April 20, 2023

Episode #76: Shalonda Johnson – Identity Marketing and Branding

Shalonda is known best for her Marketing and Branding expertise and is the proud owner of Identity Marketing and Branding and Silk Coffee Company. Gleaning from over 15 years of marketing and design experience, Shalonda has a passion for helping entrepreneurs bring their business ideas and visions to reality. Her personal investment in the success of others has afforded her the opportunity to work alongside numerous business owners as they work to further develop their business strategies, corporate branding profiles, and overall marketing goals.

Shalonda prides herself in taking her client’s vision and literally maximizing every resource and tool necessary to help bring it to life. Her desire is to bring a greater awareness to the digital marketing platforms and sources available to nonprofits and bridge the technological gap so that ministries and nonprofits thrive!

Shalonda attended Indiana University where she studied Graphic Design and Visual Communications and she currently serves as the Multimedia and Marketing Director for New Beginnings Fellowship Church in Indianapolis, IN.


hello this is coach Tim Campsall and I’m your host for the self-made as a myth make a difference together show where we’re interviewing successful business owners to to hear their journey of building their business and because we know that building a business doesn’t happen on our own we’re taking some time to recognize those folks who have helped us along the way give them some shout outs for the the things that they’ve been able to provide in our business that well-deserved shout out that they deserve I’m excited today to have a fellow business owner from Indiana with us my guest uh owns their own coffee company along with the the business that they’re going to be talking about today and that coffee company is in Indianapolis and um we’re gonna have her share a little bit about that here in a minute in your downtime she enjoys shopping for plants and she has about 20 of them uh right now she calls herself the plant Mom I love it and she’s most proud of her consistent pursuit in her entrepreneurial journey and for all of those of us listening we know that building a business is a uh can be challenging with ups and downs so having that consistency and and keeping after it is just an awesome trait to have it’s my pleasure to welcome Shalonda to the show today hello Shalonda hello thank you so much for having me well let’s start with having you introduce yourself tell us a little bit of your personal story like where you were born and live and about your family and your hobbies okay sure um I’m Shalonda I’m the owner of identity marketing and branding and Silk coffee company I was born and raised here in Indianapolis on the northwest side of town grew up in Pike Township uh went to Pike High School um that’s where I graduated um I am the youngest of three children I have an older brother and an older sister and growing up um I think I can say we had a pretty normal life um it’s funny that I kind of always imagined myself at some point being in business for myself I just didn’t know what that looked like especially as uh growing up or as a young child so I think probably around graduating from high school into that first year of college I kind of start formulating okay I know that I’m kind of going down the track of marketing or graphic design and things like that um and so I start working in that field and being fortunate enough to kind of really work in that field even in high school all the way up until now so it was it was truly truly a blessing to be able to kind of get right into my field early on um I also have always had a love for coffee and that started with my grandmother um when I was a young child she would always put a little bit of coffee in my tea set um just black coffee no cream no cake oh wow we would have that time together my sister and I uh drinking coffee in our little tea set and so you know growing up loving the the taste of coffee and I always knew I would have my own coffee line and eventually my own Coffee Lounge and so now I’m kind of in the birthing process of getting people familiar with the Silk coffee silk company brand um for coffee so yeah very cool tell us about uh being a plant mom okay so a plant mom

um I would say I would say maybe three or four years ago um I actually it’s funny my grandmother owned a lot of plants and I hated them like and them and she would line them up against her patio and I always thought it looked a little tacky

um I always thought I was like a she have all these plants but um it’s something clicked for me with plants I don’t know I kind of think it was the ability to actually watch something grow and you have the opportunity to to help it grow and it was kind of a challenge for me and so I started out with one plant and it just multiplied into several and I actually given a lot of plants away over time so so yeah have you become your grandma do you have them lined up on the sill as well I do

I have about five of my plants in front of my my main window in my living room lined up now my plants look a lot different than hers I have become her in that sense so yeah what is the uh the most exotic plant that you have um people are called to take care of hmm I have never been able to take care of an elephant ear plant or an alocation plant very well I have one now and it’s a little droopy um but I have had her for a couple years now but they are very difficult plants to take care of because I need a lot of sunlight a lot of direct sun and they’re very they drink a lot of water so they’re in a tropical area originally so that one’s really hard to keep indoors got it all right fantastic well let’s have you if you wouldn’t mind what’s a funny story that your family tells about you that you’d be willing to share with us okay uh well as I mentioned before I’ve always kind of known that I would be in business at some point in life and my mother used to work in the financial industry she was a bank teller for years um and then she kind of started selling other uh Financial products in the banking industry and she would always bring home deposit slips like little blank deposit slips things like that and she bought me what I believe was called a Miss executive set it was a brown little briefcase and it had pins in it and she would put the deposit slips in there for me as weird as this may sound I would go into the restroom and spend a lot of time in there acting as if I was a teller business transaction and my family mentions that now and even and a cousin of mine will say we always knew that she would be in business because

something that I’ve kind of always done done and so yeah that’s that’s funny to me and I remember it vividly um no why as a child filling out a deposit slip was interesting to me right yeah it paid off so thank you for sharing um tell us about a how the business came about at what point did you have the confidence that you could run your own business you know I kind of think I’ve always had the confidence I always looked at the task as something that oh I can do that I don’t think starting out like between that High School transition to college I don’t think I knew what it would take I didn’t think about all the aspects of it but it was a challenge to me it was something like oh I can do that no problem and I looking at it I never really thought about oh you’re gonna have to think about accounting you’re gonna have to think about a marketing strategy I never looked at it like that I just said oh I can do it yeah and so I think that around that my freshman year in college I knew okay I want to go into business like I want to do this um in high school I was the Secretary of Our Gospel Choir and I would make the flyers for our events okay and so I knew graphic design was something that I really really enjoyed yeah so being able to practice at that early age and kind of you know flowing through that even through college and actually getting clients that I didn’t call clients I would just do it for them um I said I didn’t make a living doing this I really could and so I think once that freshman year in college was over I I just delved into it and and I just started and you know I didn’t I can’t say that I actually established the business as far as you know filing for an LLC or all of that but I just started doing it um and I had clients I was like I had clients and it was really shocking client had the best experience because I was learning and I was really really young but I started out you know around that freshman year in college and I never stopped I’ve been doing it that long that is awesome wow well tell us a little bit more about the company what’s the name what do you guys do how do you help people okay so the name of the company is identity marketing and branding and we are a marketing and branding firm so we really come alongside businesses and help them understand what branding and marketing really is what I have found is that a lot of companies assume branding is a logo although that is a part of your branding it has to do with your business practices your wording on your website uh what your paper material says how your customer service interaction is your business model there’s so much involved in branding and I think that a lot of smaller businesses um just don’t understand that and so identity marketing and branding really comes alongside the client and helps them understand okay this is your logo this is your brand but let’s infiltrate that throughout your your your business um also there are a lot of marketing strategies out there that a lot of companies aren’t unaware of um and we really come alongside those companies and put those strategies in place and then we pride ourselves in teaching them on how to run those strategies and how to run those platforms we’re there for support yeah but once we do that training and we teach them we don’t want you to be capped or limited to what we provide we want you to have the knowledge and eventually build your own marketing team and an apartment so that you can take it further so that’s pretty much a gist the gist of what we do fantastic so share a story where someone pushed you or inspired you that you could do it even maybe though you didn’t think that you could and the impact that that person had on you yeah so I I instantly think of my friend Kathy she is a business owner she also works in ministry as well and one day I was really really frustrated and this was not that long ago well I would say maybe a year ago I was really really frustrated and I knew that something wasn’t working for me in my business I wasn’t being as fulfilled I was making the flyer here or there making the graphic here there you know providing marketing training but something was really really off for me and I began to get really really irritated um and irritated unfortunately with working with clients I felt pulled in multiple directions and I couldn’t focus and so I remember having a conversation with her I said I’m gonna quit I I’m just I’m done

and so she was just kind of like no you’re not and I’m like no like I’m gonna quit and I’m done and I’m gonna do coffee and that’s it work full-time in Ministry because I’m also a media director for my church that I can’t deal with people anymore and this I think this is very important because I feel like entrepreneur is going to have that moment I can’t deal with people anymore like I just I can’t and she was so adamant and said you’re not gonna quit it’s your passion wow yeah and we began to talk through it and and talking through that with her I realized it’s not that something wasn’t working for me I believe that that was the point in my business where I knew I had to make a shift on how I was doing things right and that’s when I began to really iron things out and say okay I love teaching and coaching and marketing I’m getting frustrated dealing one-on-one with so many clients designing this designing that that was that was the notification in my mind that no something just needs to shift you don’t need to quit yeah so she really helped me understand that and and really talk through that and that’s kind of when I began to shift the focus of my business to more Consulting and more working one-on-one business businesses about what they’re doing and not doing everything for them yeah yeah that’s a natural uh progression that I see with business owners another way to to solve that is to hire you know more Junior people right to do the do right and so naturally what tends to happen is the you know the the person who’s more experienced like yourself will become more the the internal coach right the trainer and the coach of the of the team the internal team and have the strategy interaction with the with the client but you know the the doing the do is either done by the internal team or or done by the client oh yeah I appreciate you sharing that because I’m I’m sure many people listening have that same uh Reflection Point that happens in their business of hey I just don’t I don’t feel like I have that that passion and energy anymore maybe the Flames extinguished and this isn’t right for me but I like what you said if no it’s just having a a different perspective and and pivoting a little bit to get that that energy back yeah it was a very pivotal point in my business and a pivotal conversation and I don’t even know if I’ve mentioned to her the impacted it has had but it really helped me to just realign or recalibrate and get back on track and realize that frustration is a part of the journey and that’s not the moment to quit yeah well you did you did just let her know now what was her name again Kathy Kathy all right fantastic shelinda what’s your biggest learning as a business owner

there are a few learning points for me as a business owner but I think that my biggest learning point is that everything doesn’t have to be perfect I’m naturally a perfectionist and so when I have brought on other designers or other people throughout the years they never really stayed on board and they did not stay on board because I it was me um I had an expectation yes that I didn’t articulate in the best way or set them up for success in it and so because I was comfortable knowing that I know my craft I felt like okay they’re not going to do it the way I would do it yeah and so on not intentionally I kind of moved them in a different direction because they felt like they could never own up or you know own up to what I was expecting and it wasn’t a attention thing it wasn’t anything bad it was just well we don’t know if we’re the best fit and unfortunately I in my mind I was thinking yeah I kind of agree but that wasn’t the right way of handling that and that’s something that I had to learn um I had to understand that people are going to make mistakes many yes if you have somebody on your team who is not fulfilling a role I have learned for me to always evaluate my practices and what’s in place to help them succeed before I go to the person yeah because I’ve laid everything out for you and have provided training I have provided resources I’ve given you my vision and my heart for what needs to be done and I’ve laid the foundation and made a strong Foundation then maybe we could talk about okay is there something you’re not understanding or is there something I can help you with yes yes that I think that’s been one of my biggest downfalls yeah one of the um I talk about this a lot of the term micromanagement is is a terrible um word because everybody is perceives it to be a negative and that we shouldn’t manage our team because we don’t want to be micromanagers but the reality is every employee needs to be micromanaged until they’ve shown that they can do the job that is required of them so they need hand-holding they need guidance and Direction they need feedback they need right they need you to hover right and and look at their work on a regular basis because that’s how they learn and grow and develop so I think that term just is it’s a terrible thing that that people use because a lot of folks business owners feel like well I can’t micromanage them so they don’t manage them at all and then their employees kind of Flanders yeah and that’s that’s a frustrating point in and of itself that you’re silently frustrated as the owner um and you know because you haven’t necessarily articulated um or given them the resources to succeed so I have learned that and um I have learned that structure is really important um I think sometimes as entrepreneurs I know for me I have felt like putting structure structure and best practices and flow in place is so time consuming yeah

and then when I’m at the point where I need to hire someone or help get someone or contract someone to help I’m like now I have to do this training and now I have to have this I’m doing what I didn’t want to do and now yes

and usually when it’s when it’s that far evolved it’s right it’s a whole bunch of stuff in a week getting prepared to bring the new person on versus if you did it you know an hour a day or an hour a week right over the last year all that documentation would be ready right yeah that and that’s still you know a point for me that I’m I’m struggling with with taking the time to really really put things in place so that the structure solid so that I can and the the company can work on its own yeah yeah one uh tip for for you and everyone listening is I have my team on their on their default calendar they one hour a week is to document a new process or optimize an existing process so that way we we’re just cannot continually building the the database so that we don’t have to have that you know that Rush when we bring someone on so it’s just a constant ever evolving process of of writing down all of our systems and processes and procedures it’s it’s necessary so we know that business success doesn’t happen in isolation so share with us one of your biggest challenges during the over the years and maybe a fellow business owner who came alongside of you and helped you to get through that well I think that that a year ago when that whole frustration was going on for me I was thinking so many different things um and I have a mentor that really really has helped me along the way uh Dr Ricky McRae he’s a good friend of mine and he’s a mentor he’s a he’s an entrepreneur as well and he’s a senior pastor and he has mentored me so much and he’s the type of friend and Mentor that you that everybody needs and I say this because he will tell you the raw truth

right and there have been times when I’m talking to him on the phone and he’s spitting it out and I’m just making all types of faces where he can like uh

yeah and so it’s a harsh truth um that that he presents to me a lot and he challenges me to do and to be better and I think that he has been very very strategic in helping me look at myself and he often tells me that you have a lot more in you than you admit and that you’re willing to admit uh and because of fear you keep yourself Where You Are I would never agree with that and I was like oh like you know and as he helps me to dissect that I had to really think like man I do have a lot of fear like I like operating in my comfort zone yeah yes yes and I never realized that because you know if somebody gave me a business opportunity I’m like yeah let’s go for it let’s do it I was equating that to not being fearful sure that business opportunity as long as I can control it yes yes right but fear is even if you don’t have or not being fearful I should say even if you don’t have control you’re willing to go with the flow and go go along for the ride and I struggle with that and he really helped me to look at myself really harshly and look at you know the goals that I have I probably haven’t reached those because of me I’m I’m my biggest stumbling block and I think that a lot of entrepreneurs face that yeah we define fear as false expectations appearing real so you know we can talk ourselves into a worst case scenario and then say well I’m not going to do that because of the worst case scenario but what we don’t allow ourselves to understand in in most cases is that the worst case scenario is not the most probable right so what’s the worst case what’s the best case what’s the most probable now let’s move forward right assuming the most probable and put risk mitigation strategies in place to protect ourselves against the worst case now right we can step out of our comfort zone and and move forward confidently that and we may not know exactly the direction that we’re going but we can be confident in that we’ve done the right things to to set ourselves up to have you know a positive Journey and I’m so glad you said that because I am I Define myself as a risk taker with a safety net yeah I have a harness on I’ll do it but I have a plan and that’s not really taking a risk and he he really helped me see that and I always if I think there is one ounce of failure sure an ounce of it’s not going to work I magnify that say oh I’m not doing it yeah I can appreciate that if I I’m gonna put you on the spot here if I asked you to pick three people in your business owner Journey that you’re most grateful for them being there to help with your business’s growth who are those three people and how they help you

say my pastor my my church that I attended that I work for Dr James Anthony Jackson um from a spiritual standpoint um you know working in Ministry full-time having him as a leader has helped me really evaluate my way of thinking he’s helped me in so many ways that that I probably haven’t even expressed um but even just sitting and talking with him and counseling with him he always challenges me to think in a different perspective or or look at the situation in a different way I’m I can be very narrowed in my thinking and he has always softly and so calmly challenged me to think in another way and I have to go home and sit with that and and that helps me to evaluate how I handle that situation because for me you know again being a a analytical thinker and I I move fast on decisions which is not the best when I know what I’m gonna do I do it and he has challenged me and and I’ll share this really quickly there was a time when I knew that I wanted to shift my marketing business to deal only with Ministries and non-profits I’m in that shift now and when I when I got the Revelation I said I’m doing it tomorrow let’s let’s do it yeah he really talked to me and said you know I wouldn’t let go of all your clients right yes and he’s really helped me to understand okay I agree with your shift but let’s slowly shift that don’t right and so I was like oh okay you know so he has really helped shape my thinking um I have a couple other friends um that have helped me as well that all of these people are business owners and I would say that my friend April spells um who is also my hair stylist she has helped me a lot um and a lot of times the biggest thing that people can do for you when you’re a business owner or you’re on your journey or New Journey is encourage you you know they may not um re-share the post or they may not you know refer you necessarily not saying that she hasn’t but the biggest thing for me is to encourage me yeah and to tell me that I’m on the right track and when those moments of doubt she has really called me at the right times and really helped me to to see people don’t see you the way you’re seeing yourself right they they’re not like you know the areas of improvement but they’re not they don’t see that yes so her and another a business owner uh she’s a um a life coach Phyllis heart they have really stepped up and encouraging me just calling me to say you you’re this and you’re that and you’re amazing and for me it’s like I I could be sometimes a very Stern person or very focused oh thank you it kind of feels uncomfortable

so they have been such a blessing to my life that is wonderful I’m so happy to hear you have those folks in your life as you think about the next three to five years what are the biggest challenges that you see that you’re gonna face in in getting to your goals and who are the types of people that you’re going to need to help you solve those okay I think I have to start working on those structural issues with my business and getting best practices in place and operational procedures I at this point am really really needing to hire more people to help and I have always strayed more away from that because I don’t I I my excuse was I don’t think I’ll find the right help right and so at this point I need to take the time to do the work to get structure in place yeah so that I give people that really have a passion for this and that know what they’re doing a fair chance yeah yes I love that that’s going to be my biggest challenge within the next couple years is getting a team and trusting that team and putting things in place that that generally speaking that’s a challenge for everyone the the mistake that a lot of people make when they’re looking to hire is that they hire based on a job description right does the person have the right skills and experience well that’s that’s not the most important the most important is hiring based on cultural fit right is the person aligned to the vision of of my company and the culture of my company right would I it would we enjoy working together right do we have the same values and beliefs because teaching skills is is easy teaching a cultural fit is impossible so making sure that they jive with how we think and feel and operate and and how we want the business to is first and then do they have the right skills and experience and then you already mentioned this third is then we have to set them up for Success right what’s the you know the first 90-day onboarding in the training and the guidance and the direction that we’re going to provide for them so that we are truly right on there to help them meet our expectations one of the things I hear a lot from business owners is why I brought them in and I shadowed them for two weeks and then I left them on their own and they can’t do the job as good as me and I’m like well how long have you been doing the job 30 years so they got two weeks with you and you expect them to be able to do it the same as you for 30 years that’s impossible right it is it is and that’s I think I can admit now uh thank you Dr McRae I’m fearful of that I’m fearful that that’s going to be my reality as I talk to more people and bring them on and I have to be patient um I have learned that this entrepreneurial journey is really a a Sprint a jog it’s more of a jog I can’t even say a spread yes it’s more of a jog and it’s okay it’s I am there’s nothing wrong with taking your time in fact we coach our clients to hire slow and Fire fast so really take the time to make sure that they are the right cultural fit make sure that they do have the right skills and experience you we even recommend that you put a skills some type of skills test in the interview process so that you can tangibly see do they have what is going to be needed to to make this work and and have multiple touch points in the interview process so that you both you know you’re both feeling that yeah this is the right long-term fit right and then if when you bring them on if if you’ve done the right training and the guidance and the direction and they’re just not performing it’s okay to let them go because there’s no point in right keeping somebody who doesn’t have the right skills or is doesn’t have the right mentality right um if you know you set up very clear here’s the expectations in month one and two and three and if by the end of the three months they’re not hitting expectations gotta let them go right and go back and and find somebody else right it’s a hard thing to do but it’s absolutely mandatory to you know hire slow Fire fast yeah yeah I agree that’s good last question here Jim Rohn says that we become the average of the five people that we spend the most time with so as you think about that quote what advice would you have for business owners who feel like they have to do it on their own that they shouldn’t ask for help that they shouldn’t surround themselves with other business owners they’re just gonna you know do it on their own I would definitely tell them that’s probably the biggest mistake you’ll make um I am a very independent person and even from a personal standpoint out there are things that I have experienced and gone through that I have isolated myself from people the close people to me because I felt that there was something wrong with asking for help that was something wrong with being vulnerable to say I’m struggling with this and so it’s it’s crazy that in those moments when I finally reach out or even they felt compelled to reach out to me and didn’t even know what was going on when I released it and talked about it the help was right there and it’s like oh I just had to talk to you or oh I just had to talk about this and you had a source that helped me with this and oftentimes we are very very much so at a handicap because of our desire to handle things on our own and this is I think the entrepreneurial Journey it’s it’s a you need a community yes even if you you know have someone that you just talked to when you’re feeling discouraged or somebody that you talk to just when you know the finances you don’t understand that part and you want to I think you need a a group of people that you can go to for different things yeah I think that is highly important and I would definitely encourage any other entrepreneurs or people that are looking to start business or a business of their own to write down people who can be a part of their tribe oh I love that yeah it can be very lonely at the top right and so having to your point having those folks to be able to reach out to and and bounce ideas off of or just get that encouragement or that support or that you know you’re doing fine it it it could be the difference between right as you’ve mentioned earlier right deciding to give up versus getting re-motivated and finding your passion and and being ready to you know to jump all in into the next level or the next stage of the business Journey yeah and I think I would encourage them too that give someone in your tribe on your team too who’s doing what you do and they’re doing it better yeah don’t look at that as competition like that you can learn so much yes that can help you you you’re you have a market that you’re called to they have a market they’re called to that they’re going to be around more that they have a bigger influence at because they speak their language they’re going to be different segments and markets for each person and it’s okay work your Market yeah and they’ll work theirs and for everyone listening guess what those successful business owners that that you’re looking up to they were in your place at one point in time and they will remember the people who helps them and they’re going to want to help you because they know they can clearly remember the folks who you know stepped in and came alongside of them when they had a question or a concern or a challenge and they’re going to want to to pay that forward yeah absolutely it sounds like you’ve been blessed with some incredible people in your uh in your journey that have helped you along the way if they were all on the show here today what would you want to say to them I would definitely want to say thank you for your patience with me [Laughter] um you know I think in this journey you have emotional ups and downs highs and lows you’re firm on a decision to today and tomorrow you’re second guess and everything and it’s very it fluctuates so I would definitely tell them thank you for your patience with me thank you for your prayers for me and you’re attached to me so

I’m going to ask for advice and even if I don’t like what you have to say I appreciate the honesty and the truth that’s awesome Shalonda it was a pleasure speaking with you today thanks so much for being on the show well thank you so much for having me it has been a pleasure this has been fun to everyone who tuned in thanks for listening to the self-made as a myth show with your host coach Tim cancel be sure to help us spread the movement by liking the show and posting about it on your social media and to join our movement go to be mad together.com all right folks that’s a wrap make sure to pay it forward and I’ll see you all next time take care thank you