August LMM Spotlight: Threads Resale Boutique

*This is the second in my monthly series, Local Marketing Masters Spotlight, where I highlight local businesses that are doing something really cool with their marketing. If you have suggestions for my next one, please contact me!*

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When you’re a college freshman, trying to carve a new place for yourself in the world, working to establish your own style, dressing well is a must. So you might just fool yourself into thinking that you need to spend every last dollar of your already miserly paycheck on brand new Buckle jeans and American Eagle tank tops. News flash: Not. Necessary. Why? Thanks to local stores like:

THREADS RESALE BOUTIQUE

How I Heard

I must admit, when I first heard of Threads, I was (like I mentioned) a college freshman, skeptical of “secondhand clothes.” Someone else’s wardrobe? Why would I pay money for that? However, a year or so after graduation I started attending networking events in the St. Cloud area, and I met a local retail shop owner: Kim. She had just started an (adorable) boutique called Evelie Blu Boutique that I had recently become obsessed with, so when I met her I wasted no time in singing my praises.

That was when I found out that she was also the owner of Threads. As I got to know her and her other store better I thought, I should really give Threads a try, since I love Evelie Blu so much. Turns out, it was a great decision. Ahh, the power of networking.

Who they are

This high-end, well organized store buys your gently used name brand clothes and resells them. Not really a revolutionary concept, but at Threads, it’s done really, really well. The clothes they take in are high-quality – they aren’t just some teen’s cleaned out bottom drawer of faded, overused articles. So it’s entirely possible that clothes you buy at Threads will last just as long as brand new pieces you might buy elsewhere. Which. Is. Awesome.

Threads will purchase your gently used, fashionable clothing items and then resell them at an affordable price. You can either opt to be paid in cash, or to be paid in store credit and get 20% more back for your items. They also have a prom dress resale program that I totally wish had been around when I was of prom age, where you can sell your old prom dresses on consignment through the store.

What they do well

  • Threads excels at being relevant. When your target audience is college-aged women interested in affordable fashion, you have to make sure your messaging is in line with theirs. That’s where their social media skills come in. With posts like #OOTW (outfit of the week), #reThread (where they copy a celeb’s outfit with clothes from the store), and #NewMerchMonday (highlighting new items they’ve recently gotten in), fashionable young women can’t help but follow. So relevant.

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  • threads3They know their target audience is
    cheap. Let me rephrase, they know
    their target audience is budget-conscious. So they make it easy to fine more ways to save. They have a punch card program to receive awards as you spend money at Threads. It keeps you coming back, and reminds you that they appreciate and want to reward you for your loyalty.
  • Threads knows how to reach their audience where they are – and does so in a non-intrusive fashion. They could easily send out an email daily, or even weekly – but that’s not the case. Instead, emails only come maybe twice a month, and each time I WILL read it. I always think to myself: “Are there deals in here? There must be, because they don’t send these that often.”

<<<< For example, this email right here caused me to go into Threads that day and buy a pair of pants for $3 (not to mention 2 tops and a skirt that were not on sale…)

 

  • On top of all the marketing and advertising techniques that I love, the girls who work there are what really keep me coming back. Friendly, fashionable and extremely helpful, I look forwards to walking in the door. Whether it’s helping me piece together an outfit or chatting with me about which dress I look better in, they never disappoint me with their customer service.

What it (likely) cost them

If one thing is true with effective marketing, it’s that often it takes more time than money to really be successful. Such it the case with Threads. Their social media presence makes that evident. It takes time to put together outfits from the store, to find celebrity outfits to compare to, and to actually go out and post these items on the various social channels they use. Combine that with the printing of their loyalty cards and writing/designing & using email (which I discovered is through Constant Contact) and you’re looking at maybe $1,000 – $2,000 a year. The real value of their marketing lies in dedicated, knowledgeable employees who live and breathe the Threads brand and promise. That doesn’t have a price tag.

Threads Resale Boutique is proof that businesses can be successful on a limited marketing budget, and that’s just one of the reasons I love them. I am a bargain hunter at heart, so places like Threads are near and dear to me. As a loyal fan, I will continue to look forwards to social media posts, rack up my loyalty card punches, and get excited over email offers.

#EmilyFayeSays 🙂

July LMM Spotlight: Waite Fusion

*This is the first in my new monthly series, Local Marketing Masters Spotlight, where I highlight local businesses that are doing something really cool with their marketing. If you have suggestions for my next one, please contact me!*

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Diet fads. They’re literally everywhere. Pills, shakes, bars, cleanses, meal plans, supplements, powders – the list goes on and on. But what do these various forms of weight loss plans have in common? They’re all expensive. And with only a select few actually being effective, it’s hard to know which one to trust.

Enter: Waite Fusion

Call me naive, but until recently I’d never heard of “Herbalife Shake Shops.” I’d always thought the only way to try the weight loss shake program was to purchase the (expensive) mix and experiment with recipes on your own. Turns out, Waite Fusion will do that for ya!

How I heard

I first found out about Waite Fusion at a St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce event called Chamber Connection. One of the women who work at Waite Fusion, Amy, was attending for the first time, and we started chatting. I asked her what Waite Fusion was – having no clue – and she offered me a coupon to come try a shake for free. I’m fairly familiar with many diet trends, including shakes, so I was excited to give it a shot sometime. Plus, her outgoing, friendly personality was a draw for me. One day at work when I didn’t pack a lunch, I decided to try it.

Who they are

Waite Fusion itself is located in a tiny blue house-turned-shake-shop on a busy main road in St. Cloud, close to downtown and St. Cloud State University. From the moment you walk in, customer experience is at the forefront. The music is always bumpin’ happy tracks, the young women who work there are extremely friendly and helpful, and the decor is half college dorm half vintage shake shop. Waite Fusion offers 37+ different Herbalife shake flavors and you can purchase them for $7 a piece. The 16oz shake is meant to be a meal replacement, and also includes a “shot” of aloe and a small iced tea. There are also options to start your own Herbalife journey with one of the coaches, if you’re interested in that, but you’re not obligated to.

What they do wellwf4

  • The first piece of marketing was apparent before I even entered the shop. The coupon that Amy gave to me to try a free shake wasn’t the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen, but it was perfectly informative. It got three immediate points across: Nutritional – not ice cream. Free – no obligation. And Location – very specific directions. Simple and to the point, this is proof that less is more.
  • I eluded to this next one above: Customer. Experience. From the moment I met Amy until I bought my first shake, (and one of the reasons I keep going back) Waite Fusion made my quick lunch stop an experience to enjoy. No pressure to purchase the whole Herbalife system. No hesitation or judgement if you ask questions. Just a pleasant experience that leaves you feeling like you’ve got a new group of friends.
  • When I got my first Waite Fusion shake, it was a rainy, dreary day. I opted for the cherry-dipped-cone flavor (yes, that’s right) and was pleasantly surprised when I received my simple, Styrofoam cup. A colorful message. “Be someone’s sunshine today.” Hand-written in Sharpie. So simple. So affordable. And so, SO effective. Because, as a millennial, can you guess what I did next? That’s right, I Instagrammed a picture. And you know what happened after that? I had about 5 different people ask me about it. And about a week later? Waite Fusion had at least 2 new customers.
  • wf1                                          wf2

Not only that, but on a large chalkboard “Selfie Station” at Waite Fusion, they have written #WFShakeSelfie – encouraging people to take a selfie with their shake. And when you’ve got a cute message on it plus you get to humble-brag about being healthy, why wouldn’t you?!

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PLUS they’ve started to also use the cups as a way to message their customers – for example the below cup from my visit the other day. What a simple, affordable way to communicate with an already engaged audience. 

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  • Besides the delicious, healthy shakes and the fun, friendly atmosphere, you know what else keeps me coming back to Waite Fusion? Their rewards program. For every shake you buy, you get a point, and for everyone you refer to Waite Fusion, you get two points. Simple enough, but how is that unique from the million bajillion other places that offer rewards programs? Glad you asked. They use the FiveStars points program, which is tied to a mobile app. Every time you visit WF, you just scan your card at the counter, and the points you’ve earned are reflected in your app. Also, the app pushes out messages to users like “Try our new shake flavor!” or “Double-points today!” or things like that. It’s like an SMS program without being an annoying SMS program. And I love it.

What it (likely) Cost Them

I will preface this by saying I do not know if they worked with an agency/partner on strategy, so I can’t estimate that cost, but I will say that the efforts listed above are likely not over a $2,500 investment, at most. The coupons? Probably designed, printed and cut in house. The writing on cups? Um, what’s the going rate for a pack of Sharpies these days…? And the FiveStars program likely has a monthly fee that they pay to take part in, and is where the bulk of my estimate stems from. Oh, and the customer experience? That’s less about investing in marketing and more about investing in the right people to make it happen. So basically, priceless.

I am a loyal Waite Fusion customer. I do not do Herbalife in my own time, nor do I have an interest in starting, but I do love the product. And about once a week or so, I indulge in the product, because I love this company that is selling it. Using your resources wisely and engaging consumers intelligently pays off, and Waite Fusion is proof of that.

#EmilyFayeSays

Local Marketing Masters Spotlight

Hello! Long time no chat! I wish I had a valid excuse for why I’ve been absent from blogging, but truthfully I just hit a topic wall. HOWEVER, thanks to a recent trip to a local business, I’ve got a new idea to run with. Introducing:

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I intend to write once a month about a different business in the St. Cloud, MN area that is doing really well in some aspect(s) of marketing. Specifically, I hope to show other small businesses that, even if you can’t afford a multimedia campaign, you can still be really successful in your marketing if you’re strategic.

The other fun part? I’m looking for your input! Have you had a really positive interaction with a local business? Have you seen some kind of marketing material from a local business and thought: “now that’s innovative”? Well then, please share! I’d love your feedback on other local businesses that are killing it with their marketing. Let me know!

#EmilyFayeSays

Customer Experience: The Basics

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In case you haven’t heard me obsess about it before, I’m a Jay Baer/Convince & Convert addict. Jay and his team are the definition of social media pros. From content to digital media and everything in between, they are my go-to resource for any questions or curiosities I have in relation to social media, content, or PR.

One of Jay’s many content streams are his #JayToday videos, in which he spends 3 minutes chatting about a topic every weekday. I recently viewed this video by him, and it sparked some thoughts in me. Especially the quote, “If it requires 5 steps to do this today, how can we make it 4 steps. And then how can we make it 3.” That is the core of…

CUSTOMER Experience 

A great customer experience is essential in setting your company apart from the clutter. But before we get too far, let’s define “customer experience.”  To aid in this, a quote from the Harvard Business Review:

Companies have long emphasized touchpoints—the many critical moments when customers interact with the organization and its offerings on their way to purchase and after. But the narrow focus on maximizing satisfaction at those moments can create a distorted picture, suggesting that customers are happier with the company than they actually are. It also diverts attention from the bigger—and more important—picture: the customer’s end-to-end journey.

Customer experience is less about optimizing individual pain-points within a customer’s interaction with a brand and more about the overall journey. Hence,

Customer Journey Mapping

A customer journey map is literally a diagram that illustrates the various steps that your customers go through in engaging with your company. It can range from product to online to retail or anything in between – and it covers everything. The more complex your process is, the more difficult to create but important this tool will be.

Let’s think about an example of this in the banking industry, specifically at the process of signing up for a new checking account at a brand new bank. Where are some possible touchpoints in this process?

  • Performing online research on the bank
    • Comparing one bank’s website appearance to others
  • Navigating the website to find account information, locations, rates, contact info, etc
    • How easy is the site to navigate?
    • How many clicks?
    • *This comes back to User Experience
  • Sending an email to the bank
    • How long will they wait for a response?
    • Is an automated response sent?
    • Do they receive a phone call after sending an email?
  • Calling the bank
    • Who answers? (loan officer, receptionist, teller, etc.)
    • What is the process for transferring them to the right person?
  • Visiting the actual bank

The list could go on and on. Journey Mapping allows us to display all of the touchpoints with a consumer in one easy format, so that we can identify pain-points, perhaps like these:

  • The need to call to set up an account – can’t I just do it online?
  • The absence of a free checking account – what if I don’t want one with a minimum balance requirement?
  • Complexities in the website design (User Experience) is the website difficult to navigate?
  • If/when I do call the bank, how long am I on hold? Or what is the automated answering machine like to navigate? How much information do I have to give to whomever I’m speaking with?

It’s important to remember while doing customer journey mapping what the customer is likely feeling/thinking at each touchpoint.

So what does the customer journey map actually look like? Here’s a beautiful example from my company, Flint Group, that details the customer journey of filling up with gas:

cjm

As you can see, this journey map takes into account Justin’s thought process, what he encounters throughout the experience, and how it affected him (ie. what the pain-points were). That’s not to say that every customer will go through this same experience, and that’s why it’s important to develop those audience personas, like Justin.

As you can see, customer journey mapping can unveil serious sticking points within your customer experience process, as well as highlight what you’re doing really well already. Try it out for your organization – and share what you discover!

#EmilyFayeSays

T-Swift is at it again

Whoda thunk. The same sappy, love-sick, boy crazy young girl who brought tweens lyrics like “It’s a love story baby just say yes” and “He’s the reason for the tear drops on my guitar” would turn into an bad***, strong, professional, & independent ultra-mega-super-star.

Taylor Swift.

I must admit, my affection for her has traveled like a roller coaster. As an emotional, small-town teenager myself, I loved her. As a young adult, towards the end of Taylor’s country career, I found her extremely annoying. But as an adult who appreciate strong, positive female role models and savvy business-women, I adore, envy, and respect her.

The woman’s a straight-up marketing genius. She’s authentic, engaging, and relatable. She goes above and beyond to show her customers (fans) that she appreciates their business (obsessions). She’s got the hyped-up release thing down pat. Plus I just feel like I could chill with her, in my sweats, at her NYC apartment, drinking Diet Coke, eating pastries & being totally cool with each other’s love of cats. Tay, if you’re out there, hit me up.

But seriously, can we talk about her 1989 album release tactics? Specifically on Instagram, T-Swiz had fans SHAKING (get it?) (if not just shake it off…) in anticipation of her album’s release with her gradual postings of song lyrics. Some examples:

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You get the “picture.” (Ha, I kill me.) Not only was she super engaging with fans online, but offline she literally invited fans to her house(s). Yes, into her home. She had her team scout out the true, die-hard Swifties via different social channels, and then invited them to “Secret Sessions” at her home where they could meet Swift & her kitties (!!!) and listen to the 1989 album before anyone else. This “Swiftie hunting” continued past album release, and Tay would follow up on certain fans’ questions or concerns with things like money, hand-written letters and/or thoughtful gifts. She was (& still is) truly engaged and so so so down to earth.

The real question, though: did all of these tactics actually work?

During the first week that 1989 was released, Taylor had $1.287 million in album sales. That’s the highest-grossing week for an album since the release of Eminem’s “The Eminem Show” in 2002. I think it worked. And I must admit, I helped out those numbers! I think that was the first physical CD I purchased since “From Under the Cork Tree” by Fall Out Boy in 2005. Yikes.

Now, Swizzle is at it again with the launch of her “Bad Blood” music video. Have you seen these insane images with mega-stars she’s been sharing? So far, the lineup consists of some major names along with some bad*** images:

  • Taylor: Catastrophe
  • Lily Aldridge: Frostbyte
  • Zendaya: Cut-Throat
  • Haley Williams: The Crimson Curse
  • Gigi Hadid: Slay-Z
  • Ellie Goulding: Destructa X
  • Haliee Steinfeld: The Trinity
  • Lena Dunham: Lucky Fiori
  • Kendrick Lamar: Welvin Da Great
  • Karlie Kloss: Knockout
  • Serayah: Dilemma
  • Jessica Alba: Domino
  • Martha Hunt: Homeslice
  • Ellen Pompeo: Luna
  • Mariska Hargitay: Justice
  • Cara Delevingne: Mother Chucker
  • Cindy Crawford: Headmistress
  • Selena Gomez: Arsyn

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The music video will air May 17th during the Billboard Music Awards, and you bet your Swiftie butt I will be waiting & watching (and posting an update!) And it’s not like I’m this major, crazy, Taylor-obsessed fan. I just am truly intrigued, and all of the exciting lead-up is definitely to blame. I fell for it – hook, line and singer (that’s how it goes, right?) (can’t stop won’t stop) and I’m not ashamed.

T-Swift, you keep doing you, and keep showing the world that even if you started out as a boy-crazy, hormonal, crazy teenager (like we all did), you will get past that and blossom into a smart, talented, professional & inspirational woman if you try.

UPDATE

Here’s the video with some Buzzfeed commentary. Guys, I’ve gotta girl crush. So many powerful women in one place. Can’t. Stop. Watching. That is all.

#EmilyFayeSays

10 Things I Wish I’d Known in College

College is the time for knowledge (rhyme unintended) (or was it?). It’s a time to immerse yourself in your studies, find your passions, uncover your skill set and blaze your personal trail. At least that’s what your high school guidance teacher tells you when you’re a senior and about to graduate.

But for a lot of kids, when you get there it takes a different path. It’s more about independence, no rules or curfews, freedom, making friends, trying new things, and probably spending too much money. Often times, that means that studies fall to the wayside. And don’t get me wrong, that’s okay to a point, but like Joni Mitchell warned, “you don’t know what you got til it’s gone.” (definitely had to Google who sang the original – millennial problems…)

grad

As a graduate now and someone fortunate enough to have happened upon my desired career path fairly early in life, I find myself looking back at what I wish I’d done differently in my college experience. And while, like many college kids, I wish I’d taken less student loans and studied more, this list gets into it a bit more than that. So, here you go…

10 Things I Wish I’d Known in COLLEGE

 1. College professors are actually really awesome. They’re not your high school teachers. They aren’t there to make sure you behave, hold your hand, keep an eye on you etc. They’re there because they are passionate about what they’re teaching, and they want to share that knowledge with their students. Don’t waste the chance to develop relationships with these folks. They can write you recommendations, give you career guidance, and maybe even become your mentor one day.

2. You will regret a bad grade more than missing out on a night of partying. AKA: get your priorities in order. If you have a sociology exam Friday morning, then maybe (just maybe) your time would be better spent in a cramming session vs drinking from a flat keg at a frat house until 3AM. I get it, FOMO is real, but so is having to retake a class after you fail it, or missing graduation honors by decimal points of your GPA. Be smart.

3. Get real-world experience within your major. Some majors, like nursing and education, already have requirements in place that you actually experience the jobs before you can graduate. However others (ahem, marketing) don’t. But it is so important to have some kind of relevant experience within your major when you graduate, because it will give you a definite leg-up on the competition. For example, finance major? Get a teller job. Management major? Work your way up in retail. Communications major? Good luck. Just kidding, you could check out administrative positions. You get the picture. Or maybe if you can’t find anything or nothing seems to fit, do your own thing! Which leads to my next point…

4. Differentiate, differentiate, differentiate. What are you passionate about? Animals? Social media? Children? The environment? Now think about this: how can you use that passion to differentiate yourself? Maybe it’s volunteering at a shelter, becoming a big brother/sister to someone, offering to do a company’s social media for free, or getting involved with environmental legislation. Whatever it is, getting involved and following your passion will not only differentiate you, but will help you get a career that you want, rather than a job you have to have.

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5. Really f***ing try in class. I made the mistake of saying “I’m so over this” about 498 times during my college career. I got good grades still, blessed with good guessing skills & my natural ability to BS my way through anything , but what benefit was it to me? After all I was PAYING TO LEARN. The point of college is not simply to just make it to graduation. And while there are things I learned that I still carry with me today, there is so much more I wish I could go back and really absorb. Read textbook. Ask professors hard questions. Stay after class if I didn’t understand. Really…. try.

6. You don’t need those $78 jeans. You will never in your life need $78 jeans. You will learn this about 6 months after graduation, when your first student loan payment is due. You will never pay more than $25 for a pair of jeans again. And a $30 t-shirt. Fahgettaboutet. Thrift stores, clearance racks, using what  you have… stop buying expensive clothes. Save. Your. Money.

7. Spaghetti-o’s and Dr. Pepper do not a meal make. You know, the dining hall does have a salad bar with low-fat dressing. Also, you can buy frozen vegetables for about the same price as those canned monstrosities with the “noodles” and the “meatballs.” Oh, and wheat bread tastes the same as white bread. I know, right? Take care of your body. Just because mom’s not around to cook for you, doesn’t mean you can go gain 20 pounds. Also: stay active. Your school’s gym is cheaper and nicer than anything in the real world, so don’t waste the chance to use it.

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8. Show your school spirit, damnit. At St. Cloud State University, we had a saying we’d use sarcastically: “St. Cloud Proud…”. We’d say it whenever something bad/embarrassing would happen at our school. Not exactly bubbling over with school spirit. But I have friends who went to other schools who are the opposite. They go to alumni events, they cheer on their sports teams, they are involved and they’re really passionate fans. I find myself jealous of them. I wish I’d been a better fan, because then I could be part of the Husky community with more pride.

9. Use social media wisely. I’m not going to preach the whole “no beer bongs on Facebook” thing because you’ve heard that 15 times over. However, I do feel that college students can use social media wisely and strategically. Connect with your professors. Reach out to businesses you’re interested in. Stay active on LinkedIn. Use Twitter less for retweeting @CommonFemale or @GuyCodes and more for retweeting at @Forbes or @Kiplinger. Use your social presence wisely. (For more tips, check out my slideshow here.)

10. Cherish. Every. Second. You’ve heard this before, but take it from a once-jaded college grad who couldn’t wait to throw up deuces to my university and start pounding pavement: you will miss it. I miss the simple things. Learning. Flexible schedules. Meeting new people. Writing essays (for real). I wish I could go back sometimes. So cherish every second of it. Because it’s going to go fast, it’s going to be crazy, and you are going to miss it.

#EmilyFayeSays

Is your brand believable?

I am not ashamed to admit that I am a superfan of the Fast & Furious franchise. I have seen every movie multiple times (just saw 7 last night, so many tears!), and any time one is on TV, I find myself sucked in again. There’s just something about these action-packed, insane, funny, beautiful movies that gets me every time. Why on earth would a movie that is centered around extreme, out-of-the-box action scenes sit so dearly in my heart? I realized that I can trace my answer back to one thing: believably.

If you’ve ever seen a Fast & Furious movie, you know that the main character, Dominic Toretto (played by Vin Diesel) places family at the highest importance. And in the movie, all of the actors do an amazing job to make their “family” look so real. How? Because they’re all a big family on and off the screen. They live and breathe what they do and who they portray, and it translates to the big screen beautifully.

This is an important lesson that can be translated to many other areas. Specifically, though, I want to talk about brand. Is your brand believable? Do people trust that your brand’s mission translates to your brand itself? Here are some examples of big, successful brands and their mission statements.

Coke

Coca-Cola: To refresh the world, inspire moments of optimism and happiness, to create value and to make a difference.

Nike

Nike: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.

Google

Google: To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

How believable are those statements pertaining to their brands? Pretty believable, right? How do you think they were able to make them believable? Through their actions, of course.

Coca-Cola: Coke founded the Coca-Cola Foundation in 1984, with the goal of enhancing the sustainability of local communities worldwide. This Foundation has since partnered with international organizations to promote water stewardship, women’s rights, healthy and active lifestyles, community recycling and education, as well as disaster relief.

I think they’re making a difference.

Nike: Through the Nike Foundation, Nike leverages the power of their employees, brands, consumers and partners to create positive, long-term changes that increase access to sports, empower girls and women in the developing world, and support the communities we live, work, and play in.

Oh, and by athlete, Nike means “every person with a body.” 

Google: The Google Foundation focuses on many different important efforts. To name a few, they are working on fighting disease, increasing environmental responsibility including protecting wildlife, improving computer science education, fighting human trafficking,  and empowering women and girls. All of this is done through technology – working to develop smarter, better, faster ways to make a difference.

Takes a lot of information. 

These brands have been able to make their messaging believable, because they live and breathe what they say every day. It’s great to have aspirations and values, but if your company and brand are not living them, then how are you going to be believable? If you stay true to your mission at the office and at home, people will notice.

#EmilyFayeSays

PS: for other FF superfans like myself, you need to watch this extended Today Show interview with the FF cast – I promise you tears and laughs.