Dreaming big pays off for two Olney area men

“This is a permission slip to fail.” Yes, you are reading this correctly. In the current issue of American Dreaming Magazine, editor in chief Brandon Davis and business partner Kriston Johnson encourage dreamers to “Go out and fail.”

“If you’re not failing, you’re not trying,” Davis said. “From the journalism to the photography to the graphic art and design, our magazine is created by up-and-coming talent, and it highlights up-and-coming talent in order to inspire the reader to go out and pursue their dreams.”

Tonight, at the closing ceremonies for the Philadelphia Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week Conference, the two Olney area natives will receive the 2011 New Horizon award for their innovative magazine. 

“It feels good to be recognized for our work because that’s been one of our challenges. We think we’re doing a good thing but it hadn’t fully translated into being recognized by the people in the industry that we look up to,” Davis said. “Hard work eventually pays off; this award proves that.”

Philadelphia MED Week has been observed on a national level since 1983 with the purpose of promoting and recognizing the achievements of minority owned businesses. This year’s award winners were selected by a 25-person committee made up of representatives from corporations, local colleges and universities, local and regional government agencies and minority business owners.

Shortly after earning a Bachelor’s degree from the Fox School of Business at Temple University in 2007, Davis founded The Rick Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the memory of his brother who was fatally wounded from a gunshot in 2003. The mission of the foundation is grounded in helping young adults make their dreams a reality and American Dreaming Magazine is the first project to launch under The Rick Foundation umbrella.

“I wanted to do something to commemorate his life because he always pushed me to go out and make my dreams reality,” Davis said. “I was a marketing guy coming out of school and I tried to start a company but I was told I didn’t have enough experience. So I decided to use everything I knew about marketing to start this magazine and a great foundation.”

American Dreaming Magazine serves as a platform for journalists, photographers, designers, stylists and creative minds to gain valuable, citable experience and to help them transition into the workforce during tough economic times.

“Our magazine really is a tool,” Davis said. “We don’t want to be on your coffee table, we want to be on your workspace area and we want it to be all riddled with highlight markers and different things that you refer back to as a resource to further your dreams.”

The publication has garnered national support and honors. Vitamin Water is one of American Dreaming Magazine’s official sponsors and in July of this year, the publication received a $25,000 Pepsi Refresh Project grant, which Davis says will be used to market, print and distribute the publication.

“We operated online for about a year and then we started publishing in print in January 2010 when a lot of other magazines were folding. A lot of people thought we were crazy but we just kept moving forward and decided not to worry,” Davis said.

Next on the duos’ to-do list is the official opening of The Dreaming Building, a 3000 square foot office space located at Front and Spring Garden Streets, which Davis says will be renovated by mid-November. In the future, Johnson said they hope to expand The Rick Foundation mission to television, producing documentaries and creating a channel that features solely aspiring talent.

“We don’t compete with blogs and other sources because we don’t interview Jay-Z; we interview somebody that you’ve probably never even heard of or thought of Googling. We interview them because we’re putting you on to what’s next,” Davis said.

While helping others reach for success, Davis and Johnson say they’re just taking it one step at a time.

“We kind of already feel successful but right after we have a feeling of success we realize we’ve only moved from the top of one level to the bottom of the next,” Davis said. “So we just do a quick pat on the back and then it’s on to the next one.”

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