Raleigh is at a unique stage in its development as a city. We’re still small enough to have a closely-forged sense of community; however, our rapid growth creates opportunity for artists, entrepreneurs and visionaries to actively build Raleigh’s future.
Napoleon Wright II seized this opportunity when he established Pan II Creative, a full service graphic design, videography, animation and music company. Now, he makes a living by making art for the city he calls home.
“Raleigh’s not a big, pre-established city that doesn’t really care if you’re here or not. As I grew my professional career, my city was also growing,” Wright shares, citing Raleigh as an ideal place for people with entrepreneurial dreams. “If you have an idea to do something, you can do it. Raleigh’s just growing up, and the people can really help Raleigh grow.”
Breaking the corporate grind makes Wright feel alive, although he did his time at a few agencies. “I got this itch. Something kept pulling at me, telling me to create something on my own. Once I made the leap, I was able to get more involved in the community. I wasn’t in an office building from 9 to 5. I was interacting with the world on a daily basis.”
Starting your own company can be daunting, and Wright admittedly subsisted on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a little while. Fortunately, Raleigh’s culture and cost of living are temperate — ideal for small business owners. “You can live, buy food and clothes, and still have time and money to just create,” he explains. “There’s a balance of creativity and quality of life. Those two things are more in harmony here — doesn’t take 90 percent of your check to put a roof over your head.”
While entrepreneurship wasn’t as stable as a corporate job, simply being able to survive entirely on his own work was enough. “I never knew if I’d get more work tomorrow. But the cool thing was, I didn’t realize it, but as I was doing the work and talking to people, a cycle was continuing in the background. I’d complete work, put it out there in the world, and it would still exist while I was building my business.”
That growing body of work, personal connections and spreading word of mouth was quietly turning Pan II Creative into a successful company. He says, “Nothing beats a genuine connection you make with another person when you do something for them.”
Wright hasn’t stopped building dreams for his city. He has high hopes for the local bboy and breakdance scene, of which he’s an avid participant. He adds, “I’d love to create a place where people could just dance. Like a coffee shop with some dope bboy music going and a stage.”
The truth is: The people of Raleigh can shape this growing city however we want. “The best part is completing something and seeing it out in the world, how it impacts others,” Wright says. “Be good to people and just keep believing in yourself.”