Transitioning his work ethic and skills honed as part of the landscaping team with the City of Cleveland, Kareem Hardy is successfully navigating the world of entrepreneurship.
As a certified landscape designer, Kareem has a passion for creating and maintaining beautiful green residential and commercial spaces in Greater Cleveland. He also values the opportunity he has to create pathways to green jobs for area residents that are anxious to get to work. That’s why he such was a perfect fit for the Core City Cleveland Impact program!
We recently sat down with Kareem as he shared details about his experience in the program, what the future holds for his business and the art of proving yourself.
What inspired you to create your business? What problem does your service solve?
Initially, I worked for the City of Cleveland in the Parks and Recreation Division. At the time, I thought that I could definitely do the work myself as an entrepreneur, so I jumped out the window, so to speak, and purchased some equipment. That was the birth of Kareem’s Landscaping.
One thing I discovered was that in today’s society many people work all day and on the weekends. They don’t want to be out doing yard work. We save them time. There are also people that have multiple properties who can’t get to all of them to maintain them the way they’d like. There just aren’t a lot of dependable and experienced landscapers to help those people get the job done.
How did you connect with the Core City: Cleveland program, and what do you think so far? Any surprises?
I initially took advantage of the JumpStart office hours to get some business advice. Through that experience, I was invited to participate in the Core City pitch competition.
My JumpStart advisor, Lamont Mackley, then suggested that I apply to the Core City Impact Program and it has been a great experience. I was kind of surprised at how supportive my advisors were and how open they are with their time and support.
What are your future plans for your business?
Right now, we have one truck and we have three workers. I would love to eventually have 1,000 trucks, but in the more immediate future, I would like to have at least ten trucks on the road and employ at least 20 people.
Are there any unique challenges you feel you’ve had to face as an African American entrepreneur?
Proving yourself. There aren’t many African Americans in the landscaping industry, so you have to prove yourself first. Once they see that you really do have experience and provide reliable, high-quality service, it’s not a problem. The biggest obstacle is getting your foot in the door.
We ask all the entrepreneurs we speak with to give us examples of failure or setbacks they experienced. Anything come to mind for you?
One of the biggest professional setbacks I’ve had so far has involved equipment failure. Landscaping is very equipment-oriented and the equipment can be very expensive, costing up to $25K.
I had to make the decision to reinvest in the equipment and find the capital to do so. It was at that point that I had to determine if I was going to call it quits or keep plowing ahead. I’m glad that I made the right call.
Watch Kareem’s elevator pitch for Kareem’s Landscaping below. To learn more about the Core City: Cleveland program, click here.