Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kemah Washington, CEO of Brandilly Creative Group, located in Raleigh, NC, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We're a full-service creative agency located in Raleigh. We help new and not-so-new brands compete and win against their competitors — engaging new customers and growing bottom lines. Sometimes that means creating logos, websites, digital and printed collateral — you know, stuff creative agencies do. Our secret sauce… BRANDilly prints too! From business cards to brochures to banners and billboards, our in-house print shop has got you covered.
Tell us about yourself
I'm a Philly kid who got sucked into the South. I love my cheesesteaks, but we've got Bojangles and Cookout down South. What got me started... I started Six Degreez Entertainment as a sophomore in college (Millersville University). When we first got started, we were doing street team promotion for events on campus and in the Central PA area. The movie Six Degrees of Separation came out a few years earlier, and we thought it was a great way to brand ourselves. Get your event on our hands, and we'd get the word out to the masses.
Around 2001 we expanded from promoting events to planning parties and concerts. Naturally, once we started down the road of planning a show, we needed to create graphics and marketing collateral to promote the shows. That's how I started designing and printing. Fast forward 20 years, and I still love the process of taking ideas floating around in our clients' heads and figuring out a way to represent them visually, moving folks to the point of action. That's what motivates me. Creating beautiful collateral that wins new customers, engages audiences, and generates ROI for the clients we work with.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
As a business owner, I feel most accomplished when the people and projects we've been associated with "grow up." Seeing former interns who now run their own businesses or services in creative leadership roles with professional sports teams or Fortune 500 companies. Or seeing how a brand we've worked with as a startup has grown into a multi-million dollar company.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the most challenging things that come with entrepreneurship is learning how to hit the "off" button. Our businesses are our babies. And, much like taking care of a newborn, they require a whole lot of TLC if we want them to grow up big and strong. Before hours, after hours. There's no such thing as a typical 9-5 day when you run a business. Vacations are few and far between. And, it's easy to bring the drama of what went down at the office home with you at night. In recent years, I've gotten better at carving out me-time, but it's still something I struggle with.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
One... read up! The library is full of free books that will teach how to do business better and avoid pitfalls that can snare even the most seasoned entrepreneurs.
Two, get familiar with the commercial lending agent at your bank. When it comes to funding, having a relationship with a banker can go a long way in helping you clear financing hurdles.
Three, invest in people. Whether it be your employees or a non-profit out here making a difference, when you invest in others, it always comes back 10x.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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