Student wants to become a ‘household name’

If Audri Cabness is not reading Donald Trump’s book Think Big and Kick Ass in Business and Life or having a meeting on her cell phone between classes, she’s probably rushing to Office Depot to pick up business cards. In fact, she goes there so often that the employees regularly print her cards before she arrives.

The USF junior, majoring in mass communications, runs her own business from her home in St. Petersburg. Cabness’ business, Spectrum Media An Imaging Agency, is what she calls a “luxury outcall service.”

If clients need hair stylists, makeup artists, photographers, floral arrangements or help planning an event, Cabness can take care of it, whether it’s overseas or in the United States.

Her business landed her on the February 2008 cover of Today’s Entrepreneur.

“This is the world’s first luxury outcall service provider,” Cabness said. “I’m paving the way.”

Cabness said she is not a concierge. Instead, she holds contracts with licensed professionals, such as hair stylists and photographers, and sets up customers with the professionals she feels will best fulfill their needs.

“If you’re a bride, you shouldn’t have to leave home or run to the hair salon at 5 a.m. That’s your day. You just relax, and I send somebody to you,” Cabness said.

Cabness’ started her business 10 years ago in New York, where she was working to become a singer. To keep a steady income, she worked as a makeup artist and hair stylist at a salon frequented by celebrities and politicians.

It was there she realized that she had a knack for connecting people and decided to start her own outcall service.

After going door to door and asking several business owners on Washington D.C.’s busy M Street what it took to hold down their own business, Cabness decided to lay the foundation for her own.

“I never wanted to work for anyone else,” Cabness said. “Over the years, it just blossomed.”

Cabness then got the licenses and certifications required to get the wheels turning. She said tevery penny that went into starting Spectrum Media came from her own pocket.

When she moved to Florida in 2004 to attend USF, her business continued to grow. She recently added luxury vehicle services – with optional chauffeurs – to the list. She also has co-venture sponsorships with Shades of Monet Cosmetics and Dana’s Loft body products.

Despite balancing academics and entrepreneurship, she’s happy to do what she does.

“It’s time-consuming, but it’s my baby,” Cabness said. “I am committed to it. I wouldn’t trust anyone else to run it.”

Cabness said she holds high standards when it comes to contracting licensed professionals.

“(Clients) are entrusting me with their most private and special moments,” Cabness said. “I just want this to be the best service they could have.”

Samuel Wright, associate dean of student affairs at USF, said that when Cabness coordinated a retirement party at the St. Petersburg campus, she personally called him to make sure he would attend.

“Audri is always a plus at those affairs,” Wright said. “It was one wonderful experience, and awesomely done. She has unlimited potential – she is a phenomenal woman and she will go very far.”

Cabness said her business has also allowed her to help people in the community who cannot go out to get their hair or makeup done, such as a client with skin cancer and elderly clients.

“I am trying to fill a need,” Cabness said. “A lot of people think hair and makeup is frivolous, but it can make people feel good on the inside.”

Lydia Coleman, Cabness’ former boss in New York, said Cabness’ friendly, direct and professional demeanor will help her business thrive.

“She’s learned a lot over the years,” Coleman said. “She’s a go-getter, and I know she’s going to succeed.”

Cabness said she plans to eventually franchise her business after she graduates in the summer of 2009. She said she never forgets to remind herself to continue to work hard.

“A lot of times, we put our own glass ceilings up that nobody else has imposed,” Cabness said. “Don’t put limits on yourself – the sky is the limit.”

Until she finishes school, she said she’s excited with the non-stop rush of her business.

“I’m so excited to see it growing,” Cabness said. “I know where I will be going in five years. I will be debt-free, and my business is going to be a household name.”