ER doctor’s book has local ties

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Johnson’s ‘Mented’ success for women of color

Originally Published in South Charlotte Weekly

Charlotte native Amanda Johnson grew up going to the beauty parlor with her mother. She remembers listening to women discuss beauty hacks and trends. Johnson always loved beauty but she didn’t know she would make a career of it.

In fall 2015, Johnson was venting with friend-turned-business partner, KJ Miller, when they decided to look further into the lack of quality beauty products available for women of color.

“We both shared that we’d been looking for the perfect nude lipstick and couldn’t find one anywhere,” she said. “We wanted to know if this was a bigger problem and what we could do about it.”

The fellow Harvard Business grads took on every beauty counter and associate in New York City – where they both work and live – to no avail. They were also surprised about the lack of representation of people of color working in beauty departments.

“This wasn’t just about nude lipstick anymore,” Johnson said. “Beauty brands aren’t prioritizing us in product development, and we don’t get to participate in trends.”

Johnson and Miller saw a whole population being underserved as well as an overwhelming need for everyday beauty products for women of color. The two ventured out to create better options starting with nude lipstick.

They spent most of 2016 researching and developing six nude lipsticks that launched their line, Mented, at the beginning of this year. Without support from manufacturers, they set out to learn how to create lipstick from industrial molds and a variety of pigmentations. They invited women of color in all shades to try out their products to perfect it.

“Women of color don’t have pink or beige lips, they need a brown base for the lipstick to show up,” she said. “Before our product went on the market, I would have to use concealer, lip liner and lip gloss to create the look of a nude lipstick – imagine when I was running product development at Barneys constantly running back and forth from my desk or the bathroom to rebuild my nude lip!”

Because of the high demand, Johnson said their products were quickly accepted. It wasn’t long before online beauty influencers started wearing and sharing the products with their followers. One hundred beauty influencers have independently chosen to promote Johnson and Miller’s products. The company has also grown its Instagram account from 100 to 10,000 followers in nine months.

On top of the six nude lipsticks, they’ve also launched a lip gloss and nail polish line. She said it won’t stop there, because they plan to develop and sell all beauty essentials. Plus, every product they launch will be made in the US as well as being vegan, nontoxic and paraben free.

“Our vision is to create a global brand that provides quality, everyday beauty products and a community for people of color,” she said.

Mented – short for pigmented – isn’t just about beauty products. It tells the story of what women of color have struggled with as the image and definition of beauty for a long time. Their brand showcases the natural beauty of all women of color and gives them a place to belong.

Johnson said their line will always be about pigmented products inclusive to all shades of people of color and it will also make their story not just their own.

“Every woman should be able to find themselves in beauty,” she said. “Every woman should have access to products for the everyday beauty routine.”

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Early White Giant Peach Tree

Fast Growing Trees

The Largest Peaches You Can Grow

Get Peaches Sooner with this Tree
If the thought of summer is synonymous with the aroma and thrill of picking fresh peaches, we have great news!  Early White Giant Peaches ripen sooner than other varieties of peaches. You’ll get a large harvest of juicy, sweet, aromatic peaches at the beginning of July, year after year. Early White Giant Peach trees can produce over 60 pounds of peaches annually!

Mouthwatering, Low Calorie Treat
You will have plenty of white peaches to enjoy in pies, cobblers, and on top of a big bowl of vanilla ice cream. At only 58 calories per peach, you can afford to indulge in a wide variety of peach-inspired desserts.

There is no limit to all the ways you can enjoy these peaches!  Toss it in yogurt or on top of a salad. You can grill them with your favorite pork or chicken dishes. Stew them to add sweetness to curry and stir fry dishes. They add an interesting flair to any dish.

Surprising Health Benefits
The Early White Giant Peach Tree produces fruit that is naturally acidic and provides many antioxidants such as Vitamin C, which is ascorbic acid. These peaches are also low on the glycemic index and make a great sugar substitute when you have a craving for something sweet.

Beautiful Tree Year Round
Early White Giant Peach trees are a sight to see all year. Pink flowers bloom in late winter/early spring — making the perfect background for spring family photos. In the fall, they’ll continue to capture your attention with colorful autumn foliage.

Easy to Grow
The best planting season for these white peach trees is in the spring and fall, but you can even plant it in winter if you live in a warmer climate where the temperature doesn’t get lower than 32 degrees. That means any time is the right time for one of these magnificent trees!

You’ll find that your Early White Giant Peach tree attracts butterflies and birds, so you can sit back and watch nature come alive in the comfort of your own yard.

Low Maintenance
Your white peach tree requires minimum care and provides a beautiful addition to your yard in every season. They’re bacteria-resistant and self-pollinating – making them a smart choice for experienced and novice growers. Plant them in full sunlight in easily workable, moist soil.

This tree is one of our customer favorites, so order now, while they’re in stock.  We’ll ship it right to your door!    

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From a former reporter, how to be pitch perfect

Written for SPAN Enterprises

When you are working company PR, getting a publication to write about your business, product, or event may seem like an impossible feat. The media seems so alluring and mysterious, veiled behind a screen or the glossy pages of a magazine. It may be hard to imagine how to draw in their attention without dire or glamorous circumstances, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

You see, I have crossed the divide, and I’m forging a new path.

Having worked as a reporter and I am now settling into my new role as a communications manager at SPAN, I carry both perspectives in mind. I remember receiving press releases and emails that either urged me to “sale” something for them OR bored me to sleep. Neither considering my audience or the message I needed to convey.

In order to get your brand published, you have to step outside your own perspective. You have to consider your message and how it relates to the reporter’s readers, and then, pitch it accordingly.

First, narrow down your goal for getting published. What are you trying to achieve with the publication? What is your message? A new product? Or new team leadership? Have a clear vision of the company’s message, because a generic company feature isn’t feasible without some sort of unique angle.

Next, research publications that have already written about similar subjects. Whether it’s a trade magazine, local or national newspaper or e-magazine, become familiar with what’s out there and how it relates to your business and message.

Once you’ve narrowed down a few potential pubs, try to hone in on a specific reporter or editor who may be interested in your pitch. Look for similar stories to find the right person, and then, review other stories they’ve written. This will help you argue how your pitch relates to but stands out compared to other articles they’ve published.

Then, work on writing a personalized email pitch that conveys your message through the lens of the paper while also focusing on the benefit of the end reader. Think about the publication’s goal.

Is it to inform the general local public about stories that affect their lives and businesses?

Is it going to be read by CEOs who care about leadership goals, macro and micro economics, and business trends?

Is it tech-focused, only publishing the latest IT developments?

Use this frame of reference when explaining why they should want to publish a story about your company. Also, it’s very important to answer all the main points surrounding the initial company message. Again, think like a reporter and follow the who, what, when, how, and why. Your goal is to make it easy for them to write the story by giving them everything they need upfront.

Last, review your email (bad grammar reads as unprofessional!) and attach a generic press release (with quotes). Send it off and with a little patience and persistence, your story might get picked up.

Remember, the best pitches reflect a combination of your company’s message, the reporter’s intentions, and the reader’s needs. Pull this together while adhering to professional etiquette and your company will gain the right attention.

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Back-to-School Business Basics

Remembering the fundamentals of success

Written for SPAN Enterprises

It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of the times. No matter what’s trending, there are always fundamental mainstays guaranteed to keep your business stay afloat. We’ve narrowed down 12 essential practices to help you build or continue to grow your business.

  1. Name and own your values and vision.

Every entrepreneur has a unique view of the world and a firm hold on how they want to create success —whether it’s based on personal ideology or past business experiences of what not to do. It’s important to make sure those values ring loud in your mission or vision statement. Millennials are the most influential group of consumers and authenticity is a top priority when trusting and remaining loyal to a brand, so take the time to name your values and vision, and share it with customers and employees.

  1. Invest time and talent in research and development.

To remain on top, you have to stay fresh. Your best employees should allot a substantial amount of time to reviewing product features and user interface as well as the latest technological advances — related or not. Creativity inspires creativity.

  1. Economics 101: Supply and Demand.

Success in business is equivalent to the needs of consumers. No one will buy a product that doesn’t meet their needs — at least, not for long. The product must match the customer’s desired impact and ingratiate them to you.

  1. Know your niche.

Whatever your product represents — whether it’s sports or business software — it’s imperative to know the industry. Stay informed on the latest related news, products, customer habits and needs that demonstrate and affect demand. Especially know the competition. You should always know your competitor’s products as well as your own.

  1. Nailing a sale, keeping the customer.

Following through on No. 4 means you and your team already understand what customers are up against (industry challenges) and how your product presents a solution (meets demand). Use this niche knowledge to do two things: 1) create a commonality with customers and 2) combat the customer’s reluctance with honest evidence of how the product’s benefits outweigh the cost. Putting industry intelligence into action by understanding and meeting customer needs will keep them loyal and create brand envy among competitors.

  1. Make marketing a priority.

Most businesses include marketing as an afterthought to continue building on sales; however, great businesses and entrepreneurs include it early on in the development phase. Marketing professionals are phenomenal researchers and bring a deeper understanding of customers and human-product connection right into the drawing room. Get ahead of the game by molding your brand during development.

  1. Production should be productive — creating quality products efficiently and effectively.

A cheaply-made, easily-broken product will be quickly dismissed by consumers and it’s hard to come back from that. In the business world, you are what you create and if you don’t consistently create high-quality products, your brand will be regarded as an unacceptable option.

8. Distribution

Like production, pay attention to consistency and quality in distribution efforts. Every product should reach the customer in the same way, in a relatively convenient amount of time.

  1. Meeting legal regulations means you stay in business.

Take the government and professional governing bodies very seriously or you won’t be in business for long. Make an effort to excel at safety, employee and quality assurance standards. Set the precedence and increase customer loyalty simultaneously.

  1. Show appeal to gain a better workforce.

Building your business often equates to hiring others. Obviously, you want the best employees out there, but how do you find them? First, stay true to your mission, invest in company culture, quality production and worthy employee benefits. Second, use your research skills (developed from R & D and knowing your niche) to target employees that meet your needs. Last, go out a find them where they are versus waiting for them to come to you. You can do this by directly proposing to individuals or listing with certain universities and job boards.

  1. Management style can make or break innovation and productivity.

Once you have star-quality employees, you have to manage them in a way that shows respect and motivates creative problem solving and critical thinking. They need to be able to see you as a thought leader and seasoned businessperson while also a humble human being — just like everyone else. Maintaining this balance isn’t easy but valuable to create a welcoming and enterprising environment.

  1. Being a stickler for financial conservatism in business matters.

Leave the micromanagement out of managing employees and include it in managing your finances. All budget items need to have a short-term or valuable long-term return on investment.

This list highlights the most important strategies for success. Whether you’re just starting out or need a refresher to get back on track, these points make good business sense. Remember to stay true to these fundamentals and you will pave your way to the bank.


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