want to sell your business later on? What’s going to be the most interesting thing to a buyer? Also, don’t get caught up with other people’s success. Just focus on what you’re doing brick by brick. Set goals and reach them at your own pace. And, yes, there is competition out there, but there’s a lot of opportunity to go around depending on the business you choose. And not only that, but if you just focus on you and your customer, you’ll have a better edge than somebody that’s trying to focus on their competition.

I’ve also learned that a lot of things look hard and unachievable, but there’s always a way around something. There’s always resources that can help you achieve certain goals. Anything’s possible if you just seek answers and never give up and have that determination. 

Ruby McAuliffe: What are your thoughts on the state of our nation when it pertains to the importance of equality?

Verlen Mitchell: As far as inequality in our nation [goes], it’s something that has always been around. I’m African American, so a lot of what’s going on isn’t new to me. It’s unfortunate, but we can’t sit here and pretend that this problem hasn’t always been here. But I think it’s escalating to a point where it hasn’t been previously due to social media. Because of that, we are able to see things from normal people’s perspectives that see these things all the time. And as a society, we just have to do better in general. How do we do that? By focusing on the problems that can be solved instead of the violence. We also need to come together fundamentally. Like, doing business down here in LA, we’re breaking barriers. In the fashion district of downtown LA, we’re pretty much the only African American owned business on our spot and we’re doing business with different cultures. We have a variety of different clients. For all to do this, it’s going to take a lot, and we don’t have all the answers; but I think if we come together fundamentally and do more together, then there wouldn’t be too much inequality. 

Learn more about Verlen Mitchell here:

Instagram: @vwmitche

Company Name: Ship District

Company Website:

Company Instagram: @shipdistrict

Read more about how small business owners are making a difference this year here and here


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