Loving our village: The hidden figures and organizations that make Unity better

All entrepreneurs have at least a streak of independence within them — for some of us, the streak is more like a beam. But the most successful entrepreneurs also have a solid community of partners, supporters, mentors, and cheerleaders. When you’re the master of your craft, you need to surround yourself with others who have the skills to help make your dream a reality.

We’re all in this together! And that’s great because when businesses support one another, we all do better. This is one of the biggest lessons we’ve learned at Unity. And since our hearts are full during this Valentine’s Day, we wanted to share the love and thank a few of our favorite supporters.

Having a business is like having a child... it takes a village. Click To Tweet

After I had my first child, I thought, “How on earth does anyone have more than one child?” It was by far the hardest thing I had ever done.

My husband likes to compare having a child to holding a bucket of water. At first, you think it’s not that difficult. But then you realize you can’t put this bucket down — ever — and you start to panic. You can hand it off to someone else if they are willing to help. But without that help, there is a fatigue that can quickly overpower us parents when holding the bucket or simply thinking about the sheer weight of it.

With the loving support of our family, friends, and neighbors, Matt and I got through the first few hard years of parenting. At some point, we even got used to the difficulty and reached the point where we stopped thinking it was crazy to have more children. So, we had a second baby.

When I started Unity Digital Agency only a year after our second child was born, in many ways I felt like a new parent for a third time. And this time the bucket of water was all mine. Fortunately, not only did I know building the right community would be key to our success, I knew elevating the Triangle community and giving back to our village would be a core value. You get what you give, right?

Although we still feel the panic and fatigue of holding that bucket sometimes, finding the right combination of support has been essential to our business’s ability to thrive. With our village of family, friends, mentors, clients, and organizations we manage to make it work.

The hidden figures behind Unity Digital Agency

There are so many people who have contributed in large and small ways to making this dream a reality. I’m so grateful to everyone who is part of Unity’s community. But there are a number of people who are unaware of the lasting impression they have made, so I want to take this opportunity to show my appreciation.

The following mentors supported me with words of encouragement, challenged me to take action when I was feeling stuck, and proudly let me stand on their strong shoulders. Without them, Unity would not be the agency it is today.

  • Alan Mueller: Alan has been my mentor since my first semester in college. He has seen me through many of the hardest times in my life and has been there for some of the best times too. Because of Alan, I participated in 5 years of Myers–Briggs Type Indicator lessons from my Freshman Seminar class through my time as a Peer Leader at Appalachian State University. His lessons about personality types and understanding how to build strong, collaborative teams have influenced my thinking in countless ways as I grow my business. In addition to being an assistant dean at Salem College, Alan also runs a consulting business of his own. Thanks Alan!
  • Joe Schram: Joe is for sure a hidden figure in Unity’s history. In addition to being the catalyst in my move from a lead developer at a design firm to the founding chief technology officer of an award-winning nonprofit, he was supportive of my decision to start an agency and generous with his time. I’ll never forget his willingness to sit down and do a brain dump with me about his 10 years of being in business. He also planted the seed of the idea to become a B Corporation. Look for the official announcement in our next blog post! Thanks Joe!
  • Shawn Ramsey: Shawn inspires entrepreneurs to channel their moxie, find their voices, and tell their stories everyday. She turned her entrepreneurial spirit into action when she founded The Art of Moxie in 2016. Personally, Shawn has empowered me to uncover my values and strengths. But more than that, she has inspired me to face difficult decisions with courage and reminded me that as long as I stay true to myself, my passion will always lead me in the right direction. Thanks Shawn!

The organizations that have been pillars of our village

Beyond my personal mentors, there are several organizations that have been essential for our growing company.

  • Nido Durham: Although I’m no longer a member of Nido, I couldn’t have conceived of the original plan to start an agency without the mental space their physical co-working space and childcare services provided me. They really did give me the confidence to fly!
  • AIGA Raleigh: As a genuinely inclusive community, AIGA Raleigh is more like a family than any other group I have ever belonged to. Their mission is to make the Triangle a place where designing thrives for everyone. They do this by focusing on design empowerment, design impact, and uniting people to create an open dialogue around the larger value of design in business, policy, education, and thinking. I serve as the chair of Women Lead for the community board.
  • The Frontier at RTP: This place has been a comfortable and supportive home from the beginning. Providing an amazing place to work for free as a bootstrapped startup, then an affordable step up into a private office once I was ready. And we just signed a 2-year lease for a larger space on the 1st floor! Come see us sometime!
  • Padgett Business Services: Scott and his team at Padgett are invaluable supporters of Unity. The expert accountants and business advisors are always friendly, knowledgeable, and available to help us as our business grows and new challenges pop up. Thank you Padgett fam!
  • Tide Risers: I’m proud to be part of the first year-long cohort experience in Raleigh. Designed especially for women leaders who are driven to give back to their communities, members enjoy events to help them leverage their skills, find renewal and creative energy, and become more powerful proponents of their causes. I’m so looking forward to working with like-minded women to make ourselves and our communities better!

As you can see, we love our village and we’re always looking to add to our strong, supportive community. Fair warning, though, we’re a different kind of digital agency. We don’t offer any cookie-cutter solutions or long reports full of irrelevant data. But if you’re looking for a small team who will be all-hands-on-deck as we figure out your unique needs, then Unity might be the right fit for you.

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