Local Artist Launch Center for Creatives
Sarah “Fancy” Lanier-Duncan and Emmanuel “Envy” Duncan are two local artists and entrepreneurs on the move. Known musically as hip hop duo iLLism, the two recently expanded their horizons by launching a creative space for the community.
The couple, married for 10 years, recently launched The Legacy Building located in South Minneapolis. They also own CRWN Media and a record label called The CRWN, LLC.
They explained the meaning of the trade name(s): “CRWN stands for Creatives ReWriting Narratives,” said Emmanuel Duncan. Sarah Lanier-Duncan added, “Building a legacy just comes from building your legacy, and that’s a very important part – black people need something to pass on.”
She continued: “Our company CRWN Media operates from this one. [The Legacy Building], then eventually the label, The CRWN, will also run from that. They are signed to their own label.
The Legacy Building was established in December 2021. Emmanuel said, “We are still building our team.
“We are building our advisory board,” added Sarah.
“Right now,” she continued, “we have our LLC with the CRWN; we hope to make it a non-profit so that when we have artists coming in, we have grants and we have money that can be used.
Importantly, she added, “We have a GoFundMe set up right now. We mostly have family and friends who give to him. We accept monetary donations. We even have a list of things we still need to get this space moving.
The Legacy Building resides in the Longfellow neighborhood. “There are so many things here, like Minnehaha Falls. We are accessible by light rail,” Emmanuel said.
They were inspired to start The Legacy Building because of their struggles as artists. The couple launched their band iLLism in 2015 and have released five albums with more music planned for the near future.
Emmanuel said, “We always felt like we had to do a lot on our own, and so I think that kind of honed our skills.” Sarah explained, “And just the experience of feeling like you need someone who is like you and understands what you’re trying to contribute to the culture.” They want to help underserved people in their community. “It’s my hood,” Sarah said.
Starting a business is a long process. The duo said tears and hard work fueled their journey. They moved almost all the furniture in the space with their personal vehicle.
“There are different stages,” Sarah said. “You need to get your LLC, you need to have your articles of organization – write a budget and a business plan.”
Emmanuel said, “For us as musicians, often times you can’t just be the musician, you have to be a businessman or a businesswoman. That’s where we’re at, just maximizing outside of the music. Sometimes you have to take off your artist hat and help out.
Sarah added, “We learned early in our music career that if you can be a blessing to someone, you should. When you give, you receive back. »
There is an important mission and purpose behind their company. “The mission is to serve, and the purpose is to elevate. They are creatives rewriting narratives, and I feel like we are all writers and have the ability to guide people through the doors they have to go through,” explained Sarah.
Guests can use the welcoming and comfortable Legacy Building in a variety of ways. There is a vocal recording studio, spacious rehearsal space, photo/video studio space and a designated storefront that will host pop-up shops.
The unique space aims to serve the “local creative community” in Minneapolis. The owners plan to open the weekend of June 16, Sarah said. They will also have activities leading up to the grand opening.
While running a business is challenging, there are rewarding aspects such as “getting to know people, giving back” and “helping people, like taking an idea and making it happen,” Sarah and Emmanuel said.
They shared advice for young and aspiring entrepreneurs: “Don’t underestimate yourself. Many people will tell you what is possible and what is not. Believe in yourself.”
The Legacy Building is located at 4024 E. 46e South Minneapolis Street. The inauguration will take place on Friday, June 17 at 6 p.m. For more information, visit Facebook/ILLism, www.illismmusic.com or www.gofundme.com/f/creativespaceownedbyblackcouple.
Ashley Lauren is a contributing writer at MN Spokesman-Recorder.