How One Entrepreneur’s Loss Helped to Mount a Victory   

Chauntel Nelson, founder of The Clever Curation Group, stands tall. 


Michigan Chronicle’s 40 Under 40 is an elite list of handpicked young professionals breaking barriers and making strides in their area of expertise. To be nominated is the first step, but being named to the coveted list is the goal of each chosen participant. However, what happens to those who are not chosen to be on the esteemed list? For one 2021 nominee, losing proved to be just the motivation she needed.  


Chauntel Nelson has a long history of work in the music media business. Spanning positions with Bad Boy Records, Def Jam, Sony BMG and iHeart Media, Nelson began to build the foundation that would inevitably lead to the formation of her own brand.  


“During those years, I had acquired so many skills and didn’t know how to apply them. I don’t know exactly what to do to utilize the skills in a way that I could continue working in music and media,” said Nelson.  


The creation of The Clever Curation Group was the answer. Founding the business in January 2021, Nelson soon discovered she did not know her skills could be further monetized.  


“I had been doing business for years and didn’t know I was doing business. I was just freely doing it because I had a passion for the industry and I absolutely loved doing what I was doing,” said Nelson.  


Unfamiliar with the 40 Under 40 list presented by the publication, a mentor took the chance and nominated the music media veteran. For Nelson, whose budding business had not yet established a website or marketing materials for public consumption, she was unprepared for the revelation the nomination would bring. 


“When she nominated me, I was so excited. Then I realized from looking at past winners, my business wasn’t as together as I thought it was,” said Nelson.  


As the 40 Under 40 winners were announced, Nelson was not a part of the class, but still considers herself a winner. Helping to motivate, the nomination provided an added boost to an already growing entrepreneur.  


“Obviously I wasn’t chosen, but it really put a fire under me to get started and look at what it was that I needed to do to brand myself,” said Nelson. “How can you be a business that specializes in project management when you haven’t even branded yourself.” 


Since then, The Clever Curation Group has continued to grow. Equipped with a website and marketing materials, the brand is intentional on building its clientele as well as aligning itself with projects that hold true to her growing vision.  


“I’m making sure I’m attached to events that are large-scale events. I do know that I’ve mastered our local event space and making sure that I’m a part of all the important projects locally,” says Nelson.  


Now, Nelson is working to ensure her name and the name of the company are synonymous with projects that can help grow her network, skills and reach.  


“People are still wondering ‘what exactly is it that she does?’ We know she works with music somehow, in media somehow, but we don’t know what exactly it is that she’s doing,” said Nelson. “When I got that nomination, I didn’t want people to say ‘what’s that girl’s name? That description was unacceptable.” 


Though she did not win, Nelson credits the 40 Under 40 list with the motivation to brand herself, the business and to continue pressing onward.  


“If I hadn’t gotten that actual nomination, I can’t say that I would have been able to put together what my business actually stands for and how I’m able to apply the skills that I’ve learned over the years,” said Nelson. 


Entrepreneurs looking to brand themselves and their talents must continually find purpose in their work. With 20 years of experience in music media, Nelson has learned it is passion for the business that helps drive her success.  


“Continue doing what you love and your passion. I don’t care if it can make me a million dollars per second, if you don’t have a passion for what you’re doing, if you won’t do it for free, then I don’t suggest you do it,” says Nelson.  

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