‘SpeakLife’ Promotes Entrepreneurs and Community

LaShawnda Wilkins is the owner and founder of SpeakLife magazine, a free publication with the goal of highlighting those pursuing their dreams whether they are entrepreneurs, business professionals, or creatives of any kind. Since 2016, SpeakLife has been promoting success stories and positivity to foster a greater sense of community across Milwaukee. The magazine also features a Black-owned business directory with each edition.

Wilkins explains that it’s been a snowball effect since its inception.

“In 2015 I started my nonprofit, SpeakLife Motivation; I was doing that while I was in school full-time at MATC for business. That’s when I started doing events where I’d invite people who had businesses to come showcase themselves and I’d always have an inspirational word for people. In a matter of six to eight months I was able to build enough contacts to start a magazine. Now, SpeakLife Nation steps in because we help people start businesses, whether it is your LLC, credit, resume, or whether you need logos, banners or business cards—any branding products. We’re a one-stop shop. Whatever direction you go, we want to help you get there.”

SpeakLife Nation were excited to unveil their first-ever studio at the end of April, where they plan to serve such entrepreneurs with a physical space and resources. It’s located at 6878 N. Teutonia Avenue.

Wilkins explained, “We hope it’s the first of many to come. It’s an opportunity center where you can turn it into whatever you need it to be. Our ultimate goal is to develop different memberships. We have a section where it’s more so a working space; you can plug in your laptop or host a podcast; then we have another space where you can have private meetings or do photography or commercials.”

Channeling energy into expanding SpeakLife is how Wilkins coped with personal struggles through the pandemic.

“What you see in the magazine today is totally different from how it looked when we started in 2016,” Wilkins said. “We enlarged everything. I was used to delivering the magazine everywhere on foot and going door-to-door, but we took it virtual and now I’m doing Zoom calls with businesses. The last few years have been a time for innovation for us.”

That’s not the only thing Wilkins has been involved with. Last year, she and business partner Dee Tolbert started Sumthin Different Productions, an event planning company combining nightlife with networking opportunities. The two met while studying at MATC nearly a decade ago.

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“We want to throw events that are outside of the box that you may see when you go to Atlanta or Houston,” Wilkins said. “After our events we’ve had people say we made them feel 21 again.”

Hookah & Hook-Up

Tolbert added, “We had our first event in October, and then our second event was called Hookah & Hook-Up, where everyone picked different-colored cups based on relationship status and socialized.”

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