Rev. Jim Holley is no stranger to entrepreneurship. For decades, the pastor of Detroit’s Historic Little Rock Baptist Church has used business endeavors to fund missions of the church. He has recently set out on a new venture, the development of an original men’s cologne.
Holley said the goal is to build a non-residential, 24-hour recreation center for men of color in the city of Detroit that will include recreation, counseling, and educational services.
According to Holley, it took six months to develop the cologne, Cognos. Also dubbed “Men With Significance,” the fragrance is currently being shopped around to upscale retailers to carry in stores.
“We are negotiating with Macy’s and Nordstrom,” said Holley.
In the past, Holley has used business to fund missions of the church. According to him, just over a decade ago he dabbled in the snack industry with potato chips and a line of cookies that landed onto a major airline. He has also provided food services for public schools in Detroit.
“All of that was to support my foundation for education,” he said of his previous business endeavors.
Holley was inspired to develop the cologne after receiving numerous compliments on his personal choice of cologne.
“The cologne that I have, a lot of people ask me about it and want me to give it to them. Rather than just continue to beg and ask for donations, I decided to invest in my own cologne,” he said.
He said 100 percent of the proceeds will go towards funding the recreation center. He also said he is developing a women’s fragrance to join Cognos in its fundraising efforts.
Holley already has a building in mind for the recreation center. He hopes to purchase the city-owned building next to the church which it currently manages and uses for its Considine/Little Rock Family Life Center.
“We manage it, but we don’t own it,” said Holley about the building.
Holley hopes the recreation center will serve the vulnerable minority male community in the city who may face obstacles in achieving success in school, work and life.
Holley recently celebrated his 44th year as pastor of the 70-year-old Historic Little Rock Baptist Church of Detroit. He said the churches mission is to provide assistance in the community in the areas of salvation, education and economics.
Holley has been recognized for being both a minister and a businessman and is often sought after for his advice and counseling for community and religious concerns.
The Detroit Free Press rated him as one of the top five minister in Michigan and was named Michiganian of the Year by the Detroit News. Crain’s Business magazine also named him as one of the “Foremost Voices in Detroit.” In 2010, Holley was honored at the Trumpet Awards which heralds the accomplishments of African-Americans who have succeeded against immense odds.
“I don’t consider myself an expert in business,” said Holley.
“Having access to capital is so difficult at this day and time,” he said. “Business is the oil that drives ministry.”
The author of “When the Vison is Bigger than the Budget,” said that his creative funding practices are not the only solution to overcoming obstacles in funding church initiatives.
“It’s not for everyone. It’s an option,” he said. “It’s church by church, pastor by pastor. Some churches don’t have to do it at all; they have the resources and the membership.”
“Sometimes you have to be creative. I am an example of one solution,” said Holley of those churches who do not have the resources to fund their causes.