What’s the next step in a down economy where jobs aren’t hiring and salaries aren’t climbing? Simple—take a page from Sharan Nixon’s playbook and form your own self-made conglomerate. The budding business mogul is a one-woman building crew. She manages three businesses along with three children but still finds time to masquerade in a normal life.

The founder of Baltimore Fashion Week (BFW) is way too busy right now. Her annual BFW is fast approaching its Aug. 19 start date and her latest nonprofit creation, Nixon Development, just launched in 2009 with intentions set on remaking the world—starting first with the world’s core: its youth.

“ sole purpose and goal as an organization is to save our youth and guide them down a pathway to a new normal that will either introduce or re-ignite them to a dream once unfulfilled,” Nixon says.

It’s somewhat fitting in a way that Nixon’s newest creation revolves around adolescents. Nixon harvested childhood dreams of becoming a teacher because she “liked writing on the blackboard and making ditto copies for the class.” Although she didn’t quite make it to the schoolroom, headlining her own youth-salvation program is rewarding enough.

Just like her current business profile, Nixon had her ideas in a little bit of everything as an amateur. A fashion fanatic as a teenager, she spent her free time reading style magazines and presaging her move into the industry. That fashion bug eventually grew into BFW but it was her work in event management that sparked her inner entrepreneur and led to her first enterprise, Butterfly Productions.

“That was my husband my life and it seemed as if everything else revolved around it,” Nixon revealed.

Putting her all into her first business was rewarding but success came at a cost for the mother of three.

“One I was pulling an all-nighter and my son came to me and said ‘Mom, you’re always working and we miss you,’” Nixon recalled. “I replied, ‘But I’m right here’ he replied ‘It’s not the same.’ I was working from home at the time it was a major wake-up call for me when my son said that. After that statement, I returned to being a mom again.”

With her priorities balanced and family happy, Nixon takes pleasure in starring as a self-employed business woman. The freedom to come, go and do as she pleases gives her all the job security she needs; in spite of a few life learning experiences along the way.

“In the beginning, starting my own business was a grand idea,” Nixon adds. “But then you have to learn how to live, love, and work, and you also have to learn how to separate the three when the time comes. Running any kind of business large or small is hard, but you need to have a strong support system and a grounded spiritual belief.”

For upcoming dates and locations on Baltimore Fashion Week or more on Nixon’s enterprises visit: www.butterflyprods.com.

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO