Courtney Couch is a businesswoman who is passionate about many things, but these three top her list: making meaningful connections, building better brands, and strengthening her community.
Couch has partnered with some of the best and brightest talent and some of the world’s most recognizable brands, including the NFL, Adidas, Puma, Disney’s Black Panther, Footaction, The Bail Project, The American Heart Association. Her clientele is diverse—from athletes and entertainers to influencers and lifestyle brands—and her services aim to push the culture forward. Through c.luxe, Courtney offers game-changing creative strategy—everything from marketing, activations, partnerships, business development, and private equity opportunities, all while aiming to shift athletes’ and entertainers’ paradigms and create multidimensional brands. Some of her clients have included Travis Scott, Rajon Rondo, YG, Rodger Saffold, Moneybagg Yo, and Josh Smith. In addition, c.luxe creative has helped clients invest in Lyft, Spacex, Wish, and other private companies prior to their IPO.
“I am proud to be an early investor in Crown Luxe Ventures,” says NBA champion and UNC-alum Danny Green. “The moves Courtney [Crown Luxe Venture founder] has made to champion group economics in the sports and entertainment world is trailblazing – she is building a blueprint for how we as a community can have conversations about and take more control of our financial futures. As an avid investor, I love to win —and this is what a win with long-term payoff looks like for our community.” – Danny Green, NBA Champion
Most recently, Couch served as the Director of Marketing at Atlantic Records where she managed a roster of artists including Symba and multi-platinum rapper Don Toliver whose sophomore album Life of a DON debuted #1 on Billboard. She has currently resumed her work at c.luxe creative full-time and founded Crown Luxe Ventures, an investment vehicle inclusive of athletes, entertainers, and entrepreneurs investing in private companies— proudly bringing the culture to the cap table. Couch prides herself on being well-respected and well-connected with her finger on the pulse of the culture.
“We are honored that Courtney Couch and Crown Luxe Ventures chose to invest their first round of fundraising into PATH,” says PATH Co-Founder & CEO Shadi Bakour. “Courtney believes in the mission of PATH: to create a healthier and more livable planet. And we believe in her vision: to encourage people and communities of color to invest in the brands they consume. PATH prides itself on being among the first and is happy to be the first company a part of this new way of thinking and investing. As equity partners, we aim to positively impact each other for generations to come.”
Having cultivated trusted relationships with A-list talent to industry executives, top-tier professional athletes, and tastemakers, Courtney looks forward to creating more unparalleled plays across the globe.
Goldie Chan: Thank you for joining us, Courtney. What has your career path been?
Courtney Couch: College was an important factor in my career path. I went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where some of my classmates became my friends and business associates for life. In addition, we won a national championship my freshman year and several of my friends were first-round draft picks in the NBA. The summer before my senior year, I landed an internship at CAA Sports. My good friend LeVelle Moton called the then-head of CAA Sports and Lebron’s agent at the time, Leon Rose, to recommend me for an internship at their headquarters in NYC. I was accepted for the position.I made my way to NYC and interned with Steven Heumann, the now head of CAA Sports. That summer changed my life and I no longer wanted to be the entertainment lawyer I dreamed of, I wanted to do PR + Marketing. So I finished my last year at UNC and started my own company upon graduating – c.luxury lifestyle management. I was providing personal assisting, event planning, and PR services to athletes I went to college with.
I moved to LA, didn’t care for it, and decided to get my master’s at NYU in Corporate Communication and PR. After graduating, I moved back to LA and slept on my friend’s couch doing temp jobs within the entertainment industry while mapping out my next opportunity. My mom insisted I reinstate my business and work for myself. In 2014 I started c.luxe creative; a game-changing full-service brand strategy + marketing agency with our finger on the pulse of the culture. Throughout my career, I’ve worked with athletes, entertainers, and lifestyle brands including Adidas, Footaction, Moneybagg Yo, Travis Scott, The Bail Project, The American Heart Association, NFL, and more.
2014 was really the year when I found my footing and started building a brand for myself. That summer I co-founded 40z & Waffles, a Sunday Brunch Series with two of my close friends. Little did I know that we’d take the series across the country and execute pop-ups alongside cultural moments like NBA All-Star weekend and J.Cole’s Dreamville Festival. 40z & Waffles was a game changer; we set the vibes in LA and it became a party where people actually danced, even Justin Bieber.
I’ve learned that my career path will always be ever-evolving. After working for myself, my friend Dallas, EVP of A&R at Atlantic Records, reached out to me about a role there. I accepted it and helped launch artists like Don Toliver, Symba, and others. Working in the music business challenged me to grow beyond being solely a marketer. It opened my eyes to the next step in my career: launching my first Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), Crown Luxe Ventures, to focus on building generational wealth via group economics, particularly within the Black community.
We are incredibly proud of our first round of investments which raised $1M in under three weeks from industry heavy hitters including Travis Scott, Quality Control’s Quality Ventures, GRAMMY Award-winning producer Tay Keith, three-time NBA champion Danny Green, TV Host + Entrepreneur Sterling “Steelo” Brim, Entrepreneur and Real Estate Investor Gregory Griffin, Music Executive Bilal “Bizzy” Joseph, Cactus Jack GM David Stromberg, Entrepreneur Ronne Brown and more! The first round of funding was invested in PATH, the leading sustainable bottled water brand in the United States, who recently announced their $30M Series A fundraise.
It should be noted that the buying power amongst African-Americans has reached more than $1 trillion per year. Yet, today, only 2 cents of every dollar is used to fund Black-owned businesses, and the Black dollar only circulates a total of 6 hours before leaving the Black community. In addition, as someone who has continuously partnered talent with brands, it is my duty to ensure talent has ownership in the brands they promote.
Chan: How can an entrepreneur leverage their network for work?
Couch: There are a couple of keys to how an entrepreneur can successfully leverage their network for work.
- Understand your horizontal network: It’s key to understand the value of networking horizontally instead of vertically. Nowadays, everyone wants to run to the CEO of a company to make a play but what about what the coordinator, the VP, the project managers, etc. are doing that have something to prove? How can you work alongside them to put a play together that helps elevate each of your careers? Knowing how your peers are doing, what they’re working on, and their goals can help entrepreneurs create solid opportunities.
- Have meaningful peer-to-peer conversations: You must be genuinely tapped in with your peers by having meaningful conversations. Check-in on your people. Go have lunch. Create time. While you are listening to those in your network, something to remember in this day and age is that it’s okay to utilize your resources and network to be a blessing to others when the opportunity may not benefit you directly.
- Be useful to others, genuinely: Don’t always look at your network as its sole purpose is to benefit you, but think about how to add value not only at the tables you sit at but to the people you know. Being useful is way better than being a user and when the time comes when you will need a favor, people will often remember how you looked out for them.
Chan: How would you describe your personal brand?
Couch: My personal brand is being well respected, well connected, and 1000% myself.
This means showing up everywhere I go as myself – accent and all. I don’t dumb myself down, I don’t cower– but most importantly, I treat people right, with respect. A good heart, good character, and doing good business go a long way. People forget we are in the people business and my personal brand includes how I live my life and conduct my business.
Chan: How have you leveraged your network for raising funds?
Couch: I am honored and blessed to even be able to say I leveraged my network to raise funds. Initially, when PATH allotted me $1M to raise — I simply thought I could reach out to ten of my friends and ask them for $100k each. Now it wasn’t exactly that simple but I think a part of my brand is that my peers trust me and I’ve always prided myself on doing good business so I wasn’t afraid to ask. So when I came to them with this PATH Water play, everyone I approached was receptive.
Everyone that knows me knows that I am passionate about the advancement and elevation of our culture. So when discussing this opportunity, my goal was for my circle of friends to practice group economics in hopes of us creating generational wealth together starting with PATH Water. Each person understood this and it resonated with them. Some of my friends are investors, and most of them are not, but all of them will listen wholeheartedly to an opportunity I bring to them and I do not take that trust and access lightly. We all learned so much together in this process and I was able to meet my goal in 3 weeks.
Chan: How can one get their first set of clients?
Couch: You can get your first set of clients by understanding your talents, what you have to offer, and asserting yourself throughout your network.
I love this question because it makes me think of my first client in LA, that came via Sickamore, the legendary A&R. This question is a great example of why networking horizontally matters. I first met Sickamore while interning at CAA in New York. When I moved to LA he was one of my few contacts and invited me to a studio session with a then-up-and-coming artist, YG.
One day I was listening to YG and his team talk about the album dropping and I started to get some ideas in my head as to how I could put a play together and contribute to the album’s rollout.
I reached out to a close college friend, Anna Miya– who was managing the Footaction account at a leading PR agency. I told her about YG, his upcoming album, and my idea. With her support (another example of horizontal networking), we created Footaction’s first “Style Means” campaign centered around YG and his first studio album ‘My Krazy Life.’
This small idea birthed in a studio session secured YG his first brand partnership deal and brought me, my first client. This play set the tone for my career path. I got every other client through my network from then on out.
Chan: What are you currently working on?
Couch: Building on our SPV investment in PATH, I am continuing to work with them as an advisor to best connect the dots between some of the relationships I have in the sports and entertainment industry and the strategic investors from Crown Luxe Ventures – the goal is to build a truly 360 approach to brand building and business growth.
On a personal and professional note, I’m working with my sister Jessica, on reinvigorating the Carnell Couch Foundation. My parents started this foundation years ago in honor of our late brother. We want to utilize our knowledge, resources, and network to create and enhance opportunities for Black and Brown people in our hometown of Durham, North Carolina. The Carnell Couch Foundation provides relevant education and enrichment opportunities using a multi-disciplinary approach to reach underrepresented, and non-traditional learners.
Chan: Who is an entrepreneur that you’d love to partner with?
Couch: Jay Z. He is the blueprint for how to utilize your platform to create black ownership and has boldly aligned business and culture.
Chan: Any branding or career advice for this year?
Couch: Be confident in yourself and your skills and always show up as yourself. Treat people right. Don’t be afraid to pivot and make adjustments and be gentle with yourself every step of the way.