Dwayne Holness is a creative director and CEO of Corex Creative, a Black led video marketing agency specializing in corporate videos, digital strategy, and brand development. Gifted with innovation and creative skills, Dwayne fuses his natural ability to connect and collaborate to serve as the basis of his success. His clients include household brands, CSA Group, The Academy, TD Bank, Rogers, and the LCBO.
Dwayne travels the world to bring his clients' visions to life. He’s company Corex Creative recently worked with the Canadian Screen Awards on their digital production, including the opening message delivered by their founder & CEO, Beth Jansen and the award introduction vignettes. Dwayne has toured the world with both Chronixx and Lauryn Hill to lead their creative direction.
In our interview he explores his background and the key challenges he faced as a black business leader.
Hello Dwayne. Thank you for participating in this Q&A session. We would like to start by exploring your origin story. Please give us an overview of your background and your entrepreneurial journey to date?
Dwayne: I was born in Spanish Town Jamaica and moved to Canada at the age of 5 with my mother who wanted to leave for a better life. As a new immigrant to the country, my mother had to figure out how to navigate the Canadian system. We moved to Jane and Finch, and she worked as a nurse to be able to provide.
My mother worked shifts and this stopped us from spending quality time together. She would work 3 jobs from 7am-11pm. Not seeing my mother often, meant she didn’t have the time to raise me. This forced me to raise myself, and I discovered quite early what it meant to be a man.
Growing up in Jane and Finch, I was bullied to the point where I didn't want to go outside. Eventually that ended but it left me with a scar and it also motivated me more to get what I deserved out of life. I was hungry and fearless.
As a black business leader, what key challenges have you faced in your entrepreneurial journey to date, and how have you navigate these?
Dwayne: As a black business leader one of the main challenges is to get other black people to work together. I find that to be one of my biggest challenge now.
As I try to build a team of black professionals, it's quite difficult. Also, being a young business leader in the creative space is a challenge when speaking with your peers because it's hard for them to take me serious. I always say, "If a White man hired you, you would go over and beyond. Why not for me?".
Has your entrepreneurial journey been influenced by any past or present business leaders?
Dwayne: I am inspired by Jay-Z, Diddy, Lauryn Hill, Chronixx, Oprah, and many other high profiled individuals. I lean more towards people in America because they have a fearlessness that I am attracted to. Here in Canada, people are too safe and it then leads to everyone putting limits on themselves.
I don't see limits, I just see challenges, and every challenge is worth going through.
I've journeyed a challenging life and was able to make something out of it. Now I plan to take my creative and business skills to the next level.
What do you attribute your success to as a business leader and entrepreneur?
Dwayne: I attribute my success to my daily to-do list. That is one thing that keeps me on track and lets me know where I am on my journey. My daily routine keeps me ahead of the game.
I am big on being productive instead of busy. I get many things done in 24 hours. If you tell yourself it will take 30 days to clean your room then it will take 30 days. If you tell yourself it will take 3 hours then it will take 3 hours. Mindset is everything!
Let’s talk about your company Corex Creative. Please give us an overview of Corex Creative’s origin story, its target market and unique selling proposition?
Dwayne: Many don't know this but I am a full ACTRA member in Canada. When I was 15 I signed up for an agency who would send me on movies and tv shows as a background performer. This equipped me with many skills that come in handy today.
Corex Creative was birthed 13 years ago out of necessity. Growing up in Jane and Finch was golden because it was filled with potent stories. I loved telling stories, which is why I picked up a camera and started to capture my friends. Now, we target companies looking to tell purpose driven stories, stories that amplifies their 'why".
We work with companies to create full blown campaigns to grab their audiences hearts. We also act as creative consultants for companies looking to position themselves online.
Our biggest unique selling point is that we have a huge social responsibility to create an ecosystem that enables young creatives to get real life experience on each and every one of our projects. We have an ‘each one teach one’ model. It works!
Please give us some examples of clients you’ve worked with and the work you’ve done for them?
Dwayne: Our clients include: Lauryn Hill - Creative Director (2020 Tour), Chronixx - Creative Director (2018-2020 Tour), LCBO - Spirit of Sustainability Campaign City of Toronto, Agency of Record since 2014 Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, Digital Strategy CSA Group, Agency of Record since 2018 Rotary International, Member & Video producer Civic Action, and Anti Black Racism in the workplace campaign.
As a black owned business, how much support has Corex Creative received from the black community?
Dwayne: As a black owned business, I am very proud of how the community supports us. I would not have been here if it wasn't for those who invested in me from the start. These are people who are now in bigger positions, which is great because the scope of work grew as the years go by. We were raised in the community so I believe that the community is responsible for my success.
What impact has the COVID pandemic had on Corex Creative and how have you navigated this?
Dwayne: COVID has really taken a toll on many business but luckily it has pointed a light in our direction. Now that everyone is leaning into digital content, our door has been knocking. Our company grew 800% in 2021, which means that more companies are positioning themselves online. We have been busy developing digital strategies to help businesses navigate online.
Before we conclude this interview, is there anything you’d like to add?
Dwayne: I'd like to say that I am fearless in my pursuit and I won't allow anyone to stop the greatness that I am about to bring into Canada and the world. I am unstoppable.
Thank you Dwayne for participating in this Q&A session, we wish you all the best.
Dwayne: Thank you!
👉Follow Dwayne Holness on Instagram @dukeydukez
This article was originally published in Issue 10 of The Business Anecdote Magazine.