Ohio State student creates marketing agency to uplift underrepresented groups
Rikki Lee Joiner said she didn’t expect a trip to Jamaica to be the catalyst for her career.
Joiner, a sophomore in marketing, arrived in Jamaica in 2018 with the sole intention of taking photos to promote the work of Sole Bros Inc. – a non-profit organization that her classmates began handing out shoes lightly used. During her trip, Joiner said a young girl approached her, curious about her camera. Joiner showed her her buttons and let her try it out for herself.
When the girl captured her first image, Joiner saw her face light up.
“At that time, it opened my eyes that they needed to see more people like me,” Joiner said.
Joiner returned home that summer and founded her online marketing agency, The Rikki Lee Agency, with the aim of providing examples of what young girls are capable of achieving, she said.
Since 2018, Joiner said it has helped build the online presence and marketability of more than 25 young brands, entrepreneurs and influencers, such as Michelle Organic and Chef Nel’s experience – while creating authentic marketing tactics for minority audiences.
“I was so tired of being in a position where every time I turn on the TV, every time I look at a magazine, every time I look here, every time I look there, there’s no a person who looks like me,” Joiner said. .
Joiner said marketing agencies often don’t understand what relevant product placement looks like, which can prevent them from creating a lasting connection with their target audience.
“So many times people do it and they get it wrong,” Joiner said. “It’s not necessarily that they’re not qualified or equipped, it’s just a lack of connectivity and specificity as to how we’re going to engage a specific audience.”
To reverse the disconnect, Joiner said she uses a rather unconventional approach to marketing by deliberately including her own personal experiences and beliefs in order to create empowering campaigns.
“I’ve had the opportunity to be at these types of tables and speak on behalf of like-minded people, and I take that responsibility with the highest priority and responsibility,” she said. declared. “I can’t shy away from my identity or my outlook because it brings a lot to the table.”
Joiner said she begins the marketing process by analyzing her client’s current state, including their strengths and aspirations. Then she works to create a brand image that makes a personal connection with consumers, she says.
“It’s just more about taking the big picture and figuring out what their brand voice is, their brand personality, and what kind of tone and messaging they’re going to have online and in person” , said Joiner. “That’s primarily where we start coaching our respective business owners, or if they have a team, on how they’re going to communicate what their brand is.”
Brittany Styles, owner of an interior design and event planning company Style house by Brittany and a student at Northern Kentucky University, said she had worked on several projects with Joiner and understood the pressures of running a business while still in college.
“As business owners, when we think about the value we provide, it’s not just what we do or our service or our product,” Styles said. “It’s the energy we bring and the attitude that’s also valuable.”
Styles said she believes Joiner’s determination and grit set her apart from so many young entrepreneurs.
“She’s always so fun to work with,” Styles said. “I am so inspired by her. She is so professional, she is on top of what she does and she is committed to doing it. I think that’s the problem: people our age have ideas and things they might want to do, but they’re a little shy about it. But she’s like, ‘No, I’m doing this.’ ”
Representation continues to be crucial, and Joiner said she keeps her goal of uplifting other women in mind as she continues her journey.
“I feel like I know what my goal is,” Joiner said. “I have to go wholeheartedly, recklessly and go for it because there are women waiting for me to show up.”