Lakesha Cole. We’re gonna’ talk about her.
Well if you have anything to do with the Military Spouse Entrepreneur community, then I’m sure you already know who she is.
She is ‘The Military Retail Coach’.
She is the boutique owner of She Swank, Too.
She is the blog owner for ‘a Spouseful’.
Basically, this amazing woman has her creative hand in so many pots I had to make sure she didn’t somehow become the owner of my company too!
You can find article after article highlighting her accomplishments so I won’t beat a dead horse here. Instead, I want to talk about something that stood out to me the very first time I came across Mrs. Cole online.
Yup. The hair.
I wanna’ talk about the hair.
Now, before you start in on me, I’m not a fashionist-o (if that’s a thing).
I’m also not downplaying Lakesha’s success by focusing on her fashion and beauty regime, which occurs way too often with amazingly talented women.
But I want the hair, ya’ll.
I want it because that was my very first taste of the Lakesha Cole Brand.
See, when a solopreneur embeds their authentic self into business, magic happens. Their personal brand and everything that goes with it takes center stage. It’s the foundation for every single brand interaction their audiences will have. The way that business owner thinks, speaks, how they treat people, what they do during free time, their burning platforms, their appearance…all of it matters.
Lakesha’s hair mattered. It spoke to me. It sent me to bed, tucked me in and told me her story. For like 1.2 seconds, I was already a fan. I hadn’t even scrolled down to read more about her.
Lakesha, love what you do but…are you a Ninja Turtles fan?
Couldn’t find that in your profile.
I’m not writing this to talk about appearance though. Not even first impressions. Not really.
I want you all to understand that, for entrepreneurs, the holy grail of audience engagement takes place when truthful personal branding aligns with your company’s brand.
Let’s dig in.
Set the Stage
Confession. I’ve never done business with Lakesha. I have no clue what she’s like to work with.
Heard she was…da bomb. Ha.
New customers, clients and collabraters don’t know her either. That’s what makes this work.
See, most of us use first impressions as a way to…well, to impress. But being impressive is a quick path to faking the funk. So what if we didn’t?
What if you didn’t?
What if, instead, you made the first impression a tool to communicate the essence of who you are?
That’s what Lakesha’s done. She found a way to visually communicate the ‘Lakesha Experience’ before anyone invests research time or hard-earned dollars.
And yes. She did it with the hair. Solid choice.
Presenting Choice 2.
Of course there are other factors at play. She has a beast of a branding system. I’m not worried about that. My goal is to footstomp the fact that it ALL matters. If an audience can interact with it, then it’s saying something.
Be sure you know what that is. And if it’s wrong fix it.
Anywho, if you walk this out you realize everyone has a general idea of what ‘business’ looks like.
Notice anything, class?
Then you have Lakesha in glasses, a radiant smile and a pose that screams ‘I love being me’.
Combined with those locks, suddenly anyone (like yours truly) looking to buck the corporate system and get to someone human has an instant connection.
Presenting herself like this told me she’s confident with herself. It told me she was positive. That she liked to have fun. And because of my daughters, I know beautiful hair like that takes work which means she doesn’t neglect the grunt work. She’s down for the details.
I read her as encouraging but direct. She would keep things real. Honest.
All of this was tied to her corporate image. My brain had no choice but to connect the dots and decide that’s how she probably runs her businesses.
Do I know for sure? Nah.
But I’ve got a hunch, so there. Ha.
Trim the Fat
I mentioned before that anyone tired of stuffy, blah business would be hooked to learn more about Lakesha. Now flip that around and you’ve got yourself a nice little surprise.
Here me out…
Potential customers or members of your tribe make judgments based on your branding. Duh, right?
Lakesha, by making her true self the bellybutton between audience relationships and products for sale, provides a clear warning/welcome sign that she jigs to a different beat. We should accept that or find a better fit.
Pay attention to that, guys. . By not conforming to out-dated notions of what a business owner should look like, by loving herself, Lakesha has placed a buffer between herself and clients that would otherwise waste valuable time. She sticks to her lane…until she decides the move is right.
Her next conquest. Coming soon.
The takeaway? Never put yourself into relationships that aren’t lockstep with your brand.
When you lose the fear of being you, the right people pay attention. When they do the quality of your worklife increases tenfold. You get to keep your passion. You get people that ‘get’ you and join up.
That’s some hot sauce in my book.
What I want you all to remember is that branding is your conversation. It’s what you would say to every single person if you could sit them in a room, alone, in person.
The very best brands keep this in mind at all times. They know it’s about connecting to the right audience the right way. So while you build your business empire, start with a strong sense of who you are. Shout it to the world. Then go find your tribe.
I love that about Mrs. Cole and all her endeavors. No matter what focus they have, they all line up with her core values. They all have the fun, fresh, personable but completely professional vibe she herself carries. If I made an assumption, I’d say this was a key player in her incredible successes.
So thanks to you, Lakesha, for the invaluable lessons and inspiration.
And to everyone else…get your brand some ‘hair’, shake them locks up and tell the world who you really are.
Know what? I’m a fan already.