Founder and President • Experience: Harlem • New York City • Age: 37
The first time Angie Hancock visited Harlem was in the summer of 1997, while working as an auditor for Sara Lee Corp. Something about those Harlem streets seized her as she waited outside for a table at Harlem’s famous Sylvia’s Restaurant. “Harlem is the Black capital of the world, the birthplace of the Black cultural Renaissance,” says Hancock. She is the founder and president of Experience: Harlem, a multimedia marketing company that brings together businesses and Harlem’s growing affluent residents.
Harlem is a long way from Maywood, Ill., the working-class Black suburb where Hancock grew up. A shy but bright student, she graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, and then worked as a certified public accountant at Ernst & Young for three years before joining Sara Lee in 1995. She obtained a master’s in business administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in 2002, while still at Sara Lee.
Hancock’s corporate success came at a high price. “I had a couple of burnouts along the way,” she says. “It was unrewarding and so unfulfilling.” She launched Experience: Harlem in 2005. “I was always digging and trying to find information about the neighborhood and then I found out that I was the one that was telling people about the cool, interesting places going on in Harlem,” she says.
Hancock sends a promotional guide and e-blasts every quarter to more than 20,000 households, with information on local businesses and cultural institutions. She plans to expand her coverage to other areas. Advertisements in her print and electronic publications and customized marketing programs she designs for corporate clients provide her income. She’s working harder than ever before. “[In Corporate America] I was doing well and on the high potential senior management track, but this is the first time I can say I love what I do,” she says.