Jamaican American Suzan McDowell Honored by Cox Media Group during Women’s History Month

In celebration of Women’s History Month, Hot105FM, one of the 49 radio stations operated by Cox Media Group (CMG) founded in 2008 with a mission to connect and inspire diverse audiences and voices, is recognizing outstanding women in South Florida who have shaped the region’s cultural environment and had a positive impact on their community. One of these women is Jamaican-born Suzan McDowell, the founder, president, and CEO of Circle of One Marketing, a minority owned full-service marketing agency based in Miami with special expertise in African American and Caribbean consumer markets.

Early background, education, and career

McDowell was born in Jamaica and attended Mona Prep and St Andrew Girls’ Schools before moving to Texas at age 11 to live with her American mother. As a child, she wanted to become a veterinarian, but she followed her passion and talent into the marketing sphere when she realized she had the ability “to make people ‘move’,” she said. She earned a BS in advertising at the University of Texas in Austin, and went to work in print and radio before entering the world of marketing. She spent over a decade in radio  and served as the Senior Account Manager for the urban adult contemporary station, WHQT HOT 105 Radio Urban Adult Contemporary, the top radio station in South Florida catering to the Black community. She was instrumental in bringing high sales numbers to HOT 105, but became frustrated by being able to sell just one type of media product. She attributes her marketing success to lessons learned at the station, however, as it emphasized the elements of promotion and selling and “teaches you to be a gladiator.”

Never planned on being an entrepreneur

In an interview with L.A. Style Magazine, McDowell shared she never planned to be an entrepreneur or having a dream of owning a business. However, in December 2001, the business “fell in my lap,” and with the support of many people, she started her own marketing agency, Circle of One Marketing.

Success at Circle of One Marketing

Circle of One Marketing has become one of the most successful minority-owned companies in South Florida, a firm with a recognized skill in accessing and moving African American and Caribbean markets. McDowell launched The Circle L.A. in 2014 to serve as a division focusing on California-based projects. Clients of Circle of One include Jazz in the Gardens and OneUnited Bank, the largest Black-owned bank in the US, along with other high-profile enterprises like South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Ten North Group, Urban League of Greater Miami, The Related Group, NAACP, Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival, The Children’s Trust Miami Heart Gallery, Afro-Carib Festival, Mourning Family Foundation, Camillus House, The University of Miami, Federal Bar Association and HistoryMiami, among others.

“The Circle” has been named multiple times as one of the Top 100 Minority Businesses by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, The Best of Miami in Entrepreneurship from Miami Today, Corporation of the Year from the Women’s Chamber of Commerce for Miami Dade County, a Silver Addy for the Jazz in the Gardens campaign, Small Business of the Year by the Miami Dade Chamber of Commerce, Business of the Year by Legacy Magazine/Miami Herald, and the Black Owned Media Alliance’s (BOMA) Marketing Campaign of the Year for #BankBlack/OneUnited Bank and more.

Credits multicultural marketing pioneers as inspirations

McDowell cites the inspiration she received from multicultural marketing pioneers such as Burrell, Fuse, Carol H. Williams, Uniworld, and Global Hue, for her success in building a legacy based on her Jamaican heritage and connection to the African American community. In the L.A. Magazine interview, she said, “Being a Jamaican never loses its luster. I am pushed by that passion, that intelligence, that resilience running through our blood as Jamaicans.” She also notes that her “Jamerican” background helps her to understand the unique experiences of African American and Caribbean markets as reflected in the “nuances, messaging and media of each and the complicated dynamics between the cultures.”

Motivation attributed to family

McDowell says her late father, Dr Gladstone McDowell, is a continuing source of entrepreneurial motivation. He ran a successful dental practice in Cross Roads in Jamaica for over 50 years. She refers to him as “a superstar in my eyes and a national treasure to Jamaica.” She added that he was always proud of her and her accomplishments and hopes she has the same kind of stamina he showed in her business operations. She also stated that other members of her family were important motivators, particularly her mother, June Bryant McDowell, and her daughter, Sydney.