When Amber Peters, aka Mizz P, worked as a counselor at a high school in Harlem, she noticed a troubling theme at every college fair.
“I heard the same 300 questions,” says Peters. “How is it that we live in this great city yet all these students do not have the right information to prepare for college?”
She wanted to reach more households so in 2015 she created a website, MizzP.NYC. The educational expert works one-on-one with students and their families who are going through the college application process. She designed her site as an informational and introductory hub that speaks to teens and families.
“So many college admissions departments and other resources don’t understand how young people consume content but I do,” says Mizz P. “It’s important to be authentic. Kids and parents know a phony.”
Mizz P’s first order of business was to debunk the most common myths. “Many never even considered college because they can’t afford it,” she says. “They didn’t see hope in taking the next steps but I am here to contribute hope.”
Others mistakenly thought they had to decide on a major and career before applying to college. “You do not have to have your life figured out at 17,” she assures her clients. She also tells them that college is attainable for students of all backgrounds. She’s guided local families toward esteemed institutions like community and state colleges. She’s also guided families toward obtaining a full scholarship to Ivy League colleges like Columbia and Cornell.
“My services run the gamut and the process is customizable because one institution does not fit everyone,” says Mizz P.
Branding herself online has paid off. Mizz P has been invited to conduct workshops across the city. She has also delivered keynotes at college fairs and seminars, helping her to reach families at a larger scale.
Here, she shares her path to building an online presence, and how her small business website helps her fulfill her mission to level the playing field in higher education:
How did you launch a website for your business?
My initial website had a small bio and some blog posts, but no real branding. I did know that picking the right domain would be a key part of my journey. A friend of mine who had done web consulting told me about the .NYC domain and how it is up and coming. He mentioned it looked new and fresh; and that .com was overused while .NYC could differentiate me.
I launched MizzP.NYC and it even sounds better. It rolls off the tongue. After all, NYC is part of my identity.
Tell us about branding yourself online.
After my domain I focused on web design. When you get to my homepage you see a train station as a featured background because I’m a New Yorker and someone who is going to get you on the right track. That’s where my tagline “Get On Track With Mizz P” comes from.
My brand colors are a symbolic theme throughout the website. You’ll see yellow because people have called me a ball of sunshine because I’m bubbly and bright. I took some inspiration from musician Janelle Monae who wears black and white so it’s modern and cool. So it’s my personality blended with professionalism. This way I can connect with the students but I’m also professional because I'm serious about changing the landscape of college and career planning.
How have you grown as a business?
Referrals work. If a family has a great experience with me they could just direct others to my website. My business website serves as an introduction and explainer as to who I am and what I can do. I’m a strategy coach who works closely with schools and families.
How else has your business and website evolved over the years?
I added an ecommerce component. I want kids to get on track and feel good doing it. I want them to feel they are part of this movement of changing their own narrative so they can build a future where they can take care of themselves and their families. When I go to workshops I wear my brand and anyone can too.
What keeps you going as an entrepreneur?
It’s all about leveling the playing field. For so long, getting into the right college was based on where you live, your skin color, and your family’s finances. But the family you were born to might not have the right resources in terms of money and information and I’m here to make sure that is not a blockade. During slavery, African-Americans were prohibited from reading and becoming knowledgeable in order to keep them down. So empowering them in their education is what they need to settle in their careers, build generational wealth and live healthy lives for themselves and their kids. This is essentially what I’m trying to do.
What words of advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?
Work smart and not hard. We can fall apart trying to build someone else’s empire or we can work smart for ourselves.