Savannah's Very Own "Georgia Doll" & the Georgia Media Brand
Savannah, Georgia is a special city with a strange duality. Although I’m a St.Louis native, I’ve lived here in “the pote” on and off since 2010 so I’ve always attempted to keep my ears and eyes peeled to any creatives contributing to the culture here. While there is a long list of young entrepreneurs/artists from savannah who are doing really cool shit, there has seemed to be a lack of local support within the city over the years. A plethora of different artists, poets, brand creators, and entrepreneurs from savannah are making serious noise in and outside of the city though, and one young hustler in particular is doing everything in her power to put the spotlight on them. I got a chance to have an in depth conversation with “Georgia Doll” , check it out below!
CeaJai: So first, give a little introduction to you and your “Georgia Media” brand.
My name is Ayana “Georgia Doll" Gunn and I initially started out with radio and progressed into public relations, photography and videography. But, ever since I can remember, my whole family pretty much was involved in radio and has had radio shows. Growing up, I was always in a radio station or in the studio. When I got to college, I joined radio and media organizations and by my sophomore year, I got discovered by someone who had an online radio station. I had my own podcast & from there “Georgia Media” was just an email address I used for people to send music to, but I realized the same email address they would send music to was my personal email I used for everything. I then made a professional email and decided to name it "Georgia Media" since my radio personality name was "Georgia Doll”, and this would be my new "media" related email. From there I realized how far my show got and that Georgia Media (GMA) was the way I was able to brand myself. I then decided to make it a business. I officially launched GMA in February of last year.
CeaJai: Okay, now when did your interest for music and media start?
I would say it had to be middle school. I remember there was a website I discovered with a free trial where you could order as many CD’s as you wanted, and me being a kid I ordered almost every CD I could think of… and my momma got the bill the next month like “Little girl you ordered all these CD’s?!” but she wasn’t mad. She just understood that I really loved music, so I’d say about 5th grade is when I really started paying attention to music. As far as radio, my freshman year of high school I started doing voice overs for E93 and different radio stations in savannah, and at that point I started taking it more serious.
CeaJai: And from there when did you figure that this was something you could do for a living as opposed to just an interest ?
I had friends that would tell me “This is something you can really make money off of” but initially I didn’t want to believe it. I think I was a sophomore in college, and I had my first radio show ever titled “All Access with Georgia”. People used to reach out to me asking for me to spin their music on the show, and me not knowing too much of the business side of things I would play their music no charge as long as I liked it. Eventually, Ajaye [an artist from Savannah], reached out to me and asked how much would I charge to give him radio spins for a month. At the time I’m like “Why would I charge you?”, but a friend of mine encouraged me to start charging and I originally did a flash sale of monthly spins for 20 dollars. That friend was like “No that’s too low, people are getting over on you” and that’s when I realized I could really make money off of what I did.
CeaJai: How does you being from Savannah affect your approach to business and your overall goals?
I would say Savannah Georgia has taught me a lot about not only myself but about people in general, and it’s like a good and a bad thing. I like to tell people I’m from slow-vannah, Savannah is very slow but I love my city. It’s nothing like Savannah Georgia & it taught me early on that you have to go out and get it no handouts whatsoever. So being in the city where you don't have that many opportunities awarded to you it just kinda gives you that hustle to go get it, and no one can take it from you. A lot of people used to tell me, you have to dominate where you’re at in order to go other places so I really do believe that. Of course I did move away from Savannah to go to college (and I’ve graduated) and still live in Atlanta, but if you follow me you see that I’m always doing something for the city. I actually just literally announced that I’m launching a boot camp series in Savannah Georgia. So it’s more for anyone who’s a creative, anyone who wants to get experience and learn more about media training. Now I live in Atlanta, so that means that I’m willing to devote my Saturdays every single weekend to come and travel 4 hours away to come to Savannah because that’s really how much I do love my city. Savannah has taught me a lot, I love my city, and Im’a rep it till I die.
CeaJai: Now I’ve been to your events and I’ve seen how selfless you are, but a lot of people only see how it comes together. You know the event was cool, everyone had a good time, but what were some of the learning curves and down times that you had to go through to get to make these things happen? What lessons did you learn from going through them?
Well its crazy you say that because today actually makes one year since I threw my very first showcase, June 9th 2016 was the day in Atlanta, Ga. It was in the back of a restaurant, it was super small but we made it happen, it was packed out. I think you were there if I’m not mistaken, or you came to my second one. But you know… just elevating. Honestly I think my biggest event was my worst event. It was September of last year, in Savannah. I had 30 interns, I brought 10 of them down to Savannah with me, and to make a long story short I had requested that all the artists send me their music a week beforehand. People didn’t do that, they brought their music with them on jump drives. My DJ didn't have enough USB ports to implement everyone’s music so the show had to start an hour and a half later because we had to import everyone’s music. Now looking back on that, I should've just been like I apologize but you didn't turn in your music when you needed to, you’re going to sabotage my show, so in that case I’m going to have to charge you an extra late fee or you just can’t perform. I tried to cater to everyone’s needs, and I knew at the end of the day I put time lines and deadlines out for a reason, so when you don't respect those deadlines it makes me and my brand look bad. No one cares about the artist coming late and bringing their music, or the DJ having to put in that music. Everybody cares about “Georgia Media started their event an hour and a half late”, so it’s just different things that I’ve learned along the way. That was one of my biggest showcases, my first showcase in savannah, and I even cried. I’ve cried at two showcases I’ve had, and those were the ones that taught me the most. I know it sounds cliché, but I actually like going through the ups and downs, because it really shows me for the next time what I need to do better. So every time I have another showcase it just progresses.
CeaJai: Seeing as how you’ve been able to network with some big names within the industry, what was your favorite collaboration or project where you were able to work with one of those people?
I honestly couldn’t tell you, and I always battle with this answer. I think one of my most memorable interviews was with Kash Doll, it was a meet and greet. Basically her management had reached out to me in May of last year and I decided to have the event in August of that year. It was a lot of months I had put into it and the day before her manager called me and was like “Hey she just opened up for Drake in Detroit she can’t make it to your event” and the school (Clark Atlanta University) was already against it, they didn’t want her to come because of her lyrics. So I had to pull a lot of strings for me to do all of that, and then they tell me that she can’t make it… I was devastated, I really felt embarrassed like a janky promoter, saying this person is going to come and then they don’t show up. So I really just prayed about it and I was like can she at least make a video saying that she’ll come another time, but Kash Doll texted me like “Hey out of my own money I’m booking a flight to come to your event, I know how long you been putting in this work, so I’m gonna come,” and she made it happen.
CeaJai: Okay, and last question: For Georgia Media, what are some of your main goals for the future? As far as vision goes, and what does that vision look like 3, 4, 5 years from now?
Well I don’t really think that far ahead, I should but I don’t. But one thing that I’ve been telling people is that I want Georgia Media Agency to be a full fledge PR firm where I have employees that I’m able to pay, and the people who have been my interns, who sometimes I don’t have any money to pay, I want to hire them. So my next step is to have an actual full fledge business where the employees don’t have to work 2 or 3 jobs to be financially able. So that’s one of my biggest goals that I wanna see happen in a year. Another goal of mine is to have an office space, because my sister does hair so I want her to have one part of the business to do hair and everything, a photo shoot area, and then I’ll have my area where I can do consultations, meet and greets, interviews, all that in one business office so those are my two goals that I really want to happen within the next one to 2 years.
CeaJai: I gotchu. Well I really appreciate you taking the time out to do this interview. Dangerous Women is all about highlighting women who are movers and shakers within their creative spaces, and I gotta tip my hat to you for how selfless you are. I asked what the biggest goal you had for YOUR business was, and the first thing you said was basically to bless somebody else. I feel like you reach another level in anything that you’re doing when its bigger than you and you're not only doing it so you can eat, but so that you can help someone else so I can also appreciate that.
No problem, thank you & you’ve been doing a lot actually. I really see a lot of myself in you and what you’re doing with your podcast. I remember first meeting you, I think it was at a panel or something. I was running around crazy, and I was like “please stay right here I’ll be right back” and you saw I was doing so much but I came back to talk to you because I really do love networking events, I love to meet other people because that’s what makes the world go round honestly. So I appreciate you and I tip my hat off to you as well.
Keep up with Georgia Doll and Georgia media via social media here: