This is the first in our series of 'Be Your Sparkly Best' interviews with women who are striving for excellence in their field. Brenda Della Casa is an author, writer, speaker, and digital strategist and the founder of BDC Digital Media. Passionate about leadership, mentorship and the advancement of women in digital, she is the founder of two mentorship programs and speaks regularly to women's groups in the UK and US, most recently at Pictet and Bloomberg. She is a 2016 Tech Nation Exceptional Talent Visa recipient for content direction and digital strategy.
1. How did you come to be an entrepreneur? Was it always part of the plan?
BDC: I have always been someone who did things my own way and I like having the freedom to try new things and move in and out of different spaces. I am a creative person who loves to do strategy and learning new things and I have my own way of going about things so it has always made sense that I would do something on my own. That said, I have worked in-house and I have been very fortunate that my career has been one that has merged an entrepreneurial, freelance and full-time path. I have had employers who not only allowed me the ability to think and work as an entrepreneur while in-house and to do my own thing but encouraged it and benefitted from it. Preston Bailey actually incorporated my classes into his PB Protege Program and spent a lot of time teaching me some of the business skills he learned on his own entrepreneurial path.
2. Your company, BDC Digital Media operates in a very competitive space. How do you differentiate yourself? What is your USP?
BDC: I think we all have something unique to share and certain aesthetics, talents and skills that are going to belong only to us. The step-by-step, one-size-fits-all approach just doesn't work and that is where each person is able to offer something innovative and different. I think my USP is that I do branding, print and digital content, analytics, marketing, PR, User Experience and training. My clients don't just hire me to run their Instagram feed, they come to me for 360 branded strategy that equips them with the skills required to run a competitive business. I also think my clients and I have a lot of fun and chemistry really matters in my arena; content is intimate.
3. What were your early influences?
BDC: I have always been a writer and loved self-expression. Even as a child, I was always writing and talking and creating different things for my grandfather. I would say I was deeply influenced by my grandfather, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edmond Dantes (from the Count of Monte Cristo), Madonna, Marilyn Monroe, Bill Clinton, Evita, Frida Kahlo and Muhammad Ali. I really like underdogs and people who have their own unique style and are not afraid to stand up to the crowd in order to stand out from it.
4. Your career trajectory is impressive! What do you consider your biggest career accomplishment to date?
BDC: I have been fortunate to experience some wonderful moments in my career from publishing a book and speaking at Bloomberg to working for Preston Bailey and launching my own magazine, but I would say the accomplishment I am most proud of is getting the Tech Nation Exceptional Talent visa for Branding, Content and Digital. This was a dream-come-true and something I worked extremely hard to achieve. Everything I have ever hoped for, worked for, and feared I would not get was in that accomplishment. Every year of working and fighting led up to that acceptance letter and it was the ticket to the greatest chapter of my life thus far. I am just so grateful for the opportunity to be here through Tech Nation.
5. Everyone agrees that content sits at the heart of branding and marketing in the digital age. What is your take on this?
BDC: Good content leads to connection and this connection leads to conversion. Bad content will bury your brand. Knowing what is good requires getting to know who you are as a brand and who your audience is and then finding a way to engage them in a way that adds value, promotes loyalty and doesn't insult their intelligence. Bad content is anything that is lazy, self-centred, annoying, thoughtless, boring and/or pushy.
6. Do you have any advice for developing a new lifestyle brand like Hep Audrey?
BDC: Make sure that you do a very thorough branding exercise that clearly identifies what your brand’s mission and values are. It should also identify your audience (both in terms of the audience you want to retain and acquire) and help you develop a style guide. The key is knowing where you (the owner) end the brand begins and key points where you come together. I would also suggest that you get to know social media beyond visuals. Educate yourself on how to best use the different platforms for different types of content, optimisation, and how to run campaigns. Finally, don’t try and do everything at once. Start with the platform most relevant to your industry and then use a tool like Hootsuite, Monday or Hubspot to schedule posts for two weeks at a time. Once you have that down, add the second platform and so on.
7. What does ‘Be Your Sparkly Best’ mean to you?
BDC: Don’t be afraid to enjoy the spotlight you have worked hard to earn, regardless of what anyone else thinks about it.
8. What kind of jewellery do you like? Do you have a personal favourite?
BDC: My taste in jewellery is very much old hollywood glamour- I like diamonds in platinum or white gold. Think 1940’s and 50’s style statement pieces. My favourite rings would be Harry Winston’s “The One” in an Oval shape followed by the one in the Cushion Cut.
I love the high jewellery and heritage collections from Van Cleef & Arpels. In my life, my favourite pieces are my grandmother’s engagement ring which I wear with a set of vintage diamond bands and a beautiful rose gold bracelet and earrings my boyfriend got me for Christmas and my birthday.
9. Which Hep Audrey piece do you like the best?
10. If you were a gemstone, which one would you be? Why?
BDC: A diamond. It’s my birthstone for a reason. It’s nice to think that I started out as coal and dealt with a lot of pressure to evolve a combination of fire, sparkle and strength. In Evita, there is a line in the song 'she is a diamond' that says ‘...and that's the hardest kind of stone, it usually survives.’ I have always loved that.