Entrepreneurs at Large
The city of Memphis is the birth place of many passionate entrepreneurs, from clothing lines to 1 million dollar industries, Memphis is the place where one can be whatever they want to be or as the Givens brothers feel Memphis to them is the “the city of opportunity.” Curtis and Corliss Givens have had their hands in the entertainment business for over 10 years, from failures to open opportunities these two men feel that highs and lows do not exist, they are only doors that open up a life of greatness.
“There Is No Losses Only Lessons”
It all started with two young men whom had a plan, that plan, was a rake and trash bags picking up leaves all through the summer as teenagers to create an area of income for themselves, was how they were taught early. As we all know, Memphis is a great place to be as an entrepreneur, a lot of people feel that their city is the city of struggle, but in Memphis we say, if you make it here, you can make it anywhere, and that’s what the brothers have done. Being an entrepreneur in Memphis creates thick skin like no other, it molds you exactly into the person you want to be. Corliss explained they received their interest in entrepreneurship from their father, who was a hard working man, happy to be an entrepreneur and teaching the young boys how to “have their own.” “We grew up around business,” said Corliss, “so it was only right that we track in his foot steps and invest in our own.” The brothers were close, living side by side even in the same bedroom as kids, working hard for one another yet most importantly, showing LoVe. That indeed isn’t what crossed their minds at that time, only picking up leaves and trying to become the greatest landscapers they could be at that moment, being great was all they knew.
“We were always molding ourselves to be the alpha men,” said Corliss Givens, who took the time to sit down with me at Sage Bistro one Wednesday evening to express the ups and downs he and his brother faced to get to where they are today. Corliss and Curtis, even though they were extremely close, attended different high schools, Curtis graduating from Fairly High School and Corliss Whitehaven. “We were top in our class,” he said, “making the top grades, graduating at the top of our class even in sports, we just wanted to be the greatest. Second place and being average was not in our make up.” This indeed was the truth, after a while, this is what the two showed the Memphis community, and the entertainment business.
The LoVe For People
The two were family men, loving on their families including all people around them. They were active in their local church and learned the values of family from those who they kept near. They involved themselves in the right people yet most importantly, they poured into each other.” We were close,” said Corliss.” Surely they were, through all the ups and downs they have had in business, the two remained cohesive, through any trial that came their way. Yet, it was something else they held dearly to them, something that will probably leave people astonished, the brothers loved to see people around them happy. Joy as well as seeing people smile is what they lived for. Since they figured that happiness is what drove them, they finally decided to step into the entertainment business, Curtis and Corliss became promoters.
From The Paramount Ball Room To The Premier
So how did what’s going on in Memphis entertainment happen today, well that of course, started at the Paramount Ball Room. The owners of the facility were the first who gave the brothers a chance, allowing them to host local parties for young adults in the city of Memphis. “The parties were going great, we had people showing up to enjoy themselves right in Paramount Ball Room,” he said. In fact, the two did so well that the owners finally decided to let them promote more parties at the location, since it brought them an excessive amount of business, the owners told the brothers to take over at the location giving them room to “run things the way they wanted.” After so many parties the walls in the Paramount Ball room came down, and since the floors shook so much from the great levels of music and people entering to enjoy themselves at night, the place eventually became, “The Premier.”
The Premier was the place to be every weekend. Right next door to a busy Walmart getting traffic inside the club doors was not hard at all, yet since the brothers worked so hard to be the greatest, they promoted day in and day out for every party they had, notice social media really did not exist at this moment. They promoted on foot, through flyers and word of mouth, this indeed is what makes them the well rounded entrepreneurs they are today, they have seen the best of both worlds, social media just made it easier. The Premier Night Club was the place to be, making the brothers a steady amount of income, yet that fantasy eventually vanished. After multiple ups and downs at the location, the brothers eventually had to close the establishment, they wanted to revamp their business, by only having the best and trying to keep up with culture changes. Since the years constantly changed, the entertainment business did major shifts as well, not to mention the clothing and the music. With this being said, the brothers diligently went back to the drawing boards to create a new blue print for something much greater.
The brothers did not hang their heads, they continued on their journey. You may sit and think how was the conversation in the room, after knowing your highly demanded Night Club has just tumbled to the ground, not because of the people, yet the culture change that was comradely taking place. In the entertainment business, one has to keep up, and since you are dealing with customers who always want the latest fashion, dances, or music the brothers knew they had to have the most up to date business in Memphis, no matter how much money it took, or how much money they’ve lost.
Only those four walls could tell us what happened that night, but the brothers kept drafting, this is indeed the part of entrepreneurship that others do not see. The blood sweat as well as tears you may put behind shout business to keep it going. We only see, the finished product. You have to take a couple losses to be a couple bosses. From the birth of The Premier four more clubs were established: Flirt, Cactus Jack, Level II and the very known Sliver Spoon.
Located in east Memphis, the Silver Spoon was a place of soul, inviting the older crowd in to come hang with them, the brothers believed in allowing their crowd to grow as they did, the more mature they became the more mature their audience were. “We wanted our crowd to grow with us, so this is what we did, created a spot that was chilled sort of a different atmosphere,” said Corliss. The Silver Spoon was not for young adults and teens, yet parents who got off work and wanted to relax with their love ones from a long day. Silver Spoon was soulful, not playing a huge amount of Hip Hop music, yet R & B, the crowd grew larger and the vibe was amazing. After working so hard to re-open their new spot, controversy started and the club eventually shut down. The establishment was a great space, yet in the wrong environment.This was another learning big curve for the brothers, allowing them to close the club down and restart again.
Around this time, Memphis crime rates were extremely high, ranking it one of the top violent cities in America, which was also a struggle for the brothers, keeping violence out of their clubs, but battling to eliminate the rift raft around it. “What people didn’t know, and what we had to understand, we had no control over what was going on, we had to get that in our heads, we wanted to branch out and do it again, but this time we wanted a better location, this time we wanted the spot to be ours.”
The two were usually renting locations or leasing them, not having a spot of their own or they could call theirs also caused a lot of commotion. Corliss explained how they had to worry if the owners of each spot they leased wanted to keep them there, this also created a problem and confusion, but the brothers kept going back to the drawing boards. Even after dealing with the general public and law enforcement, no matter what was thrown their way, they kept picking themselves up and moving forward.
If you want to know what is the motivation behind what the brothers are doing, it is to simply see how they lost it all multiple times, yet kept advancing forward. No matter how many businesses they have seen close, how much money they have seen washed down the drains, because they were climbing the ladder to entertainment and fame, there still was not an area of discouragement for them just opportunity. If it was any extremely discouraging moments, the city may never know. Since the two were so close, they held each other accountable and took the losses together as one, somewhat like when they were growing up. Corliss vouched for his brother, expressing that he is an awesome man, somewhat like himself, having a great love for people and the city as well as others around them.
This indeed was their motivation. With that being said, the brothers did not stop, the LoVe they had for themselves, the city and the fire to become successful entrepreneurs did not die. This was the plan of something special, this was them going back to the drawing boards to start over again, this was the idea and birth of the one and only In LoVe Memphis Bar and Lounge, or shall they say “ a sophisticated spot, for lounging in huge booths with contemporary drinks, small plates, cocktails and desserts.” This was In LoVe Memphis, which is now one of the biggest Celebrity Style night clubs/ lounges in Memphis.
In LoVe Memphis
You would think the reason why the “v” is capitalized in “LoVe” is because this lounge is the fifth establishment that the men have opened, yet that indeed is only an educated guess. So what was the point of opening the lounge and bar, well the brothers wanted something different, a different mood yet with the same feel, and that was love. “We didn’t really name the place until we finished with the blue prints,” said Corliss,” we never really do that, but we know one thing that we felt throughout this whole process, the feeling of happiness finally, and something much greater than all those trails and tribulations “LoVe”. The night bar and lounge kicked off great, hosting some of the top events in Memphis, with a different environment and better everything, including security. That in fact, was the security of protecting their place and finally having their own.
“We bought the building as soon as it came open,” he said, “we thought man, opportunity is knocking, and you have to take opportunity when it’s in your face, we had already been through a lot in the entertainment business just as club owners and promoters, so we thought…why not.” This indeed made them bosses, the brothers didn’t have to worry any more about leaving a property if they were not wanted, because they owned it, things finally went the way they wanted, and the lounge was typically in a good area. Crime rates around the club were low, this was taught to them by losing maybe millions of dollars just, learning that at first they had right idea yet the wrong area. But the brothers did not forget about their recent night clubs, they basically merged everything together, creating a Memphis style celebrity vibe or as Corliss Givens says,” I’m surrounded by LoVe, I’m hanging around all my people.”
As all Memphians know, LoVe is a very popular lounge, club and bar. The food has been rated elegant and delicious as well as mixing it with hip-hop and R&B music. This establishment has balance as Corliss explained why the place is open seven days a week. “No club in Memphis is doing this.” This probably proves how the brothers are not second place and remain second place to NONE. They continued to work hard drafting different themes for each day of the week supporting all crowds young and old. Some nights will be a vibe for the millennial crowd, while others consist of a old time Jazz feel with live music and saxophone players, the psychology of advertisement played a major role in this. They even invested their time into Memphis sorority and fraternity life, paying tribute to undergraduate and graduate students who are still enjoying the college experience. Like wise, themselves who are two men of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated.
This made them one of the mega lounges in Memphis, hosting famous hip hop artist like Yo Gotti and Jay-Z, including large Memphis events that grew with them like “Can I Live Weekend” and as well as their birthday parties, which are a hit every year. “We have worked with plenty of people,” said Corliss, “like The Who’s Who of Hip-Hop you can possibly name it.” The brothers do not only use the club as their limits, but have access to the whole city. Take Curtis Givens recent birthday bash for example, The Black Excellence Gala to be exact. People from all over the city including Conversations With Evonne was there to witness the experience. Not to mention those who flew in just for the event, as well as celebrity Grammy nominated singing groups like Jagged Edge . The atmosphere was very selfless, creating areas specifically to cater to the people, including seeing formal dresses and tuxedos fill the room. This time, the event was not at LoVe, yet The Ballet Memphis, to read the article on that event click here.
Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
Knowing just part of the story from these brothers is just motivation itself for any entrepreneur. They have climb as high as they could possibly go in the entertainment industry, now have businesses all around Memphis in multiple locations, including Big Bills Bar-B-Que, which is awaiting a major grand opening, and Corliss who has not given up on the landscaping dream, yet turning it into something much greater, reconstructing houses with his very know and successful business, Corliss Givens Construction Group. Corliss went by a new motto, stating that entrepreneurs should “put their money where their mouth is,” not as in being a big spender, yet turning their dollars into investments, and “owning assets,” so they can call them theirs.
For instance Corliss explained that the upscale expensive furniture that was at the Black Excellence Gala, was theirs to keep. “We decided that we should just buy and own furniture instead of renting it out, that furniture can be ours, and this is a way for entrepreneurs to save money as well, put your money where your mouth is, invest in your dreams and make money from that,” and like those couches, that is including good quality when it comes to investing in your product. The greatest part about what Corliss explained is, “it is yours and nothing is like owning your own.”
If you want to know more about the Givens brothers follow them on Instagram at the following social media sites: Curtis Givens Instagram: curtis_givens and Corliss Givens Instagram: @corlissgivens.
You could also check in with Conversations with Evonne for multiple updates on events and 9012MyCity What’s Going On In Memphis. I am Kahdejah Evonne and this is another outstanding article with Conversations with Evonne and thanks for tuning in. Be Blessed.