We had the good fortune of connecting with COURTNEY MORGAN and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi COURTNEY, how do you think about risk?
Calculated risk can be the difference between sailing high on the seas of freedom and clinging for your life in the midst of a perfect storm. It is the differentiate of the wildly successful, not in monetary measure but more in the true value of ones life’s accomplishments. As I trace back the path I have walked thus far in my thirty-four years on this earth I can truly attribute some of my most prolific and devastating moments to calculated risk….. and in times, the lack thereof. Being able to discern when the “juice was worth the squeeze” so to speak was not always a great talent of mine. Though I will say with ease that I have never been fearful of the unknown, even as a child. That lack of inhabitation and fear has made risk taking almost second nature for me in this lifetime. When I was young, I never really followed the crowds, I was always way more interested in what lay beyond the beaten path, I wanted to create my own path and leave a trail behind me for others to follow. Without question I was the kid who had to investigate almost everything I was told; I am sure I drove many adults up a wall. I never believed that what I was told was the know all end all – there had to be another way – surely more than one road can exist to a destination. Business and strategy also came very natural to me at a young age. I remember being in third grade and getting one of those ” sell $5,000 worth of wrapping paper and candy and you can have a pizza party fundraiser magazines.” I went around door to door and could not fathom why anyone would hand me money for something they had to wait for. The concept was so confusing to me, I saw a hole in the market. I ran home and filled up my backpack with the most random things I thought no one would notice missing – a candle, a few Barbie dolls, and a Ninja Turtle action figure or two. Equipped with inventory I hit the streets. When people opened their front doors there I was holding the magazine in one hand and one of my products in the other – I would explain to my new clients that instead of waiting for pictures in a magazine to arrive they could own TODAY!!! RIGHT NOW!!! this one-of-a-kind action figure right at your fingertips just waiting for them to play with… I sold every single thing in my backpack and my brothers and I walked to McDonalds where I splurged on Big Macs and Fries, we ate like royalty. The risk was dissing the fundraiser magazine the school had given me and being outed by some neighbor of my intentions to resell my brother’s toys and a few of my mom’s candles. In my head my brothers had too many toys to notice, and my mom never even used the candles – “the juice was worth the squeeze”. In high school I wanted to join this theater class, but the teacher was a real strict son of a gun and required a specific prerequisite class – which she taught – before entering the advanced theater class… I had to get in. As luck had it when I arrived and received my class schedule I had a period missing. Being completely unaware of this teacher’s requirements the student aid kindly asks which elective I would like to fill in the missing period with – in no time I blurted out the advanced acting class I knew I was not supposed to be in. The lady filled in the class name and off to face the dragon I went. I entered the room as class had already begun – the teacher glared in my direction, an unfamiliar face – ” Bring me your schedule,” she barked. Her eyes speed through the lines of the paper as she comes to see and confirm I am in fact scheduled to be in that class, but how?? I had not taken the proper classes to advance into this elitist group of performers in her eyes. Immediately she says “No, this will simply not do. It would not be fair to the students who have put in the work to be here. There is no way I can allow you to come into this class without the proper prior instruction!!” At this juncture most would have cut their losses and given themselves props for a valiant effort… but not me. In the most thespian voice I could muster I replied, ” There is no other place I am more deserving to be. Take your pick of any script and in 20 mins I will return and perform in front of the entire class – let them vote – let them choose to allow me to join them in my pursuit!!!” The risk paid off, she agreed and in 20 mins I had the class in tears with an excerpt from Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul. Risk was the reason; the calculation was the difference – I saw what I wanted and took my shot. When I was nineteen I decided to move to Miami on a feeling. When I arrived I had $46 and a quarter tank of gas, I remember laughing thinking how crazy I was – it was a risk and one that I had not calculated. The past 15 years have been a hell of a ride and the lack of fear and unwavering belief in my vision has propelled me to the position I am in now. I own my own production company where I do literally everything but fly (yet) – photography, commercials, brand campaigns, set and costume design, creative direction, artist development – you name it – I am a creative to my core. That creativity has helped me make some really awesome changes in this world. I have created campaigns to build a home in Africa, back to school drives, turkey and toy drives, community events where we bring clothing, hygiene supplies and other resources to those in need, I have worked with multiple shelters and schools. I am working on a creative arts program now that will teach kids how to build websites and brand themselves and their ideas. I am also days away from launching my second business venture, an online accessories store called POP! where I will help people maximize their wardrobes through strategic styling. There are so many amazing things in this world for us to attain if only we take the risk and follow our passions – BELIEVE in your visions – even when no one else can see them. Greatness awaits us all!!!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My entire life I have been surrounded by creativity and inspiration – not all things that inspire are good – in fact the darkest of times have yielded some of the most beautiful and untainted forms of artistry. My mother raised me and my two brothers pretty much solo so being crafty was a part of her magic ability to just make things work. She would paint beautiful murals of gardens on the walls or on the tops of tables, if she did not like the fabric of the couch anymore she marched down to a fabric store and before the week’s end she would have stapled an entire different fabric to the couch and waaaa la. I was always getting into her paints or chalks – ever bothersome to say the least. Art was an escape for her and it was a definite escape for me. Submerging into my creativity was like a secret place that existed in my mind, a distant land where I was far removed from the violence and abuse of my reality. Around the age of eleven things got really crazy. I started losing people around me – young people. It got to the point where funerals were like a normal part of the week – they just happened- to the point that when I would go I would see fewer and fewer crying faces – it was an obligation now – no one wanted to be there. Kids around me were dropping like flies. There was a lot of violence in the area I grew up and we seemed to be in the epicenter of the bullshit. Maybe thirteen or so I started to develop this irrational fear of forgetting what the loved ones around me looked like after they passed. I started keeping a throw away kodak camera with me everywhere I went taking pictures of everyone around me. That fear of forgetting evolved into a way for me to show the world how I saw it – a way for people to understand the things I was exposed to. It was a way for me to express the vision, what I could see no one else could – this was my gift – finding a way to allow the world to see through my eyes. To control the narrative. Funny enough my mom bought my first real camera in 2013 – I had been gone so long at this point and I think she wanted me to find my way back to my passion for creating. At nineteen solo in a city like Miami for a hustler like me….. I was running up every check I could – my work ethic alone allowed me to dominate the positions I was taking. I almost always worked in sales in the night clubs in my early years here – I was Sharon Stone in Casino without the heavy drugs and the slizzy pimp – when I worked, everyone made money. When I went back to college in 2014 I jumped on every project that I could get my hands on and pretty soon built a reputation as an innovative creative not to be slept on. It was here that I picked up a real knack for concept creation and set/costume design. I had a vision and it was clear that this was not a typical conviction, alas it was to my detriment – the director of my program blocked me from transferring programs with promises of more connections in her department – which I can tell you never came. I graduated and was no closer to the creative career I was after. I landed a job with an event production company working as an intern for pennies. I remember not being able to afford lunch most days. I turned my focus after two years to the degree I had in fashion and set off towards retail – long but I will make it a short story – I ended up getting hired in October 2017 for the luxury fashion house, Valentino and killed it. I opened my first company, The House of Muse in 2019 and while still with Valentino I was striving to grow my business and balance the insane workload I already had. Fast forward to March 2020 – so much to the story but I fear there is not enough space or time. Covid hits and I am put on furlough – the store is closed down. I hit the ground running pushing my business and taking jobs left and right. Now my company is running like a well oiled machine and I am preparing for the launch for my second company, an online store, POP! International. My purpose on this planet is to inspire and create to be inspired. I want to help other creatives find their voices and rise up in passion, sharing the lessons of the journey with those who come next. So much to say but I think I will save that for the movie on the story of my life (can’t give away all the good parts too soon).
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This is going to be the shortest answer yet. In those moments I wish for nothing more than adventure. I would hit the road and we would just explore. Find local mom and pop places, stop in eat and get to know the people. The beach at night is a for sure – running through the shoreline under the moonlight – yes please. Throw out the map and explore!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Straight up, my mom. She is the strongest woman I know, there is no doubt she is an angel on earth. I did not come from much and things were really bad when I was young but her faith in me is so unmoved, so sturdy and that played a huge role in my fearlessness. My mom saw me and she knew I was going to do something bigger than me with my life. Hands down that woman is a force.