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Makisha Noël: Building Brands + Community

Photo credit: Myron Fields

In honor of Women’s* History Month, we sat down with women-identifying Squarespace customers whose stories of strength, creativity, and success inspire us everyday. As a digital marketer and brand strategist, Makisha Noël works with clients on developing their brands, finding more opportunities, and figuring out how to turn their passions into professions. We spoke with Makisha about launching her own business as well as the Creative Culture Tribe, a community dedicated to connecting ambitious women of color. 

SQUARESPACE: What made you decide to launch your own brand marketing business?

MAKISHA NOËL: I’ve always had an interest in marketing! At the beginning of my career, while I started in non-profit development work, I also gravitated to branding and marketing. My interest in starting a marketing business grew as I realized the importance of shaping one’s own narrative. With so much noise in the media, across social platforms and even circles of people, having a solid brand that speaks for you before you even walk in the room has always been my motto. I have to be honest with you though, I struggled for a good while as I experienced my career pivot. Building a brand requires tapping into a deeper level of yourself and I was determined to reach that place. So in 2018, when I discovered the “Build Your Own Brand Retreat” in Washington, DC, a creative conference for creators of color, I knew I had found my place in this industry. While I had been doing the work for years, 2018 is when I officially launched Brand U, LLC, as a Brand Strategist. Two years later, I don’t regret a minute of the journey!

SQSP: How has your identity as a woman influenced you as you’ve developed your own professional brand?

MN: Wow, great question! We as women hold so much power. We are not only pushing through our own insecurities and perceived shortcomings. There are real external barriers that make it difficult to get to the next level. But knowing the power I have whether it is in the way I build relationships with people, negotiate opportunities, or maintain great resolve when I’m told no, I’ve come to embrace all that my womanhood has created for me. As a natural right and left-brain thinker, I’ve found that this complements my tendency to care about people over profit first. Numbers tell an important story but when you have an audience that is dependent on your ability to be authentic with your brand, the nuanced human experience takes precedence.

SQSP: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten as an entrepreneur?

MN: Simply put: Multiple streams of income is the key to building wealth. Because I’ve learned to monetize my skills, I’ve been able to leverage countless opportunities that have come my way. Building multiple streams has also taught me how to think strategically about the opportunities presented to me. Chasing a check has never been a goal of mine. However, building a stable financial future and wealth ensures that my family can thrive for generations to come.

SQSP: What advice do you wish you got when you were starting to build your own business?

MN: I wish I was advised to seek community when I was building my business. I remember being glued to my apartment hour after hour building in isolation. Not only was this seclusion affecting my physical health because I was not working out very much, but it was also affecting my mental health. With being left to my thoughts alone without the support or healthy challenge that comes with connecting, I began to lose momentum. Episodes of depression became common, doubting my capabilities soon became the norm. However, I ended up finding community serendipitously but that doesn’t eliminate the need to intentionally seek like-minded groups within the industry. I’m in a much better place now and happy to be building with creatives who challenge me and push me to go harder.

SPSQ: In addition to your own business, you’ve also created the Creative Culture Tribe to help connect ambitious women of color. How has the web enabled you to build connections and bring people together?

MN: Yes, we live by the motto #ConnectToCreate! At Creative Culture Tribe, we believe in the power of cultivating community through culture and creativity. Our goal is to connect ambitious women of color in inclusive, safe spaces. Through our online platform, event activations, and conference series, we provide women of color with key resources to support them in elevating their personal brands and business ventures at every stage — from startup to growth. Social media has played a major role in building connections within our community! Having a platform online adds to this component as well. With our website being hosted on Squarespace, we’re able to build trust with our community because of the user experience and access to information on our site. There’s nothing like the assurance that space has been created for you and when we’re able to do this digitally, our community feels dignified.

We are also launching our community blog over the next few months leading up to the Creative Culture Tribe Miami Summit. This will be an opportunity for members to directly read the stories from women impacted by this platform. Together we win and we’re excited to be a part of their journeys!

*We use an inclusive definition of “woman,” “women,” and “female” to encompass all people who identify as women in a way that is significant to them.

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