An Interview with the Founder of a World-Record-Breaking Pro Bono Marketing Agency

Calynn M. Lawrence is the 27-year-old media personality, entrepreneur and former international pageant queen, who founded The Fresh Faces Project, one of the largest pro bono marketing agencies in the world.

Calynn M. Lawrence is the 27-year-old media personality, entrepreneur and former international pageant queen, who founded The Fresh Faces Project, one of the largest pro bono marketing agencies in the world. They have benefitted over 800 talents, small business owners and public figures through their work. She is also the CEO of her for profit media firm, the Calynn Communications & Creative corporation that has worked with brands like Chick-fil-A, the Miss Black America organization and the Ms. International World organization. Her business ventures have made history while making headlines over the course of her career.

Recently, Calynn was announced as the first black female global honoree for the Social Impact Champion of the Year award at the 2023 IMA’s for her unique philanthropic efforts. This brings her to a total of 18 awards throughout her marketing and media career! Some others include 4 RCCI Academy Awards, 4 Virtual Visionary Awards, the National Best Creative Arts Organization, the International Community Service Leadership Award, and the National Humanitarian Award.

Some initiatives that the Fresh Faces Project has led over the near decade they’ve been in existence are their 2017 documentary that garnered tens of thousands of views, their 5-star rated video podcast “Chicago Talent TV” with 3 successful seasons, various cash and supply giveaways to businesses and individuals in need, and offering numerous opportunities for aspiring creatives, entrepreneurs and do-gooders to get published for little or nothing to one of their partnered media outlets or publications owned by their parent company such as The Fresh Faces Project blog, What’s Good Weekly, Millionaires in the Making, Icons in the Now and The World Times.

Their annual awards ceremony is one of their biggest claims to fame that sets them apart from most other industry competitors. For the last several years, they’ve honored rising entrepreneurs, public figures and creatives for their contributions in their communities. They’ve honored nearly 200 people at their events. Some notable past honorees include Mrs. International 2021 – Yolanda Stennett, retired school nursing leader Dr. Leretha Thomas, Hollywood actor Andre Bellos, popular dystopian/post-apocalyptic author, Marcus Richardson, and many more! They distinctly accomplish this without sponsors, entry fees, ticket sales or nomination fees in order to eliminate budget related issues for honorees, making nominations solely about commemorating each person’s accomplishments versus fundraising or generating revenue. The ceremony is 100% self funded by the Calynn Communications & Creative corporation.

We got the chance to sit down with Calynn and ask a few questions surrounding her professional and personal endeavors to give our readers a glimpse into her life.

What does it feel like to have spearheaded such a powerful movement through your nonprofit work with The Fresh Faces Project?

Thank you! It honestly feels so surreal to think that this thing that began as a high school hobby, interviewing friends and family on my blog about their goals and dreams has blossomed into something so impactful. It brings tears to my eyes when I look back at photos of teenage me just hungry to make a difference in the world, volunteering, interning and finding my footing within the entertainment industry as a media personality and digital marketer. Now, here it is over a decade later since I started my first job as a retail business intern at the downtown Chicago Nordstrom mall, the place that gave me my first shot in marketing and media as a black girl from the south side. I’ve grown tremendously.

The amount of people that our work at The Fresh Faces Project has benefitted is so heartwarming and I can’t be more grateful to all of our partners, supporters and participants for giving us a purpose and helping us fulfill it. While we are shifting our offerings starting next year, I have immense excitement for the work that we plan to do going forward to expand our community involvement.

What is a short term goal and a long term goal of yours?

In the very short term, I’m wrapping up my capstone project for my Master of Science in Leadership degree. I’m focusing on developing a research backed, psychology/sociology based management training program for employees of human services industries. That should be done sometime in October. After which, I will begin my doctoral program to become a licensed therapist and board certified trauma specialist.

A long term goal of mine is to invest $100,000 worth of services, supplies and cash donations into the community over the next 5 years. I’m still building out what my exact philanthropic strategy will be starting next year, but I know that’s the big picture target.

What is a personal goal of yours outside of business?

A large personal goal of mine aside from business and my career is to find a life partner to settle down with and start/expand a family. My luck and my strengths are both incredible career wise, but they’re terrible romantically. Love is my achilles heel. And, it would mean the world to me for me to finally find a good guy where we’re mutually attracted to each other and supportive of one another to build with and grow emotionally, spiritually and romantically together.

If I’m being honest and truly vulnerable, I can make a lot of money, hang a bunch of diplomas on the wall, stack my trophy case sky-high, but not having someone special to share it with will always eat at me. That point notwithstanding, I won’t settle for less than I need in a compatible partner, even though I really don’t feel I’m asking for a lot. So, if that means I’ve gotta be alone for a while then I’m at peace with that.

That is true sincerity. What are some of the things you look for in a partner that you feel you’ve had trouble finding?

I’m not big on a lot of superficial things. I’ve dated plenty of high salary, super type A, college educated men with impressive careers and “gold standard” backgrounds. No kids, no records, nice looking. Things that a lot of women who are similar to me prefer or even require. Yet, I’ve realized that I usually don’t prefer men like that because we spend more time “competing” than we do loving each other. Everything is go-go-go, so high strung and no time to just relax and have fun. Thus, I prefer a man who brings me balance and is more laid back than me, and maybe more quiet than me because I talk a lot. A man who is hardworking and has a full time income but not overly career oriented who can make me laugh, bring me adventure and be a family man for us and whatever kids we have between us is my dream guy.

For example, I know this guy. It seems like all he does is work, wrench on cars, spend time with his son, and binge watch One Piece on his off days. He’s so easy to talk to and very reserved. We have a lot in common yet we’re different enough to where he intrigues me. I’d be elated if I could find a partner who was similar to him. I guess I just have to be patient and see what God and the universe have in store for me.

What would you tell someone who looked up to you or aspired to accomplish similar things that you have?

Do everything with planning, preparation and purpose and you’ll find the success you’re chasing. If you thoroughly plan your endeavors, and put research and proven testimony at the foundation, you have the greatest chances of meeting your targets. If you’ve always got a plan B and sometimes C, you’ll regularly hope for the best but be equipped for the worst outcomes to minimize your chances of being mentally, physically or financially destitute. If you are putting your passions and life mission at the forefront of your secular pursuits, you’ll always have a strong love and internal motivation for your work. Nevertheless, win, lose or draw, always keep going. Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.

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