Helping Professionals Reach Their Full Potential

Aleya Harris, a CPC, and the founder of flourish marketing an agency dedicated to helping wedding catering and event professionals reach their full potential through fresh, cutting edge marketing strategies. They get to keep a consistent stream of clients. She’s a firm believer that business owners should make good money doing what they love, and she spreads this message through her role as a thought leader in our industry

Aleya Harris, CPCE is the founder and owner of Flourish Marketing (click for freebees), an agency dedicated to helping wedding, catering, and event professionals reach their full potential through fresh, cutting-edge marketing strategies that get and keep a consistent stream of clients. She is a firm believer that business owners should make good money doing what they love and she spreads this message through her role as a thought leader in the industry.

Aleya has made it her personal mission to support catering and event businesses in their growth and help them to reach their definition of success. Her decade-plus long career as a chef and catering company owner,  paired with her wealth of expertise in marketing, are matched with a remarkable work ethic, providing her clients with an engaging and interactive experience that inspires them to take action. As a professional speaker, she fosters valuable discussion about actionable marketing strategies and profit-driven storytelling in an effort to inspire her audience to take charge of their businesses’ financial futures.

Her in-depth knowledge about social media marketing, branding, sales conversions, and effective marketing tools have earned her spots and top rankings on stages across the nation, including The Special Event and Catersource. She also serves as the marketing committee chair for NACE National and is a StoryBrand Certified Guide. Aleya recently received The Certified Professional in Catering and Events (CPCE) designation to add to her list of accolades.

Transcript for Helping Professionals Reach Their Full Potential

Tim Kubiak 0:04
There’s so much money in niche industries. And today we’re gonna be talking to Aleya Harris, who’s a CPC and She’s the founder of flourish marketing an agency dedicated to helping wedding, catering and event professionals reach their full potential through fresh, cutting edge marketing strategies. They get to keep a consistent stream of clients. She’s a firm believer that business owners should make good money doing what they love, and she spreads this message through her role as a thought leader in our industry. Thanks for listening to bow ties in business. I’m your host Tim Kubiak. As always, you can find us on our socials at bow ties in business on Facebook and Instagram, and bow ties and bi z on Twitter. You can find me at Tim Kubiak just about everywhere, including the website, LinkedIn and Twitter. Today, la if you want to learn more about our company, before we finish the conversation, you can go to flourish marketing.co slash freebies, she’s got good stuff out there. It’s a beautiful website. If you haven’t seen a really sharp website in a long time, I tell you to take a look at it. And it’s her personal mission to support the catering and event business in their growth and help them reach the their definition of success. She has a decade long career as a chef and catering company owner and paired with that wealth of experience in marketing in a remarkable work ethic, providing our clients with an engaging interactive experience that inspires them to take action. Les Welcome to show I know I didn’t get the whole bio in. So what did I miss, it’s really important.

Aleya Harris 1:28
You got a lot of the key points. So kudos to you. One of the things that I think that is really important is that I’m also a story brand certified guide. So there’s a book, a really good book, I think I’m biased, called Building a story brand by Donald Miller. And after I read that book, I was so enamored with the content that I flew my little self to Tennessee, and stayed there for five days to get trained in the framework. And that framework is something that we use to help words really stand out. Often when people have a website or an email or a social media post. They kind of just throw words out there random thinking that something must stick as opposed to taking a strategy. So we use words how they should be used strategically to help people get more business.

Tim Kubiak 2:20
Yeah, I’m gonna go into that a little bit if I can, because so often when people build a website, start a social media campaign. They use their words, not the words their customers are using. Is that really what it’s designed to help solve?

Aleya Harris 2:33
Absolutely. It’s so funny when I take people newbies through trying to develop their messaging platform, and boy, yeah, out of them. Some people just cannot get out of their own perspective. I asked them, well, what is your your client one? And let’s say that this person is a T shirt designer? Well, they want you know, our T shirts.

And I’m like, well, that might be

true. But when they woke up this morning, unless you have the hottest newest t shirt, right? Unless you’re like Beyonce dropping Ivy park with Adidas that sells out in like two seconds. I don’t think that that’s exactly what they woke up thinking. So what exactly is it that they want? Do they want to wait to express who they are through their clothing? Is your is your T shirt, some type of function? Are they looking to go and climb a mountain and they need a sweat wicking t shirt? Is that what they’re thinking of. And it’s difficult at times for people to even make that pivot. And you can tell when you read someone’s copy, when they just cannot reach the level of empathy that they need to get to to be able to understand the words of their clients, and spit them right back out at them.

Tim Kubiak 3:56
You know, it’s the old you can’t see the forest for the trees, you’re so close to it, that you really can’t see what everybody else is who’s back at a distance, right? Yeah.

Aleya Harris 4:04
The hardest marketing to do is your own marketing. Oh my gosh, are you kidding me? When I when I sit down and I’m like, so what? So what do I do? Exactly?

I often end up calling

one of like, I have a group of marketing friends. And I’m like, does this make sense? Does this sound like what I do I call him up.

Tim Kubiak 4:29
It is it’s so much easier when you go in with a client because you can see their business and you can look at what they’ve done and what they’re saying and talk to a couple of customers. It makes perfect sense. When it’s yourself you’re like, you know, like I’m a huge the old sci fi author Kurt Vonnegut never wrote a book he liked, right? hated. He hated everything he wrote. He hated it, no matter how much it sold. Right? He just thought his books were garbage. You know, and meanwhile people loved him. And yeah, I went to the bookstore. Go vision he never had not

Aleya Harris 5:01
his own ideal customer.

Tim Kubiak 5:02
He was not his own ideal customer. He was too self critical, right? So he came out, he’s like, Yeah, well, this character was weak there, or you know this or that, or I kind of done that before, you know. And it was hysterical. So he turned over the manuscript. In his case, he had a woman who retyped everything, because it was pre computer free word processor, and it’s a

Aleya Harris 5:21
reimagined.

Tim Kubiak 5:22
Exactly. And so she took what he had typed, and re typed it, and then send it off to the publisher, he didn’t even bother to reread it, because he didn’t like his own stuff.

Aleya Harris 5:32
Wow. Well, that’s one way to become a millionaire.

Tim Kubiak 5:40
But you do in a way you do that for the wedding planning and catering industry, right? You take people’s stuff, whether they love it or not, and help them get that message out there.

Aleya Harris 5:51
Yeah, and often, when someone comes to me, and they want me to redo their website, they have this sense of, of shame.

This deep seated jam, it’s

almost like they don’t want me to look at it. And I will not almost like I’ve had a couple of clients, I just don’t look at the old one, we’re just gonna start fresh. I don’t like this and that and this. And I’m like, actually, I mean, it needs to be redone. But I’ve seen worse, it’s usually the people that know exactly what’s wrong, that are on the path to being okay. It’s the people that are like, No, I think it’s fine. And you’re just like, honey, let me tell you, it is not fine. That’s level of self awareness, I think to realize that you have a problem. That usually means that you’ve already taken some type of action to rectify that problem,

Unknown Speaker 6:44
if you could. How much

Tim Kubiak 6:47
do you find when you start working with your clients, that they have a disparity in their brand image between maybe a website and printed materials and email and even social media?

Aleya Harris 6:59
I think a lot of the times, well, there’s kind of two camps, there’s the camp that really doesn’t have a brand image, they got their home girl to design a cute logo. And that logo, let me tell you, it is everywhere. Because it’s the only branding that they have. And then they purposely choose like, my brand colors are white and black, or, you know, something very simple, which, hey, I appreciate that, at least there’s some awareness. I rarely get people that are just crazy all over the place. Mostly, I think, because of the main industry that I work with wedding catering, and event professionals are very visual. So they’re not going to sit there and be like, Huh, this doesn’t match matching is kind of like their jam. So but what might happen is, is they don’t sound like themselves. So say they’ve decided on pink, white and black, which if I see another wedding website that uses those colors, I might just puke but pink, white and black as their brand colors. Then they on their website, they sound super formal, because they probably didn’t write the copy. And the person that wrote the copy didn’t sound like them, or they wrote it. But people get so terrified when they put their little fingers to the little keyboard that they sound like they’re talking to like their teacher in high school after they’ve gotten in trouble and they get really stiff. And then they write emails, it’s just like, Hey,

girl,

let’s talk about weddings. And then at the end, it’s like, wait a minute, who who is that person they don’t match. Because an email is a less formal thing. It’s almost like you’re throwing it away, and then don’t get them on it on an Instagram story. Because then they’re completely relaxing, they’re more of themselves because they know that they’re going away in 24 hours. So sometimes the feeling of permanence in marketing causes people to get thrown off of their messaging, and causes people to get a little bit uptight and have an in Congress messaging strategy, which is a problem because the goal of the word that you use is to motivate people towards action. But if they don’t understand what you’re trying to motivate them towards, or what you’re trying to accomplish, and you’re saying kind of one thing on your side on one thing, email another here and if social, you’re kicking yourself in the foot, and it’s a shame because it took a lot of time, energy and effort to put all those words on those all those places. So getting that cohesion is super important with words or with images.

Tim Kubiak 9:31
So we’re gonna come back to that let’s step back to your own journey because I jumped in right? Yeah, sorry.

Not not you I did it. I’m like, Oh, hey, by the way since you said that, right. So all good. How did you go from being a chef to helping you know people with their marketing in the industry, you probably service in your previous career. I’m guessing you

Aleya Harris 10:00
Yes, so actually, way back in the day, not that back in the day, though.

Unknown Speaker 10:07
time ago,

Aleya Harris 10:08
a long, long time ago, I started out in the fashion industry. And I was working for a and helping to run the stores in the corporate office for a high end fashion high end jeans designer. And I was like, I don’t get it. These jeans cost $400. I know, I looked at the pricing sheets that cost us 20 bucks to make each pair I don’t understand. And they make your butt look flat. So why are we talking these $400 D, what is going on, but they were at the time, all the rage. And I had a closet full of them. Because I was like, I’m never buying these full price. But I’ll go and wholesale and I’ll get my $20 a pair and call it today. But theirs was just a y missing. There was a there was a hole there. I was good at my job. I was you know, working long hours. But I had this constant what for what for? What for? What? What am I doing this for? Then I decided Oh, I know what it is I want to move into the cosmetic industry. I don’t know why I thought that that would be like totally different. But it wasn’t spoiler alert. And I’m still missing that. Why that? Why that why and luckily, it didn’t feel lucky at the time. But hindsight is I don’t want to say hindsight is 2020. That almost seems like a slur now after the year that we’ve had. But hindsight is 2020. And I was saying, Oh, this is the worst thing that could ever happen because I got laid off. But now I’m like that was the best thing that could have ever happened to me because it allowed me the time and freedom to really understand and think about what I wanted to do. Of course, that’s not what I did at the time. I applied for anything and everything. I mean, like everything.

And I could not

get a job. It was ridiculous. I couldn’t get a job doing anything in my skill set out of my skill set below my pay grade, nothing. So I’m sitting at home scrapbooking because that is what I had resorted to because I couldn’t do. And my sorority sister, I’m a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, just like the lovely vice president Kamel Harris, and my sorority sister unfortunately not common love it very fortunately, my friend Michaela was over at my house eating. And she with a mouthful of food decided to say, you know, you could do this, this could be your thing. And I’m hoping she said that because the food was good, not because I really needed help. We’re gonna go with the former of that opinion. And so I said, Okay, you know what I’m gonna do anything else. And scrapbooking is getting expensive for all of you scrapbookers out there, you have to have a whole scrapbooking budget, like when you really get into it. And for someone that doesn’t have a job, it’s not a good hobby. So I said, well, instead of scrapbooking, let me just go to culinary school. So I did. I applied to law Cordon Bleu in Pasadena. And I was there for two years, and got my culinary degree. And this is after I already had my undergraduate degree in business from the University of Southern California. So I did it a little backwards, I guess. And when I was there, I said, Okay, I’m going to go and I’m going to, you know, make the most of this experience. And then I had a little soul crushing chef instructor decide to just take my little heart and rub it between their little fingers and pick it out. Like just, ah, they said to me, honey, that’s not gonna work. You’re gonna end up working for $10 now for 10 years, 16 hours a day before you ever able to do anything with this degree. And I’m like, Well, first of all, I don’t know who peed in your Cheerios. But that is not the way that I want to live my life. That’s not the way that’s not me. That’s not where I’ve come from. So I’m not normally motivated negatively. But in this case, it was very effective. And I started my catering company while I was still in culinary school, and it was very successful. And I also started a private chef arm of my catering company while I was still in school. And so when I graduated, I already had a little foundation established. And then I got a culinary agent, kind of like a modeling agent, but for chefs.

Tim Kubiak 14:27
Okay. Yeah, it’s the thing. So they put me into opportunities, find your potential clients.

Aleya Harris 14:33
Absolutely, absolutely. Same, same deal. And then they take a percentage of your check

all the same.

And I found a great agent and I got a call one day to do an audition. Same like very similar, except your audition, you end up having to go grocery store, bring the food and cook something, but I they didn’t give me any information at all. It was like, Well, what do you mean do they have an indictment? No, no dietary restrictions, just cook, whatever you feel. What kind of advice is that cook whatever you feel. So I was feeling particularly home grown that day. So I picked up some chicken thighs and I make really good mashed potatoes. And I’m some roasted vegetables and something I was like, well, we’re just gonna eat like we’re at home today since I don’t know, I don’t even eat chicken thighs, my, my chicken thighs are really good too. So I and I braised them which takes a couple hours. So I got there early was cooking hanging out in the kitchen probably doing a little jig as one is apt to do while cooking. And I hear the I’m in the kitchen I was in this house that I could tell no one lived in it was just for that experience. No, it but they all the furniture was staged. You could tell no one actually lived in this house. I hear the door open behind me. And I’m like, Oh, that must be the client. Because I’ve been there by myself this whole time. That must be the client and in walk Stevie Wonder. And I’m like, Well, I hope this goes well. And he did. He hired me. I was his private chef. When I travel all around the world. He said that it was my food tasted like his mom’s home cooking, which I’m like, Well, I’m glad I went with that I didn’t try to like do like caviar and lobsters.

Tim Kubiak 16:25
Yeah,

Aleya Harris 16:26
I had zero direction. So I did that for a while. And I worked with other celebrities as a private chef. And then I was like that whole feeling came back in my chest again, I’m like, oh, something’s missing. I loved it. I loved the what filled the hole with cooking was the ability to uplift and love people through your food. It’s like the movie like water for chocolate or the book, depending if you read the book or saw the movie, but you know, it’s you crying to the food, they get sad. But instead of me crying into the food and people getting sad, it was like I was throwing love into the food and people could feel it and taste it and, and just uplifting people, especially high net worth individuals tend to be very lonely in the experience that I’ve had. And if you can make something for someone that feels like their soul, just got a little bit of sunshine. That’s my jam. I love that. I remember I was working for this bazillionaire dude who had just bought another house in bel air because he needed more places to put his cars in the US.

could probably

one day he came home, I’m in the kitchen. He brings me a jar of prego. And said, Can we have this for dinner? And I said, Are you sure that’s gonna be the most expensive

prego dinner you

have ever had. Because I’m like, you know, I’m the one that making you’re still paying me to make it you can do this. Because, yeah, but my mom used to make it. And then she used to put this little list isn’t it. And then she’d serve it to me. And I would just feel good. So I whipped up that voice and prego. And the look on his face was priceless. So it’s it was the moments like that, that I lived for as a chef. But then I was like, well, but I got so much goodness, big brain. So then I decided to make a transition, I ended up working on Google’s food team as a vendor partner. So I stopped cooking. Well, it took a little while to figure that out. But I slowly stopped cooking for a living. And I was into helping it was still that same love and transmission, but on a global scale and helping with food sustainability, helping with you know, the food, food crises, helping people understand how they eat, why they eat, when they eat, what to eat that type of stuff. And then from there, I’m became the head of marketing for North America for my parent company, which was the largest corporate food service, food service and facilities company in the world. And then the whole came back. I was like, Okay, this is all great. But I now am talking about SEO all day. And I’m not helping. I don’t feel like I’m helping anybody don’t feel like I’m loving on anybody, or like I’m caring for anybody, except for my team. But you know, that was cool, but I needed something else. So that’s when I started flourish marketing. Because I wanted to be able to help those who were helping other people live their best lives. And I’m loving it so far. I’m still quite fulfilled.

Tim Kubiak 19:35
There’s a beautiful thing that I saw in your story, right? amazing experiences. You’ve worked in three of the hardest industries there are without them right? fashion is brutal and it is brutal from a profit and the logistics and a demand side not just from the side everybody dreams. Cosmetics equally tough, if not tougher, right? And then food right? One of my best friends growing up his family and a series of steak houses. They said you’ve never had an unhappy customer until someone’s had a bad meal. You don’t even understand what it’s like. Right? And the ability to impart love with that food is the upside of that risk.

Aleya Harris 20:14
Mm hmm. Absolutely.

Tim Kubiak 20:16
But you talked about the high net worth individuals, and then you rise up in the biggest food company in the world. And you’re unfulfilled.

Aleya Harris 20:24
Yep. Yeah,

I liked the paycheck.

Tim Kubiak 20:29
I love my corporate paycheck to I knew it was gonna show up. It’s great.

Aleya Harris 20:33
Oh, it was nice.

I was like, just come in every two weeks.

Tim Kubiak 20:37
Every two weeks.

sharing an options. Fantastic, right.

Aleya Harris 20:44
Especially the bonuses, that was nice. But at this point in time, my goal and I’m on track to do this to farce far surpassed the amount of money that I made there. But I get to do it like Frank Sinatra my way, right, I get to do it in a way that makes sense to me. I’ve set up my business structure to be very flexible and dynamic. My team and I can kind of pivot and shift on a dime. I recently I was only in wedding catering and events when I started flourish marketing. And I recently pivoted out to a broader niche of those that help other people live their best lives. So coaches and doctors and have a Christian t shirt company or I have a natural haircare product client that we’re working with right now. And as we shifted because of the frameworks and systems, I was like, Okay, guys, we’re shifting, and they’re like, oh, that actually is not very much work. I said, I know, we look at the magic of thinking ahead. So but then I get to always make sure that I stay true to I’m serving people. I’m loving people, and I’m making money at the same time. That’s the goal.

Tim Kubiak 21:50
In I know, just from when we talked before we started here, right? So your your certification, your CPC certification, and you’re involved in giving back there. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Aleya Harris 22:02
Sure. So CPC stands for Certified Professional in catering and events. And I got it rather recently, a couple of months ago. So I actually didn’t have it when I was cooking. But I got it because it had been such a long time since I was in a kitchen professionally. Or I was planning an event myself that I said, Okay, and stuff changed. Let me go and get the best education I can so that I can serve my clients the best to make sure that I still knew what the heck I was talking about what they were going through, it circles back to the conversation that we had at the very beginning of our conversation, which was, well, what words are you using? Are you using yours? Are you using your customers and I had to make sure I was using my customers and I truly understood their life experience. So I got certified. And the certification is through an organization called the National Association for catering and events or mace, which I’m a member of as well. And I do give back a lot there because they gave to me. So I get a lot of my business through speaking engagements. And I love it if you couldn’t judge already, I like to talk. So I figured, hey, I like to talk, I might as well monetize this thing, right? So I go to my very first speaking engagement for this industry. And I’m terrified, I’m by myself, I flew to New Orleans and it’s for this this big event called cater source. And this beautiful, beautiful woman who runs the caterer source conference and the online and digital and print publications and Kathleen Stoller decided to take a chance on this girl, me. Um, and I’m standing there, and I’m like, Oh, my gosh, what am I gonna do? What am I gonna do? And I get on stage crushed it, patting myself on the back. Finally that I sat on a sigh of relief. And I go to the exhibit hall trying to make friends basically, on their bicycle. There’s this booth there. That is almost like a party. People are laughing and there’s no music, there’s no food, but it’s almost like when you see someone’s family reunion that you can tell that they have less dysfunction than most families. It was like that, right? Like you’re at the park and you’re just like, oh, they like each other like that. Oh, that’s nice. It was kind of like that. And so what do you I mean, I didn’t know what that was about. And I walk over and it was the nice booth. And they were like,

Oh, yeah, this is how

we are Mrs. so and so. And so. They took me around the whole exhibit hall. They sat one of them came out and had coffee with me to like, talk to me about my career goals. This is my first time meeting these people.

I walked back to that booth. I

said, Where do I sign up? Where do I and they’re like, you want to sign up right now. We’ve never had that happen as I want to fire I took my credit card out of pocket. I said Sign me up. I drop I think it was like $500 on my registration fee and I’ve been hooked ever since. Because of the amount of networking the connections. I when people are starting their businesses fresh and they all the age old question. How do I get more money How do I get more clients? How do I get more clients? And I’m like, well, we can talk about your marketing funnel. Part of that marketing funnel needs to involve you getting to know the other people in your industry, you need to join an association and you need to get connected within an association. That makes sense. And that’s what I did. And then I became the marketing chairperson for nice national. And then with all of the social, political and racial unrest, injustice and murder of black men in 2020. We were like, what is our response? What is our response? Nice, like most most associations in the wedding, catering and events industry is 75 to 90%, white female. So they were like, We love this, but we are going to say something wrong. And I love nice. And so I said, I love you, but you are gonna say something wrong. Let me know for you. I am not a DNI consultant. But I think I have lived in experience as a black female. And I ended up writing our diversity statement for NACE, which there are still organizations out there that are still trying to put out their diversity statement within our industry and ours was out, I founded a black caucus, which is a safe place for NACE members, black lace members to come to talk to talk about the problems. And it’s set up to hold Mason national accountable to meeting the objectives outlined in the diversity plan. So I I do you give back and I volunteer, but doesn’t even feel like giving back it feels just like an extension of what I love to do, which is loving other people. And then you put your marketer hat on, it’s been super lucrative. Because again, you make those connections, and you make them on a deeper level. So people are like, Oh, yeah, I know Allah, let me just just refer, you know, you don’t even worry about it, just go work with the layer, you’ll be fine. And you don’t get that when you just pay the check. And don’t ever do anything within an organization.

Tim Kubiak 27:00
So many people look at the time they watch others put into organizations or put others presenting, not for a check, but at a conference, right for the experience for the willingness to share and go. Yeah, that doesn’t pay anything. There’s more business be had in that level of engagement in those volunteer positions, then all the email marketing you can do to people that don’t know Yeah,

Aleya Harris 27:26
yep. And it’s interesting, because I love the word that you said engagement. I think that in general, you will be more lucrative, the more engaging and connected you can be. So even when you’re taking it digitally, and you’re taking it onto social media, for example, the more the more consistent you are, and the more engaging you are, the better relationships you were built, you will build. That’s all marketing is. I had my, my teenage nephew, well, he’s not even he is he’s hit the 20 mark, but I don’t know when the frontal lobe fully develops. But I had him Tell me, he doesn’t know what he want to do with his life. But he’s in college now changes major for third time, I think. And he’s like, well, but I don’t want to do business. That’s like selling my soul, like, Oh, just gonna sell stuff in marketing. You sell stuff. I was like, you know, marketing company, and you’re here eating my food at my house. So please be a little respectable. Anyway, I digress. And I’m like, wow. But that’s what people really think about marketing. They think it’s like sell, sell, sell. And let me kind of like bend the truth a little bit so that you can buy what I’m selling you. That’s, that’s not it. Marketing, in the base level is about how do you build effective relationships? You start off with how do I give to you to help you solve your problems, and then we’ll talk about getting me paid for that. But let’s get you in a better place. And you start with the emotional trigger of reciprocity and scarcity. They have if they are like, Oh, you have something I want, and it’s going away, let me go and get that now. Right? Or, Oh, you’ve given so much to me? Well, I have to give back to you. And that’s the type of marketing that I do. And that’s probably why I build stronger relationships, because I actually care what a novel.

Tim Kubiak 29:15
It is. But it’s also you know, if you’ve read is you read as you study for those listening, the people that have long term success, long term careers, are the ones that care they’re not though, you can go make a fast buck, you know, doing some shady thing. Yeah, just about everybody can figure it out. Most people won’t get off their butts to go do it. But it’s doable. To build a long term career with a good reputation, sustain business. You know, you you have to refer more people than you go after probably, right. And that’s my own experience. People laugh at me all the time I give business away and like I wasn’t the right guy. But you know, LA, and she knows this or my buddy Neil. He knows that if you don’t want me here’s who you really want,

Aleya Harris 29:59
right? And that’s how you build those relations. Because then you know what i’m doing like, Oh, well, you know, Tim’s the guy for this and it’s comes right, right back at you. One of the beautiful things about being a storybrand guide is we have this vibrant slack community, where they say when you become a guide, it is an investment, it’s a $10,000 investment and then 5000 to renew every year, and that they’re like, you’re gonna make your investment back, don’t even worry about it. I’m just like, what is the most I’ve ever spent on any type of training? Any type of certification, Y’all better? I

better make this

Tim Kubiak 30:35
year’s tuition to the university, right?

Aleya Harris 30:37
Yeah, right. Right. I know, USC did not say any of the language that I was ever gonna make that investment back. I know that the promise that I’m paying USC, and then they keep asking me for money, alumni donations, I’m like, I’m still paying you for the first time. Anyway, anyways, but inside of the storebrand community, it’s just like that you have a whole channel about outsource requests, or, hey, I don’t do this. Well, any SEO gurus out there, I made 1000s of dollars, just white label copywriting because I love I’m a very good copywriter. And people are like, I am not that I’m a graphic designer, but I just sold an entire website and websites have words. So do the words. And I’ll do the design. I’m like, absolutely. And I do web design and words, but I decided to step away from web design. Because of the power of my network. I don’t have to do it anymore. I have so many trustworthy, awesome story brand guides that are web designers that I will sell a whole website, I will tell the client look, you can pick any platform you want this website on because before I only designed in Wix, like you can pick any platform you want, I have a resource for every platform, I have a resource to give your e commerce hookup and I’m going to make sure that it’s laid out and you only have to talk to me, but you will be working with the best of the best. And then I go find who who wants it, I just type in slack. Hey, guys, I got this client who’s a specialist in this suite. And we work together and the work is done better and faster. And yeah, I don’t make that extra 3000 that the design portion would cost. But then I get to stay within my zone of genius don’t have to stress out about trying to learn every single platform and my client gets a better product plus I built that relationship. So relationships are what marketing is about, in my opinion. I agree.

Tim Kubiak 32:30
And I was chuckling when you were saying a business is a key sales is a key. And I was working with a client. And they said you’re going to have to really kind of tone it down for the sales people because they don’t like selling stuff. And it was like, okay, so I got in, I got into the conversation with one of the managers. And he was telling me about something. And I will admit, I think I’m progressive, but sometimes I just go old school sales management, right? And he’s telling me about something one of his younger staff members, and the guy’s like, 2829. He’s not long in the tooth. So the employees 2324. Yeah. And said, Who are you to tell me to do this? I don’t want to do this. I don’t think it’s the right thing. And by the way, it was contacting customers who had quotes. It was nothing. borderline questionable. Right? It was kind of, hey, I want to make sure you got the quote, it wasn’t a hard core. It wasn’t a sheisty thing. Right?

Aleya Harris 33:28
He’s like, what is business? That’s good customer service.

Tim Kubiak 33:32
A little bit of follow up, right? Hey, I want to make sure you got it. Do you have any questions? Did I hear your right and give you the right thing? Right? So this person’s like,

Unknown Speaker 33:41
the,

Tim Kubiak 33:42
you know, this person won’t do it told me I can’t make them. I said, Can you fire them? And he’s like, I don’t know. Can I say it sounds to me like you’re not

doing their job? Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 33:52
I don’t know. If I were you I’d go talk to HR cuz I don’t work here. I don’t know your policies, but I go talk to HR, but if it was my work, I would have fired him first and talk to HR later. Yes.

Tim Kubiak 34:03
Wow, he’s

Aleya Harris 34:04
he’s like, I don’t I don’t ideologically believe in following up with customers. So why are you a salesperson?

Tim Kubiak 34:12
And I don’t ideologically believe in putting your check in the bank every two weeks,

right.

Aleya Harris 34:17
Man, I guess we have a class of clash of ideology. Yeah,

Tim Kubiak 34:24
but there there is that perception out there right. You know, my youngest daughter, I tell the story often. She’s a sociology major. She’s off in grad school, right. I

Aleya Harris 34:33
majored in sociology of did he he’s a sociology professor.

Tim Kubiak 34:38
And yet he’s married a business person, it shows the father daughter relationship could work.

Aleya Harris 34:44
But I will say I have a masterclass later on after this recording. And I was I now find myself talking about like data coding and cleansing and making it work for the wedding industry because

I’m married to a researcher. You know, but that properly actually

Tim Kubiak 35:01
helps your SEO view would be my guess.

Aleya Harris 35:04
Oh, yeah,

yeah. Anyway, I’m sorry, I interrupted, you’re still no,

Tim Kubiak 35:08
no it but it’s funny because her perception is is of businesses evil. And I pull out the old Rodney Dangerfield line, while the reason people like you have buildings teachings is people like me donate them?

Aleya Harris 35:20
Absolutely, absolutely.

I think that I lucked out with that one because my husband likes nice things. So he’s a sociology professor, and he’s, but he’s like, but I also want to drive a Mercedes and I said, Are you gonna do that and probably should marry someone that for profit, then

Tim Kubiak 35:41
just get that with tenure.

Aleya Harris 35:46
Probably would be good to have someone that’s, you know, business or marketing savvy.

Tim Kubiak 35:51
There’s a hook in a close. Not only my awesome, you know,

Aleya Harris 35:57
get you nice thing.

That’s amazing. He’s done

very well for himself. But we are just, I think that’s what prevented him because he’ll go on and on about, you know, racial injustice. And he teaches a women’s studies class and how, you know, he’s a big feminist. And I’m like, this is great. And I’m like, that’s wonderful. write a book about it, so we can sell it and make some money. Yeah.

It’ll be it’s a good balance.

Tim Kubiak 36:28
And that is a hot topic. You’ve got him right now. All right, man.

Aleya Harris 36:34
I’m just like, so you don’t even have to write the whole book. If you dictate it. I already have someone who will take it from me. Just Just talk, we can do this thing. Yep.

Tim Kubiak 36:45
They’ll take it. They’ll format it all we had to do so with a publisher.

I know you don’t like your sci fi writer, right?

Aleya Harris 36:51
Yeah, that’s

exactly right,

Tim Kubiak 36:52
you know, handed off, let somebody else dress it up and turn it into what it’s gonna be? Yeah.

Aleya Harris 36:59
We’ll see. I’ll let you know when this book comes out. Do

it at the very least, I’ll get it, sent it to my daughter and be one up on her. There you go. likes to see sociologists make money, too.

Tim Kubiak 37:14
Yeah. Look, he published for profit.

Aleya Harris 37:19
Not just his dissertation.

Tim Kubiak 37:26
On the for profit, How have your clients had to change with what’s going on in COVID? I’ll give you a real world example. My business partners down in Orange County. And he went from a wedding for several 100 to a wedding for 20. Because of COVID. Right? So how have you helped clients pivot at what have you seen them do that’s been most successful?

Aleya Harris 37:48
What I’ve seen people do is the most successful are those that actually had marketing beforehand. If I’m straight up on it, and I know that’s not very helpful, and I’ll get into other tips for people that did not, but the people that had consciously diversified their streams of income in advance, because they put in a marketing strategy have been the most successful on weathering the storm. Because we were never an industry that was at risk. We thought the wedding industry, he doesn’t no matter what, even in the 2007 2008 recession, people were still getting married, right? They, there was still money to be had. And people were like, maybe you scaled back. And it was a little rough. But it was nothing like 2020, when you physically could not operate your business. It was illegal in most of the country. So the people that had already said, Well, I already have a digital product on the side. And I’ve already invested in real estate, and I’ve already invested in stocks. Those are the people who ended up doing the best. The people who didn’t do that. But then very quickly, in the beginning said, I am pivoting a lot Well, before they pivoted, they took a good look at their skill sets. And they decided that they were not just their label for so long. You’re in an industry and you say I’m a marketer, I’m a wedding planner. I’m a caterer, I’m a life coach. And so then in your brain, that’s what you are. And that’s all you can do. If you say I’m a wedding planner, then you start looking within your box of being a wedding planner for what you can do, as opposed to saying, I’m a person with a certain skill set. I’m hyper organized, I have great follow through I’m really good with people, and I get it. Right, that’s what I do. That’s what a wedding planner does. So if you took that and the people that applied that to either other industries or auxiliary services did really well. I’ve seen wedding planners turn into highly effective online business managers or Oh BMS, or basically like v A’s on steroids. I’ve seen them pivot and go back into working a regular job but then they were able to do really well and some I was talking to someone who had actually did that and it’s already been promoted. And she started this a middle of 2020. Because of the skill set that she had, being a wedding planner is one of the hardest jobs you will ever have. I was never a wedding planner, thank God, because they not only have to smile while they’re being cussed out by someone’s mother in law, but they have to do that while in the back of their live no exam in the back of their mind know exactly what time it is because the caterer is dropping off the food. And the first course is coming out in 20 minutes. Like it’s it’s a very, very highly skilled position that a lot of people do not give a lot of credit towards, or like other parties, I just the fun ones are Jay Lowe from the wedding planner. And it’s so much more than that. So the people that were able to use their skill sets to branch out, even if it was part time and other areas quickly in the beginning of the pandemic were the most successful after that. Those same people continue to be successful when they use the extra money that they had if they were able to. And then they started other streams of income. So there’s a wedding planner that I know she’s in the LA area. And she started a bridal box for brides that were getting married. So people still want to give gifts. But bridal showers might not be in person right now. But people are still having them. So what are you doing, you like stores might be closed and you order stuff online, you’re not sure what it’s going to be and you don’t, you’re not going around creating or finding great gifts in person like you would before. So she’s like, I want to create a bottle block bridal box. I’m going to create it for black brides in particular, because there’s not a luxury bridal box or black brides. She did. She included black on businesses. She had it for black brides. I helped her launch the product and it sold really well. So it’s that stream of income. So she’s like, okay, that’s another stream of income. What else can I do? And then you you often when wedding planners caterers that you start out, you’re like, I’m really good at this, someone told me I planned a great party, I cooked a good dinner, like in my case, my friend was over at my house, you cook really well go to college or school become a chef, then but you’re not actually an entrepreneur, you are a professional hobbyist. But if you change your mentality to No, I am an entrepreneur, and entrepreneurship means that I get to make money doing what I love. But I need to make sure that my my brain is open to the potential of that looking different than it does right now. Then that’s when you are able to

truly survive no matter what’s happening outside of the world. So if you haven’t yet and you are an entrepreneur, and you haven’t diversified your income, do it now. Start small, right? Buy a couple of stocks, right, start saving money for a real estate investment, right? Like my husband and I are passive investors and apartment communities in Texas. That money was super, super nice in 2020. And that was coming in, right. You also started an online digital product or something that you can sell very small, like, like 20 bucks, but you you do the work once and you’re selling it to multiple people, education, a guide, some type of template that you can do online, things like that, to just make sure that if something hits the fan, then you’re ready to go.

Tim Kubiak 43:24
You did a bit of a pivot yourself. And you referenced it earlier, right? You expanded who you’re working with. So for folks listening, if you’re not in the catering in the wedding planning business alayah actually has really expanded for people that are really in various parts of business. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

Aleya Harris 43:42
Right, so part of my pivot, and I kind of wish I had done it sooner. I behind the scenes, I work with way more than just the wedding, catering and events industry, but all of my marketing, my branding, my speaking engagements are all specifically to that industry. So that’s the industry that I’ve known with him. But I’ve decided recently to make it be known that I love everybody. And so I’m working with the wedding, catering and events industry and also, those who help others be their best selves. So it’s a wide range of heart centered businesses, a lot of women owned businesses I work really well with and we’re talking to small to medium business sizes, my sweet spot is under the 10 million mark. So I’m around 5 million is probably where I do really well because we can get in there roll up our sleeves, there’s not a lot of bureaucracy going on and we can kind of actually affect change really quickly, which is what I like to see. When I’m working with that industry the reason why I pivoted is one it made sense for me again, I didn’t want to form another situation where I had that whole like

oh I

actually don’t like this. So I made sure I still liked it. I wasn’t gonna go work with the semiconductor industry. One I don’t know anything about the semiconductor industry into that seems kind of boring to me. So I decided to work with things that I know and love. And also, that’s the heart lead part, the brain lead part is, I love you in the wedding industry, but y’all broke and y’all making me broke. out with y’all Imma be broken, he broke, broke, broke. So who has money that still does something that I can ideologically align with, that I can make a difference with as well. So that’s, that’s how I pivoted. And I’ve worked with, you know, t shirt designers I mentioned and Gynecologists and every everybody basically things that things that I can really sink my sink and sink my teeth into, and still do marketing, because I have a strategy that works across industries.

Tim Kubiak 45:50
So many businesses start and don’t end up being what they intended. Right? Sometimes that’s good, right? You find opportunities you never expected doing things you never dreamed of. Sometimes you find that emptiness I love that you’re going from what you knew, and what you loved in the lesson is follow the money, don’t compromise your values, but follow money, right?

Aleya Harris 46:18
Follow the money, because otherwise, so people either move away from pain or towards a goal. So, I mean, most people are a little bit of both, depending on the context, you might shift. I’m moving towards my goal of having the les Harris Empire, but I’m also moving away from having to go get a job, I don’t want to go back to being the head of marketing somewhere. I was good at it. I liked it to a point. But I don’t that’s not the current journey I’m on. So I look at myself. And I’m like, well, in order to avoid doing that, because the bills still come regardless, if I’m following my passion. What am I going to do to make that happen? And you have to make those realistic choices. Because I didn’t label myself or the label didn’t stick as I’m a wedding planner only for the wedding industry. I’m a marketer only for the wedding industry. The label that stuck was, I’m an entrepreneur who likes to work within my passions. And so what does that look like and building it up from there?

Tim Kubiak 47:26
What’s something that I should have asked you that I haven’t thought of?

Aleya Harris 47:30
Oh, man, there’s so much we’ve covered so much. This has been such a lovely interview from the journey to the present. Now, I think that one of the things that we haven’t talked about is, is when you’re so motivated, because I don’t know if you’ve gathered this or not, but I’m a little Taipei, when you’re so motivated, and you’re trying to build your empires, what do you do to keep balanced? And I think that that’s really important, especially in 2020. And then to realize when you are not, I think it’s very important and and what I’ve done is to create kind of red flags for your own life. So you look around and you say, Well, what am I What am I like, what I feel like I’m doing my best, I feel my best, I’m living my best. What type of activities am I doing? How many hours Am I sleeping? How many conversations Am I having with friends? What does that look like? And then when you start to realize, like, oh, when I’m at my best, I’ve worked out three times a week, but I’ve been on the couch for four months eating, you know, ice cream off my stomach, like, you know, the container just resting right there on that newly formed pooch, right? You start to say, Oh, that’s probably a red flag. And for me, it’s about developing those core areas. Its finances, spirit, family, friends and self care. And what are those tanks look like? Are they full? Are they empty? Are they balanced? Have I intentionally ramped one up because I’m trying to go somewhere, but I’m only going to do that for a certain amount of time because I need to make sure that I’m staying balanced. And that’s one of the things as you go go go and you’re trying to pivot you’re trying to survive, is to just make sure you have a system in place for yourself, to catch yourself to be your own accountability partner and then to know quickly, how to pull yourself into living your best life again, it’s depression is insidious. Anxiety is insidious, and and they are they might as well just be like handcuffs around your ankles chaining you down to the floor, but you don’t ever know that they’re there, right? So you want to make sure that there’s a balance in all of your endeavors, otherwise, you’re never going to reach your fullest potential.

Tim Kubiak 49:58
I love that. That is a great note. And on Oh, I thank you so much for being here. It’s been a pleasure. It’s been a fun conversation. Yes. Thank

Aleya Harris 50:05
you very much for having me. I loved it. I appreciate being here.

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