( ENSPIRE Business ) Monique Webber Takes Inspiration From George Floyd Movement
ENSPIRE Contributor: Gabrielle Maya
MLWPR is a public relations agency, created by Monique Webber, and was one of the twelve recipients to receive a $10,000 grant from Beyonce’s charity organization, BeyGood Foundation on August 31st. Located at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, Beygood’s Black Parade Small Business Impact Luncheon offered support to small businesses through online training, education programs, and a global network for business owners to learn new valuable business skills. Over 900 small businesses worldwide have been offered grants in recognition of their contributions to their communities.
MLWPR is based in Las Vegas Nevada and specializes in the fashion and beauty industry. Their focus is minority owned locally owned and women-owned businesses across the nation. MLWPR has worked with some of the most prestigious brands: Unsun Cosmetics, Melanin Haircare, Curls, Flora & Noor, and House of Aama. Whether it’s fashion, technology, or finance, the agency provides assistance in marketing, social media management, branding, celebrity partnerships, and anything to help the reputation and traction of a business.
ENSPIRE interviews Monique Webber to discuss the impact of MLWPR, the services offered to businesses, the issues surrounding Black-owned businesses being dismantled, and what are the solutions that MLWPR offers in addition to this grant.
Explain the impact that MLWPR had when receiving the $10K Grant from BeyGood Foundation.
The BeyGood Foundation’s $10K grant greatly impacted MLWPR. Due to inflation and the recession, a lot of companies that we were working with have scaled back or completely eradicated their marketing / public relations departments. Our business lost 50% of our clientele at the beginning of the year which forced us to make some tough decisions and we had to end contracts with contractors and stop services that were essential to our business. This grant could not have come at a better time, and it has allowed me to get back on track in terms of cash flow and invest in marketing so we can attract new customers.
MLWPR offers marketing, branding, social media, and other services. Describe the steps needed to take action and help all kinds of businesses in their success.
Aside from creating a great product, you must have strong, consistent branding. Branding helps your customers understand what your brand is about, who you serve, and what differentiates you from the competition. Then to reach your ideal customer, you need to have a marketing strategy. Your marketing strategy should include ad buys and a social media plan for all the major platforms, engaging visuals, pop-up shops, etc. Marketing is directly tied to sales and understanding your customer’s behavior. And of course, a PR strategy that includes earned media in the form of editorial placements, podcasts, radio and broadcast interviews, digital influencer/celebrity placements (if this makes sense for your product), co-branded partnerships, and event activations. Unlike marketing, PR does not necessarily lead to immediate sales, instead, it should be used to build your brand’s authority in the public eye, awareness, and credibility, and bring a massive amount of attention to your brand. It’s also important to note that investors and retailers look at your PR and marketing strategies when determining whether they are going to put their money and name behind your product. They want to see that you are investing in your brand and that there is public demand/interest for it.
What were some of the challenges MLWPR was facing before the grant?
Before the grant, we had lost about 50% of our clients due to the recession and though we were reaching out for new business, it was taking much longer to bring on new clients than it had in previous years. I understand that having a publicist is a luxury for some brands, but I would encourage every brand to think about bringing a publicist on board to help promote their brand and get their brand’s message out to the public. A good PR strategy helps improve your marketing strategy and overall public sentiment and knowledge of your company which in turn can lead to large-scale co-branded partnerships, investors, grants, and/or retail deals as well as increase sales.
What do you think is the core problem that DE&I programs and Black-owned businesses are being dismantled?
Black-owned businesses and founders have historically been marginalized and intentionally discriminated against in the US since we were given our freedom. It’s no surprise to me that DE&I programs and funding for minority companies are being dismantled because that has always been the American way. We’re told they want to even out the playing field, yet we must play with our hands tied behind our backs and blindfolded. I believe that Black owners would LOVE to have equal opportunities and be afforded the same rights and access to funding as their white counterparts. Unfortunately, I don’t foresee this happening in my lifetime, especially with all the recent racial tension that has run rampant in the US. For us to prevail, it will take white allies to see the racial disparities and work to change policies and our government infrastructure. This ideology that by helping a person of color, it’s taking away something from someone else deemed more deserving (because they are white) is consistently perpetuated in our country and it stirs up resentment and fear. Hate and racism thrive on fear. Until people understand that there is enough for everyone, and we all bring something special to the table, we will continue to repeat these terrible acts that only lead to division and hate.
Describe the Beygood’s Black Parade Small Business Impact Luncheon and what occurred.
The Beygood Black Parade Small Business Impact Luncheon took place at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills and it was absolutely beautiful! There were over 200 Black-owned business founders in attendance, and we were treated to lunch and dessert. There was also a fireside chat with BeyGood’s executive director, Ivy McGregor, and Kelly Rowland. Musician Luke James performed as well. To close out the event, 12 businesses were awarded $10K grants.
Any improvements in the business and PR industry that need to change to promote and bring back Black-owned businesses and those that are underfunded or forgotten?
There is a lot of work that needs to be done to promote businesses founded by founders of color. The main one is perception. Unfortunately, black-owned businesses are often put into boxes and categories that don’t necessarily fit. For example, Black-owned clothing brands are often viewed as being too ethnic, urban, or not luxurious simply because the founder is black. Journalists don’t perceive other brands this way so why categorize Black-owned brands in this manner? What’s most important is quality, efficacy, functionality, etc. Our brands need to be judged on these characteristics, not on the color of the founder which is why it’s so important to have a strong ally and advocate who understands the media landscape and who can tell your brand story to a national audience in such a way that your brand’s mission and vision are clearly understood by the consumer.
“I launched MLWPR during the George Floyd movement because there was a huge lack of representation of minority-owned brands specifically black-owned brands during that time. I found that people were posting a black square to hop on a trend instead of diversity & equity being real components of their company’s ethos. When I launched in August 2020, I started with 7 Black-owned brands and my intention was and still is to bring underrepresented founders to the forefront and create visibility around their businesses. Now even more than ever, it’s still important to support and uplift Black-owned brands because affirmative action and DE&I programs are being dismantled in corporations and universities which only widens the divide and makes it even more difficult for minority business owners to access funding, educational opportunities, and the resources they need for their businesses to reach the next level. That’s why it’s extremely important to have an advocate like myself who has established connections and can relay the brand’s story, mission, and community impact in such a way that it transcends any color limitations and puts the focus where it should be…on the product. This grant from the BeyGood Foundation will help us continue to serve our community powerfully. It will allow us to build, consult, and mentor other minority-owned businesses and ultimately, help them grow and succeed in the consumer market. We’re extremely grateful for this grant and are proud to be part of the BeyGood family.”
MLWPR has been offering its PR services since 2020 and is the only Black-owned public relations firm in fashion and beauty in Las Vegas. Visit MLWPR at https://www.mlwfashionpr.com/ or follow them on Instagram.