Single mother. Business owner. Nonprofit starter. Before she has even turned 30, Autumn Morgan has done it all.
In 2011, the Austin local was divorced, raising two children, penniless and living off of the generous support of her friends when she decided it was time for a big change. Not long after, she launched her own social media marketing agency and signed her first few clients. What began as a simple way to make a few bucks quickly turned into the sole source of her income and, as luck (and determination) would have it, the gateway to a world of opportunity.
Having grown up in a household that was less than ideal, Morgan vowed to give her kids, Iris and Legend, a better childhood than she ever had. But after divorcing her husband of four years, money was the biggest issue.
Inspired by Jack Canfield’s bestselling book, “The Success Principles,” Morgan looked to the thing she understood best: human connection. She began brainstorming about how she could use her communication skills to make a living, and having had some experience using Facebook and Twitter, social media seemed to be the answer.
“I started it because I needed to have my own business,” Morgan said. “I wanted something I could start using my current skills and no capital, and as few supplies as possible.”
Morgan knew from the beginning that she wanted the name of her company to represent her mission. She chose Bodhi Books – now called Bodhi Leaf Media – after the sacred Bodhi Tree of India, which stands as a symbol of enlightenment.
To get the ball rolling, she began creating Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, and company blogs for several of her friends’ businesses, and her friends’ businesses took off as a result. By word of mouth and Morgan’s marketing skills, it wasn’t long before business owners were calling her to manage their social media efforts.
“The beginning was awful. I was broke, and had no idea where money was coming from for food and rent. But after I signed my first client, it snowballed,” she said. “I have worked every single day to improve my strategies, services and skills, and it shows because the business is still growing.”
Today, Bodhi Leaf Media employs two interns and services 18 clients. Morgan works out of the comfort of her home so that she can be present in her kids’ lives. But even with these accomplishments under her belt, Morgan still worries about what the future holds.
“As a business owner, you wear a lot of hats. You have to make a thousand decisions a day and they have to be made quickly. The business is everything. There is no back up plan, no guaranteed paycheck. Things can go very bad very quickly. You always have to be at least two steps ahead of the game.”
Morgan celebrated Bodhi Leaf Media’s first birthday in March by hosting an Indian-themed bash in order to thank the friends and clients who have made the success of Bodhi Leaf Media possible. Travis McAshan, the first client Morgan ever signed, says it’s Autumn who deserves all of the credit.
“She is an exceptional women in many aspects, not the least of which is her focused determination to succeed in whatever she is applying herself,” says McAshan. “Autumn has a bright future ahead of her and I know that she is destined for a long and successful life of which I am grateful to be a part of.”
As a result of endless networking for her company, Morgan was able to work with other professionals to cultivate another big idea: the management of a nonprofit organization called One Billion Fed, which strives to improve the quality of life of one billion people worldwide. According to its website, the mission is to “travel throughout the US and abroad, working with organizations already set up within each community, and helping them receive the tools they need to ensure that they are fed and healthy.”
Morgan said that her motivation behind the nonprofit was strongest after an incident in December 2012, when a neighbor and her four kids were forced to hide in Morgan’s apartment during a case of domestic violence. When Morgan posted the incident on Facebook, friends and family reached out right away to help.
“One person donated money into my PayPal account so I could get food to feed the woman and her family. This was when I realized how powerful something like One Billion Fed could be.”
Morgan plans on incorporating online marketing, website development and organizational planning to aid organizations that are already helping communities in need. One Billion Fed is currently accepting monetary donations, time and volunteer services.
“You have to have a passion in life, and just go for it,” Morgan said. “I always knew my passion was for helping others. Through One Billion Fed, I can do it on a larger scale than I ever thought possible.”
[Written and photographed April 2013 for J 310F Reporting Words, a journalism class at the University of Texas.]