Doing Good With Good Man Brand CMO Nancy Richardson

On this 231st episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Good Man Brand CMO Nancy Richardson. Richardson has held executive positions at companies like Starbucks and Lululemon, and that experience led her to where she is today.

We kick off our conversation talking about Richardson’s past, how being born and raised in Hawaii led her to a career that she just wasn’t happy with, and how her competitive nature from her soccer-playing days brought her into the marketing field. Holding executive positions for a series of startups and fast-growth companies taught Richardson the value of a dollar. “When you have a company that has a finite amount of money in the bank, you have to be so strategic and work with your partners to keep it alive.”

Richardson dives into her ventures. She founded Mom and Pop Shop, a company that pools readily available marketing talent to avoid contracting agencies’ overhead. Her desire to provide value inspired her to write “Work Freely,” a book about loving life and your job at the same time, with the idea “to create something that can help other people.” Next, Richardson talks all about working for Russell Wilson’s Good Man Brand, where “impact is the strategy; revenue is the result.” Good Man Brand creates clothing and shoes “that are made to flex between home, work, and day.” Aligned with a plethora of foundations aimed at changing the world for the better, Richardson and Good Man Brand want to show the world that “doing business and doing good are the same thing!”

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • Nancy’s past as a competitive soccer player and strategy-driven mindset led her to practice kickboxing and jiu-jitsu. 1:43
  • Born and raised in Hawaii, Nancy eventually found herself in a banking career that she wanted no part of. 2:22
  • Nancy landed her first marketing role at Starbucks, which led her to become VP at Lululemon. 2:45
  • Learning how to build a company from the ground up led Nancy to join Good Man Brand. 3:20
  • Mom and Pop Shop was built out of necessity to stay agile with readily available marketing talent without the overhead. 5:08
  • Work Freely, Nancy’s book, shows people how to love their job and their life simultaneously. 6:00
  • It took Nancy 3 years to write her book, three years filled with self-doubt and vulnerability. 6:54
  • Russel Wilson and his cofounders founded Good Man Brand to create a large-scale positive impact. 7:44
  • 3% of every sale is donated to the Why Not You Foundation to enable and power today’s youth. 8:30
  • Every $100 donated to Friend’s of the Children provides mentors for children that need the most help. 9:05
  • The Everyday Hero Project aims to lead, inspire, and live by highlighting everyday heroes nominated in their communities. 9:57
  • Everyday heroes do what they do to make a positive impact, not so much for the recognition. 10:50
  • The goal is to tell a bigger story around being an everyday hero and what that means to those affected. 11:24
  • Good Man Brand takes a unique approach when it comes to prioritizing impact over revenue. 12:29
  • With impact as a strategy and revenue, as a result, Good Man Brand has reached its target of over 300% growth year-over-year. 13:45
  • Doing business and doing good are completely aligned in Good Man Brand, allowing for positive impact and growth. 15:13
  • Having the right team and people have allowed Nancy to grow with the mindset of making her role obsolete. 16:24
  • Good Man Brand creates clothing that moves with you throughout the day. 18:27
  • There is an equation that relates to looking good, feeling good, and doing good. 19:17
  • Growing up in a traditional Chinese family showed Nancy that working hard isn’t enough to rise above. 19:49
  • You can learn the most from the people that you clash with the hardest. 21:14
  • Nancy invested in a firepit this summer to spend more quality time with her family at home. 22:22
  • For Nancy, it’s about a movement of good brands that empower people and solve a problem. 23:30
  • Too much time is spent analyzing the past when it should be spent innovating for the future. 26:30

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Connect with Marketing Today and Alan Hart:

Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on opportunities around brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine startups.

McDonald’s And J Balvin Debut Limited Edition Merch Collection

Following the addition of J Balvin’s signature meal to its menu, McDonald’s has released a 58-piece limited-edition merch collection with the reggaeton artist that includes an Oreo McFlurry-inspired bucket hat, fries-themed outdoor camping chair and order receipt tattoo sticker, among other items inspired by J Balvin’s favorite McDonald’s menu items.

The J Balvin and McDonald’s line of apparel and accessories features a splash of neon colors reminiscent of the ‘80s and includes a pink and yellow fries bed sheet, hamburger lounge slippers, logo snapbacks, tees, sweatshirts, sunglasses, a watch and more. Prices range from $4 to $180.

The J Balvin Meal is available for purchase in restaurants for carry-out, at drive-thru, via McDelivery or through the McDonald’s app, from October 5 to November 1. Those who order via the app receive a free Oreo McFlurry.

McDonald’s foray into direct-to-consumer (DTC) fashion began in December last year when it launched its first-ever online popup shop giving US fans year-round access to exclusive items.

More recently, McDonald’s has reimagined its role in popular culture by doing multi-tier collaborations with popular music artists. On September 8, McDonald’s rolled out rapper Travis Scott’s go-to order, the Cactus Jack meal, available for $6 only on the McDonald’s app. In addition, the partnership saw the launch of a capsule merch collection and a national commercial. The apparel sold out in days.

Phase two of McDonald’s activation with Scott, which the brand rolled out three weeks later, included a Twitter sweepstakes to win one of five handmade Travis Scott action figures. To enter, fans were required to quote tweet this post with the caption, “Cactus Jack sent me to @McDonalds #CactusJackSweepstakes.” The post saw 48,7000 quote tweets, nearly 8,000 retweets and 33,600 likes.

McDonald’s may have boosted its sales and drove up its stock price with the celebrity-powered signature meals, but a Vice report reveals the fast-food giant’s potential motive for putting a celebrity on its menu for the first since 1992: to cover up racial discrimination lawsuits filed by a pair of black former McDonald’s executives and 52 franchise owners.

The first lawsuit claims that the number of black employees in leadership roles at McDonald’s declined from 42 in 2014 to just seven by last year. The latter suit claims that McDonald’s subjected the franchise owners to “systematic and covert racial discrimination” over the span of decades.

In July, McDonald’s launched a $500,000 scholarship fund to help students attending historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). More recently, in October McDonald’s announced its new partnership with Essence Girls United, Thurgood Marshall College Fund and iHeart Media to provide the black community with mentorship opportunities, seed capital for entrepreneurs and college scholarships.

Listen In: The Family That Works Together, Stays Together

(Originally aired October 20th on LinkedIn Live.)

On today’s episode of Listen In, Matt Bretz chats with LGBTQIA+ Activist and Creative Producer Daniella Carter.

The discussion explores how agencies and studios can connect directly with black creators through, an initiative that is making a bridge between black creators and clients who need their talent.

About Listen In: Each week on Listen In, Bretz and a rotating cast of hosts from Ayzenberg interview experts in the field of marketing and advertising to explore uncharted territory together. The goal is to provide the audience with actionable insights, enabling them to excel in their field.

“I Quit” TV Show Star, Mike D’s BBQ

On this 230th episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Michael De Los Santos, founder of Mike D’s BBQ. Mike is a part of the entrepreneurs being profiled on the Discovery Channel Show, I Quit.

We start our conversation with Mike’s background and how he found his way into the world of BBQ. With previous experience in the nonprofit sector and fighting for social justice, Mike believes that “if you have food, you can bring anybody in town to the table to talk while they’re eating.” Then, Mike dives into his experience on the Discovery Channel reality show, I Quit, and how it has taught him so much about the benefits of networking and being uncomfortable.

Mike approaches his marketing and advertising in two ways; “one, to get sales, and two, to build that brand awareness, so people know who you are.” We talked about Mike’s experience as a father when he lost his 6-month old son and how it changed his perspective on life. “Go after all your passions and what makes you happy. Otherwise, you might not get the chance to do that.” Lastly, Mike elaborates on the challenges and opportunities that come with the world’s current climate, both from social justice to the pandemic!

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • Mike grew up all over the place but made his way to Durham. 1:28
  • Becoming a reality star was never something that Mike wanted to do. 2:14
  • Mike D’s BBQ is a line of sauces and dry rubs that emerged on the scene in 2014 and have exploded ever since. 2:47
  • The draw to BBQ came from a love of the North Carolina BBQ that Mike would eat as a kid. 3:28
  • Different regions have their own styles of BBQ, and Mike tries to combine the best of all worlds. 4:41
  • Before getting into the world of BBQ, Mike and his wife were fighting for economic justice. 6:42
  • Getting people together over food is more effective than other methods. 7:54
  • It was a difficult transition from a steady paycheck to the life of an entrepreneur with a family. 8:44
  • Mike and his wife are very used to working together, so running a business together has been a smooth process. 10:05
  • Hispanic and African American roots inspired the unique flavors that one can find at Mike D’s BBQ. 11:23
  • Brisket is Mike’s favorite meat to work with, even though it is usually a Texas thing. 12:24
  • Working with the show has given Mike the ability to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. 13:20
  • What it was like working with three very outgoing and successful people as an introvert. 14:55
  • Now more than ever, businesses have to learn how to pivot when things aren’t working. 16:13
  • After making his first sale and winning an award, Mike knew that he was onto something and had a business. 17:45
  • Having an already-established online business helped Mike D’s pivot with the global pandemic. 18:48
  • Advertising/marketing to grow sales vs. advertising/marketing to increase brand recognition. 20:23
  • Social media ads and brand-awareness sponsorships are working very well right now. 21:02
  • Working with NASCAR isn’t as difficult when working with the family-owned teams. 22:25
  • Living in a military family and moving around all the time prepared Mike to pivot and market himself. 24:41
  • Losing his son at only 6-months old changed Mike’s perspective on life. 25:34
  • Mike’s book, My Heart Warrior, chronicled the experience of losing a child through the father’s eyes. 27:04
  • Make no excuses. Pursue what makes you happy in the long-term because at the end of the day that’s what matters. 29:22
  • Right now, there is a lot of support to help black businesses, and TheNileList is doing a great job of helping people do that. 31:30
  • There’s an opportunity to show the black community that their lives matter, but it must be done in the right way. 32:59
  • Marketing with other marketers is an excellent opportunity to become a national brand. 34:13

Resources Mentioned:

Subscribe to the podcast:

Connect with Marketing Today and Alan Hart:

Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on opportunities around brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine startups.

NBCUniversal Elevates Linda Yaccarino To Chairperson Of Global Advertising And Partnerships

This week in leadership updates, NBCUniversal promotes Linda Yaccarino to chairperson of global advertising and partnerships, Yum! Brands appoints Lauren Hobart to its board of directors, Blaze Pizza names Vince Szwajkowski as CMO, Qdoba hires Jeannie Cho as CMO, Virgin global chief brand officer Lisa Thomas steps down, Dalila Wilson-Scott accepts a promotion as Comcast’s executive VP and chief diversity officer and more.

NBCUniversal Promotes Linda Yaccarino To Chairperson Of Global Advertising And Partnerships

According to a press release, Linda Yaccarino has been elevated to NBCUniversal’s chairperson of global advertising and partnerships.

Yaccarino adds data strategy unit, local and regional sports network sales and cross-company strategic initiatives to her purview, in addition to global and national sales.

Since joining NBCUniversal in 2011, Yaccarino has led the growth of the company’s advertising sales efforts to a $10 billion-plus business annually.

The news follows NBCUniversal’s fusion of linear and digital assets as one platform and the launch of Peacock earlier this year.

Yum! Brands Appoints Lauren Hobart To Board Of Directors

Yum! Brands Inc. has appointed Lauren Hobart, president of Dick’s Sporting Goods, to its board of directors, effective November 12.

Hobart first joined Dick’s in 2011 and has held leadership roles including executive vice president, chief customer and digital officer and chief marketing officer. She has been president of Dick’s since 2017.

Prior to joining Dick’s, Hobart spent 14 years at PepsiCo in various strategic planning and marketing roles.

Blaze Pizza Names Vince Szwajkowski As Chief Marketing Officer

Blaze Pizza has announced the appointment of Vince Szwajkowski to CMO.

Before joining Blaze, Szwajkowski served as CMO for ArcLight Cinemas and Pacific Theaters, where he built and launched the new ArcLight brand platform.

Qdoba Hires Jeannie Cho As Chief Marketing Officer

Qdoba has named Jeannie Cho as its CMO.

Most recently, Cho served as the vice president of marketing of PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay portfolio. Prior to that, she was vice president of marketing, global brands, namely Lay’s, Doritos and Cheetos.

Comcast Promotes Dalila Wilson-Scott To Executive Vice President And Chief Diversity Officer

Dalila Wilson-Scott has accepted a promotion as Comcast’s executive VP and chief diversity officer, reports Variety.

Wilson-Scott will continue to head up the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation and the company’s community impact initiatives, which she has since joining Comcast.

Prior to joining Comcast, Wilson-Scott worked for over 15 years at JPMorgan Chase as head of global philanthropy and president of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation.

Icahn Automotive Names Deborah Brundage As Chief Marketing Officer

Icahn Automotives, the parent company of Pep Boys, has hired Deborah Brundage as CMO.

In her new role, Brundage will direct the company’s marketing and customer experience strategies, with a strong focus on consumer insights and digital engagement.

Brundage comes to Icahn Automotives from Monro Inc., where she served as CMO. Prior to Monro, she spent nearly 17 years at Procter & Gamble.

What We’re Reading—Week Of October 5th

A sample of the marketing and advertising news we’re reading this week.

Only Existing Market Leaders Are Benefiting From Coronavirus Lockdowns

The Drum

One unintended consequence of the pandemic is it has increased opportunities for market leaders and intensified the competition among other market followers.

Why it matters: Online ordering and new distribution models necessitate a greater need for small businesses to create quality marketing and focus on physical delivery.

Amazon Invests Big In People Amidst The Pandemic-Why This Is Good For Its Brand


In two separate announcements, Amazon said it would create 33,000 new positions and hire an additional 133,000 employees. As a result, Amazon will reach about 1 million employees worldwide.  

Why it matters: A hiring spree during the pandemic reflects Amazon’s commitment to upskilling its workforce and mastering the new normal market driven by digital transformation.

P&G’s Secret Highlights How Women Bear Outsized Burden Of Pandemic In New Ads

Ad Age

Secret Deodorant partnered with YWCA to launch a campaign called #RaiseItUp, which includes a “Secret Missions” fund that will provide direct assistance to women in the form of childcare, career development and other areas to better the lives of women and their families.

Why it matters: The campaign is Secret’s response to the widening gender pay gap exacerbated by the pandemic. According to McKinsey & Company’s “Women in the Workplace 2020” study, black women and women of color are more likely to have been laid off or furloughed during the crisis.

Bloomberg: ‘For Us, First-Party Data Just Makes Sense’


When asked about Bloomberg’s approach to first-party data, Julia Beizer, chief product officer at Bloomberg Media, said: “We’ve done cool work with propensity modeling and building out a fully functioning marketing apparatus for on and off-platform marketing based on what we know about our users.”

Why it matters: Bloomberg’s new lifestyle site Bloomberg Wealth, which recently launched, is a result of feedback from subscribers who said they want more personal finance content from the site.

Ad Age’s List Of The 40 People Under Age 40 Shaping The Marketing, Media And Agency Industries

Ad Age

Among Ad Age’s list of the young movers and shakers transforming marketing is Natasha Aarons, head of multicultural marketing at Google and the daughter of Jamaican immigrants.

Why it matters: Aarons scaled Google’s Pixel influencer team from 29 individuals to a diverse network of over 500.

Virgin Global Chief Brand Officer Lisa Thomas To Step Down

This week in leadership updates, Virgin global chief brand officer Lisa Thomas steps down, Condé Naste appoints Yashica Olden as global chief diversity and inclusion officer, Roku’s CMO Matthew Anderson exits, Vice Media hires Nadja Bellan-White as its first-ever CMO and the Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA) names Christina Radigan as CMO.

Virgin Global Chief Brand Officer Lisa Thomas To Step Down

Lisa Thomas, Virgin global chief brand officer and Virgin Enterprises managing director, is leaving the company after four years in the role.

Thomas’ departure comes amid a leadership restructure that aims to bring Virgin’s loyalty program, Virgin Red, and the Virgin brand under a single leader.

Condé Naste Names Yashica Olden As First-Ever Global Chief Diversity And Inclusion Officer

Condé Naste has announced the appointment of Yashica Olden to global chief diversity and inclusion officer, the first role of its kind at the company.

Olden joins from WWP’s global culture team, where she served as the executive director of inclusion and diversity.  

The news comes as the publisher reverses the pay cuts it implemented at the start of the pandemic.

Roku Chief Marketing Officer Matthew Anderson Exits

Roku’s CMO, Matthew Anderson, is stepping down after seven years in the role to join Lupa Systems as a strategic advisor, according to Variety.

Anderson joined Roku in 2012 as a strategic adviser before being named the company’s first CMO in 2013.

Roku hasn’t identified a replacement for Anderson.

Vice Media Appoints Nadja Bellan-White As First Global Chief Marketing Officer

Nadja Bellan-White has joined Vice Media as the company’s first global CMO, reports Campaign. In her new role, Bellan-White will be responsible for unifying Vice Media’s five divisions,, Vice News, Vice Studios, Vice TV and Virtue, under one pillar.

Bellan-White joins from Ogilvy, where she was executive partner and WPP team leader.

OAAA Names Christina Radigan As Chief Marketing Officer

The Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA) has hired Christina Radigan as CMO, according to a press release. Radigan replaces outgoing CMO Stephen Freitas.

Prior to OAAA, Radigan served as director of marketing and communications at Omnicom’s OOH Strategic Business Unit from 2010 to 2016.

What Will They Remember?

(Originally aired October 6th on LinkedIn Live.)

On today’s episode of Listen In, Matt Bretz chats with director Sheldon Candis about how to thrive as a commercial director.

Topics range from how to stand out from a crowded field in 2020, the philosophy of “Yes And,” assembling your creative ‘tribe’ and how Sheldon’s first love, cinema, has led him to create emotionally resonant work with a strong connection to ‘the real.’

About Listen In: Each week on Listen In, Bretz and a rotating cast of hosts from Ayzenberg interview experts in the field of marketing and advertising to explore uncharted territory together. The goal is to provide the audience with actionable insights, enabling them to excel in their field.

WARC, Cannes Lions Initiative Gives Future Black Marketers Free Access To Educational Tools

After actively working to find an appropriate response to the Black Lives Matter movement, the WARC and sister company Cannes Lions—along with the 4A’s Foundation, the Association of National Advertisers Educational Foundation (AEF) and the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF)—have partnered with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Business Deans Roundtable to provide industry knowledge to future black marketers.

As part of the initiative, students from over 100 HBCUs across the nation will have free access to content on marketing creativity and effectiveness via the WARC and Cannes Lions’ The Work platforms, a commitment valued at $1 million per year.

The partnership follows the WARC’s launch of an ongoing content series and Black Lives Matter hub that aims to educate marketers on diversity and activism through WARC research, brand activism content, case studies and opinion pieces written by experts. One of these includes a poll by Kantar that found 40 percent of US consumers are more likely to consider buying from a company that takes a stand against racial injustice.

WARC has created five commitments to racial equality around its organization, team, content, product and marketing influence. Among them are a commitment to being an anti-racist and inclusive organization, recruiting and developing talent from black and diverse backgrounds, building a network of contributors and reviewing the structure, language and tagging of its product to accurately represent black communities.

This month, WARC will release its “Guide to Brand Activism in the BLM Era,” part of its long-term commitment to feature new voices on all topics, including the impact BLM has on marketing, in its content and future reports.

Timed to the UK’s Black History Month this October, WARC has also partnered with Black Cultural Archives to produce a series of filmed interviews on the history of black marketers, to be released soon.

Research has shown that the most ethnically and culturally diverse companies outperform less diverse peers on profitability. McKinsey & Company’s 2019 analysis found that the top-quartile diverse companies outperformed those in the bottom quartile by 36 percent in profitability.

How Afro-Latino Agency Founder Rudy Manning Is Using His Experience To Foster Black Leaders In Design

In a 2017 AIGA poll of 9,602 global designers, 73 percent of those surveyed were white, while only three percent were African-American. Three years later, amid a global push to eradicate systemic racism, the question remains: Where are the black designers?

We spoke with Rudy Manning, co-founder and chief creative officer of Pastilla Inc., a data-driven creative and marketing agency in Pasadena that has worked with brands like Microsoft, ESPN and Disney, to name a few. Manning, who’s been teaching design classes at ArtCenter College of Design since 2014, shares how he’s applying his experience as one of the few Afro-Latino agency founders and teachers in design to increase BIPOC representation and design awareness among black youth, an undertaking he and Ayzenberg are working to address together.

Tell us about your role as chief creative officer of Pastilla.

I’m the original founder on Pastilla’s side for the first 14 years of the company. I merged with Kremsa Digital two years ago. As a CCO of a smaller agency, at least in the beginning, I was in charge of the business operations, as well as the strategic creative vision of the agency and how I want to position ourselves as an agency and a team. In our industry, everything is driven by your team. Ultimately what makes the agency is its people, so that’s at the forefront of everything I do.

When Pastilla opened, running the agency was my focus. But over the past three years, I started thinking about my role as a designer of color and how I can create more awareness about design and advertising in the black community, because in my career I’ve rarely received a portfolio from a black designer.

How has Black Lives Matter and the pandemic affected your role as co-founder and CCO?

The pandemic has set the stage for what’s next as to how I look at the agency as a person of color. Starting an agency and sustaining its growth is a difficult thing. The focus for the first 12 years was getting it to run. The sad part is that that became the focus, which is great. But I have a voice, an experience and a mentoring attitude so now my goal is to expose black youth to the design field and to the fact that it can be a great career that gives a lot back to you. That story needs to be told so I’m hoping to do that more.

The first step is hiring diverse talent. Finding more designers of color requires you to be conscious of your hiring process. If you’re not conscious, like in the first year of running Pastilla, you don’t have a chance to stop and see if you’ve fostered a diverse and inclusive team. Now that Pastilla is running sufficiently, it’s easier for me to analyze it.

What did your path to co-founding Pastilla look like?

My first memory of graphic design was a third grade contest for which I had to create a logo for a science expo. I lived in Germany as a little kid. My dad was an artist, he studied architecture and so forth. We worked on this logo together and our logo won. I still didn’t really understand what it was, I was only eight. But I knew when I walked around school, everyone was wearing this logo I made, and that gave me confidence.

Around that time as well, my dad bought me a Commodore VIC-20. At nine years old, I had to basically code my own games. Those two things were the perfect combination early on that continue to be a conversation in my house. I’m thankful to have parents who understood there was an opportunity in the creative field even though they didn’t know what graphic design was. That was the spark.

What are some barriers to growing black leaders in design and advertising?

Educating the parents is a big part of making a dent in growing more black designers. Graphic design in general is an abstract term to a lot of people. Knowing that it’s a viable career choice is even harder. On top of that, going to college is expensive. Even if you do have college opportunities, it would almost be strange to choose to study art over all these other things. That level of understanding among the black community isn’t there. They’re not privy to the number of careers you can have within the arts. So then it doesn’t become a choice. The family pushes away that choice from the child even if it’s something they like because school is so expensive already, so why pick art?

When I was young, my mother started a janitorial business with her husband that scaled really quickly and provided really well for my brother and I. Seeing her entrepreneurial spirit and drive has inspired me. When I got out of school, I wanted to do art. Jose Caballer and I went to ArtCenter around the same time. He is a Puerto Rican Latino who speaks Spanish, so he’s someone I could relate to. He told me he’s going to study graphic design. At the time, I didn’t know what graphic design was. He described it as doing logos for MTV. That comment sparked my interest. And we’re still friends to this day.

Pastilla has created many different types of work in design. Can you tell us more about the agency’s vision?

Right out of school, I wanted to do it all—packaging, motion and interactive design. My portfolio showed it. When I started the studio, I wanted to continue that movement and think of design holistically as much as possible, like the Eames couple who saw art and design as one unit. We were doing commercials and documentaries, then we did a print campaign for Surface. Then we would do brand strategy for Microsoft Band. When you go too broad, you start to wonder, what is the thing that a client will remember you by? That started becoming a topic as we scaled. So the thread there ended up being branding, which funnels into many applications.

How do we give black youth the same type of exposure and connection to opportunities in design and advertising that you experienced organically?

As a mentor, I see students come in and out. Sometimes I think a student needs a lot of work and I’m not sure if they should even be in design or if they have passion for it. There have been times where that same student returns to my classes a year later, completely different. If they found it within themselves to continue to grow, they definitely grew. 

When you’re mentoring, you have to see it like you’re giving into something that isn’t going to have a direct return. Mentoring takes time. It’s incremental and cumulative. Someone somewhere else is going to take the baton. At some point, the dots are going to connect for the student. The problem is there aren’t enough black mentors in design that can serve as an example to black youth and show them if he can do it, I can do it too. It’s no different from seeing so many African American basketball players—kids grow up and think that’s the only option for them. That’s just one avenue, but the reason they look there is because they see themselves there most often.

Do you remember when you first realized black designers in advertising were underrepresented and have you noticed the same lack of diversity in your work environments?

I think it started at ArtCenter. I was one of two people of color. There were maybe a handful of people who were Latino. One student was from Kenya. Over the three years I was there, she and I were the only ones.

I can count on one hand how many people of color I worked with over 20 years in graphic design, maybe less. Some were in animation and other disciplines around graphic design. One person who I should mention was Denise Gonzales Crisp, who taught night classes while I was at ArtCenter. She’s now at North Carolina State University College of Design. I took those classes to prepare my portfolio for ArtCenter and she brought in this student to show his work. In comes this student with an afro haircut and I look at him and gasp, thinking oh my gosh, he’s black. He was a student at the time but she wanted us to see his work. I remember going, that’s amazing, he’s talented and he looks like me. His name is Tryone Drake, and he now teaches at ArtCenter as the only black graphic design instructor other than me. 

You recently joined the Slack channel, ‘Where are the Black Designers?” How did you discover it and what’s the channel’s mission?

Where are the Black Designers? is an initiative and platform for black designers. They have a Slack channel where black designers, educators and creators go to connect, learn about jobs and mentor other black designers. I just joined and I’ve been mentoring people. I just spoke with the founder of a new brand strategy consultancy. She’s been running the company for six months and I shared with her my thoughts.

I want to do more of that. Pastilla is looking for a project manager so I’m being more conscious of not looking in the typical network that I usually do, because I’ll probably get similar types of people. As an agency owner, I have to make a conscious effort to think about who we hire and where we look for potential hires. 

Can you share more about the work you’re starting with Price School?

Frederick K.C. Price III Schools is a value-based, college preparatory school in Los Angeles that Pastilla did some creative and marketing for. Two years ago, my wife created a beautiful short documentary film that ended up becoming a commercial for the school. When we first started working with them, the school was closing. We ended up helping keep it open. The school is primarily an African American school, and it has a 100% graduate rate and college acceptance rate. I didn’t see any graphic design programs there or discussion of arts programs other than theater and music. I knew in the back of my mind, I wanted to find a way to get more involved there with the arts program.

So I connected the ArtCenter with Price School and we’re coming up with ways to have designers like myself, Tyrone and other Latino instructors create curriculum, do tours, career workshops, design workshops and ultimately plant those seeds in students that might be creative. It’s about finding ways to have design related to them from the brands they buy to the shoes they wear to the music they listen to. I want to show them that graphic design is everywhere around them and there are opportunities beyond playing a sport, like designing the entire brand identity system or marketing campaign for a sports team.

What’s your ultimate goal for partnering with Ayzenberg to expose local black youth in Pasadena to design?

The overarching goal is to find ways to introduce more people of color to the possibility of design and art as a career. On a granular level, it’s about getting the percentage of black leaders in design and advertising closer to the percentage of the black population in the US. If around 10 percent of the US population is black, can we get that to five or seven percent? And how do we measure that?  Because if you look at other industries like music and sports, BIPOC representation is way higher.