From being the founder of the Block Party for Peace to the Community Baby Shower, Antonio Parkinson, State Rep. for District 98, is about "making a difference." Now he is poised to make a huge impact in the health and beauty industry with HINO, his latest venture.
Carlee McCullough: Please tell us about yourself.
Antonio Parkinson: I grew up in a single parent household. My mother was...well, still is a stylist. As a child we watched her go through cosmetology school and then helped her to build a business in the cosmetology industry. From that seed was birthed my entrepreneurial spirit and currently I am the owner of a marketing company, Black Market Strategies.
CM: What does HINO stand for?
AP: HINO...is Hair Industry Night Out!
CM: What type of clientele does HINO attract?
AP: HINO draws health and beauty industry professionals and consumers. The core demographic is women ages 25 to 44. It is a diverse crowd, with most being small business owners or contractors to small businesses.
CM: What sparked the idea for HINO?
AP: My partner, Elnora Wharwood of the Beyond Beauty Group, and I saw a need for the creation of a recurring vehicle that would allow for a social gathering where ideas could be shared, networking could take place while increasing brand, product and consumer traffic to the businesses that participate. A shared acquaintance had the same idea and the events were pulled together and the idea was birthed.
CM: How can people get involved with HINO?
AP: People can get involved by sponsoring or setting up a vendor booth at the next HINO event ... or, simply come out and enjoy the HINO experience.
CM: What is the next step for HINO?
AP: From the beginning we set HINO up for expansion into other markets. We are currently pulling the Nashville team together to launch into that market by the summer and then into Chattanooga. The ultimate goal is to create a statewide HINO conference and trade show.
CM: What are the necessary elements that go into a successful business?
AP: A good business plan, a good marketing strategy, hard work and dedication.
CM: What emerging trends do you see in the hair industry?
AP: NATURAL HAIR...Natural Hair...natural hair... Natural hair is giving people the flexibility to grow their hair in a healthy manner while being able to add weave, wigs, etc. for a different look without sacrificing their health and the health of the hair. Of course in my other life as the state representative, I passed the laws in regards to the creation of free standing natural hair care schools and apprenticeships in our state.
CM: As a business advocate, what is the greatest reward?
AP: The greatest reward for me is to see a business become successful, create additional jobs and spawn other businesses.
CM: What is most challenging as a business owner and advocate?
AP: The most challenging is convincing aspiring business owners to understand the importance of marketing their businesses. You can have all the talent in the world, but if no one knows how to connect to that talent, it is fruitless and wasted.
CM: At the end of the day, who inspires Mr. Parkinson? Who are your mentors in all of your fields of expertise?
AP: I'm inspired by lots of people. My mother, who told me to read that Word every day is a big inspiration to me. By watching her story, living in it, seeing her (us) going from being homeless to me being in the State House, her becoming a stylist/business owner and getting her degree in nursing at 62 years of age... I learned to never give up. I'm also inspired by CEOs, my pastor Sammie Holloway and even the underdogs that take on challenges every day and are trying to change their lot in life.
Finally, those individuals that tell me what I can't do, motivate me. I remember being homeless and my aunts refusing to give me and my brother a place to stay. I was also told by one of those aunts that I was going to be the worse child that my mother had and I would end up in jail. It may have looked like that at the time, but those curses were just the motivation that I needed to fuel my blessings. I still pull from those words that were spoken over my life at that time when additional fuel is needed today. Now I'm one of the most successful people in my family. I thank God for them and everyone else who has helped me along the way.
CM: When is the next HINO event?
AP: The next HINO experience is April 20th at Onix 412 South Main Street at 6 .pm.