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Building Purpose-Driven Brands that Shape Culture with Willow Hill Ep. 80
Episode 8026th July 2022 • Fascinating Entrepreneurs • Natasha Miller
00:00:00 00:27:28

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Willow Hill is an entrepreneur and award-winning creative director at the helm of building the purpose-driven brands of tomorrow. As the Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Scout Lab, her clients include Wix.com, Adidas, Venmo, and scaling start-ups such as Ritual, Maple, Wilde, and more. Prior to Scout Lab, she built and launched Airbnb's global brand, introducing the Airbnb re-brand to the world via major global campaigns. Drove adoption of the Airbnb brand into hyper-growth in the US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. She is also a creative advisor as well as an LP at the Airbnb Angels fund. 

As a passionate creative leader, Willow speaks on building brands designed for the next generation. Speaking topics include: Building environmentally sustainable brands, Designing for Gen Z and Beyond, An indigenous approach to creativity and more. Her work has been featured in Forbes, The Disney Channel, Ad Week, Nylon, Rolling Stone and more.

Where to find Willow Hill

Website: https://www.scoutlab.com/

SPONSOR

This episode is sponsored by Entire Productions- Creating events (both in-person and virtual) that don't suck! and Entire Productions Marketing- carefully curated premium gifting and branded promo items. 

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Transcripts

Willow Hill:

Anyone can create a logo and like you just

Willow Hill:

mentioned a logo is not a brand.

Willow Hill:

We can say it a hundred ways.

Willow Hill:

But ultimately the people that make up your company and your customer

Willow Hill:

base are your brand in so many ways.

Natasha Miller:

Welcome to FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS.

Natasha Miller:

How do people end up becoming an entrepreneur?

Natasha Miller:

How do they scale and grow their businesses?

Natasha Miller:

How do they plan for profit?

Natasha Miller:

Are they in it for life?

Natasha Miller:

Are they building to exit these and a myriad of other topics.

Natasha Miller:

We'll be discussed to pull back the veil on the wizard street of successful

Natasha Miller:

and fascinating entrepreneurs.

Natasha Miller:

My book RELENTLESS is now available everywhere books can be bought online,

Natasha Miller:

including Amazon and BarnesAndNoble.com.

Natasha Miller:

Try your local indie bookstore too.

Natasha Miller:

And if they don't have it, they can order it.

Natasha Miller:

Just ask them the reviews are streaming in.

Natasha Miller:

And I'm so thankful for the positive feedback, as well as

Natasha Miller:

hearing from people that my memoir has impacted them positively.

Natasha Miller:

It is not enough to be resilient.

Natasha Miller:

You have to be RELENTLESS.

Natasha Miller:

You can go to TheRelentlessBook.com for more information.

Natasha Miller:

Thank you so much.

Natasha Miller:

Willow Hill is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Scout Lab, a full

Natasha Miller:

service purpose driven creative agency.

Natasha Miller:

She's also a Forbes next 1000 entrepreneur and has been featured

Natasha Miller:

on the Disney channel at Princeton Design Week can and more, we talk

Natasha Miller:

about her past career at Airbnb, what her company specializes in and how she

Natasha Miller:

shares the responsibilities with her co-founder in running the business.

Natasha Miller:

Now let's get right into it.

Willow Hill:

So many different things collided to create my life

Willow Hill:

of entrepreneurship that I have now.

Willow Hill:

So where do we even start?

Willow Hill:

Airbnb, first of all, was an absolutely incredible experience.

Willow Hill:

I was early on building their brand and I got to really have a front row seat to

Willow Hill:

the incredible entrepreneurship of Joe, Nathan, Brian, the founders of Airbnb.

Willow Hill:

I think in that experience had a lot of exposure to what entrepreneurship

Willow Hill:

leadership and really taking big risks meant in a world where you're

Willow Hill:

looking at something like, how can we create a new economy, which in the

Willow Hill:

case of Airbnb was about creating, not just a new platform, but really

Willow Hill:

an entire sharing economy, something most people had never even thought of

Willow Hill:

or dared to participate in previously.

Willow Hill:

And with Scout Lab, I had really honed my ability to build brands and

Willow Hill:

specifically build brands with purpose.

Willow Hill:

And I was really fortunate after Airbnb to meet my co-founder Caitlin

Willow Hill:

Barclay in New York City, who also had a really interesting background in

Willow Hill:

expertise that really gelled with mine.

Willow Hill:

And between the two of us, we saw an opportunity.

Willow Hill:

So it was 2017.

Willow Hill:

There was a really big need, quite frankly.

Willow Hill:

So the timing was one of opportunity because I think we saw that there

Willow Hill:

was so much need for purpose and for brands to really step up in a

Willow Hill:

way that they hadn't previously.

Willow Hill:

We looked around, we saw multi-billion dollar brands making egregious mistakes.

Willow Hill:

Culturally, you had Pepsi appropriating black lives matter.

Willow Hill:

You had Bic painting products pink and charging more.

Willow Hill:

And all the while the majority of the market that's purchasing.

Willow Hill:

Products and services doesn't resonate with brands and that's women.

Willow Hill:

And we saw that there was a bigger hole to fill.

Willow Hill:

And so we were called to this not only by way of expertise, but

Willow Hill:

also in some ways, by way of duty.

Willow Hill:

We just, we know that our expertise and where those need, really met.

Willow Hill:

And so , we, after meeting a bottle of wine from an introduction from

Willow Hill:

a friend, we started Scout Lab.

Willow Hill:

The next, that night, we decided during our session together that we were

Willow Hill:

gonna start this company, we showed up.

Willow Hill:

At a little coffee shop.

Willow Hill:

The next day we started working and we haven't stopped since,

Willow Hill:

and it's been five years.

Natasha Miller:

Okay.

Natasha Miller:

So amazing story.

Natasha Miller:

And I have so many things to say, but first, before we get into dreamers

Natasha Miller:

and doers, which I wanna talk about, I see that you say on your

Natasha Miller:

website, think of us as the brand therapist for your identity crisis.

Natasha Miller:

We build brands that advance humanity forward.

Natasha Miller:

Talk to me about that.

Willow Hill:

So there's two pieces here.

Willow Hill:

The first is the identity crisis, which I just love because I work with founders

Willow Hill:

every single day that have really, really big goals and really big visions.

Willow Hill:

But oftentimes feel really inhibited by their ability to get there because

Willow Hill:

they don't know how to translate that excitement and that feeling into something

Willow Hill:

that is contagious to the rest of society, which is really where we come in to help

Willow Hill:

be those translators of the vision, to be the oness that can bring an idea from

Willow Hill:

being that seed of an idea or that seed of a product into being something that's

Willow Hill:

widely adopted and loved and shared.

Willow Hill:

And I think that is where we talk about the joke of the identity crisis

Willow Hill:

is we can refine and shape a vision.

Willow Hill:

There's always gonna be a seed of something.

Willow Hill:

It needs to be authentic, and it needs to start obviously with the founders and the

Willow Hill:

founding team, but we're there to help.

Willow Hill:

And then the second piece advancing humanity forward is always been a part

Willow Hill:

of who we are and what we do and is really fundamental to, I think, what

Willow Hill:

differentiates us, which is we're here to build 21st century brands.

Willow Hill:

We are here to really help.

Willow Hill:

I think the move us ahead from a mass consciousness perspective and

Willow Hill:

say, we understand that we live in a capitalist society that does not mean

Willow Hill:

that purpose and profit cannot coexist.

Willow Hill:

And in fact, in order to reach your market, millennials and gen Z, they need

Willow Hill:

to, and the numbers prove that, which I think is one of the most exciting things

Willow Hill:

for me and the most exciting time to be a part of being a creative problem solver.

Willow Hill:

Couldn't be a better time.

Willow Hill:

Your time is now.

Natasha Miller:

I agree with you.

Natasha Miller:

I have a 26 year old daughter, and if there's not something that is contributing

Natasha Miller:

to society along with her purchase, she won't consider it for the most part.

Natasha Miller:

Right?

Natasha Miller:

So we have a really educated and enabled body of people coming up into the world

Natasha Miller:

and Scout Lab is going to address their buying needs and their conscientiousness

Natasha Miller:

and make the world a better place.

Natasha Miller:

Hopefully it sounds like.

Natasha Miller:

And let's talk about, okay.

Natasha Miller:

Before Dreamers and Doers, looking back now on Airbnb, after that was your baby

Natasha Miller:

and looking at what they're doing now, and I'm not asking you, do you like

Natasha Miller:

what they're doing now, but how does it feel when you're a baby then gets

Natasha Miller:

taken to other places by other people?

Willow Hill:

Oh, it's actually one of the most incredible feelings I would

Willow Hill:

say to be able to watch something that was once an idea or once something

Willow Hill:

that I had to overly explain at a dinner party or to my family.

Natasha Miller:

What you're gonna sleep in?

Natasha Miller:

What?

Willow Hill:

You wanna, you wanna sleep, work somewhere, convincing

Willow Hill:

people to sleep in strangers bed.

Willow Hill:

So moving from that, you know, this idea of like airbed and breakfast

Willow Hill:

to a common household name is something I'm really proud of.

Willow Hill:

And I think the team that is there today and that has taken the brand forward

Willow Hill:

has done so in such an incredible way, and really done an incredible job.

Willow Hill:

Obviously there's pitfalls to any major brand, but ultimately watching what Airbnb

Willow Hill:

has done in the refugee crisis, watching airbnb.org and everything that Joe Gebbia

Willow Hill:

has done with that, I'm really proud to have been a part of the organization

Willow Hill:

and really proud of the team that's there today, still carrying it forward.

Natasha Miller:

That's cool.

Natasha Miller:

All right, you and I met in this great community that a past FASCINATING

Natasha Miller:

ENTREPRENEURS guest founded who?

Natasha Miller:

I just think she's just, I don't know.

Natasha Miller:

She's the cats, meow.

Natasha Miller:

Her name is Gesche and it's Dreamers and Doers.

Natasha Miller:

And you just let me know before we started this interview that you did

Natasha Miller:

the branding-design thought process.

Natasha Miller:

And again, listeners branding is not your logo, but Willow will

Natasha Miller:

explain that a little bit more.

Natasha Miller:

Tell me about how that came to be and some of the thought processes that happened

Natasha Miller:

to create that it's so much deeper than what we can do in this interview,

Natasha Miller:

but just a little bit would be great.

Willow Hill:

So I got introduced to Dreamers and Doers in, I believe 2017 and

Willow Hill:

the entire concept around entrepreneurs, really coming into a space where they

Willow Hill:

were in communities supporting one another really widening the circle

Willow Hill:

for everyone was something that I really aligned with and the vision and

Willow Hill:

everything that Dreamers and Doers stands for was really aligned with Scout Lab.

Willow Hill:

Right?

Willow Hill:

They are advancing humanity forward in the most pur ways.

Willow Hill:

So getting to be a part of that experience was really powerful for me.

Willow Hill:

One of the things that I noticed early on as being a part of the community

Willow Hill:

was that the visual identity and the way that it was articulating

Willow Hill:

itself, wasn't up to the potential.

Willow Hill:

That I was seeing and the other members and specifically in the leadership,

Willow Hill:

because once you're inside and you can absolutely attest to this Natasha, there

Willow Hill:

is such incredible talent and such deep knowledge and a wealth of information.

Willow Hill:

And again, just like endless power there.

Willow Hill:

So I had just started a conversation there with the founder early on, just

Willow Hill:

about, "Hey, what are some ways that we could maybe take a look at evolving

Willow Hill:

this brand to really meet not only where you are today, but where you're

Willow Hill:

going in the future, because what you've created is so vast and has

Willow Hill:

really outgrown where you were visually and from a communication standpoint."

Willow Hill:

And she was really excited about it as well.

Willow Hill:

We jumped in a few years later, actually, I think it took maybe two years before

Willow Hill:

we actually started the project together.

Willow Hill:

We rebranded during the pandemic, which was a whole another story.

Willow Hill:

If you want to do a full rebrand digitally and never get to beat

Willow Hill:

in person, that's a crazy process.

Willow Hill:

We can talk about another time, but we were really able to collaborate in a way

Willow Hill:

that I think yielded incredible results.

Willow Hill:

And what was really interesting was when we looked at the brand identity, the first

Willow Hill:

place that we started was not the visuals.

Willow Hill:

And this is really important to our rebrand process.

Willow Hill:

We look at the values, we look at the vision, we look at how we're

Willow Hill:

communicating and we very closely tie our strategy to our visual identity.

Willow Hill:

And this is something really unique that we do.

Willow Hill:

But I think it's really important because anyone can create a logo.

Willow Hill:

And like you just mentioned a logo is not a brand.

Willow Hill:

We can say it a hundred ways, but ultimately.

Willow Hill:

The people that make up your company and your customer base

Willow Hill:

are your brand in so many ways.

Willow Hill:

So they've done a really incredible job at highly curating and being thoughtful

Willow Hill:

about people who are there to give and receive and be very open, making sure

Willow Hill:

that everyone knows that the world is not a pie, that there is more abundance

Willow Hill:

for everyone than there is scarcity.

Willow Hill:

Starting from that point was where we jumped off of originally, which ended up

Willow Hill:

yielding, like I said, the most incredible results, an absolutely stunning brand.

Willow Hill:

That's only continued to attract more of the really high caliber community

Willow Hill:

that they have today, like yourself.

Natasha Miller:

Have you ever thought that you should write a book that you should

Natasha Miller:

write the story of your life to help other people learn from your experience?

Natasha Miller:

Please go to MemoirSherpa.com and learn how I can help you write, figure out your

Natasha Miller:

publishing path and market your story, your memoir, to a best-seller status.

Natasha Miller:

How long can Dreamers and Doers count on the current?

Natasha Miller:

I wouldn't say the internal elements of their brand, because

Natasha Miller:

that's going to stick around.

Natasha Miller:

How long do you think the external, the visuals will remain and stay

Natasha Miller:

current for them or any brand that you work with and how, and when do

Natasha Miller:

you go about adjusting or tweaking?

Willow Hill:

Oh, wow.

Willow Hill:

This is such a thoughtful question.

Willow Hill:

I'm so glad you asked it because there are a lot of different

Willow Hill:

ways into building a brand.

Willow Hill:

One is more trend based.

Willow Hill:

Which I think is a little bit of what you're talking about.

Willow Hill:

And then one is more long term, right?

Willow Hill:

So whenever we're building a brand identity, we wanna start with the

Willow Hill:

core elements that we know will meet a more long term vision.

Willow Hill:

So when we're talking about your vision, when we're talking about things like your

Willow Hill:

logo and your word mark, and these core fundamental pieces, those need to be able

Willow Hill:

to last you 10, 20 years if not longer.

Willow Hill:

I mean, if you look at the Coca-Cola company, maybe not as much in terms of

Willow Hill:

values aligned with where we stand, but thinking through that word mark, and just

Willow Hill:

how powerful it's been, there are elements of your brand that can and should last.

Willow Hill:

And that's where we start.

Willow Hill:

So we start thinking long term with that said there are always gonna be

Willow Hill:

pieces of your brand that you want to be a little bit more flexible.

Willow Hill:

And that's where brands are really lucky today because you can play in

Willow Hill:

places like social media and TikTok.

Willow Hill:

There's so many extensions of your brand where you get to be more exploratory and

Willow Hill:

you get to be more playful and you get to really evolve with some of the trends.

Willow Hill:

But I would say that the core pieces of your brands should be more long term.

Willow Hill:

And if you're doing it right, you should be able to, again, not have to

Willow Hill:

refresh your brand every three to five years, because that's definitely not

Willow Hill:

worth the investment in my opinion.

Natasha Miller:

Right, so as a designer, you are looking at a logo.

Natasha Miller:

Let's talk about a logo right now and you're thinking, okay, this embodies all

Natasha Miller:

the values, the culture, what we want.

Natasha Miller:

Our guests are audience to perceive us as, and then you think, okay,

Natasha Miller:

we know that these colors and this design trend is really hot right now.

Natasha Miller:

But how can we use it in a way that in 10 years, when that color palette looks

Natasha Miller:

antiquated or that design shape is so dated that we can pivot and recreate

Natasha Miller:

in the newer fashion or one that's more stable because Dreamers and Doers for

Natasha Miller:

instance, has a very, very specific look and it's not out of style.

Willow Hill:

Yet.

Natasha Miller:

Right, but it will be.

Natasha Miller:

So, what do you have in mind?

Natasha Miller:

The flexibility of what you'll do with that mark.

Willow Hill:

So as a creative leader, whenever I'm speaking to designer,

Willow Hill:

strategist, copywriters, the thing that I want everyone to know is that

Willow Hill:

we can use trends to inspire work, but we cannot lean on trends to create the

Willow Hill:

body and the soul of what we're doing.

Willow Hill:

And I think that's really important because to your point, if you're using

Willow Hill:

the same pop color that everyone is using right now within or what is

Willow Hill:

it pantone of the year within the next two years, it might feel dated.

Willow Hill:

So the way in, and this is part of our process, we actually start

Willow Hill:

by building out consumer personas.

Willow Hill:

And this is where holistic creative strategy comes in beyond

Willow Hill:

just thinking from a design perspective, who is your customer?

Willow Hill:

What is it that they're looking for?

Willow Hill:

How can we start to think from the perspective of what their core needs

Willow Hill:

are rather than think about what the specific trend is right now?

Willow Hill:

And this is actually something really interesting that we've even

Willow Hill:

seen with Dreamers and Doers since rebranding, we've seen a, quite

Willow Hill:

a few follow on brands that have.

Willow Hill:

Pulled I'll call it inspiration from where Dreamers and Doers has taken

Willow Hill:

their brand, which of course is, a to an extent, a compliment, we will call it.

Willow Hill:

But I think it's important to note that if you do anything well,

Willow Hill:

there will be follow on brands.

Willow Hill:

Oh, of course, of course.

Willow Hill:

Which is just kind of the way, but as you think about evolving, so let's say.

Willow Hill:

It's been 10 years, it's been 15 years and you need to update

Willow Hill:

and modernize your brand.

Willow Hill:

That's definitely something you can do while keeping that same soul.

Willow Hill:

We call it a brand refresh.

Willow Hill:

If you will, something that makes it a bit more modern, a bit more updated and

Willow Hill:

can speak to your audience as it is today.

Willow Hill:

I think the important part is that you don't lose that same initial

Willow Hill:

intention and soul and that you're not refreshing that every year, because

Willow Hill:

that's when you're gonna start to lose that brand association there needs.

Natasha Miller:

And so like McDonald's and Google and all of these other big

Natasha Miller:

companies they've tweaked their logos.

Natasha Miller:

I remember when Instagrams was tweaked, people were freaking out right.

Willow Hill:

Burberry, right.

Willow Hill:

Burry moved from such a beautiful word, mark.

Willow Hill:

In my opinion, to something that was a follow on, same with Saint Laurent.

Willow Hill:

Like you're you see?

Natasha Miller:

Oh gosh, you say Laurent.

Natasha Miller:

I mean, we can't, how can you lose the okay.

Willow Hill:

My heart-

Natasha Miller:

Anyway, but they're tweaking them a little

Natasha Miller:

bit, but now like the slack logo looks like the Google local.

Natasha Miller:

They all look the same.

Natasha Miller:

To an extent, some of them, but like McDonald's and Google the tweaks.

Natasha Miller:

If you're looking at design, they're very subtle in some ways.

Natasha Miller:

And sometimes you can't like, they're almost, you can't distinguish unless

Natasha Miller:

you're seed them side by side.

Natasha Miller:

Okay.

Natasha Miller:

We went into a rabbit hole.

Natasha Miller:

Let's get out of there.

Natasha Miller:

So you're a co-founder and your role right now is COO.

Natasha Miller:

What does that mean for you day to day?

Willow Hill:

Absolutely.

Willow Hill:

So my role as co-founder and chief creative officer is really

Willow Hill:

to lead the creative vision of Scout Lab and our clients.

Willow Hill:

So making sure that we are again, delivering on what our mission is,

Willow Hill:

which is building brands that advance humanity forward and on a day to day

Willow Hill:

basis, that looks like collaborating with other founders that have big visions

Willow Hill:

to either expand into a new market that maybe they haven't been able to reach

Willow Hill:

before drop a new product like Casey.

Willow Hill:

We just did a collaboration with them in Olivia Rodrigo to bring them to the us,

Willow Hill:

which was, uh, really incredible through dropping a sustainable line of products.

Willow Hill:

Working with founders that are starting from the ground up, maybe they just

Willow Hill:

raise their series A they're series B and they're ready to actually have the

Willow Hill:

level of Polish that they need to attain the customers that they're looking for.

Willow Hill:

So a little bit of a range there, but ultimately setting that creative

Willow Hill:

direction and then collaborating on a higher level with founders that have

Willow Hill:

that similar vision to advance humanity forward in the category that they're in.

Natasha Miller:

So you're really interacting with your perspective

Natasha Miller:

and current clients and forgive me, I thought it said COO, but it's CCO.

Natasha Miller:

So on the flip side, Caitlin is the CEO.

Natasha Miller:

And I would imagine that she is more involved in operations systems, processes,

Natasha Miller:

hiring, firing the business side.

Willow Hill:

So, and this is one of the really beautiful

Willow Hill:

things about our partnership.

Willow Hill:

Caitlin is also deeply creative and that's part of why we came

Willow Hill:

together in the first place.

Willow Hill:

So on any given day, I'll be picking up the phone to call her, to get her

Willow Hill:

perspective, which is really important that we continue that kind of creative

Willow Hill:

collaboration and spark, but yes, she does run the business side and then has

Willow Hill:

also been really fundamental in expanding our business into additional categories.

Willow Hill:

So as we've grown in the last two years, we've also launched a PR

Willow Hill:

division, which Caitlin spearheaded, like I mentioned, which is now run by

Willow Hill:

Patrick Mahoney, who coincidentally used to be a client of ours.

Willow Hill:

Which is really fun.

Willow Hill:

He was at plenty previously and then opened doors.

Willow Hill:

So we kind of snagged him over to our side and then Sarah leaders

Willow Hill:

who also runs our PR division now.

Willow Hill:

So really thinking about what does the long term of the business look like?

Willow Hill:

How and where are we expanding strategically to be able to

Willow Hill:

further serve our clients in the categories that we're in.

Natasha Miller:

That's great.

Natasha Miller:

So you don't have to, well, I'm gonna assume that you don't do you have to

Natasha Miller:

figure out job descriptions, how to source and qualify people to work for you.

Natasha Miller:

Interview them onboard, hire them, develop them.

Natasha Miller:

Is that something that you have to do in your role?

Willow Hill:

Oh, Natasha.

Willow Hill:

So I would say so as a co-founder having built this company from the ground up,

Willow Hill:

that has always been an element of my role at most stages of the business.

Willow Hill:

I think it's important that founders stay involved with the people aspect

Willow Hill:

of their company, because people are your company at the end of the day.

Willow Hill:

So well, hiring and all of that can be some of the hardest part, honestly.

Natasha Miller:

It's the hardest part.

Natasha Miller:

I talked to so many entrepreneurs when you get down to the question and actually

Natasha Miller:

I have a question for you next, but it doesn't have to have this answer.

Natasha Miller:

It's not sales, it's not pipeline.

Natasha Miller:

It's the human beings, keep going.

Willow Hill:

It is the human beings.

Willow Hill:

It's the most important part.

Willow Hill:

And for creative work like ours, the people behind the creativity

Willow Hill:

is what fuels innovation, ideas, design, all of it that comes together.

Willow Hill:

So for me, as a creative leader, getting to work with our team every

Willow Hill:

day is actually the most fun for me.

Willow Hill:

It's the part that I love the most and honestly, getting to cultivate

Willow Hill:

people and grow talent is one of the most rewarding experiences that

Willow Hill:

I've had in being able to unlock and unleash their potential as well.

Natasha Miller:

So you guys have success, you have, you're a growing company, but

Natasha Miller:

the reality is no matter how successful I'm happy and wonderful everything is

Natasha Miller:

there's always gonna be challenges today.

Natasha Miller:

What is the number one biggest challenge that you are facing and

Natasha Miller:

trying to figure out in your business?

Willow Hill:

Number one you want the top three?

Willow Hill:

No, I think you're absolutely right.

Willow Hill:

There's always gonna be challenges.

Willow Hill:

And for us at different stages of the business, those challenges have varied.

Willow Hill:

So one of the things that we've found to be challenging is how do you compete

Willow Hill:

as a business with the Facebooks of the world or the Googles of the world who are

Willow Hill:

throwing cash at employees and for us.

Willow Hill:

The answer has been to realign with purpose and to make sure

Willow Hill:

that we're building a more 21st century workplace, right?

Willow Hill:

So flexibility, trust, leaning into the things that can help us maintain

Willow Hill:

and retain talent has been really huge and a big growing, uh, growing

Willow Hill:

pain, but opportunity as well.

Willow Hill:

And I'm sure you would say that's been for other companies as.

Natasha Miller:

Is the number one challenge, then finding the

Natasha Miller:

right talent, the best talent to work in your organization?

Willow Hill:

I would say overall, that's been one of the biggest challenges

Willow Hill:

another, and I would say more recent has been really understanding and

Willow Hill:

working with individuals that may appear to be purpose driven, but

Willow Hill:

at the end of the day, they aren't.

Willow Hill:

And for us, that's a big one where you really need to align with the right

Willow Hill:

people honestly, and be good partners.

Willow Hill:

And so for us, that's been something that's been really incredible where

Willow Hill:

we get to work with, you know, the Dreamers and Doers of the world.

Willow Hill:

But then at the same time, I've also had the really challenging ones as well.

Willow Hill:

And so that's been another big growing experience is to learn as a founder,

Willow Hill:

how to decipher between who appears to be purpose driven and who is really

Willow Hill:

just kind of using that as a flag.

Natasha Miller:

Sometimes you can't tell until they're in your organization and

Natasha Miller:

I've learned so many different hiring methods that have been really good, but

Natasha Miller:

at the end, it's getting them into your organization and seeing what they do.

Natasha Miller:

That's really the only way to tell.

Natasha Miller:

So it's frustrating, but it is a reality of being human.

Natasha Miller:

So what is the number one strategy for growth you guys are leaning on

Natasha Miller:

right now to build your company?

Willow Hill:

So our number one strategy for growth up until

Willow Hill:

this point has been our networks.

Willow Hill:

We've leaned very heavily into word of mouth.

Willow Hill:

We've been really fortunate that a lot of our past clients have

Willow Hill:

been really supportive and spoken well of us and helped us grow

Willow Hill:

organically 20% year over year.

Willow Hill:

We're now at a point where.

Willow Hill:

We're ready to move beyond that.

Willow Hill:

And so we're starting to tap into all types of other tools working

Willow Hill:

on our own marketing, working on our own PR, which is something-

Willow Hill:

It sounds hilarious.

Willow Hill:

But as a creative agency, for me, I've been so heads down focused on

Willow Hill:

the work for so long that it's time to take some of our own advice and really

Willow Hill:

focus on our own brand as a company.

Willow Hill:

Yes.

Willow Hill:

The hardest part, you know, this

Natasha Miller:

Absolutely and when you started this company, did

Natasha Miller:

you and your co-founder talk about your exit plan, exit strategy?

Natasha Miller:

Is that something that ever came up and is it something

Natasha Miller:

that you are thinking about now?

Willow Hill:

If we knew half the things we knew when we started Natasha.

Natasha Miller:

I know.

Willow Hill:

When we started, we were so incredibly energized by

Willow Hill:

the vision that was in front of us, that we did not talk at all about

Willow Hill:

what that exit was going to be.

Willow Hill:

That wasn't part of our initial conversation.

Willow Hill:

I think, as we've grown as a business that never took on funding, we

Willow Hill:

completely boots dropped ourselves.

Willow Hill:

And like I said, we've grown 20% year over year.

Willow Hill:

We've.

Willow Hill:

Built an incredible client base, but it's hard, right.

Willow Hill:

Building a company without funding.

Willow Hill:

And you've talked to a lot of founders that have gone that way.

Willow Hill:

We ultimately know that the path to success for us is the same regardless.

Willow Hill:

So, because we're not taking on funding, we grow to a point where

Willow Hill:

we have the opportunity to sell.

Willow Hill:

And that's a beautiful opportunity or.

Willow Hill:

We have the opportunity to sell because we're doing so

Willow Hill:

well and we can choose not to.

Willow Hill:

And I think that path to freedom is the same for us either way.

Willow Hill:

So we really try to stay focused on what our more incremental

Willow Hill:

goals are that are in front of us.

Willow Hill:

And then again, like focused on the quality of work that we're producing.

Natasha Miller:

For more information, go to the show notes for, we

Natasha Miller:

are listening to this podcast.

Natasha Miller:

Wanna know more about me go to my website, OfficialNatashaMiller.com.

Natasha Miller:

Thank you so much for listening.

Natasha Miller:

I hope you loved the show.

Natasha Miller:

If you did, please subscribe also, if you haven't done so yet,

Natasha Miller:

please leave a review where you're listening to this podcast now.

Natasha Miller:

I'm Natasha Miller and you've been listening to FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS.

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