Kareem Jackson's business strategy is simple: Take a risk.
"Failure's going to happen," he said, "and if you fail you can get right back on your feet. Everyone should try whatever they want. Whatever makes them happy."
One can infer, then, that a lot of things make the prolific Jackson happy. Particularly fashion, art and a well-produced party or two.
Jackson is one of three guys who opened Milk Bar. The Short North boutique is known for its stock of obscure designer labels and local lines coveted by Columbusophiles. Jackson also brought the hip-hop and indie dance parties Get Right, OGEE and 614 Tuesdays at Level to Columbus nightlife.
"The reason I started most of my parties is because there was a lack of something for me or my friends to do, so I'd say, 'I'm going to start one so we can have fun,'" Jackson said.
Other organizations took notice of Jackson's successful self-started ventures. Last fall Jackson joined the Wexner Center's young professionals GenWex Advisory Committee as a co-chair. And the Ohio Art League recruited him to its board to help plan statewide art programming.
Working with these well-established groups encouraged Jackson to keep creating his own projects. In May he debuted Pinned, an annual meet-up of motorcyclists who home-build their rides.
Jackson loves the underground bike scene so much that it and its allusions to cool teddy boy fashion influenced Milk Bar's upcoming Savage Life clothing line for men, the boutique's second line (Milk Bar Femme, trendy women's styles with classically sensible undertones, launched this summer).
Also in the works is an intimate lounge/dance/drink concept Jackson hopes to open within the year.
"I'm not a good 'No' person," Jackson said. "I'll at least say I'll try. If it works, it works. If it doesn't, it doesn't."