Meet Alechia Reese, an author & creative brand strategist who uses her platform to spread awareness about building brands and businesses through strategic marketing. I had the pleasure to talk with Alechia about her career as a brand strategist, her agency 360Gateway Brands, and the key to branding a product or service.
How long have you been a creative brand strategist and how did you get started?
AR: “I’ve been a strategist since I was a child. I grew up poor, although private-school educated. My mother would work 3 jobs sometimes to make sure we had enough to start school every August. When we didn’t (which was most of the time), she taught us how to fundraise walking around St. Armand’s Circle in Sarasota, FL. With the crafted pitches my brother and I created we’d dress in our uniforms and get to work each week. It was the absolute worst! But, it taught me to constantly step out of my comfort zone and helped to ensure we had enough money to register each year. She is why I have zero problem talking money with anyone. After we’d raised enough for registration, she’d then barter cleaning services during the year to pay for what she couldn’t afford. She taught me early how to always create what I needed by looking at the end first and reverse engineering my way to what I wanted or needed. I used it to start my first business at 12, and continued to educate myself in and out of the classroom leveraging my ever-developing skillset for myself and clients alike. I used these same skills to build relationships that helped me to establish and monetize the business. Then I added grit, smart work, and a commitment to learning to maintain and grow it.”
What do you love most about running a consulting agency?
AR: “The constant change. I have a touch of ADD, and with 360 I get to consistently shift, adjust, and sharpen my skills. I love learning so it’s like being in a forever classroom, learning about what I love most – strategy.”
What does 360GatewayBrands consist of?
AR: “We specialize in the creation of comprehensive go-to-market launch strategies for new products, services, events, and campaigns. Basically, any time a brand or company is looking to launch or introduce a new anything to the market they hire my company to create what it’ll look like in real life. We create the strategy based on our proven 3-phase system. Then depending on the package they select we’ll set them up to implement for themselves or manage the implementation as well.”
What does it takes to run a successful agency?
AR: “A whole lot of grit and ingenuity. In addition, becoming very clear on who your target customer is so you can create narratives that they resonate with. It’s also exercising options like working as collaborative partners or subs with larger companies.”
What’s the best business advice you received while you were starting your business?
AR: “It was actually advice I gave myself. Life is a relationship game and if I want to win at it, I’d need to learn how to build mutually beneficial relationships. That single piece of advice has been the guiding principle of my life.”
What is a typical day like for you?
AR: “I’m so not a morning person, no matter how many studies are done saying you get more done at that time. I come alive at nighttime. I’m usually up by 8am though, and I spend the first part of the morning doing prep. From journaling about gratitude to spending 30 minutes on self-development. I then jump headfirst in all the to-do items I’ve outlined for the day and will usually work until late. I work much later than most because I usually stop in between for school pick-ups and gymnastics classes. I cook a lot as well because it’s healthier. I’ll take a mental break to simply play with my daughter, shower, or just chill before I begin working again on projects. The weekends, however, are all mine.”
Has a mistake ever led you to success?
The trajectory of my entire life’s success was based on the mistake I made by staying with an abusive partner. Although one of my most painful experiences, it led me to discover my purpose and that discovery completely changed the game for me. My worst mistake led me to my greatest successes. “
What was the biggest sacrifice you made when you started 360GatewayBrands?
AR: “When I incorporated 360 I was in a terrible place financially, mentally, and emotionally. My mortgage was flirting with foreclosure. I needed to quickly make money in order to survive. I was already sacrificing dinner dates, vacations, and overall mental wellness. I didn’t feel it was an additional sacrifice to start the business. I felt it was necessary in order for me to turn things around. As we grew, the main sacrifice was gratification now for better later. I’ve missed so many birthdays, baby showers, and get-togethers to grow my company. But, the sacrifices have been more than worth it.”
What are some ways to enhance the branding of a product or service?
AR: “Start with storytelling. People no longer buy products and services. They want to be taken on a journey. Hence why reality television is so popular. Take them on that journey with the brand, product, or service. It’s no longer, “I sell shoes and you need shoes.” Now it’s, “Brand X’s shoes were crafted with the finest Italian leather in a little city outside of Florence with women who design and construct every style.” Cost not being prohibitive, which would you choose? Start with a story.”
What is your personal and professional motto?
AR: “My personal and professional motto is centered around peace and freedom. Whatever brings me freedom and maintains my peace can reside. Whatever doesn’t has to go. That goes for people, places, and things – peace is primary and her mistress is freedom. I happen to love them both.”
About Alechia Reese