We had the good fortune of connecting with Ebony Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ebony, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk has always been a theme throughout my life. In part because of my nature to never settle, but also because my personal life depended on me taking the best next steps whether I was afraid or not. In my early years, my mom dealt with domestic abuse until her courageous act to leave while I was in elementary school. While we were in a safer place, for the most part, my mom worked tirelessly to put me in a school where I could succeed with very limited funds. I literally couldn’t afford to fail because my family needed me to make things work.

It was a risk for me to apply to LSU hopeful for grants to pay for it, and it was a financial risk to take on a 3-month internship after graduation for a stipend each month praying it led to a full-time job, which it did. I took a risk to leave 7 grand of salary on the table to follow a role that fits like a glove and risked it all in 2021 by going full-time in my business after being let go during the pandemic.

My latest risks have been financial for the business and in the 5 figures.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I believe what sets me apart is my data-driven, empathetic approach to marketing. At my core, I care about people deeply. I care about my team, my clients, and even their clients/customers. The best marketing, especially in the digital space, is marketing that truly understands their audiences’ motivations, fears, objections, frustrations, goals, visions, and behavior on a human level.

Throughout my life and career, I’ve always thought about plans a,b, c, and beyond which led to a natural shift into strategy. But where I get really excited is using my empathy to target the right people with the right message at the right time with the right solution. What I’ve learned along the way is that at the end of the day, we are humans.

We buy with emotion, we want to avoid pain and alleviate frustration. We want to impress our peers or save money/time if we can. I teach this to my clients as we create campaigns that don’t just scream buy me, but breakdown how this will transform their experience. I work with my clients to relieve them from doing things outside of their zone of genius and connect them to the audience waiting for what they have. This brings me great joy!

My journey into entrepreneurship has been the hardest but also most rewarding experience because I am in charge of the good and the bad. I can determine how long something bad lingers and the kind of clients I want to work with. I can determine if I sleep in or get up and get to work. It has forced me to find independence and drive for my own dream vs building someone else’s.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If I had a friend visiting, I’d most likely take them on a food tour! I love cooking and enjoying different cultures through their cuisine. I’d start with bringing them to mid-city Baton Rouge where my office is to try some of my favorite spots like Southern Cofe in Midcity Market and Cafe Mimis. Then I’d bring them to Curbside Burgers for a delicious lunch filled with queso-covered tots. Two other favorites are Chow Yum Phat and Soji Modern Asian, both a wonderful step into Asian cuisine beyond what most people know about.

Next, I’d bring them to an LSU football game because there’s nothing quite like it. Then, I’d bring them to Bumble Lane for a relaxing spa before the evening where I’d love to go to see the Pelicans play in the suite taking home the W at the end of the night.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to dedicate my shout-out to my support system. All of the joy and success I’ve received is due to my mom who has been 100% my biggest fan since I was born. Constant sacrifice, daily strength, her strong belief in God, and her focus on my education have led me to where I am now. I wish I could repay her but this shout-out to the public is hopefully a start.

I also want to shout out to my husband Joel. He is the calm clarity I need when I am freaking out. He has always been there to keep me sane during this entire journey of my transition from student to professional to entrepreneur. Also, my close friends and family. They each provide me with whatever I need at the moment including business advice, encouraging words, client referrals, building my desk, sharing any of my social posts, and just generally supporting me as I live this dream. Without these people, I’m not sure where I’d be.

Lastly, I want to thank God for always giving me grace for every journey.

Website: gracefullgrindstrategies.com

Instagram: @gracefullgrind

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

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