Named as one of the Top 25 African American PR Millennials To Watch by The Huffington Post, Narcisse Burcell is the CEO of Coffee x Hustle, a creative agency that helps brands with their vision. On her platform, The Grown AF movement, she shares insights and experiences, wins and shortcomings in hopes of leading the way for the next woman. I had the honor to talk with Narcisse about the start-up of Coffee x Hustle, the real deal on entrepreneurship, and the keys of brand marketing.
Tell us more about Coffee x Hustle and your inspiration to start it.
NJ: “Coffee x Hustle is a creative agency that helps brands increase their visibility, build awareness and connect with their target audience. Pretty much all my life I knew I wanted to be a boss. I was meant to be the black girl with the corner office. What I wasn’t sure of was what I was going to be doing until high school when I chose marketing as my area of study. Even then, I wasn’t convinced. It took a lot of trial and error to finally settle into this. I was a college dropout and hair school dropout. I even tried my hand at being a chef and a fashion stylist. It wasn’t until 2014 that I decided to get serious about my future and commit to something. In 2014, my dad died with lung cancer. My dad meant the world to me and worked hard to instill hustle in me. Before he passed, I’d sit with him every morning and have coffee. Hence the name, ‘Coffee x Hustle.’ I made a promise to him that whatever I decided on next, I would stick to it. In 2017, after internship after internship, webinar after webinar, it became a thing. I feel like starting Coffee x Hustle was a moment of finally finding myself and discovering my purpose. That purpose was taking all the gifts and talent that God gave me and sharing them with the world.”
What motivated you to create the Grown AF movement for women?
NJ: “A movement? I’m flattered. Well, I recently got married in April of this year. Almost instantly after I said I do all of these thoughts started rushing to me. Life insurance, dinner recipes, homeowner’s insurance, sex positions, responsibility. I’m a wife. I’m grown. There I was standing before the man of my dreams surrounded by our loved ones and all I could think about was adulting. It hit me.
Women want and need to be heard. Even more importantly, listened to. Without judgment. Without shame. Where was the platform for that? In those times of celebration, in those times of struggle, who can we run to? Relationships aren’t easy. Parenting isn’t easy. Etc etc. The answers aren’t always in that group text of 4-5 friends who’ve never dealt with what you’re going through. Furthermore, if you didn’t have that group text, then what? Life was not meant to be lived alone so we shouldn’t have to ever feel alone.
We needed to share our insights and experiences, wins and shortcomings in hopes of leading the way for the next woman. We needed a space to snatch off our wigs after a long day of being Superwoman. We needed love. We needed laughter. We needed acceptance. I felt it was needed so I created it.”
In your career, what are the most important lessons you’ve learned being a creative strategist?
NJ: “Business storytelling is everything! It’s how you attract and retain clients. Great storytelling can lead to massive conversion. That’s why it’s so important to me to find my client’s unique story and sell it. The beauty of it is that the story is never-ending, it’s ongoing. You’re able to share it and add to it as your business grows. Through storytelling, you can make your audience apart of the story, which allows you to build a genuine connection with them.
– You have to be able to roll with the punches. You won’t always win that contract, get that placement, be chosen to speak on that panel but you can’t let that get to you. You have to trust the process and understand that when it’s time for you to sit at the table, you will. You also have to get quiet to be able to hear that little voice saying build your own damn table.
– Stay in the conversation. Things are constantly changing! You can take a nap, come back and everything could be different just that quick. You have to stay on top of trends. You have to have news alerts coming to you. You have to get tickets to these events and network, network, network. You have to stay reading, learning and adapting or you’ll get left behind.”
Which of your traits are you most proud of?
NJ: “More than anything, I love how optimistic I am. No matter how bad a situation may look I’m able to find the good in it. I feel that this definitely gives me an advantage in both my personal and professional lives. I’ve already overcome so much at such a young age, so it takes a lot to stop me. My optimism allows me to push through, regardless of how the odds are stacked against me. “
What are the most essential keys to know about marketing?
- Knowing/using your unique selling point and knowing/engaging your audience will help you stand out in your industry no matter how “oversaturated” it is.
- You can’t be afraid to try new things. If everyone is zigging, you better zag! Unconventional isn’t a bad thing. In my opinion, it’s the best thing.
- Be authentic. Be yourself. Keep it real. People don’t buy products, people buy people. Build your personal brand first and establish genuine relationships then introduce your product or service.
- Keep track of your analytics and watch and study your sales report. If it doesn’t work, try something else. If that doesn’t work, try something else. When it does work, keep doing that! Do it more aggressively. That’s how you win!
What’s the best advice you have for an entrepreneur who might be struggling in the creative and marketing areas?
NJ: Hire me. Simple enough?If not, study your competition. Not to steal but to be inspired. To learn what you should be doing and what you shouldn’t be doing. I hear a lot of people say they don’t watch the competition because ”they don’t have any’’ or because ”they don’t care about them and what they’re doing’’ but you should always know what’s going on with your competitors. I bet your customers know!
What are some personal and professional accomplishments you’re extremely proud of?
- Finding and marrying the love of my life.
- Having two beautiful kids.
- Starting and running a successful business while still in college.
- Graduating after dropping out twice.
- Being recognized in the Huffington Post as one of Top 25 African American PR Millennials.
- Overcoming depression.
- Staying motivated during the entrepreneurial lows to get to the highs and not breaking the promise I made to my father.
What is your professional/personal motto?
NJ: “Now Oprah got a billion dollars and you’re nowhere near her”
Type of (stuff) I tell myself while starin’ in the mirror” – Young Jeezy
What is your biggest goal this year?
NJ: This year, I want my numbers to skyrocket. I want to see a significant increase and exceed both my income goals and impact goals!I claim that this is the year I expand my reach and impact more businesses and be able to comfortably invest in my own coworking space. That’s traveling more, networking more, attending more events, booking more speaking engagements, and having more clients.
Who are some women whom you admire?
– My mom
– Karleen Roy
– Cardi B
– Sarah Jakes Roberts
Kalilah Wright, Mess in a Bottle
Tay Watts, Posh Candle Co.
About Narcisse Burchell
Narcisse’s Recent Press