Today we’d like to introduce you to Afton Baily Griffn.
Afton, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Prior to founding A Brand Strategy Consulting full time, I worked as the lead project manager for the National Charter School Resource Center with the US Department of Education at Safal Partners management consulting firm. But, I always knew I wanted to own my own consulting firm. Many of the previous businesses and nonprofits I worked in were very consultant heavy and I was blown away by how these experts could come in and change the dialogue and fix whatever issues we were having. I wanted to have that kind of influence and knowledge.
I knew I had to get as much experience as possible. In our family of entrepreneurs, the saying is, “you cannot work for your self until you have at least 5 years working for the man”. We also say, “You never make any money until it is your name on the letterhead”, so, I was laser focused on doing just that.
Prior to Safal Partners, I was the Director of Marketing and Business Development team at luxury interior design firm Laura U, Inc. At Laura U, I was responsible for pitching editorials, marketing strategy and execution, events, social media strategy, business development, and retail marketing. In that role, I was able to apply all the knowledge and skills I had previously outsourced to consultants and it worked! We grew our business by 30% my first year at Laura U.
Before Laura U, I was the Manager of the Technology and Innovation Department at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation managing a budget of over $1M and 24 staff working on the ERIN Project and the Giving Library. My goal here was to change the world.
Before the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, I worked with Texas Comptroller Susan Combs’ political campaign where I was the campaign director during the 2010 cycle. I spearheaded several large projects including public relations, fundraising, accounting, staff management, as well as the website and branding. I started working at this campaign in college as an intern and worked my way up to Campaign Director over three years.
I hold a degree in Corporate Communication from the University of Texas at Austin and is an American Academy of Project Management certified Master Project Manager.
Has it been a smooth road?
Starting your own business is unbelievably nerve-wracking. An incredibly brilliant woman and one of my mentors, Marina Ballantyne Walne, said to me, “don’t fight the fear – it is like a riptide and it will pull you down if you fight it. Just go with it. What you are doing is scary and you should be scared, but this too shall pass.”
Building a reputation takes time and being a new consultant with no reputation to speak of is definitely a struggle. Things were slow in the beginning and I took a lot of jobs at super low rates just to get my foot in the door and some solo work under my belt. Thankfully, that did pass eventually.
Additionally, four years into my company, growing my number of team members has also been a challenge. With a recent expansion into Wichita Falls, TX things are busy and we are entering new territory. Thankfully, my sister runs that office there. Working with family is better than what they say! Trust and communication are key and of course, a sense of humor helps too.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
At A Brand Strategy Consulting, we provide small businesses and start-ups real, affordable solutions to their marketing and web needs. Many small businesses cannot afford a full-time marketing staff or a big-time ad agency and that is what we offer them in the form of attainable, project-based or retainer style agreements. We offer folks the ability to have a rich web presence in the form of websites, branding, social media, SEO, public relations, and email marketing.
I believe our commitment to our customers’ success is what sets us apart. We believe that everyone can win. We do not have to poach our clients in the form of incredibly expensive services and fees to be successful. Win-win situations are our favorite and we love to watch our clients’ businesses flourish.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Houston is a wonderful city to do business. Anyone can be someone here because many of the folks here are transplants that someone else helped along the way. My recommendation is to network, network, network. Two coffees or lunches a week minimum when you are getting started. Ask successful people how they did it, tell them what you are doing and ask them to keep you in mind when they have a project.
I always jokingly use the phrase: “A-B-C: Always Be Closing”. Works every time.
- Address: 1720 Colquitt St., Montrose
- Website: www.abrandstrategy.com
- Phone: 512-569-8653
- Email: email@example.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/abrandstrategy
- Other: https://www.linkedin.com/company/a-brand-strategy-consulting-llc/?trk=company_logo