I am Joe Ramos a Content Creator, Fashion Designer, Entrepreneur and Digital Marketer now based in Chicago IL. How did I get here?
After 16 years in Corporate America, I was let go on March 1 2018. Ironically I had sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that I realized this wasn’t fulfilling my passion anymore. So when I as let go because I didn’t “Fit in”, at first I mourned then through self discovery and going on a Journey to find myself. I ended up in Chicago from St. Louis MO. In the same year, I lost my job went through a divorce consequently lost my car, my house and boat. I was left no choice but to dig really deep to figure out why I was on the path that I was on. It wasn’t until 6 months prior to losing my job, I came to Chicago for a weekend to help a friend with pictures for his clothing line. While helping him around the city, something strange kept happening I was in awe of the landscape and kept getting goosebumps, it was like I was home and was connected to city. Mind you, being from STL you are bred not like ANYTHING about Chicago. That didn’t stop me after all I got fired for not fitting in so why would I avoid Chicago because everyone I know was blinded!? On my way back to STL I was on the Amtrak train and was reliving my whole weekend. So I obsessed and obsessed about Chicago and wanting to be spend as much time here.
Chicago to photography is the equivalent of LA to acting. It made sense for me because it was only a 5 hour train ride. So the quest to be in Chicago full-time began. Back in STL I continued to try to put the pieces of my life back together. I applied for at least 650 jobs between March 1 and December, I could never get passed the phone screen. I asked my self what was wrong with me? I have Bachelors Degree in Business, I had the job stability, was never fired from any job. Not only did I excel in my past jobs as a sales professional, I was always the first to be promoted. Nevertheless I sat here with nothing. Fast forward 12/2/2018. I now had no income because my unemployment ran out, my house was about to be foreclosed on because I didn’t have the money to keep it and she didn’t want me to have it if she wasn’t in it. I also had no where to live. I initially bought my house 1 mile from my parents and I hadn’t been there to live in almost 20 years. Besides not having a job no one knew what i was really going through because I’m a very private person. I eventually called my parents and told them how my life was going. They suggested to come home and I fought that notion, I am 36 years old and definitely wasn’t about to live in my parents house.
After looking around my existence my mom suggested I at least just come for a week so get out of the house. I reluctantly took her advice and went home. While there I went into my dads office, it wasn’t being used anymore because it was downstairs and he was ill at that time so going up and down stairs wasn’t an option. After 2 days of sulking I realized this isn’t why I existence. On December 2nd 2018, I started planning, It was me against the world. No one would hire me, fine I will just take everything I have learned over the years and just apply it to my own company. Some of the skills I had were sales, management, marketing, digital marketing, automation, photography, videography and graphic design. I was self taught in all these areas. I had 2 options 1. I could sit at my parents house in STL, sulk and just be miserable or 2. I realized the opportunity to move and start over in that city that gave me all those goosebumps.
So I chose the latter for the first time since my son was born 8 years ago I was excited again about life. I asked my self how do I go to Chicago where I know NO ONE besides my one friend which at this time we had a fall out months prior? Well we use the this awesome app called Instagram and I was an avid user, different pages would host these meetup/events for photographers. Not only that, I noticed a lot of subpar work was getting shared but people who actually did decent work weren’t. I needed to figure that out and take matters into my own hands. So sat down and started brainstorming, I was always told I was smart and clever. At first Clever anything just sounded weird but after about 30 mins I thought of aperture (which is photography term for focus) Being that I was on this solo path Clever Aperture stuck, the next move was ok lets make a logo. So Clever as a fox popped in my head and thats when I found my logo/mascot. After a month I asked people on instagram if they would come to a meet up if I had one, with an overwhelming response the stage was set for a 2/3/19 meetup. 10 people showed up, on my way back to STL I receive a message asking if i was going to do another one.
For once in my life i felt fulfilled, I was back and forth between Air bnbs in Chicago and my parents house in STL. As stated, I have an 8 year old that I see every other weekend in STL so I go back to see him. At this point it’s been 3 months barely making any money besides side hustles from freelancing, the sales side of my personality was itching to get out. After some time people kept asking me why didn’t charge for meetups, to me it didn’t seem right because I was trying to meet like minded individuals but monetization was always on the back of my mind. So it was time to figure that out, as a freelancer I would have to cold call or whatever archaic way of doing business. Being and out of the box thinker I told myself i am not doing business the way my parents did business by tis time facebook just bought instagram and I knew exactly what their plan was and I wanted to be in the forefront of this new way of doing business. I made a script and started to reach out businesses on Instagram to asked them if they wanted sponsor/exhibit at my event by this time I realized I needed a location to host these in because hanging outside in Chicago winter isn’t a smart move.
After securing a location I booked my first business client on 4/28/2019. That was my aha moment, fast forward to today 1/28/2020 we have never skipped a month without an event. I also plan to do 4 events a month we currently do 2. This all started as a photography meetup but I now organize Networking/Popup Events, Meetups and i want to add a charity and a collective workshop (coming soon). I realized that as creators and entrepreneurs we all have something in common so what a better place to merge those and see how we can all help each other. The only way one can be successful in this universe is to be of service to others. I want to inspire people that no matter what life throws at you, make sure you are pursuing what sets your soul on fire!