I had the pleasure of interviewing Sheri Koetting is the Co-Founder and Chief Strategist of MSLK, a branding agency based in New York City. MSLK specializes in helping beauty companies find their voice in today’s crowded marketplace through 360° positioning — from overall brand strategy to brand identity, packaging, websites and digital marketing campaigns. Sherihas worked with clients such as Aveda, Chanel, Joico, John Masters Organics, Maybelline, Ouidad, Redken, Sephora, in addition to many indie brands.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us about your journey to becoming CEO?.
My journey to becoming a CEO/company founder actually began when I was a child. I always dreamed of running my own design agency — back then it was fashion design. Until I went to college, I didn’t know what graphic design or branding were .
What is your definition of success?
Success to me is setting goals, achieving them, then immediately setting new goals. In the athletic world that would be akin to working towards your personal best. Success for me is constantly evolving.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
The clients that love us always talk about our creativity. It’s one thing to have deep expertise and experience, but another to be able to create beauty out of that. My team takes a cross functional approach to creating beauty and clarity in our brands, making sure they can exist harmoniously in today’s market.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
We are on a mission to help entrepreneurs build sustainable brands. Currently, we are working on building several brands from the ground up. The 3 latest brands using our 360° approach to brand building include a haircare, skincare, and cosmetic company. For these brands we’ve established brand positioning, SKU assortment, packaging, digital marketing, and sales strategies.
Can you tell us about the initiatives that your company is doing to become be more sustainable? Can you give an example for each?
Our vision for sustainability begins with our business cards which are printed on repurposed waste from past projects. This is a great conversation starter with every prospect we meet.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
I believe employees thrive with empowerment.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I couldn’t be where I am today without my parents. I truly believe that confidence is critical in the arts as without a deep conviction to your work it’s easy for self-doubt to take your focus off of the course ahead. My parents have always seen my vision and supported me in getting there by empowering me with their opinion that if I could dream it, it could happen. From shuttling me to art camps, to study abroad programs, college, summer internships and beyond, my parents empowered me and stood by my side in all my creative pursuits.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
My expertise is in communication. We have leveraged our success to raise awareness on the true costs of the US’s consumption of 1 second of ‘disposable’ plastics. Because our expertise is in education through the visual arts, I have led my studio in the creation of several eco-art installations, known as Urban Interventions. These installations have help raised awareness of the downsides of single-use “disposable” plastics such as plastic shopping bags, water bottles, and takeout containers. These projects have reached over one million people in over 63 countries.
What do you wish someone would have told you before becoming a CEO?
- Spend more time on human resources. Who you work with and who you surround yourself with are an important part of your company culture and your own sanity in getting your work done.
- When it comes to the size of your team, bigger isn’t always better.
- Have an advisory board.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Consciousness is contagious. This movement would inspire people to take a deeper perspective regarding every action and interaction in an effort to open hearts and minds to the reality of the human condition.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“You are either part of the problem or part of the solution.” This to me is a deeper exploration of the concept “Leave no trace.” However rather than simply leaving no impact, this concept challenges me to ensure that my time on this planet serves as a positive contribution to those closest to me, those I only interacted with in passing, and Mother Nature.