Mentors: BRANDING

Deborah Usry

Deborah Usry

Summary of Qualifications As a fractional CMO Deborah helps organizations identify their brands, identify their key goals, and determine appropriate marketing strategies to achieve those goals. Throughout her career, she has worked in corporations, ad agencies and currently as an independent consultant. Deborah has worked with large organizations and smaller organizations. She gets involved in creating communications plans (external and internal), marketing plans, and the pieces and parts that make up marketing plans; as in strategies and tactics including branding, research, public relations, and advertising. Frequently, the first step is the most difficult. Helping clients understand what it is they are really offering, and why their product meets the need of the prospect better than the competition is not easy, but it is almost the most important step in the process. Without a clear grasp of the brand the marketing strategies may fall on deaf ears. Over her career, she has worked in the business 2 business arena, and business 2 consumer. She has worked with retail, tourism, education, health care, housing and the financial industries. Want to meet with this mentor? Schedule an...
Shantell Malachi

Shantell Malachi

Summary of Qualifications Shantell is an accomplished serial entrepreneur, business strategist, nonprofit expert, and author with an impressive business portfolio that includes ventures in healthcare, the nonprofit sector, consulting, media, and cultural arts. As a Master Business Strategist Shantell specializes in equipping entrepreneurs with the tools and strategies to build amazing brands, realize financial goals, and dominate in the market. A true student of organizational development Shantell has matched extensive education and training with over 17 years of experience as a coach and consultant to create methods that help businesses launch, grow, and maximize their profit. Always keeping community engagement and outreach at the forefront of her entrepreneurial endeavors, Shantell founded and currently serves as the Executive Director of Dress for Success® Central Virginia, a Richmond, VA based affiliate of the international nonprofit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. Under her leadership, Dress for Success has served over 1500 women in the metro area in less than 5 years. In addition to leading Dress for Success Central Virginia, Shantell is the co-Founder and CEO of SheEmpowers™ International, a professional women’s network offering programs designed to transform women leaders, empower women to grow their businesses, pursue greater entrepreneurial ventures, and become more active in philanthropy. She is also the Principal Consultant of Nonprofitability, a boutique consulting firm specializing in emerging nonprofits and faith based organizations. Shantell currently sits on the Board of Directors for Children Incorporated where she is the Vice Chairperson and serves a fellow to...
Kimmie Lockett

Kimmie Lockett

Summary of Qualifications Kimmie Lockett is a Design Strategist, helping create more manageable products and services through a consumer-centric lens. She is hired for collaborative project-based work in concept and product development, branding, and user research. Kimmie uses Design Thinking as a framework to facilitate Innovation Management and Brand Strategy. With a User-Centered approach, she helps businesses discover and communicate their value. Her role is to help prepare the concept for market— enabling clarity, reducing complexity, and articulating opportunities. On Brand Strategy: She helps businesses identify their key values and differentiating factors which provide sustainable competitive advantages. By working with Kimmie Lockett, founders will discover ways to mitigate competition in their market and create brand resonance. This is achieved by translating business models into brand systems. On Innovation Management: Kimmie facilitates the process of discovering, defining, and designing products and concepts. She offers a structured approach to iterative cycles of exploration, knowledge acquisition, and rapid prototyping. Want to meet with this Lead Mentor? Schedule An...
Paul Cassimus

Paul Cassimus

Summary of Qualifications Paul is the local River City King with King of Pops. Armed with just a cart and some handcrafted ice-pops, he started slinging pops to the good people in Richmond in 2012. Since then, the business has grown to 10 carts, 3 full-time employees and 25+ part timers in the summer. Paul’s unique perspective comes from having done every job within the business possible; from making pops, to selling on the sidewalks, to accounting, training employees, social media, marketing and advertising… he’s done it all and he sees how everything works together to achieve his business goals. Having a business that relies heavily on customer service and interaction, he began to see the close relationship marketing has with management. He understands how to fully exploit both to create a fun, awesome culture for his employees to then create the fun vibe King of Pops is known for. Paul once said “numbers kick ass” which could be an odd thing for a person who self-proclaims that he “isn’t a numbers guy.” It was in reference to how his business shifted dramatically and positively once he started managing his business according “buzz-word” things like Key Performance Indicators or metrics. Paul says it is the “least sexy” part of a business, but it is the “most important” part if you want to be successful and not “work insane hours the rest of your life.” Also a former teacher, he’s seen countless lessons he learned teaching students overlap “almost identically” with challenges he’s seen in the business world with managing employees, customers, and himself in the workplace. Random achievement: He once...
Sydney Lester

Sydney Lester

Summary of Qualifications Sydney Lester is a personal stylist with over eight years in the fashion industry. She is the founder of Chic Stripes, a full-service personal styling company designed to help women create sustainable and timeless wardrobes that work for them, not against them. In 2009, Sydney launched Chic Stripes, her personal style blog that focused on creating individualized style by shopping second hand first. She parlayed her blog into a successful personal styling business where she now works one-on-one with clients and focuses on giving women confidence through their wardrobes and teaching them how to create a timeless, personalized style and sustainable wardrobe that work for them, not against them. Services include: closet audit, personal shopping, and outfit creation. Sydney has been featured in the Richmond Times Dispatch, Richmond Magazine, R-Home, Richmond GRID, and Coffee with Strangers; appeared as a style expert on Virginia This Morning, ABC8 News Richmond, and NBC12 News Richmond; has worked with local brands such as VCU Massey Cancer Center, Jackson and James, and Elements Beauty Shop, national brands such as Kendra Scott  and J. Crew; and has been interviewed by The Wall Street Journal and The Today Show and continues to be the area’s go-to style expert. Before her career switch to fashion, Sydney spent over ten years working in fundraising in the nonprofit field, holds dual masters degrees in Social Work and Christian Education and was part of the 2014 class of Leadership Metro Richmond. Sydney earned her fashion credentials at the Los Angeles-based School of Style, and currently lives in Richmond with her husband and their three cats. Want to...