She wants to turn your side gig into a full-blown business

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Northeast Alumna Christina Lerouge was not intimidated by the daily announcements that one or the other company had closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, she saw an opportunity to start her own.

“I saw this as the cheapest time,” says Lerouge, “because with businesses slowing down, people have the time and space to think about what they really want to do – to find out what their passion is.”

Lerouge’s business? Help people realize their passions.

Photo courtesy Tina Lerouge

So was born Creative cycle advice, a marketing agency dedicated to helping new entrepreneurs and young businesses stand out. Lerouge officially launched the business in November 2020 after having freelanced ad hoc marketing and web design several years earlier. As of November, she has hosted 10 clients with businesses from theater to Caribbean cuisine.

Most of Lerouge’s clients were people who decided to focus their time and energy on growing their passion projects or side appearances – the things people did in their spare time. And as a side effect of the pandemic, these people often had a lot more free time to invest in the work they loved, Lerouge says.

“With the pandemic, people thought life was short and I wanted to do something that would make me happy,” she says. “I offer the services that make it possible to develop these passion projects into fully functional companies.”

Lerouge graduated from Northeastern’s College of Professional Studies in August 2019 after completing a program in digital media management. Lerouge comes from a number of northeastern graduates: both her mother and aunt have degrees in engineering from the university. The youngest Lerouge was also selected for a Martin Luther King Jr. Graduate Scholarship in the northeast and was presented in the university’s MLK celebration in 2018.

As an entrepreneur, she developed the idea for Creative Cycle Consulting in her first semester at university, she says.

One of her first customers was Mark Stock, the founder of MiniCityArt, a company that uses 3D printing to create highly detailed models of major cities. Lerouge designed a promotional event for the company near Boston’s Fenway neighborhood that caught the attention of the Boston Red Sox Executive Vice President during their lunch break. The two spoke and “a week later, the Red Sox asked Mark to design 1,000 models as a Christmas present for Red Sox employees,” says Lerouge. “He just started from there.”

Her know-how is based on her experience at Northeastern and her many years of experience in marketing in the corporate sector. Lerouge has worked in a variety of roles at large companies, including insurance giant GEICO, but says she “always felt like a round pen in a square hole” and eventually went into business for herself.

Lerouge’s business continues to grow – she just moved to a new office in February – and she hopes to be able to hire more people soon, but the work is already enjoyable.

“In the same way that I help clients with their business, they trust me to make this happen,” says Lerouge. “That people, as a young entrepreneur, see potential in me at the beginning of my career is the motivation I need.”

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