Kori serves up brand management business
A former cafe manager and first-time businesswoman has launched a brand management business — despite the Covid-19 crisis and its economic disruption.
Kori Hypolite’s Equilateral Studio is focused on the health and wellness sector and was designed to help companies improve their brand strategy, visual identity and marketing.
Ms Hypolite said she decided in January to launch the business on May 12 — her birthday — and pressed ahead, despite the pandemic’s appearance in Bermuda in March.
Ms Hypolite added: “I’m not the kind of person to panic.”
She said her services were designed to help businesses in the health and wellness sector improve their brand strategy, visual identity and marketing materials.
Ms Hypolite, from Devonshire, added that she thought the Covid-19 crisis had helped her business as companies adapted to a new landscape.
She said: “I got more business from Covid-19 rather than less. I think a lot of people are sitting at home thinking about the side business or start-up they always wanted to get going. They have been contacting me for help. That’s pretty rewarding.”
Ms Hypolite added Covid-19 had altered the brand landscape.
She said: “The processes that people are going about with their business are changing. Branding is all about clients.”
Ms Hypolite said some businesses could not function over the lockdown because they did not have a website and predicted that would become a priority.
She added she had even turned away a few people who wanted help with businesses outside her target area, although she was still working on increasing custom from the fitness sector.
Ms Hypolite said the business motto was “holistic branding for a better world” and that she wanted to work with businesses to develop sustainable, environmentally friendly packaging.
“I wanted to find a niche where I can give my expertise, but also follow my passion. I am a naturalist. Everything I put on or in my body is organic.
“I was raised in a very healthy wellness household. It is something that comes to me naturally.”
“She said she signed up several clients this year, including The Bermuda Principles Foundation, an outreach charity dedicated to providing science-based opportunities for Bermuda’s youth. Ms Hypolite said: “The founder, Carika Weldon, contacted me in January and said she wanted to work with us. We helped Carika brand the 2020 Bermuda Principles Conference in February, in addition to redesining her website.”
Ms Hypolite, 28, graduated from the Art Institute of Charlotte, in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2014 with a degree in interior design and worked in the sector in the city for a year.
She said: “At first I knew I was a creative, but didn’t know what kind of design I liked.
“Then I realised these projects are more structured and they are really long. I was designing interiors and storage solutions I wouldn’t see for three years.
“I wanted projects that were more medium based. You can work for a branding project for a long time, but you see results a lot quicker.”
Ms Hypolite said she became interested in advertising campaigns and logo design, went back to school to do a two-year course in advertising and graphic design at Central Piedmont Community College, also in Charlotte, and found her interior design expertise helped.
She explained: “It allowed me to be a master at space planning and layout.”
Ms Hypolite returned to Bermuda in 2018 after graduation and started work at as a manager for Flanagan’s Snug Cafe while she worked on building her own brand in her spare time — but found it was too difficult to juggle the two.
Ms Hypolite said: “I quit Flanagan’s last year with no plan and the biggest dream to start my own agency.”
She went to the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation for a small business loan, but staff encouraged her to apply for their incubator programme, designed to help small start-ups find their feet.
Ms Hypolite said: “Their goal is to help you get your finances in order so you don’t need a loan.”
She admitted, despite her professional skills, she did not know much about running a business. But she said: “They have helped me so much as far as structure. They allowed me to see myself as an entrepreneur rather than someone who offers branding services.
“That allowed me to step back and look at things as an entire whole. It changed my mindset from a freelancer to agency owner.”
Her mentor in the incubator programme is, Kelsea Williams owner of Novel Tea BDA, a Bermudian tea company located online. Ms Williams dedicates bi-weekly meetings to helping Ms Hypolite reach business goals and stay focused.
Ms Hypolite also has a personal mentor that helps keep her on track. Sue Khan, owner of Naked Zero, a boutique in Hamilton with an emphasis on environmental protection.
“Ms Khan said ‘Just keep going’,” Ms Hypolite said. “When I come to her with anything, there is always a plan. There is always a way. She has a really good mindset on positive thinking.
The BEDC gives entrepreneurs in its incubator programme office space in its Church Street, Hamilton, headquarters, but Ms Hypolite said she had worked from home over the pandemic.
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