"Girl Get Visible" Clifton Entrepreneur Does That, and More
Clifton is home to people from all walks of life and with endlessly varied stories and professions, including plenty of small business owners who have set up shop here. Akilah A. Thompkins-Robinson, entrepreneur and author, is one inspiring example. In Arabic her name translates to “intelligent, bright,” and she is certainly living up to it.
Born and raised in Paterson, New Jersey, Thompkins-Robinson is a graduate of Seton Hall and of Stevens Technical Institute, where she earned her master’s degree in information technology. She’s worked in that field for more than two decades, including more than five years as a vice president at JP Morgan Chase where she managed IT teams and projects. She is the head of web design and technology for the international chapter of Zeta Thi Beta Sorority, Inc., which is an African American Sorority. Founded in 1920, the founding mission of this organization was to “...directly affect positive change, chart a course of action for the 1920s and beyond, raise people’s consciousness, encourage the highest standards of scholastic achievement, and foster a greater sense of unity among its members.”
Thompkins-Robinson’s entrepreneurship grew organically from a combination of her particular skill set in IT and her propensity for sharing. She’d been doing freelance web design since she was right out of college, which is where she learned SEO (Search Engine Optimization). She also started blogging, as she enjoyed posting about what she knew and giving advice to others. When you do enough of that, she explained, someone’s eventually going to say, “How do I do this? Can you teach me this?”
Living in Clifton since 2013, Thompkins-Robinson was inspired to take her ideas a huge leap further and start up her own business during the pandemic when she was working from home and helping her young son with his remote schoolwork at the same time. “I can do this full time,” she said.
SEO Assist is Thompkins-Robinson’s software brand, which is nestled under the umbrella of Girl Get Visible, her main business venture and her pride and joy. Both aim to help small business owners grow by attracting more traffic to their websites via organic searches and tools like blogs and podcasts. Thompkins-Robinson’s first book, My SEO Workbook, first published in early 2019, is “an activity-rich search engine optimization guide for 2022 to help achieve the goal of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and get more traffic and customers to find their business online.”
Thompkins-Robinson recently wrote a second book, completely separate from her SEO work, focused on Kwanzaa. This book, she explained, was largely the result of a dare.
She had been looking for a journal type book for herself ahead of the holiday but was disappointed in the one she had ordered once it arrived. A friend she was venting about it to said, “You could do that in a day.” It took a little longer than a day (three and a half) but Thompkins-Robinson got it done. She started writing on December third and by December 11th, 2022, her Kwanzaa planner and journal had been published and was available on Amazon.
Kwanzaa, she explained, is a harvest holiday created to give African Americans a culturally-based day for celebration. It starts on December 26th each year and each of its seven days focuses on a different principle - unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Families often observe by lighting candles, each representing a different principle, in the Kinara (candle holder) and by doing things to honor that day’s concept.
The final day, which falls on January 1, is celebrated with parties, friends, family, and gifts. Some cities, like Thompkins-Robinson’s hometown of Paterson, host community-wide events for everyone to enjoy throughout the whole week of Kwanzaa.
Speaking about the diversity here in Clifton, Thompkins-Robinson said, “The principles don't have a color - they’re good for anyone…Reflecting and planning on where your life is going can help you have a better life.”
Photo credit: Denise Washington