Every person is driven by what they believe. We all operate out of that set of beliefs—our actions, conversations, and decisions stemming from them. You may not know what your driving force is, but you have one, friend.
Amina Taylor knows how to find it. Amina is former corporate brand strategist who now works part-time helping small businesses unearth their core beliefs. I met Amina through instagram last fall, and I’m so glad that I did. With a background in brand strategy, she helped me to discover and then create a framework to thoughtfully communicate the heart behind Four Hats Press.
She led me through purposeful exercises that prompted me to be able to narrate my story in my own words. It was immeasurably beneficial to have someone so knowledgeable about brand strategy be able to dig out the essence of what I’m about and what I do, and then narrow in on the verbiage to communicate it.
With that, I crafted my mission statement, and really started owning and embodying it as the drive behind Four Hats.
Four Hats Press exists to keep time—memorializing life’s moments by getting them down on paper through the vintage arts of calligraphy and letterpress printing.
Amina’s wisdom and expertise was invaluable helping me to tease out my messaging through both imagery and words. Her path has lead her through various jobs and she shares a bit about her creativity has morphed with time. I’m so pleased to introduce her to you now. I’ll bet if you apply some of tips to your own story, you just might glean some helpful insight, too!
Amina is a writing & speaking coach for bold CEOs looking to shake up their categories with compelling message platforms. She got her big professional break as a junior strategist and has developed brand strategy for brands such as The Laughing Cow, Famous Footwear and DoubleTree Hotels.
After discovering that a number of women in her professional circles were lacking the 1-on-1 coaching to brand and support their messaging platforms through writing and speaking, she ditched the corporate gig and has been hanging with one-woman shows ever since. In her spare time she's a sassy yogi, cheesecake chef and is utterly incapable of keeping house plants of any kind alive.
What are some of the job titles you’ve held in the past? What did you enjoy most about each?
I’ve always been a curious person. So it’s probably no surprise that I’ve held just about every title under the sun: comedy club waitress, caterer, wedding planner, middle school teacher to name a few. But I’ve spent the majority of my professional career in the branding world as a brand strategist and now as a 1-on-1 writing and speaking coach for female CEOs. There’s something about branding that feels like home. Being able to couple that with my love of writing and public speaking, well, it’s just double-chocolate icing on the cake. I can’t say it was easy moving through all of these transitions, but I can say without a doubt that each job provided me with a skill, mindset or connection that has helped propel my career forward.
What do you know about your personality now that you didn’t know when you were fresh out of school pursuing your first job?
When I first graduated from school, I prided myself in being the life of the party. I loved socializing, entertaining and of course being the last one standing on any given dance floor. As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that as much as being social will always be a part of my life, I’ve got a huge introverted side to my personality that needs nurturing as well. Nowadays, I’ll often opt for quiet nights in, typically don’t schedule meetups after 8PM and generally need about 2-3 hours of mellow time after any kind of social or networking event. I think my fresh-outta-college self is definitely rolling her eyes right now...
You are well-versed in personality archetyping and how that plays into a brand figuring out its identity. Where did you learn about this?
I first discovered brand archetypes when I was working as a Junior Planner at Young & Rubicam. I stepped into the job at 23 with absolutely no experience. In fact, I was hired after a friend of mine-- who was interning at the time--passed along a blog article I’d written to an HR executive. They thought I had “an interesting perspective” and so they decided to bring me in. I botched my first interview as an assistant account executive, but the persistent HR executive wouldn’t give up on me (thank goodness!) so I finally found my home in brand strategy.
While there, I had a brilliant superior turned mentor who graciously offered her time outside of work to show me the ropes. After being handed my first large scale client project, she gifted me the book “The Hero and The Outlaw” by Margaret Mark and Carol Pearson. It forever changed my perception of branding. In that instant it went from a job to an art.
What are a few questions you would suggest creatives ask themselves as they try and figure out who they are artistically?
I think the common answer to this question is: “why do you do what you do?” But over the years I’ve come to find, especially in the world of personal discovery, that it is more a question of: “Who would you be without what you do?” In the very moment we see our gifts, our creative aspirations, being pried from our fingers we are also able to express the truest, rawest admiration for them. We see them for the value they offer, not just the fancy bells and whistles.
When creating anything (a brand, a home, a wedding invitation, and event) what do you think someone can do to really hone in on what they want to express through their creation?
I always advise people to go to a quiet place and do the work alone. You’ve got to be able to differentiate between what you actually want and what others (even others who love you!) are compelling you whether intentionally or unintentionally to want for yourself.
I give extensive thought provoking pre-work to my clients before any 1-on-1 work because I want them to confront the tough questions about themselves and their business before we start working together. This way, they are held accountable to what they truly want, not what looks alluring as an option on a page.
Talking through my business with you was such a profitable and worthwhile exercise because it helped me to reflect on and synthesize my history, what I’ve learned, and what I believe. Do you have any tips for how people might do this on their own or with a friend?
I’m so glad! To anyone beginning this work either alone or with a friend, I’d advise them to keep it as simple as possible. While I love using the archetype method, it can be very overwhelming to someone just diving in. So I simplify it for my clients by asking them to reflect and focus on one thing: their (emotional) gift to the world.
As a business, you are always expected to give so much more than you receive. Clients, particularly return clients, love and appreciate you for the gift you provide in every exchange. Whether you give your clients the gift of simplicity by breaking down complicated tasks, offering easy to use instructions, or transforming big goals into actionable steps OR offer the gift of freedom by connecting them to new cultures, inspiring them to travel the world or knock various items off their bucket list---own it, lean into it and commit to it wholeheartedly.
It’s amazing how one simple word can simultaneously create boundless space for a brand while simultaneously tying everything together.
Amina can be found online at www.aminafrances.com.