The long-time L Brands employee set to move into the music industry full-time in February
On Feb. 18, Micshon Harper will celebrate his eldest daughter's 21st birthday. Two days later, he'll celebrate his 21st anniversary with L Brands. Then, two days after that, he'll work his final shift heading up the technology department before leaving to pursue his own business full-time.
“I've always been in the entrepreneurial spirit, wanting to work for myself and make my own determination in life,” said Harper, a 41-year-old husband and father of three. “I never looked at my corporate job as Plan A. For me it's always been Plan B, even being there this long.”
Harper gained a foothold in the music industry more than a decade ago when he started managing his cousin, Columbus rapper Illogic. In the years since, he has launched a management company, Voice of Reason, started a record label alongside Columbus expat Ill Poetic (Definition Music) and co-created peripheral companies that handle associated elements such as graphics and sound design.
Harper started prepping his current employer about his plans years ago — “They come in [during annual review] and say, ‘What's your five-year plan?' And I'm like, ‘I have a five-year plan but it does not include you,'” he said — but solidified his decision early in 2017. Harper attributed his call to leave corporate America to the physical and mental strain of balancing a full-time job, a family and a growing career in the music industry, as well as to a shift in corporate culture that intensified following the election of President Donald Trump. “It kind of became a cutthroat environment where folks are back-biting and trying to figure out how to get the next leg up,” he said.
In preparation for the change, Harper invested in home updates (a new roof, interior and exterior painting, etc.) to try to mitigate financial concerns associated with unforeseen repairs. He also diversified his savings, investing both in the stock market and in up-and-coming financial realms such as cryptocurrency so that “my money could make money,” as he explained, while he worked to get his various companies onto more stable footing. Harper has also had to weigh the looming loss of benefits (the family is leaning toward shifting to his wife's health-care plan), as well as a steady income, though he said he could supplement his finances with the odd corporate consulting job.
Regardless, even as Harper balances the mix of fear, anxiety and excitement, he's confident in his decision as he counts down his final weeks at his current job.
“You have to take [fate] into your own hands. You have to make decisions that are best for you and that also take into account your mental and physical well-being,” he said. “It's going to be difficult to walk away from that [stability], but I have the opportunity to try to step out on my own, which is not something my parents could have done.”