Written by The Business Journal Staff
Monisha Edwards, Founder
Truth Branding Agency
What you do: I am the founder and director of brand development for Truth Branding Agency, a boutique brand design and digital marketing agency that’s focused on brand growth and awareness in digital space. As the director of brand development, I am responsible for developing highly effective marketing strategies through a deep understanding of the brand’s target market, which in turn, achieves profit and maximizes the brand’s long-term potential.
Education: Bachelor of Science in business administration (emphasis in marketing), Fresno State
Family: Four awesome brothers, a gorgeous sister, a tough dad, an encouraging mother, a supportive stepmother, a playful dog named Mandela and a cool turtle named Dude
What made you decide on a career in marketing, Monisha?
I didn’t discover marketing until I got to college. During my junior year in high school, I was determined to become a corporate attorney. However, once I started taking pre-law courses at Fresno State, I quickly changed my mind. I switched my major from criminology to business administration with an emphasis in management. It wasn’t until I took the elective Marketing 100S that I fell in love with marketing. We had this marketing project that was worth half of our grade and the project was to develop a marketing strategy for Highway City Thrift Store. I decided to pursue my career in marketing because I loved the creative side of business. Drafting and implementing a marketing strategy is sort of like putting a puzzle together. From segmenting target markets to developing the overall strategy, I wholeheartedly enjoy the world of marketing a business. Once we started the Highway City Thrift project, I switched my option from management to marketing and continued until I graduated. I actually plan on furthering my education by obtaining my MBA (Masters of Business Administration) with a focus in marketing.
How did you go from working in the industry to founding your own agency, Monisha?
While I was in college, I actually started my first company, a clothing line, to help me pay for college. I couldn’t afford to hire a graphic designer to design my T-shirts, so I hopped on YouTube and taught myself how to use Adobe PhotoShop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Eventually, people started asking me for graphic design services on the side. When I graduated from Fresno State, I was hired as a marketing communications manager for Turner Designs Hydrocarbon Instruments, a company that engineered instruments that measured hydrocarbons (oil) in water. While I was working there in the day, I was a freelance brand, web, and graphic designer at night. Eventually, the president of TDHI sold the company to Benchmark (Canada) and a few of my colleagues and I were laid off.
I went on to freelance for a while, but my clients weren’t paying me fast enough, so I switched my focus and started going after different types of prospects. I had also picked up a marketing coordinator position to help me pay my bills while I was making my transition. Soon after, I had enough work that required me to hire other freelancers to help me with projects. From that point, I decided to take the agency route. We’re approaching one year and I still feel like I’ve made one of the best decisions in my life thus far by taking the risk to do what I love.
Tell us about Truth Branding Agency. What separates it from other marketing firms, Monisha?
Truth Branding Agency is a brand design and digital agency that’s focused on growth and awareness online. We are a boutique-sized agency located in Downtown Fresno and we help small and medium sized businesses with their brand and marketing initiative through strategic visual communication. What sets us apart from other marketing firms would be the direct contact that we have with our clients and prospects. We make it a priority to make our clients feel like partners, include them in the entire process, and make them feel important because they are. Since we are a boutique sized agency, we run our customer service through a single point of contact for support. They won’t have to worry about a new project manager handling their account every 3-6 months. We want our clients to know that they made the right decision by partnering with us to carry out their branding and digital marketing needs.
What was it like to win the Get FIT to Pitch competition at the Women’s Empowerment Summit?
It was accelerating! I had never actually pitched to investors before, so I was nervous and excited at the same time. The Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce set all of the pitchers up with a mentor and I was fortunate enough to have Debra Walker as my mentor. Debra is the vice president and SBA loan officer for Central Valley Community Bank. Janay Conley from Valley Business Bank was my bonus mentor. Although they had busy schedules, they took the time out to nurture and groom me to perfect pitching. I don’t really know what it was, but I guess I can say that I experienced a sigh of relief when they announced me as the competition winner. I felt like all of the hard work that I put into the pitch was worth it. I only practiced the pitch a few times with my mentor, but my pitch deck design and what to include was what had me missing out on a lot of sleep!
What is next for Truth Branding Agency? What are your goals?
Truth Branding is still a baby and has a long way to go. We’re still finalizing our systems and finding out what works, and what doesn’t, but we’re getting there. My short-term goals are to finish out our first year strong. I truly want to scale Truth Branding into a multiple location agency within the next five years. It may sound far fetched to some, but I think I can do it. I’d like to open an office in Los Angeles and another in Dallas, Texas. I can’t thank my Bitwise family enough for providing a platform for my agency, as well as other tech companies, to start on. I’m definitely keeping the Downtown Fresno location as our home office once I get my other offices up and running. We’re progressing and I’m loving the ride thus far, even when it gets bumpy.
What was the best advice you ever received and who did it come from, Monisha?
The best piece of advice that I’ve ever received came from my pastor, Pastor Richard Daniels of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church. He’d always say to stay encouraged because God is bigger than any problem or situation that I’d go through and as long as I have faith, even if it’s the size of a mustard seed, I can move mountains. That piece of advice is what helps me make my daily strides. Sometimes I want to give up, but I always remind myself that I’m on a journey of purpose and that I’m right where I’m supposed to be. No matter how tough things get, I know that I’ll always be okay.
Who or what has been the biggest influence on your career?
I have been fortunate to have had, and currently have, an abundance of mentors and advisors, but the biggest influencers on my career path have been my grandfather and my father. Both are business owners, but my grandfather is the true boss who always has something great for me to listen to and try. Although my grandfather is 71 years old, the advice that he gives to me about business, entrepreneurship, and life in general, is completely priceless. My father is one of those people who kept me on the straight and narrow, and being his eldest and only girl, I had it extra tough, but I thank him for that because I turned out pretty well. Besides those two being influencers, my passion and love for branding, design, and marketing has been my main drivers for my current career path. I’m constantly honing in on skills and perfecting my craft to take my career to elevated heights.
What are your roots in the Central Valley, Monisha?
I was born and raised in Fresno. My father’s side of the family is from Southern California, Dallas, and Mississippi. My mother’s side of the family is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I went to Aynesworth Elementary, Wilson Elementary, Cooper Middle School, and graduated from Sunnyside High School. I also attended C.A.R.T. (Center for Advanced Research and Technology) during my junior and senior years in high school. I grew up on the Westside and Eastside of Fresno, but spent a majority of my childhood and teenage years living on the Eastside of Fresno.
What was your first job? Describe something you learned from that first job, Monisha.
My first job was as an after school program assistant while I was in high school. I was 16 years old and didn’t work many hours. However, my first “real” job was with Synovate Renovated during my freshman year in college. The funny thing is that Synovate is a market research firm, however, I wasn’t involved in actual marketing. I was a survey distributor via the telephone. I was on the Toyota and Lexus team and had to make calls to customers to record their feedback about their recent service visit. Leadership is something that I learned during my two and a half years with Synovate. During the last year at Synovate, I was being trained as a team leader to monitor surveys and how the interviewers conducted themselves over the phone. I started taking responsibility in holding my team accountable and leading by example. I actually left Synovate to take on a leadership position as an assistant store manager for another company before my training was over. The training that I received at Synovate allowed me to take my leadership skills to a new level. I was 21 when I was offered the management position and didn’t think twice about turning it down!
What do you like to do in your spare time, Monisha?
I’m such a homebody and I’m usually at home, glued to my laptop or trying a new DIY project. I am also very active with my close family and friends, so I tend to be with them whenever I have free time.