Today I’m sharing how to craft your personal story as a brand founder – which we know can be one of *the hardest* things to do for yourself. And in order to share how to do that, I’ll start by sharing my own. Cool?
POST-COLLEGE + FIRST GIG
The year was 2007, I’d just graduated college at UVA, where I spent four years playing Division 1 field hockey and being a hobbyist blogger (practically in secret), rather than landing a sweet communications-related internship (my Plan A). Prior to graduation and feeling slightly aimless, I’d accepted a job offer in IT Recruiting in Baltimore. Yep…even though it didn’t have much to do with my English major & Media Studies minor. And I didn’t know a soul in the city.
(However, years later in reflection, I’d argue my written and verbal communication skills majorly helped in sales!)
Six months later I found myself promoted to sales as an Account Manager, driving an hour north of the city to my (cold) sales territory and spending more downtime in my car between meetings than I’d ever imagined was possible. While I learned foundational sales and business skills and was able to break into a number of new accounts, I knew for many reasons, it was time to find something different.
FROM SALES TO RETAIL MANAGEMENT
I then started working in management for lululemon and was part of the new store opening team for the Baltimore store, followed by Columbia, followed by Virginia Beach (where I moved back home and also met my husband). My time there taught me so much about branding, leadership, personal development, client experience, integrity, and building relationships.
But as a writer at heart, I was never able to pull myself away from a passion for writing and a crazy attraction to the world of branding/marketing/communications. I explored options at lululemon (like writing for the “Juicy Goods” and visiting the corporate HQ in Vancouver to learn more about the Ops & Communications departments). But it is a Canadian company, so as an American, roles at corporate were pretty hard to come by.
I continued blogging (largely just as a personal outlet) and started to fall in love with websites as I tinkered with my own.
ENROLLING IN GRAD SCHOOL & MY INTRO TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP
I ultimately decided to enroll in grad school to obtain a Master’s in Strategic Communications from Regent University here in Virginia Beach.
(My motto has always been you either need education OR experience to land a gig in your desired field.)
From there, I started working for Regent’s Center for Entrepreneurship, as the Communications Manager, helping to plant “Business Development Centers” in developing nations like Rwanda and Uganda.
The whole world of entrepreneurship was opened to me and I’d never felt a clearer draw to something.
Within months I opened an LLC, created a makeshift brand, joined a bunch of Facebook Groups, and started putting myself out there to earn my first clients.
I think I downloaded every freebie on the internet to further my learning and was introduced to ‘copywriting’ as a particular writing discipline through my program. Suddenly, it all started to click.
The sales skills.
The branding & client experience knowledge.
The love of writing and communications.
The business & entrepreneurship training.
It hit me…
I COULD WRITE…FOR BRANDS. AS A BUSINESS OWNER.
And I could do it uniquely well BECAUSE OF my seemingly unrelated experiences.
I could make it feel relaxed and fun, like shopping for your next pair of Wunder Unders at lululemon. (Or ya know, sipping wine at golden hour in good company.)
I still get chills thinking about it because it was a major turning point in my career.
MY FORAY INTO THE AGENCY WORLD
Armed with the education, I now wanted further experience, so I transitioned (again) into a role as a Content & Brand Manager for a local marketing agency. It felt like a full-circle moment as my job title finally reflected what I’d seen myself doing.
I oversaw the agency brand, our client social media department (paid and organic), wrote copy for our clients and adored collaborating with our designers and photographer.
The world of branding and marketing had me BUZZING.
I also started attracting more and more ideal clients of my own and spent many early mornings and late nights burning the candle at both ends.
My confidence grew and my vision clarified, so my initial LLC, KVH. Creative, later became Copy Uncorked (after a super inspiring trip to France), and here we are today.
Pretty wild, right?
So – what does this have to do with you?
For starters, I guarantee there’s a through-line between your past experiences and what you’re doing now (or at least where it’s going) – even if it doesn’t seem like it.
My goal, as my Dad always taught me, is to help you “connect the dots” of your own story so you can relay it to others with clarity and confidence.
Here are a few ways to do so…
01 – Start by thinking about the experiences you’ve had that made you uniquely equipped to do what you do today.
Did your background in the legal world make you super detail-oriented? Did your fashion-industry experience help you become a better wedding photographer by providing your couples with styling and posing advice?
What skills (both soft skills and tactical ones) translate over? What creates a distinct advantage for you in your current line of work, because of what you’d done prior? What do those attributes bring into the mix?
02 – Then, put into words your personal origin story.
Think: Where did it all originate and start to take shape? What was the catalyst that put things in motion?
This doesn’t necessarily have to be your first job – or ‘first’ anything. But think of it as the ‘root’ of it all. The discernable period of time when you started taking steps toward what you do today.
03 – Second, determine your lightbulb moment or turning point.
Next, think about what started to click for you. When did you realize there was a different/better/new way of doing things? Or that you truly had the capability to not only bring things to life for yourself but that you were able to come alongside others and support them in a turning point of their own, too.
For example, when we rebranded to Copy Uncorked, and I knew I wanted to create more of a ‘brand’ feel, the origin story became about the trip to France I mentioned earlier—and how I wanted to get away from the traditional loud, bright, neon-colored, high-pressure feeling world of copywriting, and instead – create something that felt approachable, hospitable, and refined.
04 – Third, express how that turning point led you to a transformation for yourself – and now, for the people you serve.
Lastly, where does that bring you now (or perhaps even where you’re headed)? It’s okay for your brand story to maintain an air of aspiration!
This piece is where you pull from your newfound confidence, having been able to achieve results for others, AND understanding the winding journey that led you to be able to do so.
This ties into your mission and value proposition as a brand. It’s the culmination of your unique set of knowledge, perspectives, and experiences.
The better you can harness and articulate it, the better you’ll be able to get others on board and make a bigger impact.
Want further training and resources about this?
Meet The Tasting Room. Our brand new 4-part masterclass bundle for rising entrepreneurs covering the 4 must-have elements of your brand’s copywriting:
- Brand Positioning & Voice
- Website Copy Basics (Home, About & Services Pages)
- Website Copy Advanced (Sales Pages)
- Email Marketing 101 (& Writing an Email Welcome Sequence)
Knowing your personal story as a brand founder is something that’s threaded through all 4 of those parts of your business’ marketing toolkit. So it’s more than worth the time & effort – and we’ve made it more streamlined and efficient for you to do!
Have questions or other thoughts to share? Leave a comment below!