Spotlight: Elaina Paige Thomas
In this week’s spotlight, Prospect Business Association acknowledges Elaina Paige Thomas, and her talent agency, The Next Paige. We interviewed her to understand what led to the creation of the agency, also what it offers aspiring actors, dancers, and other artists.
Before starting “The Next Paige'', Elaina was a well-established dancer. She was inspired by figures such as her mother, along with the famous choreographers Jamaica Craft and Debbie Allen. After receiving a degree in dance from Columbia College in Chicago, her talents were discovered by pop star Beyonce Knowles-Carter. Elaina became one of the back-up dancers for Beyonce’s Run the World debut performance in 2011, during the finale of the Oprah Winfrey Show. This breakthrough opened countless opportunities for Elaina, like going on a world tour, while working with other artists such as The Black Eyed Peas, Tyrese, Ginuwine, and even her childhood idol, Debbie Allen.
The passion for the camera fueled her to learn and explore more about the entertainment industry and the business behind it. The dancer now transitioned into an actress, working in films, commercials and numerous forms of media. Elaina’s career was growing exponentially, but according to her, “when you’re always on the road, you soon become homesick”. She left her residence in Chicago to move back to Kansas City. When Elaina returned home, she realized that Kansas City had copious amounts of untapped talent within the black community. However, the problem was that most of the people didn’t have the connections to display their talents to a broader audience. Since Elaina loved to help other artists, she created The Next Paige, a talent agency, for the people, by the people.
The Next Paige provides guidance to aspiring artists by enhancing their talents, and navigating them through the entertainment industry. They hold auditions, dance workshops, One-on-One private classes, and other reliable services. The Next Paige has a clientele list of celebrities like former Kansas City Chiefs players Dwayne Bowe and Tamba Hali. Elaina says “I will never lose sight of promoting black excellence. It's important for black Kansas Citians to be accurately represented. The Next Paige is doing everything in its power to make that happen.”
Below there is a promotional video for The Next Paige Agency, as well as a photo gallery of Elaina's life on the road as dancer. To learn more about The Next Paige, visit https://nextpaigellc.com.
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Spotlight (3/24/2021): Clarissa Knighten
To celebrate Women's History Month, Prospect Business Association is shining the spotlight on some of the businesses in our community, owned by black women. This week we chose Jewelry Designer, Clarissa Knighten and her company, Rissa's Artistic Design (R.A.D).
Before Clarissa's designing career began in 2007, doctors wanted her to try different work involving her hands, than the corporate job she had been working for 19 years. It was then she started art therapy as a relaxing hobby, where she would spend countless days sketching. Wanting to find other ways to interpret her art, Clarissa began making her own jewelry. Ms. Knighten was so amazed of her creations; she began wearing her hand made jewelry in public. Clarissa told PBA, "when people wanted to purchase my jewelry designs off my neck, I realized I could gain a true income." Clarissa took the first step into her future by becoming a part-time jeweler and creating Rissa’s Artistic Design.
Selling her handcrafted treasures for ten years, Clarissa went into business for herself full time in 2017, due to her original job cutting her position. She said, “once my primary job was outsourced, it was like God telling me to commit fully to this business venture.” When Covid-19 hit the United States in 2020, it caused a lot of businesses to struggle, including R.A.D. Nearly 90% of Clarissa’s business profits came from vendor shows and client one-on-ones. This period proved to be problematic drastically affecting business operations. Within the month of July, Clarissa made the difficult decision to cancel the remainder of her in-person shows.
Looking to keep R.A.D afloat, she began doing monthly shows from her home studio online, where she began to see revenue slowly increase. Online shows also opened new opportunities for Clarissa. By creating a time and place on the internet for anyone to see her inventory, her clientele list grew outside the boarders of Kansas City, to places like Florida, Portland and Chicago. According to her, “if you want to own your own company, you’ve got to be willing to fight for it, during the high and low moments.” Clarissa knows she is not the only woman in the world that wanted to capitalize on a dream. She asks women who have a business idea, "why are you waiting, you'll never have a perfect time, just jump in and do it, also get a mentor to help you."
To see Clarissa’s amazing wares and to know when she will be hosting her next online show, visit www.RissasArtisticDesign.com.
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