The morning I called Drayden Dunn, he was at the pediatrician with son Christian, a brand new 1st grader fighting a fever and stomach bug. Wife Brittney Dunn was calling him, too, asking him to come back inside. It was gearing up to be another busy day in the Dunn household.
It’s a rare day that’s not busy for them. Drayden is the owner of Envision Media and Marketing, a local concierge media and marketing company that has grown to five employees. Brittney is a CPA who owns her own company and is this year the Chairman of the Board of the African-American Chamber of Commerce, with all the meetings and events that position entails. In addition to their active first grader, they are parents to 6-mont-old Cayden, who Drayden laughingly calls their ‘Covid baby.’
Brittney and Drayden met while students at LSUS 12 years ago and have been a couple ever since, supporting each other as they navigate the future. For Drayden, it has been a winding road that started with a love of writing and poetry in elementary school that expanded to include music and audio and video production. The desire to own a business came early to Drayden. In his senior year at Caddo Magnet, he and ten friends decided to form a music and video production business. The ‘seed’ for the business was $100 per person- only five could come up with the cash- that was what was used to start his very first commercial venture.
Within just a handful of years, the business he had helped found, Young Pros Entertainment, had moved to commercial space in downtown’s Slattery Building, and Drayden was hooked, on both business and downtown. While still with Young Pros, Drayden began working in banking, first at JPMorgan Chase, then at Regions Bank, where he was a small business specialist. That experience set the stage for Dunn’s next career decision.
“I spent every day looking through business documents, and I saw small businesses go from seed money to becoming six and seven-figure companies in just a few months,” says Dunn. “I had access to people who were successful and self starters.” Dunn realized that he also wanted something to call his own. By 2018, his passion for high-end cinematography had led to submissions in a number of film festivals, and he realized those story-telling and video skills were also needed by businesses. Envision Media and Marketing was formed. Dunn did not want to be all things to all people. From the beginning, his goal was to have fewer clients and do more for them. “I would rather have five clients with businesses that I believe in and provide them great solutions that they can believe in,” he told me.
That has happened. He counts foundations, real estate businesses, and governmental entities as clients. As his client list has expanded, so has his office, which, after two years has outgrown The Office Hub at 331 Milam Street. Seeing what Office Hub owner James Thrower had done with his building made Dunn want to do the same; find a downtown building and make it his own. More than ‘just owning a building’, though, Dunn sees it as something he is doing for his children, and their children. “I’m purchasing this for my son’s grandchildren…this is a legacy for my family,” he says. “I believe in downtown, and Shreveport has given me so much. It’s a way for me to say ‘You’ve invested in me and my team and this is how I can give back.'”
He jokingly says he was attracted to 709 Texas Street because ‘it had a for sale sign on it.’ The ugly duckling on the block, the building was a perfect size, location and price. The deal worked out, the contract was signed, the Dunns are the owners of a new (old) building on downtown’s promenade main street. Drayden knows it is a wonderful opportunity and that a lot of work lies ahead. “I plan to save everything interesting about the building- the concrete floors (that are under the 70s shag carpet) and the brick walls (behind the 70s faux wood paneling). The space will be open and exposed with a modern feel, a place people will want to come into. There will be 5-6 offices and a conference room and lots of glass so that the light from the front of the building will flow through. Upstairs will be a flex space for seminars and classes and a photography/video studio.”
“I would love to restore the facade to its original brick ( to reopen all on the windows that were blocked by the concrete panels) and paint it a color that is eye-catching and tasteful.” Interior demo on the building starts next week. All those friends who have been with him every step of the way will be welcomed to help with beer and food and sledgehammers. His aggressive timeline for getting into his new space is the first quarter of 2022.
“Having ownership of property on Texas Street is gold,” says Drayden. “I want people to be inspired by this. I want people to invest in downtown, invest in the city. Those who do should be celebrated.” Drayden also intends to celebrate the many lives of 709 Texas, a building with more than a century of stories to tell. He hopes to commission an interior wall mural to pay homage to what came before.
It is a lengthy list that begins in 1899 as the E. Brandt Company, umbrella repair, and rolls through the 2000s, ending with Percy M. Alexander CPA.
The list of businesses includes:
1901- Kahn Dry Goods Store
1901- Shreveport Liquor Company
1906- E. Schwartz Meat Market
1907- L.N. Bloom ‘Hat Man’ (Mr. Bloom was arrested in 1908 for trying to kill his wife and a female guest. His bond was set at $300 for the charges, $50 for using ‘vile and profane language’ and $250 for assault and trying to kill two women. Both survived with bruises and a broken nose)
1920- The Eagle Store (Mardi Gras and fancy garments for sale or rent)
1921- Miss Gussie Hochberger, Dry Goods
1932- Sid Groner Shoe Company
1944- Bonds Credit Jewelers
1947- Caddo Jewelry and Loan Co.
1972-Percy M. Alexander, CPA
Soon Envision Media will join the list and will become a part of downtown’s history— and its future.
Article from Aug. 5, 2021
A big welcome to downtown’s newest property owners! Drayden and Brittney Dunn have signed the papers to 709 Texas Street, the building many know as the ‘Percy Alexander Building.’ Percy M. Alexander was just one of the owners of the building, that like many others downtown, has a long and interesting history.
Alexander, a CPA, bought the building in 1972, but in years prior to that, businesses in the building did everything from repair umbrellas (1899), to sell meats (1906), to rent fancy garments (1923).
Drayden is not new to downtown Shreveport. As a co-founder of Young Pros Ent., he spent nearly ten years in the Slattery Building. He is also the founder and Director of Creative Services at Envision Media, a media, social media and marketing enterprise, and owner with wife Brittney of Brittney Dunn, CPA LLC.
Coming up next week, we’ll let you know what their plans are for their building near the head of Texas Street, and more about 709’s interesting past. Meantime, we welcome the Dunns downtown!