Tru Powell is a multi-award-winning creative entrepreneur, publicity coach, and personal brand strategist. Born and bred in Birmingham, Tru has had a passion for enterprise, the arts, and events, since a young age.
Electric House Chief Content Officer, Adam Barrie, along with Commercial Director, Andy Taylor, interviewed Tru on the tenth episode of the 0121 podcast. The 0121 podcast aims to tell the stories of Midlands-based entrepreneurs and influencers, as well as championing the great city of Birmingham.
A passionate entrepreneur, Tru has grown multiple of his own businesses, including the Alternative Events and Wedding company, and the UK’s first children’s pamper salon, Kandy Girl. In addition, Tru spends his day teaching at the Aston Performing Arts Academy and has recently been appointed to the non-executive board at the Hippodrome.
Read on to find out more about how Tru Powell subverts stereotypes at the Aston Performing Arts Academy, breaks barriers with the Hippodrome and conquers challenges with Kandy Girl.
Aston Performing Arts Academy (APAA) is a Birmingham-based initiative founded by Anji Daniels that offers arts performance opportunities and tuition to young people.
Tru joined APAA in 2009, aiming to create a safe space and affordable outlet for young people to express themselves:
“There was no performing arts outlet for black boys in Aston, growing up. I just wanted to sing and dance and there was nothing out there. I vowed that when I became of age I was going to create something that could accommodate people who were in my situation.”
As the creative director, Tru is responsible for teaching vocal and choreography to the music groups, as well as managing all of the events. APAA vocal group, Elements of Song, has performed at major awards ceremonies in the Midlands, as well as opening Grand Central in Birmingham on the very first day with five flash mobs. Tru says that the impact hasn’t gone unnoticed:
“I’ve one hundred percent seen more black males coming into the industry. It’s also about being really comfortable in your own skin. We’re actually quite daring with our movement and with the song selection.
We believe there is power in challenging what is acceptable for men and women. It’s up to us as leading art practitioners to create those spaces where boys can feel proud and confident in what they’re doing.”
In February 2021, The Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Trust announced the appointment of Tru Powell to its board of Directors. The board supports the leadership team at the Hippodrome and aims to create a world-class cultural scene in Birmingham.
“Before I was appointed, I used to stand outside the Hippodrome, and think ‘one day, I’m going to be on that stage’.
For me, the main thing about the Hippodrome is representation for people who look like me and come from where I’m from. I grew up in extreme poverty… It just goes to show that if I can create a space where I can do what I love, in an environment that I love, and show representation through one of the biggest arts organisations in the UK, then so can you.”
Tru’s entrepreneurial spirit runs in the family; Kandy Girl, the UK’s first children’s salon of its kind, was the brainchild of his seven-year-old niece, who wanted to visit a salon. When Tru’s sister, a beautician by trade, couldn’t find any existing child-friendly salons in the UK for her daughter to attend, she enlisted Tru’s help to build their own.
“I will never take credit for the birth of Kandy Girl… It went crazy; we had so much press coverage, and still do to this day. We had people from all over the UK come to visit us. It’s been such an amazing business idea that’s got legs to grow and expand.”
Although, businesses like hairdressers and salons have expectedly faced a multitude of issues in the wake of the global pandemic.
“Covid has slowed us down a lot. But, one thing I’m certain of is that it’s not the salon that people are crazy about, it’s the brand. The brand resonates with a lot of people.
We can close the salon for a year and our community will still engage because they really like what the brand stands for: empowering kids to love themselves inside and out. Give them a time when they can relax and chill, and feel pampered, and special. That’s what our customers and our community really resonates with.
All quotes from Tru have been taken and edited from episode 10 of the 0121 podcast.