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From Tragedy to Triumph

3.22.2023 / Gateway in the News

From Tragedy to Triumph

From Tragedy to Triumph

As seen on KJRH Channel 2, by Karen Larsen, which aired on March 22, 2023 at 6:29 PM CT.

Watch the story here:

An Oklahoma entrepreneur plans to turn the violent history of Tulsa's Greenwood district into a bright future. Trey Thaxton recently launched Greenwood Ave magazine which represents his vision of incorporating the past with Black entrepreneurs' efforts today.

With a clear vision of his future step-by-step plans, Thaxton just printed the second issue.

"This being the first one, we wanted to root it in the history," said Trey Thaxton, founder of Greenwood Ave magazine and its parent company, Goldmill Co. "So, we had Nehemiah Frank, the owner of Black Wall Street Times, a descendent of Black Wall Street, actually wrote the opening piece for this."

Trey Thaxton proudly shows off the first Greenwood Ave magazine which reveals the area's rich business history before and after the Race Massacre. It also shares uplifting stories of Black entrepreneurs here and across the United States. One article features Sedric Mitchell, a man who came from Tulsa and now runs a glass-blowing shop in Los Angeles, California. He focuses on showing young students future possibilities.

"His story is amazing," Thaxton added. With hard work, he and his staff have already sold more than a thousand copies of the coffee table style magazine. For Trey, his vision aims even higher.

"I'm a big believer in purpose and just being a light in the world and I want to make sure that everything we touch, the people that we work with, the products we put out, the brands that we start, all shine a light to the world," Thaxton said. "The goal is to connect Greenwood Ave with Black entrepreneurship around the globe."

In 2018, Thaxton launched his marketing and branding firm, Goldmill Co. A video series came next. Then, he launched a merchandising company featuring logos from historic Greenwood businesses. They ship t-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets and more from their Tulsa offices and sell them in select Tulsa stores.

Already, Thaxton and his staff are making plans for the next five years. The wall of their offices is filled with multiple rows of sticky notes listing ideas. The second edition of Greenwood Ave went to print last week - featuring Black chefs around the world. At the same time, he is already eyeing his next big project: podcasts.

When asked about making a leap of faith from the guaranteed paycheck he had with previous employers in marketing and ministry, Thaxton smiled and agreed "It is a leap for sure but a leap of faith and that's one thing I have is faith. I know that other people's purposes are tied to ours and I know if somebody can look and say, 'Hey if Trey can do it with an Associates degree from OSU-Okmulgee, with no idea what he's doing, can create a magazine, a merch line, why can't I?' And for me, if I can be the inspiration and light to someone else, then it's a win for me."

Launching a business takes vision, creativity, hard work, and money. Entrepreneurs will find that there are many options for assistance with launching a business in Tulsa. Thaxton originally started Goldmill Co with funds from the Tulsa Economic Development Corporation which funds many small businesses through government grants and public-private resources. To launch the magazine, he went a more traditional route: a line of credit.

Todd Ward, a veteran in the commercial banking industry, advises entrepreneurs and worked with Thaxton to fund his magazine project.

"The thing Trey had going for him is he had a great business plan. Of course, he had the vision but having a plan on how to make that vision a reality and he had that," said Todd Ward, Senior Vice President of Commercial Lending at Gateway First Bank.

Ward recommends entrepreneurs put together:

  • 3 years of tax returns

  • Personal financial statements

  • Balance sheets for the business

Paperwork that shows profits, losses, and planning, Ward said, is vital to an entrepreneur landing a loan or line of credit for operating capitol, purchasing commercial real estate, or financing inventory or equipment. "Those things are how we tell how the company is profitable," Ward added. "What its problems were in the past and by that we are able to predict what its successes will be for the future."

In launching Greenwood Ave, Ward recommended Thaxton secure a line of credit.

"What the line of credit did for him, it allowed him to be able to use the money and repay the money and use it back again without having to come back for another loan," Ward stated. He also advises entrepreneurs to establish a relationship with a lender early in the process of launching a business.

Tulsa is also home to a number of non-profit organizations that may advise entrepreneurs such as36-degrees North and i-Start. Another is Build in Tulsa, which focuses on minority businesses.The Tulsa City County Library also offers multiple resources to help someone begin planning to turn a business idea into reality.

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