GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Markez Mills was 21 when he started his graphic design business.
“We specialize in web design, logo design, apparel design,” Mills said.
The Mills Branding Agency started with a Christmas card that Mills made for his mentor.
“He wanted to do something to spread his holiday love and cheer and he said I want you to try to do something for me,” he said. “From there I sat down on a little program on the web and I just messed around with it. From there, it was wow – I saw the finished product. Back then, to me, it was something.”
“I told him I thought he had the talent to be able to do it and to step out on faith. That you’ll never know what you can do until you actually try it,” said that mentor, Demario Reid. “What’s the worst you can do? Fail. You get up and you try again.”
Reid encouraged him to think about going into business.
“He heard what I had to say, he got up and ran with his heart,” Reid.
That Christmas card put Mills on a path that he never expected.
“It was like my eyes just gained a passion for creativity,” Mills said. “I did realize it was a gift I had hidden inside me.”
Mills says he linked up with a few people who were making it in the graphic design world and for the most part taught himself the technical pieces.
“The majority of it was Google and YouTube,” he said.
Four years later, he’s done work for large churches in California, New York and Florida. He’s done billboards for local politicians. And most recently, he did a campaign for Winston-Salem State University’s School of Nursing. He believes the story of his business’ birth that came out of a celebration of Jesus’ birth is one that other aspiring business owners can learn from.
“I use it to inspire other guys my age or people in general who feel that it’s too late to accomplish anything based on their failures or mistakes,” Mills said.
Mills said just like a lot of business owners early in their entrepreneurial journey, he’s learning by experience and not all of those experiences good. Still, he says starting his business was a risk worth taking.
He encourages anyone second-guessing their business idea to just do it. You never know what can happen. His Christmas card-turned business is proof.