.Written by Kelly Sheehy, Content Specialist, Downtown Main Library
If you frequent downtown Cincinnati, there’s a chance you may have run into Presius Tajah in Washington Park, outside Coffee Emporium, or across the street at the new Kroger. With watercolor prints, stickers, buttons, and more, the art and the artists Tajah represents through her nonprofit artist agency LoveMPNZi have one thing in common – they're made in the Library’s MakerSpace.
We sat down with Tajah (virtually) to learn more about her journey as an entrepreneur, her latest consulting endeavor Lxrymtrx (pronounced “luxury matrix”), and how she uses the Library as a business tool.
Getting down to business
Tajah currently operates two business concepts. Lxrymatrx, a metaphsyical life coaching business and LoveMPNZi, a nonprofit artist agency that specifically focuses on teenagers and working-class artists, affirming their self-worth.
Tajah moved to Cincinnati in 2013 after graduating from art school in the South, before taking her talents to a bigger cities, like San Francsico, Los Angeles, and New York. After each foray into a new endeavor in a new city that brought its own unique struggles, Cincinnati remained home-base. A place where she could find refuge and resources.
A leg up from the Library
One of the things that drew Tajah back to Cincinnati time and time again was the Library’s MakerSpace, a free (not including the cost of materials) and accessible place to make her art, as well as a place to conduct business.
“I knew Cincinnati had a MakerSpace and that really won me back […] I could be as imaginative as I wanted and test ideas out for a price that was affordable to me,” she said. “The whole reason I came back to Cincinnati was just general affordability —including the Library —and wanting people to have a better opportunity. The Library wants people to have access and something to get them on their feet, so I appreciate that and that investment and having a place to work.”
Presius uses the MakerSpace digital printers, button makers, and sticker printers to produce her work as well as the work of the artists she represents. Kiosks with computers loaded with programs like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop help artists edit and upload their work, without having to incur the cost of the expensive software.
“In big cities, to rent an office is so expensive,” she said. “The Library gave me a level of that, because you can’t create in a café all the time. Also, the Library gave me the ability to have an outside “semi-studio,” a place to work and make art, have internet access, and also have people to bounce ideas off of because there are other entrepreneurs in there. There are lots of pretty die-hard entrepreneurs out there, festival people, all kinds of stuff, so it was also a place where I could […] keep my entrepreneur spirit up because there were other people and employees who loved to provide information to lead to your success.”
Grants for starting up a nonprofit
Being at the Library also helped connect Tajah to information about events, and how to get grants if you are starting a nonprofit like she was. “As LoveMPNZi was coming up, one of the MakerSpace staff walked me over to the grant space because they had been watching my growth. I was just mentioning where we were and the next phase as a nonprofit and they were like, ‘Oh, come with me, I’m going to show you the Grant Resource Center’. So, the engaged employees, the office space, the feedback of other entrepreneurs, and the access and affordability, are what make the Library great.”
You can sign up for virtual classes including Introduction to Finding Grants, Grants Research Lab, and more by visiting the Grant Resource Center on our website. Because they are virtual, these classes are attended not just by people in the greater Cincinnati area, but all over the world.
“We offer three free virtual grant classes each month,” said Kent Mulcahy, Reference Librarian in the Information & Reference Department at the Downtown Main Library who specializes in all-things grants. “[The classes] are perfect for those new to the nonprofit grant-seeking world. From general myth-busting to specific tips and tricks to navigate the unspoken rules of etiquette involved, we’ll help you feel confident that this intimidating world is something you absolutely can tackle yourself. We also offer free access to the industry standard for funder research: The Foundation Directory Online database.”
You can email Kent any time to ask questions or schedule a one-on-one appointment.
It's okay to fail
When it comes to entrepreneurship, Presius Tajah has lots of advice (that’s why she started a whole consulting business, after all.). One tip from Tajah: it helps to be exceptionally excited about failure. “That is your biggest win in life is to be exceptionally passionate about failure,” she said.
“There’s been many times where I was homeless and in a lot of struggle. I lived out of luggage or a backpack most of the time. I had created networks in Cincinnati so it actually benefited me to go, fail, and come back, go, fail, and come back. Be okay with failure. Failure is more of an investment than blowing your money on fear-based decisions or exposing yourself to any sort of suffering due to fear-based issues or of being exploited. It’s okay to accept failure and take a break.”
Through all of the ups and downs, one constant has always remained, Tajah’s hunger for success and passion for art. “Knowing who I am became my biggest life lesson,” she said, “I am someone who is hungry. I’ve been using the word ‘wolf’ a lot recently as I build Lxrymtrx, because how I got here was to be hungry. Wolves are not frivolous energy; they are intuitive and perceptive. I’ve been a very hungry wolf this whole time.”
For more information about access and booking reservations, visit the MakerSpace webpage.