At Work is a bi-weekly feature on Ember & March that does just what it sounds like –showcases entrepreneurs, small business owners and the like At Work. Follow along on social media using the hashtag #EMAtWork! Have someone you’d like to see featured? Shoot me an email using the subject ‘At Work With *Name*’!
I’m so excited to have Maya Elious of MayaElious.com and BRNDWCH on the blog today! Watching this woman grow her empire has been truly inspiring. Maya is a genuius when it comes to brand consistency, marketing yourself and your products and most of all, making things happen. Today, she’s sharing the mechanics behind her work life with us!
Tell us a little bit about your business and how you got started.
I am a design and brand strategist that helps creative entrepreneurs make more money online. I specialize in message development, brand strategy and design implementation. I blog at MayaElious.com where I talk about stepping out of your comfort zone and into your calling. My goal is to encourage millennials to finally take the leap of faith and start the online business they’ve been procrastination on. I also discuss the ways I’ve grown my business by the mistakes I’ve made, the things I’ve learned and the things I’m currently learning.
I run an online creative and consulting agency called BRNDWCH. This is where I work primarily with women who want to make a bigger impact in their industry.
What time do you wake up in the morning and what tends to be the first task you tackle?
I have to admit my lifestyle isn’t the most structured or healthiest. I’d like to say that I wake up at 5 am, do yoga, go for a run, eat breakfast, and have some me time. It really just depends on what I have going on in my business for the month. When the weather transitioned to Spring, I started waking up around 4:30 a.m. because I wanted to spend the day enjoying all of the sunlight after 2:00 p.m. That was also back when I was working with a corporate client who had strict deadlines. I ended my contract with the client (because I don’t believe in being a slave to work) and now I wake up and work at my own pace.
As soon as I open my eyes, I check my phone for emails, but there’s usually just a bunch of Instagram notifications. 🙂 Ego boost. Then I lay and think about what my goals are for the day. I guess the first thing I tackle would be mentally organizing my day. I don’t like to start working before I even know what I’m working towards. It’s funny because for someone with no structure, I like structure.
What was the first step you took towards making your business happen?
The first step to making my business happen was just making it happen. I don’t like to spend a lot of time thinking about what I COULD/SHOULD/WOULD be doing, when I could just do it. I don’t know how that “trait” was instilled in me, but I thank God that I operate like that. From what I observe, starting is so hard for people. I like to jump first and grow wings on the way down. I’m not afraid of a hard landing.
What’s your favorite part of your job? Least favorite?
The best part of my job is when my clients actually put in work and get results. The least favorite part of my job is when clients don’t do what they’re supposed to do and then complain. LOL. Just do what I say so you can avoid years of the crap I had to go through. 🙂
What obstacles did you face when first launching your business?
When I first started my business I was 18 years old. I was a young black female. I was a minority in every sense! I wish I would’ve had a set niche market. In my coaching and online course, this is the VERY FIRST THING I teach. For years I dealt with people and projects I didn’t like and it’s because I didn’t clarify who I wanted to work with and what projects I wanted to work on. I was working on a lot of urban industry/entertainment related things which was male dominated. I wasn’t taken seriously, and a lot of people wanted to work with me because I was young, pretty, vulnerable and naive. Now I work with people who hire me because they know they’ll get the results they’ve been missing out on. You can try to use your looks to “get ahead” but it really just sets you back.
How did you decide to name your business?
My business used to be called Elite Graphics. Again, I was 18 and didn’t know what I was doing. I was just doing it because I wanted to, haha. Such a terrible name. I wanted something that started with an “E” because my last name begins with an E. My logo was ugly and lavender and pink. Almost two years I changed my name to BRNDWCH. My sister Mattie and bestfriend Aurelius helped me come up with the name on a 3 way phone call. It’s a weird, cool, catchy name like most names for creative agencies. My blog name is MayaElious.com because I’m not creative enough to come up with anything else, plus I knew I wanted to build my personal brand (even before I knew what a personal brand was). I just wanted my name to be popular on the internet.
What has been your biggest lesson learned since becoming a business owner?
My biggest lesson has been communication and presentation. I suppose that’s two lessons, but presentation is just a form of visual communication. Communicating with your clients in a way that they know you care will keep you in business. For years I haven’t really had to actively seek a client because I’ve gotten so much business from referrals.
Have you made any major or minor mistakes along the way?
Yes. I make mistakes everyday, and I’m thankful for it. Every time I fuck up I learn something new that will help be run my business better. When I make a client mad, I learn new ways to make them happy. If you’ve never made a mistake, you’re probably not doing enough.
Do you think there’s a secret to making things happen?
How do you tackle social media and email?
I make sure that my content is automatically circulating through Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. I use CoSchedule (a premium WordPress Plugin) to make sure my content is repurposed on Facebook and Twitter. My assistant pins for me daily, multiple times a day.
My new online bestie, Mariah Coz of femtrepreneur.co has really encouraged me to build my list and focus on connecting with my subscribers. It has worked WONDERS. She has an awesome email course called “Your First 1K” and I tripled my subscribers in 6 weeks and have been consistently sending out emails. I get a lot of people that tweet me saying things like “Maya’s emails are ON POINT.” I loooove the feedback and connecting with my readers on a personal level. I give them a lot of valuable information straight to their inbox that others don’t have access to. People can sign up here.
What are your best practices for keeping organized and managing your time?
Primary tools I use for organization are DropBox and Basecamp. I’m someone who needs tools that can be run on all of my devices. I have an iMac, Macbook, two iPhones and an iPad, and I freak out if I can’t do the same exact things on each device. Haha.
Building my team has been the hardest but most beneficial part of growing my business. Using Dropbox makes it easy for them to access files. Basecamp is the bestestestestest project manager ever!!! Makes it so easy to create things to do list, assign it to team members and leave comments on current projects. I just love it so damn much.
I also love iMessage because almost everyone on my team has an apple device so I can stalk and harass them through iMessage. 🙂
What are some of your favorite tools or apps to use for your business?
Email / List Building
MailChimp (perfect if you’re just starting out)
Communication aka Ways For Me To Stalk
Twitter DMs (just kidding)