Cherokee Office of Economic Development · Cherokee by Choice.

Entrepreneurship Stories: Black-Owned Business Month Series

August 31, 2022

August is “Black-Owned Business Month” in America.  To celebrate, we’ve teamed up with Cherokee By Choice Investor Georgia Power to feature Cherokee-based black-owned businesses all month long. These inspiring stories will shed a well-deserved light on their incredible leadership, business acumen, and resilience.

“Georgia Power is proud to partner with the Cherokee Office of Economic Development to feature black business month. Minority-owned businesses in Georgia provide over 575,000 jobs to hard-working Georgians and energize the state’s economy. Georgia Power strives to empower these businesses by building social and economic opportunities in communities across the state through our engagement and partnerships that incubate new business owners and ideas,” said Georgia Power Area Manager Jeff Butterworth.

Week 1

Q&A Featuring Videographers Ron Green of The Video Plug & Kyle and Gianni Rand of Kannon Studios

To kick off the series, we’ll hear from local videographers Ron Green of The Video Plug and Kyle and Gianni Rand of Kannon Studios. These dynamic professionals help businesses attract new clients through compelling video content that leaves the viewer wanting more. Follow along on and via social media to like, follow, and share.

Ron Green | The Video Plug 

Tell us why you started your business in Cherokee.

I decided to start my business in Cherokee because number one, I live here. Number two, Cherokee is such a supportive community; both personally and professionally. It’s a great place to start your business.

How has staying engaged within the community through programs like 1MC and other business networking groups helped grow your business?

Staying engaged in the community with organizations like 1 Million Cups and other organizations has helped my business grow tremendously. It gives you incredible visibility just to be in front of people and meet other like-minded entrepreneurs – it’s a great way to grow your business.

As a small business owner, how are you working to keep a competitive advantage in today’s economy?

As a small business owner, I’m doing what I love to do, which is network. Networking is the number one factor for me to maintain a competitive advantage – just being in front of people. We grow through other people. I meet people who are smarter than me, who have been here longer, and can give me wise counsel. Networking is a great way to have an advantage.

How can we as a community best support you now and in the future?

The best way to support The Video Plug and other businesses in Cherokee is simple… Be intentional. If we were more intentional about supporting businesses that are in Cherokee County, that would be phenomenal. It would really help our economy grow; we would get to know each other better and continue to build a dynamic community.

Tell us about how we can learn more about your business.

You can learn more about The Video Plug on Facebook at “The Video Plug” or on Instagram at “@thevideoplug100.” You can also check us out on our website,

Kyle and Gianni Rand |  Kannon Studios

Tell us why you started your business in Cherokee.

We started our business because honestly, we wanted a place that would allow us to create content easily. We wanted to share stories that we’ve had throughout our lives, including the struggles that we’ve had to get closer to our community. That sort of drove why we wanted to have a studio. We looked for a space that was similar to what we wanted, but we couldn’t really find anything that fit that need specifically, so we were like, “okay we’ll just do it ourselves.”

How has staying engaged within the community through programs like 1MC and other business networking groups helped grow your business?

For us, it has been more about brand awareness. We’re not new to the industry, but our actual studio is new. We’ve been open for a little over two months, so coming to events like 1MC and other networking events has helped us establish relationships. Ultimately, that turns into business – whether we work with that person directly or get referrals. So just getting our name out there and having people talk about us and Kannon Studios is where networking events and programs like 1MC have helped the most.

As a small business owner, how are you working to keep a competitive advantage in today’s economy?

In addition to video, we also do photography and podcasting in our studio. Now, the target for us is pouring more dollars into marketing. We understand that people aren’t spending as much, but the type of clients that we typically attract (which are mostly business owners or those who work for a bigger company), understand the importance of connecting with people now more than ever before. We’re building relationships, so when people are ready to start spending – we’re in the back of their minds. In addition, we are always educating ourselves and looking at different trends so we can improve for our customers.

How can we as a community best support you now and in the future?

I think events like 1MC and sharing about some of the struggles that we face as videographers is helpful. Education-based events that we can share from our experience and expertise are powerful but so is bringing in outside sources that can help us grow as experts – whether it’s new technology or marketing/social media management, upcoming trends, or things that are changing in our industry. That’s our sweet spot – being able to engage in our community, but also to learn from others in our community who’ve gone a little bit further than we have.

Tell us about how we can learn more about your business.

Introduce us to people that haven’t heard of us. I would invite you to schedule a one-on-one with us, and either come by the studio or meet us for coffee. We want to build a relationship with as many people in the community as possible. It’s not something that we are going into and expecting a sale, but we want to start the beginning of a relationship. That starts with having a conversation and sharing stories. That is literally the best way for anyone to help our company. Schedule a time to talk with us; we would love to chat.

Click here to learn more about Kannon Studios.

Week 2

Q&A Featuring Mikah Miller of With A Child’s Heart Behavioral Health Center

This week, we’ll hear from Mikah Miller of With A Child’s Heart Behavioral Health in Canton– a creative, high-energy counseling center for kids, adults, and families.  Follow along on and via social media to like, follow, and share.

Mikah Miller of With A Child’s Heart Behavioral Health Center

What inspired you to start your business? I’ve always wanted to help people. At my childhood church in Washington, D.C., my mom was in charge of “The Street Ministry,” where she provided meals and support to the homeless. It was the first time I ever saw true despair. As I grew older, I started to form my goals to be a therapist – with a special thank you to Ricki Lake and the movie, The 6th Sense. After college, my master’s program, and a lot of amazing jobs that provided me with experience, I decided to open up my own center. I wanted to reach people my way without restrictions.

I am a big kid at heart and grew up on Pee-wee’s Playhouse and Disney, so I’ve recreated that in my office. Our office is not just for kids, but for anyone who wants to connect to that childlike wonder.

How has being in Cherokee County helped grow your business?
I love Cherokee – it’s like a family. I am a very family-oriented person, so my group practice is a very family-oriented place; good people trust good people. When I meet people and take on new clients, they refer us to others; it is just a big circle of love. I work with local schools, dentists, and doctors – we are just one big family. That’s the best part. I have made all of these connections, and it has been effortless. We really do show love to each other.

What advice would you give to other small business owners who are wanting to grow/scale their business?
I would tell people to follow their passions and lead with their hearts. People will come, and money will come. Nothing will be perfect when you’re jumping out of the gate; it’s called growing a business for a reason – you can perfect it later. I also provide private practice consultations, and this is always the first piece of advice I provide.

What kind of services do you offer?
We offer mental health therapy for children, teens, adults, and families. We also do couples therapy, group therapy, and virtual reality group therapy.  Our newest venture is our Virtual Reality Social Skills group. This helps our kiddo clients become more comfortable building their social skills first without having to worry about superficial things. We always have an in-person meeting at the end of the group cycle to put those skills to use. It’s been fascinating to witness!

What would you tell someone who is considering therapy but is hesitant to do so?
I would always say if you’re unsure, start with a consultation. A lot of therapists offer 10–15-minute consultations. The hardest part is calling and that can really assist with eliminating hesitation. So just book the consult. In my office, we will offer a consultation depending on the season. Sometimes, we are very busy and booked with current clients. But right now, we are offering consultations until the end of August.

How can we as a community best support you now and in the future?
What Cherokee has done for us so far has been amazing. The support, the referrals, and the love have all been invaluable. So, keep that up! I love how open-minded our clients are and/or their parents.  So just continue to be open-minded, open to new people, new experiences, and new ways of trying therapy. And remember, therapy isn’t just for when you’re going through stuff. You can also see a therapist when things are going well. It’s amazing self-care!

To learn more about With A Child’s Heart Behavioral Health Center, visit or call 770.224.7245.

Week 3

Q&A Featuring Jerry King of J King Images

This week, we’ll hear from Jerry King of J King Images – a headshot and professional portrait photographer based in Canton.  Follow along on and via social media to like, follow, and share.

Jerry King of J King Images

What inspired you to start your business?

Impulse. I always had an appreciation for photography, but I never saw myself as a photographer. In April of 2011, I bought a camera, and I fell in love with taking pictures. Nothing was safe from the camera, including your water bottle, dogs, cats, you name it. Next thing you know, I’m taking time off work just to do photography.

Toward the end of my law enforcement career, I thought, “I want to do so much more with my life.” Eventually, I decided I was going to quit law enforcement and pursue photography full-time.

How has being in Cherokee County helped grow your business?

Moving to Cherokee County was a fortunate mistake. Looking back, it was the best move I could’ve made. I met many people in Cherokee who helped me along the way, saw something in me that I didn’t see, and gave me opportunities and chances. Through those opportunities, I flourished. There are a handful of people that contributed my early success, which built a platform for me to expand. Even down to my landlord. He doesn’t know it, but I’m here because he was lenient with me during the hard times.

Regarding the culture, I was kind of skittish being African American coming to Cherokee. It wasn’t as diverse at the time as I would’ve liked it back in 2013. Prior to moving here, I was used to seeing a lot more integrated backgrounds. I originally thought it would’ve been a detriment for me to start a business here and coming into a place where I’m new, but I was proven wrong. Cherokee County has supported and welcomed diversity. I feel like I’m a part of the community and not a stranger. Cherokee is my home.

What advice would you give to other small business owners who want to grow/scale their business?

Don’t give up, and don’t listen to another person’s limiting beliefs. You always hear from people; whether it be your peers, family members, or outsiders saying, “You’re not going to make it,” or “Not many people make it…most businesses fail.” But you’re not most businesses.

You need to seek advice from people who are where you want to be, and not from people who are at the same place as you.

What kind of services do you offer?

Headshots, mainly. That’s my mainstay. I do editorial and commercial photography, and I’m trying to make the transition to commercial work with corporate offices that I work with, and more lifestyle and branding. I like a challenge, and I love interaction with people. I’m still passionate about photography even though I do it almost every day. I wake up, and I’m excited because I get to meet someone new.

You have such a unique personal story and professional career including military service, law enforcement, and S.W.A.T. team experience), what led you to pursue photography?

I spent 27 years of my life in uniform and service to country. I had always given, given, and given. When I look back on it, I always sacrificed for others and never did anything for myself. In law enforcement, I was meeting people at their worst. I always met someone who was distressed or doing something bad. For the 11, almost 12 years I was on the SWAT team, I had very little contact with the general public. Usually, I was kicking in doors or doing operations, so I had a very jaded outlook on life.

When I picked up the camera and started playing, I realized how much joy it brought me, and I was like, wow this is where I want to be (photography). I wasn’t strapping on body armor or a gun, but I was hanging out with people. I never would’ve met people without the camera. The camera has always been my passport into people’s lives. I’ve gotten to know people; I’ve made some really good friends. I have even connected with people internationally, which I never would’ve done had it not been for photography.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about building a photography business?

Networking has gotten me to where I am today. I would say, if you’re in it for the money, find something else to do. If you want to see success, be humble and chase relationships – not transactions.

How does having a professional headshot elevate your personal brand?

A well-done headshot can take you places. I’ve known people to get called out of the blue and get jobs simply because of headshots that I’ve done in the past. Someone may say, “Someone saw my headshot, and I got a casting call for something I didn’t even audition for.” A lot of times people look for something that will be the cheapest, but a well-done professional headshot will allow you to stand out and show that you’ve invested in yourself. Those companies know it wasn’t cheap for you to get a well-done headshot, and they know you invested. A well-done professional headshot will allow you to stand out in the right way. Don’t be afraid to expand and come out of your comfort zone. Trust in the process; it’s a collaboration, it’s not all on the photographer. It takes teamwork to get the best shot.

To learn more or book a photography session with J King, visit

Week 4

Q&A Featuring Tracye Busbee of Acutely Aware Firearms Instruction, LLC. 

This week, we’ll hear from Tracye “TBuzz” Busbee of Acutely Aware Firearms Instruction, LLC. – a Canton-based business whose mission is to provide targeted instruction to women who desire to become more proficient in their own self-defense. Follow along on and via social media to like, follow, and share.

What inspired you to start your business?

When I relocated to Cherokee from Washington D.C., I decided to enroll in a citizen’s police academy that Canton was offering. My husband traveled a lot for work, and I was left here alone with my young son in a new community. I started thinking about how I might defend myself and my son should the need arise, so I decided to purchase a firearm. From there, I knew I needed to be trained on becoming a safe and responsible firearms owner, and I began to look for training locally. I found that the training offered was mostly by former military or law enforcement, and it seemed a bit too tactical for the new firearm owner, which was me. Ultimately, this inspired me to start my own business.

How has being in Cherokee County helped grow your business?

Cherokee promotes and supports small businesses so well, which gave me the perfect opportunity to grow a business here. This community believes in supporting new and smaller businesses, and there are many resources available for new entrepreneurs. One of the biggest benefits is the power of Cherokee networking. These groups support community businesses and help businesses spread the news about their offerings. Ultimately, the community has been one of the most beneficial resources to my business, and for that, I am grateful. Additionally, the City of Canton staff has been instrumental in providing vital information through their website, in person, or via telephone about the required paperwork and the processes to begin and continue your business in Cherokee County.

What advice would you give to other small business owners who are wanting to grow/scale their business?

I think the best advice that I would give to other small businesses is to really get to know your community, the resources they offer, and to meet other entrepreneurs through networking. Staying connected and being involved with the community is vital. It is important to talk about your business, but to also promote other small businesses. I partner with different businesses locally, and it is beneficial. They talk to friends, and their friends talk to friends, so it is powerful. Together, we all win.

How can we as a community best support you now and in the future?

I think the best support would be to continue to spread the word about the importance of community safety, and the training required to help maintain that safety. We live in a relatively safe environment. But having a safety plan really does help to build confidence and makes you comfortable in times when there are perceived threats in the community. Word of mouth about my business is the ultimate compliment, and the number one reason for the referrals that I currently receive.

Tell us about the different classes that you offer.

I offer a variety of training based on lifestyles. I teach on a spectrum from situational awareness to less lethal tools such as pepper spray, striking tools, etc., to firearms safety and fundamental instruction. I provide individual and group training. Some of my classes include workplace safety and wellness, real estate professional safety workshops, home defense, red zone school safety programs for high school and college students, girlfriends defense safety workshops, and church security. I’ve found that everybody’s safety plan and journey is different, so you must meet people where they are comfortable. Some people come from domestic violence backgrounds, some people are divorcees, or they’re widowed, and now they are responsible for their own self-protection.

Your website says that you are an “Independent Damsel Pro” for Damsel In Defense. Could you tell us more?

Damsel In Defense is a business that anybody can join. I joined it because it was the perfect complement to the business that I already had. The primary focus is to equip, empower, and educate women and families about their personal safety options by demonstrating how to use the tools we offer, and to help defend against potential threats through our “safety empower hours.” We serve to train people on how to protect themselves, teach people how to be prepared, and to educate people about the best way to prevent an attack through situational awareness training. We bring that demonstration to you, and I also have a classroom in Canton if you don’t have a space.

What would you tell someone who is considering becoming more proficient in their own self-defense, but isn’t sure where to start?

It is very daunting. I’ve learned there are many people who own firearms but are not sure where to start. That’s exactly where I was, and I modeled my business based on what I was seeking at the time.  I would tell anyone who is interested in becoming more proficient in their own self-defense to really consider a fundamentals class. It is important to seek out a certified instructor, and to vet them carefully. Talk about what your self-defense goals are, and make sure that instructor can meet your needs. It is a very personal choice. It needs to be somebody that is relatable to you, someone that you feel confident and comfortable talking about your personal protection goals. Training is not a one and done, so you must be prepared to practice and create that muscle memory, which leads to the proficiency. It needs to be somebody who you feel comfortable going back to after the initial training.

What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?

I’ve learned many great lessons as an entrepreneur. First and foremost, you must talk about your business to have a business. Networking allows you to talk about your business, get your name out there, and build relationships with others in the community. Additionally, it is vital to run your business with honesty and integrity because people must trust you to trust what you offer. It is important to surround yourself with other successful entrepreneurs, and to possibly consider getting a mentor. Every lesson is a learning opportunity, and there is always more to learn. Your passion will keep you up at night, so rest when you can.

To learn more about Acutely Aware Firearms Instruction, LLC., visit

Q&A Featuring Shalakay Gibbs of SuiteSciens

This week, we’ll hear from Shalakay Gibbs of SuiteSciens – a NetSuite consulting firm that helps companies successfully navigate growth and expansion. This up-and-coming tech company, which started in Cherokee’s first coworking space – The Circuit Woodstock – recently expanded its corporate office to a new location in Holly Springs. Follow along on and via social media to like, follow, and share.

What inspired you to start your business?

I was inspired to start my business when I worked at a consulting firm. While there, we implemented NetSuite for our customers, which helped us leverage the accounting services of a consulting firm. One day, we were challenged with helping a client improve the transaction flow in their system. We conducted an extensive strategy session that included 5 senior managers.  Essentially, we were billing for consultants to determine how we were going to pitch a solution to this client. During this time, I felt we could better serve this client. So, I had a “lightning bolt” moment. If we were smaller and more nimble, I could serve clients better. This was one of my “ah-ha” moments, where I discovered I wanted to do this on my own.

How has being in Cherokee County helped grow your business?

I don’t have enough good things to say about moving my business to Cherokee. When we started SuiteSciens, we were not originally located here. But, Cherokee was a more appropriate place for us because of its size and its reputation for innovation. I’ve been able to benefit directly from my involvement in the North Atlanta Venture Mentoring Service (NAV), the Woodstock Business Club, 1 Million Cups Cherokee, and Young Professionals of Woodstock (YPOW) meetings. There are so many innovative concepts built into the infrastructure of Cherokee that are geared toward helping micro-businesses like SuiteSciens.

What advice would you give to other small business owners who are wanting to grow/scale their business?

First, consider NetSuite! NetSuite is an ERP cloud-based software that helps companies manage business-critical functions such as order management, revenue management, financial reporting, supply chain management, payment processing, and much more. This powerful integration helps simplify your business’ processes, eliminates silos, and helps you stay competitive. Because SuiteSciens is a NetSuite solution provider, we can negotiate preferred rates, help manage the user-friendly application, and customize it for your needs. That’s a shameless plug!

I would also advise businesses to have their financial ducks in a row. Business owners should carefully manage their accounting from day one. Without a good grasp on your financials, you won’t be able to perform historical analysis on your clients in the future. You need to start building up that data, so you can analyze whether your product or service line is profitable. Sometimes, when you do this analysis, you will find that you spend 80% of your time working on something that only brings in 20% of your revenue.

Additionally, plug into a network. It is important to build a community where you can share ideas. Without a network of others, it can be very lonely, challenging, and daunting to analyze everything and make decisions on your own. Personally, I turned to NAV. Through this program, I have built a network of diverse business owners with whom I can communicate with regularly.

How can we as a community best support you now and in the future?

SuiteSciens operates heavily on referrals. On August 18th, we launched our official referrals program. For each referral, we thank our friends with cash. We will also provide excellent service to the clients that you refer to us. In addition, following us on LinkedIn and liking us on Facebook gives us the exposure needed to build our business and help more companies grow and scale through NetSuite.

We are also interested in presenting at speaking engagements – anywhere that we can get marketing support. Knowledge about marketing grants, including educational grants or courses would allow us to learn digital marketing. These are all things that we need to support our business as we move forward into our next phase.

How can leveraging social media allow one to grow their business?

We use social media not necessarily to get leads but to establish social proof. After we speak to a prospective client, they look us up. They visit our website, but some clients dig deeper than the website. They want to know who they’re doing business with, the culture of our organization, and the type of energy we will bring to their team. In the future, we would like to learn how to use social media as a lead generator, but for now, we use it as social proof.

What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?

One of the most important lessons that I’ve learned is…I don’t know everything and that’s okay. I’ve learned to ask for help a lot more. Again, I’m the biggest fan of the NAV program. Through this program, I turn to my mentors to help problem-solve. I also turn to the community for help or ask for suggestions from people who are in completely different industries. I have learned to ask open-ended questions, leverage my network as much as possible, delegate certain tasks to my team, and step back. I trust them with the process, and check in when necessary because checking-in too often can lead to burnout.

You have been a part of our NAV mentor program. How has this program helped you and your business grow?

This is one of the most important tools in my toolbox!  Having a solid structure of checking in with my mentors helps enforce discipline within my business operations. These checkpoints with my mentors mean that we need to have our data and financial statements closed by a specific time. When I first started NAV, we were closing our books sometimes 20-25 days after the month closed – this was unacceptable considering we were a company that helps people close their books. After being in NAV, we now religiously close our books on the 10th of the month. Ultimately, this check-in helps us to strive toward future improvements. It is invaluable to have mentors who have been doing this for much longer than I have.  There are so many things that I have learned throughout this process.

How would you explain your business to the younger generation (ex: fifth graders)? What pathway (whether it be internships, majors, etc.) would you advise them to take if they were interested in doing something like what you do?

Most businesses have many moving parts. For example, a restaurant has to keep track of many things. They have the food, a physical building, and staff they need to pay. I implement a type of software that allows them to keep track of it all.

NetSuite helps businesses clearly understand how much product they have left and how much they have paid their staff recently, but it also communicates the value of what they have in stock, and to see if their business is profitable or not.

The most relevant degrees for this industry are IT, accounting, and business. These pathways would be ideal to better understand what clients might be looking for so you can help them accomplish their goals. As far as internships or starting jobs, it would be helpful to pursue something related to cost or financial accounting, business systems, relational databases, and learning how to leverage Microsoft Access databases for tracking purposes.

To learn more about SuiteSciens, visit


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