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Meet Trailblazer Vannesia Darby

Today we’d like to introduce you to Vannesia Darby.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I call myself a “Type A Creative” and spent most of my life trying to balance my love for both art and analytics. I freelanced as a pianist and participated in leadership organizations while in high school and college, but never envisioned myself becoming an entrepreneur. I had a dream of working at a record label and climbing the corporate ladder. My senior year at Bradley University, I completed a summer internship at EMI Gospel in Nashville, TN doing everything an intern typically does — mailing promo kits, editing album credits, creating notes, writing biographies, etc. Following the completion of my internship and subsequent graduation from college, I leveraged Twitter and Facebook to secure a job at a marketing and promotions firm in Cincinnati, OH named I Hear Music, Inc. I was a Marketing Assistant working under the tutelage of Gospel Industry veteran, Tracey Artis who (at the time) was credited with securing 54 number one singles in her career of radio promotions. It was there where I learned a lot of the ins and outs of the industry and relationship building.

After a year, I was recruited back to Nashville to run the digital marketing department at Motown Gospel, a rebrand of EMI Gospel now under the Universal Music Group umbrella. Returning to the same staff taught me a lot about longevity and they afforded me many opportunities to come in, ask questions, and bring ideas to the table. I also took initiative to learn more about marketing and grew their digital footprint by 40,000 people across social media channels, created passive income for the company with streaming initiatives, managed the intern program, and launched social media campaigns for Grammy award winning artists. I honestly had no idea what I was doing my 3-6 months I couldn’t even work Photoshop when I got there! So much of what I learned was self-taught or was what I learned from hopping on webinars and reading online forums. Once I started going on training and learning more about what digital marketing looks like in different landscapes, I was able to bring a broad perspective to a niche market.

When I made the decision to attend graduate school to study Organizational Leadership, I integrated the consumer science and motivational tactics I was learning in class into my marketing techniques and found a sweet spot. In my personal life, I was also seeing some success as a guest blogger gaining blog features on sites Blavity, TeenVogue, BAUCE and Thought Catalog. While in graduate school, I exited the company and started my own agency with my “rolodex” of designers and launched MOXIE Nashville.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The road is definitely not smooth! One struggle that I later learned many creatives have is that you can dream up a lot of ideas for others but hit a wall within your own creativity. That happened to me early on. I had launched so many websites and campaigns, that when it came to my own brand, I second guessed everything from my photos to my logo to my site’s layout. Finally, my designer said, “Come on now, we’ve done this how many times?!” It can be really scary when it’s YOUR face on YOUR website with YOUR words – no matter how many times you’ve done it before. One piece of advice I would give is to definitely know who you are. For me, I went on a fast to hear from God concerning the vision He wanted me to execute. Secondly, have a group of friends who speak positivity in your life. There will be people who ask you, “What’s next?” and if you’re not confident in saying, “I really don’t know,” then don’t announce your departure just yet. I didn’t make an announcement on social media until 7 months after I left my job. Enjoy your time to yourself while you figure things out!

Lastly, have multiple streams of income and cut your expenses because you have to have something that is fueling the dream while it’s developing. I worked at a gym in the morning, so I could meet with potential clients in the afternoon. I did remote work when my clientele got low. Hear me when I say this: It’s hard to be creative when you’re not financially stable. Don’t let the “entrepreneur” narrative fool you – be smart with your money and that may mean picking up some part-time gigs so that your bills stay paid as you navigate what this looks like for you.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about MOXIE Nashville – what should we know?
I’m a digital marketing consultant – which is pretty broad. I get requests that come in from logo designs to budgets for online ads, to social media training, to blogging, and even how to roll out a marketing campaign! Basically, anything with a hashtag or a “.com” falls into my arena. All in all, being a consultant means that you’re providing the BEST possible solution for your clientele. I have to hear their idea, turn to into an item to execute with a quantifiable metric to measure, and sometimes pull a team together to get it done. As a consultant with a managerial background, I also help drive the initiative to make sure we’re hitting our check marks along the way. I am most proud that everyone that I bring to the table is integral and works extremely hard in their area of expertise. I never promise an outcome I can’t deliver upon or make false statements. If something doesn’t go right – I’ll tell you, but I’ll also have a remedy of how to fix it. If you just want 10,000,000 followers by tomorrow, I’m not the person you need to work with and I’ll tell you that too. I believe that piece sets me apart in a digital space that is oversaturated with vanity metrics. I also run my own motivational blog within my agency to help people stay encouraged in their career and life and publicly speak on topics regarding management, marketing, and motivation.

What’s the most important piece of advice you could give to a young woman just starting her career?
Be intentional and aggressive about what you want – period. While in my graduate program, I took a negotiation class with males that changed my entire perspective about what was on the table. Everything is negotiable. Do your research, identify what it is that you want (salary, bonus, office space, title, etc.) and then shoot for higher than that. So often we think we will make it up later or that our bosses will see our hard work and naturally offer but it doesn’t happen like that. If you’re thinking about entrepreneurship, know which tax bracket you fall into, and add that percentage into your RFP. Sometimes, you have to be a bulldog when it comes to negotiation. It sounds harsh, but it’s a lesson you will learn when you research your field. It doesn’t mean you have to be unreasonable or lack personality, but when it comes down to business, don’t shortchange yourself. Also, make sure that you have time to rest and have fun. Some things only come with age and experience, not because you work harder and longer than your co-worker. It’s okay to enjoy what you’re building. Don’t wait for a special “moment” for you to be proud of yourself. Lastly, celebrate with other women. If you see someone working hard or starting, don’t be afraid to let her know she’s doing a great job. It can go a long way.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Jessica Palardy, “Headshot”: Angelique Nicole Carter, “Hustle”: Angelique Nicole Carter, “BUBAA”: Bradley University

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