This is the first in an ongoing series of profiles designed to highlight West Side businesses and entrepreneurs. This series is made possible by information and feedback provided by the Austin Chamber of Commerce.
When City of Colleges of Chicago laid her off in 2011, Tina Augustus poured her talents into her own business — Elevate Services Incorporated. Ten years later, she took a moment to reflect on where that drive to strike out on her own may have come from.
“It was very much in the genes,” Augustus said in a recent interview with Austin Weekly News, adding that her two brothers are also business owners — one provides coding services while another offers electrical services. Her father, Jessie Gulley, owned an electric company.
“I think seeing our father succeed as a business owner instilled us with a deep belief that we could do so ourselves if we chose to step out and own our own business,” she said.
Augustus attended Harold Washington College and Roosevelt University, earning degrees in English Language and English Literature, respectively. Her experience as a salaried employee is varied. She’s been an office manager for the Field Museum, a recruiter and manager of volunteers for the Friends of Oak Park Conservatory and a proposal writer for Wilbur Wright College.
But it wasn’t until she started working for herself that the different skills these varied jobs demanded coalesced into a niche.
“Friends of mine wanted me to help build their websites and put together brochures and pamphlets for their businesses,” Augustus recalled. “I decided to use my knowledge of advertising to launch my own independent firm to address the need.”
Since its founding, Elevate has evolved into something of a Swiss Army Knife for small businesses and organizations. The company designs logos and brochures, builds direct mail listings, provides bulk mail processing services, creates websites and plans events — among other offerings.
Over the last decade, Elevate has established a clientele that includes churches, nonprofit organizations and small businesses. Although many of her clients are on the West Side, Elevate’s reach is virtually unlimited, with Augustus a mere phone call or email message away.
Doll Smith, the executive director and founder of DOLL Inc., a Ford Heights-based nonprofit that offers veteran assistance, reached out to Elevate for its comprehensive, wraparound approach to small business development.
“Tina helped me put together a website, helped me create a social media presence for the company and worked on important documentation for fundraising,” Smith said. “In the early days of our partnership, she worked largely without compensation because my funding had yet to be granted. It’s a testament to the loyalty she shows her clients and the level of passion she brings to her work.”
Dr. Phalese Binion, the president of the West Side Ministers Coalition, said her organization has worked with Elevate roughly since its founding, but the partnership has ramped up in the last three years.
“In the past three years, she has worked with us on our marketing initiatives … In 2012, we needed help advertising and organizing fundraisers,” Binion said.
“I knew that these were not my specialties. I’m clergy. So, when I approached Tina about helping us sendoff email blasts, plan fundraisers and design a new logo, she not only took on the project, she executed it to perfection.”
Augustus’s talents, however, aren’t limited to her business niche. In 2012, she also published a book, God’s Holy Spirit: Maturing Believers for the Building of his Kingdom, about spiritual journeys. The married mother of four children and grandmother to five grandchildren said she gets a lot of help juggling these different gifts from her family.
Wonder how all those flyers get folded and emails blasted out? The kids have a lot to do with that.
For more information about Elevate Services Inc. visit the company’s website at www.elevateservices.net.