We had the good fortune of connecting with Janna M. Hall and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Janna M., what is the most important factor behind your success?
Without a doubt, my relationships are one of the largest drivers of the success I’ve had in business. In the five years I’ve owned my marketing and branding agency, nearly 100% of my business has come from referrals, word of mouth, and current/past clients. Many entrepreneurs feel like being a great salesman is all you need to increase your customer or client base, and while you DO need to understand sales, we can’t discount human connection and reputation. I’ve taken the time to carefully nurture my relationships. Sometimes, that looks like staying connected online and engaging with them in more casual ways like social media. Other times, it looks like collaborating with other entrepreneurs or referring my network to them where possible. I make sure I’m intentional about seeing the good in others, cheering them on earnestly, and supporting them in meaningful ways. As a result, I’ve received that same energy in return. All of those things establish goodwill and help you nurture the relationships that will carry your business farther than selling alone. People will begin to speak your name in rooms you aren’t in, and you’ll see opportunity at every turn. And of course, always back up your relationship-building with a solid work ethic and integrity.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
When I started my creative digital marketing and brand development agency, I was in search of the freedom and endless opportunity for growth that I lacked at my full-time job. I learned a lot of difficult lessons in the corporate world, and felt ready to build a company that reflected MY values and had the culture I needed to thrive in previous roles. Making money was important, obviously, but I prioritized investing in myself and the team I’d eventually build. I wanted to build a team of young Black women who were just entering the workforce and provide them with opportunities to learn soft skills we are expected to know in corporate America, but are seldom taught. As we expanded our digital marketing services, I gave them the opportunity to work on client projects, correspond with clients on our behalf, and use their voice to present their ideas. No position is too low on the proverbial totem pole; everyone has a voice, everyone’s perspective matters. As much as I love our clients and the work we get to do, I love even more the chance to pour into fellow Black female professionals and grow as a leader, too.

Building my agency wasn’t easy. I started out taking whatever work I could get, primarily just social media management. I was severely undercharging and stretching myself thin. As my expertise grew and client list expanded, I challenged myself to raise my rates and expand service offerings to do more work that spoke to my interests. Today, I’m a brand strategist, creative director, copywriter, consultant–so many things beyond the Social Media Manager I thought I’d be forever. I’ve not been afraid to learn more about my industry and grow Leap Innovative Group accordingly. I’m still learning to delegate better so that I can focus on our growth and development versus day-to-day tasks. It’s been challenging, but I’ve invested in a well-paid team that I can trust to produce solid work, so I have to learn to relinquish control.

I always love the discussion of “what sets me apart from others.” What sets me apart is that I am ME. My experience, perspective, writing style, communication style–everything–is different because there is simply no other Janna M. Hall in this world. And that’s what I say to my clients, too. No matter how “oversaturated” you might feel your industry is, always plow forward and show up as your authentic self, knowing that no one can do what you do in the exact way that you do it. We are all unique and have something special to bring to the world.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Richmond, VA is a beautiful, foodie city that’s rich with history, so I’d spend a great deal of time downtown showing off all this city has to offer. We’d start in my own neighborhood, the historic Shockoe Bottom. Shockoe was the center of Richmond’s slave trade, so not only are we right on the water, but we’ve got so many historical markers that tell part of this area’s story. To see so many thriving Black businesses in this neighborhood now despite its dark past makes me proud to show it off to all who visit. When it comes to food, we’re stopping at Soul Taco for fun, creative tacos, and then grabbing fresh mojitos on the patio at Havana 59.

We’ll also venture to historic Jackson Ward for food at Mama J’s or Southern Kitchen, two Richmond staples known for their southern cuisine. After we’re all full off catfish nuggets and slices of Mama J’s signature cakes, we’ll take a tour of the Maggie Walker house and learn of her legacy as the first Black female millionaire and founder of the first Black owned bank.

If the weather’s nice, I’d take them on a long walk along the Canal, starting in Shockoe Bottom and ending on Brown’s Island. For the perfect view of the city and river, we’ll venture across the historic Pottersfield Bridge before making our way back to Shockoe Bottom’s C’est Le Vin, a Black-owned wine bar with delicious food.

Because the Richmond region is so beautiful, I often find myself driving around various neighborhoods like Church Hill, Museum District, Carytown, and Northside to admire the beautiful homes and small businesses that make this city so unique.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’ve got to shoutout my girl, sister, client, business bestie, and accountability partner, Melissa Carnegie. Mel and I took the leap together and left our full-time jobs, dove into entrepreneurship, and have pushed and stretched each other every step of the way. We started out as coworkers, and over the years, pushed ourselves to see beyond the walls of our full-time job. Our relationship is all about radical honesty. When she’s doubting her greatness, I shake her up and remind her of who she is and what she’s capable of. When I’m undercharging, she calls me out and pushes me to recognize my worth. We still work closely together, using our professional skills to support each other’s endeavors and identify new opportunities for growth. She trusts my strategic mind and relies on me to help move the needle forward for her business, and I can rely on her to give sound advice when making critical business decisions. My career wouldn’t be what it is without Melissa and the ways we consistently show up for each other.

Website: www.leapinnovativegroup.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/jannamhall

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jannamhall/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JannaMHall/

Image Credits
Samia Minnicks Photography, Rich Methods

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