What is your story?
I was a child who loved to write, who loved when a teacher told us to take a concept and present it creatively to the class. My friend and I once wrote a rap to tell the story of a modern-day Romeo & Juliet as part of a classroom assignment. When I was 10, I compared an iris to a ballet dancer in a poem. I love books, words, artists, and thinking outside of the box. All of that led me to pursue a Communications and Journalism degree at Wake Forest University. After graduating and working a bit in the broadcasting world, corporate world, and agency world, I pursued a Masters in Corporate Communications and honed my business acumen. After serving as the director of marketing at law firms and higher education institutions (and interacting with a variety of agencies), I decided I could do it differently…and just maybe, a tad bit better. Arco + Associates is a reaction against self-serving marketing communications firms and models. We listen to clients and really understand their business goals and then insert marketing strategies to support those goals. I started the company in 2005 and dedicated myself to it full-time in 2007.
What message does Arco + Associates like to promote?
Arco + Associates promotes a message of innovation, education, and transparency to clients. We are committed to helping companies (and, thus, economies) flourish through smart and strategic marketing.
In what capacity do you LEAD UP in your community?
In 2013, the same year I gave birth to my second son, I had a children’s book published and volunteered hundreds of hours to do readings at schools throughout St. Louis. It was so fun to interact with our future leaders and bask in their optimism and innocence.
The Arco + Associates team volunteers our time to Connections to Success, and helps with mock interviews and presentation tips at this great organization committing to giving deserving folks a second chance. In addition, Arco usually takes on an intern each summer so that he/she can experience the agency environment and learn more about their areas of interest. Personally, I volunteer to teach Junior Achievement lessons at my children’s school…I think it is paramount that kids learn real world and business skills as part of their elementary school curriculum.
In business and/or in life, share a struggle you overcame that other women can relate to?
Being purposeful about to whom and to what I give my time. I always want to do more, increase my capacity, be all the things to all the people, and give 110%…and that is not a sustainable way to live. Time is the most precious resource we have—and it is finite. I read the other day a wonderful quote that went something like: “I want to lead a Hell Yes life, and sometimes that means unabashedly saying no.” Every day I’m learning how to do this with grace—and without guilt.
Did you have a Mentor, Coach or Sponsor along the way that was essential to your growth and success? If so, who was it and why?
Mentors are extremely important. To be able to identify with someone who has been where you are, done what you want to do, or who has achieved success on their terms is inspiring. I’ve been lucky enough to have several mentors throughout my life, but two stand out. The first, I was lucky enough to have been born to. My mom had a Ph.D. at 25 and was a great professional and personal role model for me growing up. She taught college and then started a private practice as a pediatric psychologist. My dad was also a professional and they modeled a very egalitarian household; there was a graceful division of household labor. Her ability to balance professional success with her personal life is still amazing to me. She is the one who modeled what I wanted my life to look like.
The second was a communications professor during undergrad at Wake Forest University, Dr. Betty LaFrance. A young, empowered Ph.D., Betty was funny, whip-smart, and committed to empowering smart women. I learned from Betty that feminine and fierce were not opposing forces. We are still in touch today!
What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do at Arco + Associates?
Seeing clients succeed. We are honored to facilitate and witness clients turning into thought leaders, innovative products and services gaining national and regional exposure, brands being developed and enhanced, authentic engagement taking place, and bottom lines increasing. We love meeting new people and hearing about the wonderful things they are doing and creating all over the U.S.—it is what energizes and motivates us!
If you could give one piece of advice for the women who are entering the workforce or launching their own business what would that be?
Be unafraid. Be unafraid to recognize the contribution you want to make, the unique skills you have, the people you want to stand up for and stand behind, the impact you want to have. In this fearlessness, comes empowerment.