It’s rare when someone can find something they’re passionate about and manage to make a living off of it. It’s even more rare when they are able to make it a family affair. Charlotte-based production company Loyd Visuals, however, is the result of just such a dream come true.
The brainchild of Khaleel Loyd, Loyd Visuals specializes in video production, ranging from advertisements and promotional videos to documentaries. Khaleel owns and operates the company with his two younger brothers, Maleek and Najm, each of whom bring their own skill set to the table.
The project was originally born out of a realization that each of the brothers’ diverse talents could be capitalized on in a collaborative way.
“How we came up with the idea was based upon me realizing and taking self inventory of what I was really good at, but then also looking around at the people that were closest to me, which were my brothers, and identifying what they were really good at as well,” Khaleel told Queen City Nerve.
In the seven years since its launch, nearly half of which spanned a pandemic, Loyd Visuals is building a name for itself in the Charlotte area and beyond.
Already in the first quarter of 2023, the company has released documentaries about the rich history of the West End as well as the city’s Legacy Commission, which was tasked with renaming nine streets in Charlotte that honored slave owners, champions of the Confederacy and proponents of white supremacy.
Nationwide, they’ve also worked with organizations ranging from Airbnb to the Los Angeles Rams.
Kingfish: The Story of Kenny Washington, premiered in February with a screening at Miracle Theater in Inglewood, California. Loyd Visuals partnered with the LA Rams and Durham-based Black Originals on the documentary.
“Kenny Washington … was the first Black player that was drafted into the [NFL] in 1946,” Khaleel said. “So that was a huge story.”
While Loyd Visuals has already worked with Fortune 500 companies in addition to nonprofits and government agencies, moving forward the company is looking to start producing more original content, Khaleel said. The values that have served as the company’s guiding light since its launch, however, will remain the same regardless of content.
“I want to build a company that’s different from other companies out here that just focus on profit,” Khaleel said, “that give the top CEOs and C-suite executives all of the revenue and all of the resources while the folks at the bottom just kind of struggle for scraps.”
Khaleel graduated from UNC Charlotte in 2014 as a health communications and public health major, then got a job in health care but quickly realized it wasn’t where he was meant to be.
“I just didn’t like corporate,” he said. “I just didn’t like that environment.”
He also wasn’t satisfied with the pay; he thought a $45,000 salary would change his life and allow him to help out his family, but it didn’t add up to what he hoped. He decided to make a change, even if he didn’t know what it would be.
“I’ve always been a hustler,” he said. “I’ve always been someone who knew that they wanted to run a business. I just didn’t know what I was going to actually do. So I decided to look around and see what different options there were.”
One important principle drove Khaleel’s decision-making process: social justice.
“I’m all about using entrepreneurship as a way of liberation, as a means of liberation for Black folks in America,” he continued. “Obviously, we understand the racial disparities and the social disparities of this country.”
Finding that special something didn’t prove easy at first. He looked to friends who were thinking about starting a gym, but that idea fizzled out. Looking back, it was a personal project from his brother Maleek, who was becoming a gifted filmmaker in his own right, that stuck with him.
Maleek, who had won some regional and national competitions for his work in high school, made a touching, sentimental graduation video for Khaleel.
“[The video] was a kind of compilation and kind of a graduation present where he interviewed our grandmother, mother, father, brother, folks that are closest to us within the family,” Khaleel recalled. “And then he took some old footage of when I was like 6, 7, 8 years old and put that into the video as well.”
“And so when I saw that video, I got emotional and I was like, wow, if video can evoke this type of emotion for me, then I’m sure it can do the same for other people.”
It wasn’t until 2015 that it began to dawn on him that maybe what he was looking for existed right there in his immediate family circle.
“Maleek was just really gifted in cinematography,” he said. “I also saw that my other brother, Najm, he just had an eye for photography and he was really into streetwear and just fashion. And I was like, ‘You know what? I think we got something here.’”
Inspired by the growing popularity of video content on social media platforms like Instagram and Vine, the latter of which has since shut down but served as a precursor to the hugely popular TikTok, Khaleel began to form a plan to launch a video production company.
“I went ahead and said, ‘Guys, like, let’s give it a try. The worst that can happen is that we learn a lesson and then we can go back and find jobs and figure it out if this doesn’t work out for us,’” he recalled.
The brothers weren’t hard to convince.
“I didn’t have any opposition to it,” Maleek said. “I was all for it. I think we were all for it because we didn’t have anything to lose when we were starting out.”
Khaleel decided he could handle the business administration of the company and work on building the relationships they would need to build while his brothers focused on the creative side of things.
“The rest has been history,” he said.
Khaleel continued working his health care job for the next two years until he finally resigned to focus on Loyd Visuals full time. Looking back, he admits he may not have gone about launching his company the right way, financially.
“We didn’t have any loans,” he said. “I don’t have a rich uncle I can call up and be like, ‘Hey, let me borrow like $10,000, let me borrow $5,000 and start a business.’ I took my 401K money that I had saved up at the time … went ahead and took that money and I used that as a launch pad for me just to survive.”
He paused to add a disclaimer that he doesn’t recommend that any budding entrepreneur take the same risks he did.
“I don’t know how long that money truly lasted,” he said. “I mean, maybe six months at best.”
The team started small, doing weddings and campaign videos for local politicians, until they landed a contract with Airbnb in 2019, which allowed them to really take off.
“We really hit the ground running full-time in 2019,” Maleek said.
“That was the contract that really solidified the confidence in us, that this was going to be a viable business, that we could grow and scale and have true impact,” Khaleel added. “And that one contract took us around the world.”
Creativity that inspires
From the start, the trio at Loyd Visuals has striven to stick to the values they hold dear.
“Our mission is to create memorable visuals that stand the test of time,” Khaleel said. “Our vision is to create a world that fosters more authentic storytelling. And so with those two mission and vision statements in mind, we just want to continue to [do] exactly what our mission statement states: create memorable visuals that live long after we’re gone.”
A lot of the work they do now comes primarily from major companies, which is intentional in its own right.
“With the work that we do, it’s purpose-driven,” Khaleel said. “We align a lot with organizations that have a strong mission, vision and values, that have a really good understanding of who their target audience is and how they want to connect to that audience. And we’re all about stories, so we really lean heavily into telling our clients’ stories in a way that’s culturally appropriate and that connects to their audiences in a really meaningful way.”
“No project is the same, but we treat every project as if it is a family project,” Maleek added. “We invite our clients in to collaborate with us. We invite our teammates to really have a say so in the process. And that really centers us and helps to build our own camaraderie and just the quality of work that we produce as it relates to our mission. I think we’ve been able to stay true to that, and it helps ground us.”
Moving forward, however, the team will look to flex their creative muscles with more original works — passion projects based on their interests and sentiments.
“We want to just continue to do those things for ourselves, just to document and just to spread the word, just to tell stories that inspire other people, other community members,” Maleek said. “That’s really what helps us find our purpose in the work that we do outside of the client work and outside of the main service offering that we have.”
There’s plenty more in the pipeline for these brothers and they feel that they’re just beginning.
“Now that we’ve seen the type of work that we’ve been able to accomplish and the team that we’ve been able to build, it’s really a good feeling overall to see where we started and to where we are now and to set goals for something higher,” Maleek continued. “So there’s always something that we’re looking forward to.”
While it was a nothing-to-lose attitude that inspired them in the start, now it’s a love for family that fuels them.
“I’m just happy to be doing something that I love and being able to make a living off of it,” Maleek said. “The company serves as a good opportunity for us as brothers and family to really grow together and work together.”
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