Naomi Coleman started out like many entrepreneurs which is by working for a company and realizing you’re not reaching your full creative potential. From this, she began her now flourishing public relations agency based out of Philadelphia. Access By NKC involves the lifestyle/fashion industry and specializes in media relations, creative/content development, branding/rebranding, social media management and events. In this interview, Naomi touches on starting her agency, challenges she has faced being a young entrepreneur, tips on creating your own lane and how she wants to give back to Philly. Get to know Naomi below.
ToD: How did you get the inspiration to start Access By NKC? What did you start out with and how did you grow your audience and team?
NC: I always knew that I wanted to work in Public Relations but working for myself wasn’t a first choice. Out of college, I started as a PR coordinator for an online boutique. I enjoyed the job but it was missing the creative freedom that I was looking for. I started freelancing on small projects around the city to create a portfolio before leaving the boutique at the beginning of 2016. I studied many PR agencies to see what common factor was missing and what I would want from an agency as a creative. Starting with only a short list of contacts-I began talking to everyone. I would look for events in various cities to attend and network. I continued to collect contacts and blog about my experiences. My first audience was curated by creating fashion based articles that shed light on PR aspects of certain campaigns. Building my credibility was the first step. For the first 3 months, I was my own team from photography, writing, editing, and events. I did everything myself. Partly because I have a particular vision for the finished product and I wasn’t aware of certain creatives in Philly with these skills. Since then my team has grown into an amazing group of 10 individuals with some cool interns. They really are the defining factor of our growing success. By trusting my vision and devoting the best of themselves to our clients and projects, we’ve seen dynamic campaigns come to life. Keeping our studio environment open and inviting, we’ve always welcomed others and new ideas.
ToD: What advice would you give someone trying to start their own agency?
NC: It’s your agency. Remember that. Someone will try to tell you that’s not how it’s done in “the industry” but who can tell you that when the brand belongs to you.
ToD: What has been your favorite event to plan thus far? What were some of the challenges involved and how did you overcome them?
NC: My favorite event to put together has been Walk Fashion Show Detroit 14th Edition. I took on a major role as head of media for the show. Knowing that it was one of their larger shows, as that’s the company’s home city, I was nervous about what to expect. It was also my first time in Detroit for added pressure. The show was everything; a huge premier event that showcased 25 designers. What excited me most was seeing the press arrive and ask for my explicit direction. Knowing that I was able to control the type of media that was coming for the event was a dream. Finalizing VIP seating for the essence of the perfect recap video seemed too real. Most of all, being the head of such an important component seemed surreal.
I never feel like any event will unfold perfectly, that’s one of the beauties of an event. Anything can go wrong. Something will go wrong. Now how will you fix it? In Detroit I ran into a slight issue gaining the short-term respect for my press pit. First glance, without proper introduction, few believed I was the head of media for a prestigious position. I’m young, an African American woman and I’m told I look more like a model than anything else. Working in a field dominated by older men, I always have issues making my experience known. By the first showcase and after a few casual conversations, I was able to calm the egos in the press pit. My approach with everything is to make a friend before I create a foe. Asking about individuals specifically to see how we can work best short-term, makes others feel like team members versus subordinates. Asking a team member for help instead of demanding someone to do a task always produces better results. With a few established ground rules for all in the press pit, the pit was coexisting flawlessly by the time the final showcase reached.
ToD: What do you feel is the most important aspect when it comes to branding an artist, model, personality and etc?
NC: One of the most important aspects of branding anything is consistency. All well known brands can easily be spotted by something as simple as a color wave. Everything that you put under your brand should easily be identifiable by the public as yours. Gucci is a great example, spotting the strip of green and red, you immediately know who designed it. No matter what ways you plan to build yourself, who you are should remain apparent at all times.
ToD: What do you feel like the representation of black women in PR is like? How does it make you feel that you are known for giving an outlet for others to watch?
NC: I feel like we don’t have much representation as black women in the fashion industry. Majority of the small number of black women in the PR industry are focused on entertainment. This pushes me to be as transparent as possible because people are watching me. Knowing that people are watching encourages me. Whether you like what I’m doing or not, I still feel a sense of encouragement.
ToD: How have you given back to the community of Philly? What other ways would you like to give back?
NC: To be honest, I haven’t given much back to the community of Philadelphia. I’ve given back to the creatives of Philly. One of the things I pride our agency on is the chance to give fellow entrepreneurs a shot. For most of the projects that we work on we could easily utilize a well-known corporation. No fun in that. Instead of boxing others out, we focus on inclusion. We definitely take a lot of risk putting money towards semi-professionals, but few times have I ended up disappointed. I love to see others rise to the occasion. People just want to see that belief that others trust their ability.
One of my biggest goals is to create a youth program that shows the production side of the fashion and entertainment industry. When people think of creative careers , they have a misconstrued idea of what all you could actually do. Artists aren’t limited to singing or painting. From imagery to technical productions, we all fall under artists. I find that most youth have no idea of how wide the industry is and if they do, they still are unsure of where/how to begin. Creating something like a shadow program to give youth a chance to work first hand on projects and to get a taste of the backside of production would be a goal.
ToD: Can you give us any plans for NKC for 2017?
NC: I have a few partnerships in the works. We have a lot to look forward to in 2017. It should be another good year for the agency.
Naomi wants to leave everyone with these words: “I want people to know that it can be done and this is how I’m doing it. I also pull a lot of inspiration from Karen Civil and Yvette Noel-Schure. I love watching women do what I dream of doing and how they maneuver.