AGENCY LAUNCH & THE FIRST SIX MONTH JITTERS
“What we want to do will have a far larger impact than can reasonably be captured in the first few months of launching Bear Paw.”
Bear Paw Creative has been ten years in the making. This agency has lived inside me and matured through all of my personal experiences over the years. I needed all of that time to clear out the things I don’t enjoy and nail down the bits that I love, that I’m great at and that keep me pushing personal limits. Today, with clarity, I can say that my sweet spots are:
- Translating the personal passions of clients into approachable brands
- Communicating through design
- Fostering partnerships that turn into friendships
- Developing engaging websites
- Making sense of the vast landscape of marketing options for clients
- Seeing important stories, worth telling
- Matching the enthusiasm of hardworking community organizations
Over the last year and half, my partner and husband, Bryan has helped me hem and haw over the details of how to bring Bear Paw to life. My dear friend, Matt, our Director of Content and Strategy has been an indispensable source of inspiration, encouragement and creativity. Even given all of the hard work we have been doing, we weren’t quite ready to launch when we did. We had a plan in place that would’ve seen the birth of Bear Paw in 2021, but a bit later than what ultimately transpired. To be frank, our hands were forced and Bear Paw was welcomed into the world about three to six months prematurely. I’m telling this story for the first time to illustrate the fortitude it has required of all of us and to sincerely thank the team I have behind me as we nurture the business and learn…on the fly.
How we arrived
Bear Paw is a branding agency. But there’s a massive human component behind all of our moves. Our motivation stems from a desire to bring the personal, human experience back into marketing. Spending years dabbling in the world of “results-driven marketing”, those of us at Bear Paw have come to the conclusion that metrics and numbers, while helpful, have taken over the spotlight where brand relationships and human connection belong. The need to get out of that world and into a place where we could exhale in this more impassioned space was imminent. Then, something happened in my job that was so diametrically opposed to where I wanted to be and the energy I longed to put into the world. My moral obligation forced me out onto a horizon that was only lukewarm, as yet. As I tendered my resignation I was filled with moral confidence and career dread. We weren’t ready. Mentally, we were dealing with our convictions and how to apply measured risk to our newfound situation. Physically, we were spread thin over our jobs, our side hustles and the immediate social conversation that was quickly erupting and needed constant monitoring. Somehow, our team of three banded together and summoned the intestinal fortitude to launch Bear Paw. As I look back on those weeks, I am humbled by Bryan and Matt’s belief in me and my vision.
Three and a half truths about a fast launch:
- It is full of empowered inspiration and contagious energy.
- It is terrifying and takes all of the focus you have. Support in the other parts of your life is completely necessary.
- Having a clear vision and being steadfast in it’s execution makes all of this so much more comfortable…most of the time.
½. It can TOTALLY be done.
WHERE WE FIND OURSELVES
My mom has always said, “Wherever you go, there you are”. It’s a quaint saying that has periodically reminded me to take stock of my choices and my support group. Bear Paw is on the precipice of greatness, but glory isn’t yet ours to claim. We are launched, but haven’t yet reached orbit. I’m reminded of the 1989 film “Field of Dreams” daily. Kevin Costner’s whispered mantra, “If you build it, they will come” is in the back of my inner voice reminding me that building a business is not like an 80’s era baseball fairy tale.
SEVEN TRUTHS ABOUT GAINING EXPOSURE:
- Just because you build it does not mean people will know about it or come.
- You have to talk about what you are doing to everyone you know.
- You have to find new people that you’ve never met and tell them what you’re doing.
- Do your research and then stop obsessing over your competition. You built your own thing for a reason.
- There is a lot of advice about sales out there. Ultimately, you have to come up with your own definition of what sales is.
- It is not always comfortable. In fact, it can be excruciatingly uncomfortable. And that’s ok.
- One bad day does not mean that you’re a hack who can’t do this.
What we are doing is far more akin to the “blood, sweat and tears” that real people have to invest in their dreams. We’re generating leads, scrutinizing our ethos, weighing our options and building new relationships. We are managing our funds, combining our efforts and relying on our friends. We need sales and everyday feels a bit touch and go, but we all feel the enduring confidence that in a year’s time, we’ll be telling the “remember when” stories of our harrowing journey.
WHAT MATTERS MOST
Aside from the obvious needs: feeding our families, maintaining our lives and avoiding mental health pitfalls and stress, there are a few helpful reminders that come into my train of thought each day:
- What we want to do will have a far larger impact than can reasonably be captured in the first few months of launching Bear Paw. We have noble goals and an important message that deserve their own time to seed, sprout and grow.
- Nothing worth doing ever comes easy. There’s so much to be gained during this time and new skills to master every day.
- I must keep those that are with me now in a sacred place. Mentally or physically, I could not do this alone. I’m hopeful that my gratitude comes through, but I’m working to show more of it, more often.
I come by my title of “Den Mama” honestly. My heart-on-sleeve approach serves me well with my children and family and I lead with it in our business. Since we aim to reach small businesses, startups and people out there grinding every day just like us, I’m hopeful that openly sharing our first story will serve as comfort to someone who needs it. And if you need companionship, partnership or just a boost knowing you’re not alone, the Bear Paw Family has got you.
Rock on, change makers. Rock. On.
Bear Paw Creative is a creative branding agency specializing in human connections. We help businesses and nonprofits reach the communities they serve in a way that resonates and ignites new relationships. Our nonprofit work provides incredible organizations with the marketing support they need to connect with their community. We offer brand development, website design and strategy services in Charleston, South Carolina and throughout the U.S.