1721 Creations: Family tradition becomes ‘sweet’ business for Claflin alum

Nov 01, 2019


Jerame Smalls, 29, spoke at the Claflin University Mass Communications Department's  Culture & Media Day on Oct. 24. He is a 2014 Claflin graduate with a bachelor of science in business administration (sociology). Smalls was a recipient of the Tom Joyner Foundation “Hercules Scholarship” while he was attending Claflin.  (Panther photo by Ka’Jherik Campbell) 


Alumnus Jerame Smalls came back to Claflin to tell students just how sweet his business is.

Smalls has been handcrafting sweetgrass baskets for more than 15 years, launching his business, 1721 Creations. He addressed the topic culture and digital marketing on Oct. 24 for the Department of Mass Communications’ Culture & Media Day.

“My business name is 1721 Creations and I picked that name by using the address where my grandma lived in Charleston, South Carolina,” he said.

“I learned how to create and craft these baskets when I was 12 years old and I promised my grandmother before I passed away that I would continue to push our family legacy,” he said.

He said he made every excuse in the book to procrastinate in launching a business.

“Even at that young age, I had to learn quickly and think about how I am going to push my family legacy outside of a basket stand on the side of the road,” he said.

Aside from his grandmother's passing and a determination to continue a family legacy, he was pushed into business by people from all over reaching out to him about the baskets.

“A lot of success with my business comes from being surrounded by like-minded people, a lot of my friends are entrepreneurs,” he said. “They have pushed me to launch my own business.”

Smalls identified network and digital marketing tactics for his business:

●       Pay for the website

●       Have the website linked on all social media

●       Have multiple social media resources for the business

●       Make sure you have a mentor

●       Brand yourself

●       Make connections, network

●       Market your business, invest

●       Listen to the comments people make about your brand and take notes

●       Don’t talk directly about your business, let people ask.

 Connections are essential in successful businesses because they allow you to expand, find new customers, have a better understanding of things, and grow, Smalls said.

“Everything in regards to my banner and my business has some type of connection, including my business name and cards.” he said. “It's so amazing to know the connections you could possibly make.”

 “We live in a generation where we truly have the world in our hands and because my products are online, I’m able to spread my family’s craft around the world,” he said. 

Jerame Smalls at Claflin. (Panther photo by Tasha Skinner)


Jerome Smalls continued the legacy of his grandmother, selling sweet grass baskets through his business, 1721 Creations. (Panther photo by Serina Parker)



Claflin mass communications students turn out for Culture & Media Day. (Panther photo by Marcus Hamilton)

Anna Kelly, founder of the International Gullah Film Festival, introduces the films to be shown at the Claflin Department of Mass Communications' Culture & Media Day. (Panther photo by De’Nazia Dukes)



Culture and Media Day speaker Michiel Perry is the owner of Southern Belle magazine, which is about fashion relating to black Southern belles. Perry spoke about her beginnings  at Howard as an undergrad and how her time their inspired her to start the magazine. She also runs her own business, assisting clients with any of their digital media needs. (Panther photo by Jordan James)


Amy Kelly and Tamera Littlejohn await their session as students arrive. (Panther photo by Ka’Jherik Campbell)



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