Most children have an idea of what they want to be when they grow up. Popular professions include doctors, teachers, veterinarians—which all share the common theme of children wanting to help others. As a high school student at Booker T. Washington, Chloe’ DuPlessis imagined herself as a grown up, dressed in a charcoal suit, hair blowing in the wind, wearing plum lipstick with a briefcase walking fiercely. “It could’ve been downtown D.C., New York City or downtown Shreveport, it didn’t matter,” she said.
After four years of college at the University of New Orleans, DuPlessis was getting ready to begin her master’s degree in international studies at Tulane. However, right before school began, Hurricane Katrina placed DuPlessis where she never thought she would be, back in her high school room sleeping on Winnie the Pooh sheets.
“I had to reevaluate things. I told my mom, I just need to be prayerful and I need to focus and be back home. So I resigned from my job [working in the financial aid department] because there were so many unknowns. I said, ‘Maybe there’s a reason that I am back in Shreveport.’”
DuPlessis starting volunteering and working with the youth at the same high school she had graduated from four years prior. Devoting her time to students and professional development, she gained a deeper love for her school and neighborhood. As her presence in the school continued, community members kept encouraging her to run for a position on the school board.
At 26, she became one of the youngest candidates to run for the Caddo Parish School Board in District 3. Though her campaign failed, she still felt like she needed to work in the community. Fate allowed her to meet former Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover at a Civil Rights community event honoring her mother—the first black student to integrate Caddo Parish Schools.
She impressed Glover and joined his campaign, later following him to city hall where she accepted the job as his executive assistant. For four years, she was constantly on, working feverishly for the community and Shreveport’s mayor. “I managed all of the youth programing and development, special interest groups for nonprofits, grant writing and the community based efforts. It was a beautiful experience but when my husband proposed, I knew that I could not continue at that pace because you are never off. You have to live your job and for so long as a young woman, I thought that was what I wanted.”
It wasn’t that DuPlessis didn’t see herself working hard, when she pictured herself in her career back as a high school student she was fiercely walking—not running. “I loved [my job at the time], but I knew that if I did not invest my energy in other areas, I would have nothing for myself,” she said. Again, she needed to re-evaluate. The result of paying attention to “the energy and signs” directed DuPlessis to become her own boss and develop DuPlessis Consulting.
Her consulting company represented government businesses, taking into account the relationships she had developed from years prior. Her business was taking off, but a creative energy would cause her to switch gears yet again. The DuPlessis Agency did, in fact, begin on a napkin but the initial thought crossed her mind during a conversation she had at her husband’s graduation from LSU-Shreveport in the digital animation program. She kept getting questions about how creatives can get a job, brand themselves or make money. With a goal to help creative entrepreneurs flourish, DuPlessis gained 35 clients in the first year with the DuPlessis Agency—her second business. “We are here to support [creatives] and make sure your business is healthy and sustainable, connect you to resources—all those things that most creatives don’t want to deal with.”
The DuPlessis Agency also works with aspiring entrepreneurs. “We ask them, what would you do if money was not an issue? Then we ask the follow up questions—which is what a lot of people don’t ask. What are you extraordinarily gifted at? Because often times, we will love something, but we don’t have the skill set for it. Sometimes those skilled sets cannot be developed, [those skills have] to be innate.”
The DuPlessis Agency is “creative support for creative entrepreneurs” with the goal to help clients monetize their passion. “As artists and creatives sometimes we can get so much in our head, we forget our own value and we forget the value that our work has to other people.”
The book, Monetize Your Passion, began as a resource and orientation guide to new clients of the DuPlessis Agency. After most clients read through the book, those creatives shared the words of DuPlessis with others seeking out their own passions. This past spring, the Monetize Your Passion conference launched in conjunction with a book tour. The conference had its initial run in Shreveport and will move on to New Orleans with a scheduled Oct. 14 date. “[The Monetize Your Passion conference] established that wherever we are coming from, we are all here to learn and support each other,” she said. The Shreveport event brought together creative professionals from across Louisiana, Texas, and Florida and was similar to, in her words, “speed dating with content for creative entrepreneurs.”
Three years, 48 clients, 22 brands, four art shows and one global arts fellowship in Cuba, is the current resume of the DuPlessis Agency. “This is my governing light and it is amazing to be almost 40 and have that awareness and calling. Through our agency and our work, we are committed to helping creatives realize their creative potential and build strong, sustainable businesses and prosperous lives of purpose doing what they love. When you think of the impact to our clients, their families and loved ones and the potential to positively transform people’s lives it is amazing. And I am so honored to be a part of that.”