April 11 marked six years of Na’Toria Marketing & Design Solutions. Created with small, minority-owned businesses in mind, Na’Toria has aimed from its conception to be more than just a marketing and design agency.
A service member for 16 years and marketing professional for a decade, founder Victoria Walker-Travers (McCallum) is a leader wearing many hats. Take a peak into the past six years of Na’Toria’s growth and the lessons learned along the way.
“I started this business because I felt there was a need for small minority owned businesses that I could fill,” Victoria said. “I grew this business because I also felt that artists and creatives, specifically people of color, deserve to be able to support themselves doing what they love in a creative space. It’s a cycle of helping each other out. Creatives help small businesses by providing the creative marketing tools they need to succeed, and small businesses and entrepreneurs are hiring creatives to do the same.”
Through this mentality, Na’Toria clients and team members continue to thrive by benefiting from the best parts of each other. Get to know Victoria as she reflects on her early years of entrepreneurship and the balance of her marketing and military careers.
Let’s start from the beginning. Where did you go to school, and what did you study?
V: I attended the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and received a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree with a discipline in drawing and painting and a minor in art education.
Why did you decide to start your own business?
V: I moved to Harrisburg for an active-duty job in marketing. After discovering a few minority-owned businesses in the city, I noticed little marketing or promotional efforts compared to these businesses’ non-minority counterparts. I either came across them by accident or by verbal recommendation. Restaurants, clothing stores, bakers, writers, so many different types of entrepreneurs, brick-and-mortar stores, and non-profits didn’t have websites, social media presences, high quality promotional flyers, or even business cards.
There was a void that I felt equipped to fill, and in doing so, I have also provided paid internships for creatives of color, as well as freelance work for other entrepreneurs. I was able to
help the people I love, with the people I love, doing something that I love, and it all just made sense.
The reward is in being a part of the initial journey of small business owners and entrepreneurs—being a part of the process as they make their marks in the digital and physical world and helping them build creative visuals for their thoughts and words.
What are some of Na’Toria’s core values, and how have they guided your decisions?
V: Self Development – As individuals and as a business, we are always growing personally and professionally. We are allowed to make mistakes as long as we learn from them.
Team & Client Success – When our team is happy, our clients succeed. I am my team’s biggest fan, I work for them and we are our clients’ biggest cheerleaders. We work to expand our business offerings based on the strengths and passions of our team members, ensuring that clients have the best and brightest on their team on the path of success.
What have you learned over six years of Na’Toria?
V: I’ve learned that perfection does not exist. Sometimes it is better to just get things done and correct later as opposed to waiting until something is perfect before moving forward. I feel that I am always being judged and that I am not allowed to make mistakes because all people will see are those mistakes, but that is just not true. Even if it is to some people, those are not the people I want to work with.
I’ve also learned that I am nothing without my Na’Toria team. There is such a responsibility in being a leader. I am never just thinking about what can make me better or Na’Toria better but what will make each of my team members better.
What were some unexpected challenges you have faced?
V: Transitioning from a partnership to sole ownership had its unique set of challenges, but one that stands out to me is the fact that all decisions made fell on my shoulders alone, which made those decisions a lot heavier.
Additionally, balancing my business and creative aspirations with my obligations to the military. Every time I have made an effort to focus 100% on my business, the military calls.
What are the similarities and differences between leading Soldiers and Creatives?
V: A difference between leading Soldiers and Creatives is that Soldiers are obligated to stay, whereas Creatives are not—but they both choose their professions knowing that they would be challenging.
I always think about this and the fact that I want neither my Soldiers nor Creatives to be miserable. It is my job to constantly remind them why they made the choice they made, and once they remember that reason, they have a surge of motivation and inspiration to thrive off. It is my job to remind them how important they are, how valuable they are, and all the reasons why they were selected for that role.
It is my job as their leader, so I treat them the same as if they both have to stay or they both can leave. Then I try to figure out what will make them want to stay—making sure they feel heard, feel valued, that they are doing something that they enjoy and that will challenge and better them.
How do you build trust with your clients?
V: Trust is built by keeping open communication and being transparent to avoid miscommunications and misconceptions. We give as much information as early as possible to manage expectations. Timelines are also very important and require both parties’ respect.
What learning opportunities have you been able to take advantage of since taking the leap into entrepreneurship?
V: I was selected to take part in the Goldman Sachs’ One Million Black Women, Black in Business program. And, whew! It has really taught me that I know nothing. I have been operating off pure ignorance is a crude way of putting it, but you don’t know what you don’t know. Through the program, I have learned so much, and I’m still continuing to apply what I’ve learned in my day-to-day business.
One thing that was reassured is that standard operating procedures are essential to scaling profitable groups, and the program has really provided the space and support to get them and a few other things put into action.
What are your favorite marketing tools that you use to support your day-to-day business?
V: I wouldn’t consider it a “marketing” tool, but if I could choose only one app to be on my phone, it would be my calendar app. I would not survive without it, and if something is not on my calendar, it does not exist.
What advice can you give other entrepreneurs about adding members to their team?
V: If you properly train your team members when they first join, they shouldn’t be more work than your clients.
If you have time to provide constructive criticism, use the same amount of time to provide praise and positive feedback.
What do you hope to learn/accomplish in your next six years of business?
V: In the next 6 years I hope to:
- Create a pipeline from college/trade school to career for creatives through a robust paid internship program.
- Establish a standardized operations process for our services and internal processes that can be replicated by other small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Discover how Na’Toria Marketing & Design Solutions can support your business. Contact us today!