As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful Service Business,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Melissa Perkins, CEO and brand strategist at Sweet Daddy Designs, a branding and design studio based in Fort Worth, Texas. As a solopreneur, Melissa works with CEOs, business owners, and other entrepreneurs to establish their brand through strategic storytelling. When she isn’t stuck at a computer, Melissa enjoys finding the best taco spots around town.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Sure! My name is Melissa Perkins and I’m the owner of Sweet Daddy Designs, a brand strategy and design studio that helps entrepreneurs disrupt their industry though strategic storytelling. I started my company in 2018, right after graduating from college and have been going full force ever since.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led you to think of the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
When I graduated from college I tried finding agencies or studios that had the same values as me but I couldn’t find one that fit what I wanted to do. During the same time of looking and waiting to hear back from companies, I started getting referrals for design work. At one point, I was so busy my mom asked me why I didn’t just start my own company, and that was the beginning of Sweet Daddy Designs.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
One of the funniest mistakes I made when I first started my business was not wanting to sell to people, how ironic when you own a business, haha. I found it really hard to talk to people about my business and tell them why they should work with me. I didn’t want to come off as a sleazy car salesman so I just didn’t do it. I let potential clients look at my work and let that do the talking. Now, as I’ve gotten more confident in my skills and have learned more about business, I try to share valuable knowledge with my audience instead of “selling” to them. This way they see the value they’ll be getting before they even work with me and are more confident in their investment.
Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
When I started my business, and even now, my vision was to create a space that transformed entrepreneurs that felt like underdogs in their market into disrupters in their industry. After feeling like this myself in school and my career I feel like its important to give people the power and voice to be themselves.
What do you do to articulate or demonstrate your company’s values to your employees and to your customers?
Just like with my clients, I’ve built a set of core values that my brand lives by. These values are intertwined in how I do business, the way I communicate with my audience, and the storytelling I create throughout my brand. My brand’s values are to 1) stay authentic 2) stay curious 3) stay creative 4) stay rebellious 5) always collaborate.
My brand’s core values aren’t just something I stick on my website and forget about, they’re daily mantras and reflection points that I work towards regularly.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
My number one principle would be to do good work. At the end of the day, throughout the ups and downs of my business the one thing that keeps me going is knowing that I’m able to provide incredible value to my clients through the work I do. That is always the cherry on top, for me.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
At the beginning of my business, when I wasn’t seeing returns, I wanted to quit all of the time, because what’s the point of having a business if you can’t make a living, right? However, deep down I knew my vision and purpose for my business would get me where I wanted to be. So, instead of giving up, I kept creating, learning, and doing the work needed to get me where I am right now.
So, how are things going today? How did your values lead to your eventual success?
I think values are so important not only to my journey but also to every entrepreneur’s journey because without them, what are you working towards? My values in particular have pushed me to do better and learn more about the world I want to live in and create. I’m still doing the work, but I believe my values and vision are leading me down an unbelievable path.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know in order to create a very successful service based business? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Know your values and what you’re working towards. Knowing what you want to achieve not only today, but 5 years from now is important. It doesn’t have to be a detailed 5 year plan, but you should have an understanding of where you want your business to go.
- Know your audience. When you have a business you’re selling to people and in order to sell well, you need to know your audience and your customer like the back of your hand.
- Know what makes you unique. You’re probably in a very saturated market and in order to make a name for yourself you’ll need to know what makes you different.
- Have a voice, especially on topics that matter to you. When your customers are able to connect with your brand, especially on topics that matter to them, you’ll be able to create a bond and relationship with them.
- Tell your story, unapologetically. People connect with people so, when you create a brand and business that has human emotions and attributes people tend to connect and build a community around it.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
It probably sounds cliche, but definitely my mom. She pushed me to start my company and has always advocated for me to be unapologetically me.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would love to start a movement of rebellious creativity. Where no one is afraid to go after their dreams or ideas. No idea is too crazy or too wild — especially when you have me as a cheerleader. :)
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can find me on my website at www.sweetdaddydesigns.com or on Instagram and Facebook @sweetdaddydesigns.