What inspired you to start Evolve & Co?

Having worked in the advertising industry for the better part of a decade, I was often on the ad sales side of things, essentially pushing shareholders’ agendas on clients that served only a portion of their needs. When I left ad sales and moved over to agency work, I fell in love with ideation and creation. I worked with multimillion dollar firms on Fortune 500’s and also with boutique agencies, directly with the ownership of a brand. It was there, seeing how impactful my work could be, I found my true passion and formed Evolve & Co. in 2016.


What is the best part of your job?

There are many aspects to love. For me, it’s the ideation that keeps me up at night with excitement. I also truly enjoy the culture we’ve cultivated within the agency… The best art of agency work is impacting change or shaping human behavior. I especially love this in the charity sector, where one well-written headline or creative ad campaign can profoundly and positively affect lives.


What kind of leader are you?

That’s definitely a question best answered by the team (a creative director, junior director, illustrator, videographer, web developer, senior brand manager, photographer, copywriter, and interns.) I think they’ll say passionate, open minded, and logical. (Here’s what they actually said: Knowledgeable. Helpful. Inspirational. Encouraging. Passionate.)


What’s in the future for Evolve & Co?

We specialize in the hospitality sector, so when COVID hit, it wiped about 70% of our clients of our clientele off the map for a month or two. From a logistical standpoint, we had to make some big changes to our work-flow. Pre-COVID, we built campaigns by the quarter and were always one month ahead. With varying federal, state, and local mandates implemented (occupancy, masks, etc.), our design and copywriting teams have been working more real-time than we ever have. The team has taken the challenges head-on, and I’m immensely proud of the work we’ve produced despite the heaviness of the issues at hand.


What advice would you give to other business owners?

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned along this journey is the power of time. If you can learn to optimize your time, you’ll have an advantage. For me, it’s little things like prioritizing my most intensive projects during the most productive time of my day. The past year has been challenging for small business. 


What measures have you taken to keep on track?

We’re agile as a company and can easily scale, but like many small businesses, didn’t see a global pandemic coming. Our hospitality clients were forced to shut their doors, and in good faith, we decided as an agency to keep fulfilling our retainers — without invoicing. We kept our clients’ brands top of mind and their narratives alive for when they could reopen. This gesture garnered a loyalty that has been our lifeblood.


What advice can you give to entrepreneurs just starting out?

There are a great deal of resources for new and entrepreneurial businesses in St. Petersburg, but the best advice I can offer anyone embarking on a new business venture is to DEFINE YOUR BRAND before you do anything else. Craft a mission statement, research your market and competition, and perfect your branding. Everything you do from that point forward should serve your mission… the programs you invest in, the best resources to utilize, and all the ways in which you will position your brand. 


Lisa Williams

Author Lisa Williams


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