With great excitement, I recently joined the team at Angel Oak Creative as the new Marketing Account Coordinator and Print Production Manager! You might wonder why someone who started out in fashion would end up working in marketing for nonprofits. As diverse as my background is, all of my experiences have revolved around the same idea: people matter.
Where it all began
I was fortunate enough to attend the best school in NC, North Carolina State University (I’m just a little biased). After switching majors (who doesn’t?) from Human Biology my freshman year, I decided to do a 180 and major in something much more fitting for me – Fashion & Textile Management, concentrating in Brand Management & Marketing. I’ve always loved putting outfits together, keeping up with the trends and following my favorite brands and the ways in which they creatively influence their customers. I learned throughout my classes the importance of brand management, which is overseeing the overall brand performance. Brand management is all about building a positive relationship with the target market. It goes beyond just a memorable logo – a brand includes every single touch-point that teams and clients have with an organization.
One of my courses at NC State was Entrepreneurship and New Product Development in Textiles. I was the “CEO” for a group project in which we had come up with new product ideas for potential start-up companies. My idea was to start a socially conscious backpack company, where we would partner with local artisan pattern-makers in Africa and incorporate a swatch of their fabric onto the backpack. The proceeds would help children in sub-Saharan Africa attend school and further promoted and empowered local workers to pursue the work that they loved for a cause. This backpack project, along with the internship experience I had with a local nonprofit, sparked my interest in the nonprofit sector. I saw a strong purpose behind the work, thrived on the “hands-on” aspect of the work and loved that it boiled down to building relationships with amazing people whose voices mattered.
Experiencing a different industry
After working in retail management for two years, I joined Corporate America to work at a large tech company. This was a bit unusual because, unlike my peers, my “uncommon” background was not in business supply chain. In this role, I grew in my knowledge and experience with brand management and strategic communications, and learned a great deal about project management and business processes. I worked with diverse teams of people from all over the world. Every presentation, newsletter and deliverable that I created was in an effort to drive business results and positively impact the team. I gained a sense of appreciation for quality and visually appealing work while building positive relationships along the way.
Interestingly enough, I found that one of my favorite things about working there was something outside of my normal day-to-day tasks – leading a site-wide Women’s Community Outreach group at our office. In this group we had the opportunity to partner with many local nonprofits and cause-related companies to volunteer and host events. I found that in these meetings and events, my heart became most alive! I knew that I wanted to be a part of something bigger, and it all came down to my desire to help others and support the mission that they were fighting for! Whether it’s an event, a deliverable or brand collateral, I find joy in seeing a project come from its infancy all the way to a successful completion. This takes organizational and communication (sometimes over-communication) skills to project manage and coordinate the work – that’s where I come in!
How marketing can be fashionable too
As I think back to my childhood, if someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have said an artist. I’ve always had an interest in being creative in some way, and my eye for detail proved to be a valuable trait that would come up time and time again. It’s looked differently over the years as I’ve grown to express creativity through art and fashion, and especially now with my passion for marketing. I truly believe marketers have to be creative by tuning in with their target audience and understanding the needs of their clients. I have learned to see a strong correlation behind creativity, project management and the people-centered approach that is crucial for marketing. This holds true in both the fashion industry and the nonprofit sector!
I see beauty in the fact that everyone’s story and career path evolve in different ways – each person is unique and brings a different perspective. I’m pumped to know that at the end of the day, the reason we do what we do at AOC revolves around people. Although each experience has been vastly different, I see the most important aspect behind each one being the people, the clients involved and the mission for which they are fighting.
Moral of the story
Nonprofit work isn’t easy. It takes a dedicated team to make things run. But, just like in fashion, marketing for nonprofits can produce beautiful masterpieces that truly depict the brand and people representing that brand. I’m here to encourage you to be reminded of why you do the work that you do! Your people matter. The positive impact you impress upon our communities matters. Keep on going, you’re doing GREAT!
– Kimberly Currie, Marketing Account Coordinator & Print Production Manager