On this week’s episode of An Agency Story podcast, Ashley Bundis – CEO and founder of Glitter Sparkle, a relationship-first marketing firm based out of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, shares her inherent magic with us.
Magical, unforgettable, and genuine are just a few words that can be used to describe Ashley. Glitter Sparkle is not only the name of the agency but seems to be a complete embodiment of who Ashley is as a person as well as her overall mission for the company and their clients.
Ashley had a very successful non-entrepreneurial career before ultimately deciding to start her own agency. In addition to being a director of marketing for several nonprofits, Ashley spent some time working with the classic musical, Wicked, where she learned that the connections you make with people are what people remember and this valuable lesson was one that she continued to carry with her when she would begin her journey as an agency owner.
Glitter sparkle is working towards amplifying the connection between consumer and brand through innovative strategies, kickass creative, and powerful love language. Ashley and her team are passionate about finding and nurturing talent and encourage their clients to put their best, most authentic selves forward.
One of the things that stands out about this episode is Ashley’s emphasis on the magic of powerful relationships and the steps needed to nurture those relationships. Ashley and her team believe that building strong connections with others is a key to succeeding in not only business, but life itself. With a lot of glitter and sparkle, she shares how to do just that in this episode.
Whether or not you’re an entrepreneur, a coach, or just someone who wants to make a difference in the world, there is a plethora of inspiration to be found in this episode. By the end, you will find yourself shining brighter than you ever have before
Enjoy the story.
You can listen to this episode of An Agency Story on your favorite podcast app:
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Welcome to An Agency Story podcast where we share real stories of marketing agency owners from around the world. From the excitement of starting up the first big sale, passion, doubt, fear, freedom, and the emotional rollercoaster of growth, hear it all on An Agency Story podcast. An Agency Story podcast is hosted by Russel Dubree, successful agency owner with an eight figure exit turned business coach. Enjoy the next agency story.
Welcome to another episode of an agency story podcast, I’m your host Russel. Today’s guest on the show is Ashley Bundis with Glitter Sparkle, a brand marketing agency based out of Charleston, South Carolina. From the big stage and bright lights of Broadway, Ashley has successfully leveraged her magnetic energy into becoming an electrifying branding agency. Ashley is the kind of person that brightens up the room when she’s in it. And glitter sparkle is more than just a name. It’s a language and brand unto itself as you’ll soon, find out. Enjoy the story. Welcome to the show today everyone. I have Ashley Bundis with Glitter Sparkle. Thank you so much for joining us today, Ashley.
Thank you for having me.
If you don’t mind, start us off with a quick overview. What does Glitter Sparkle do and who do you do it for?
Glitter Sparkle is a strategic visionary company that focuses on brand health and creating intimate relationships between consumer and client, or consumer and brand. We’ve got some extras that we also offer, which is some kickass marketing as well as ways for your teams to become more magnetic together and with the consumers.
Everybody needs kick ass marketing. Before we take a road trip back to the early part of your story, I feel like an important question to get outta the way, is how you actually came up with the name Glitter Sparkle.
After being in the field for about 20 years everyone would always say, you’re so glitter sparkly. When I decided to come up with the name for my company, it was quite organic cuz that’s how everybody knew me. Everywhere I went, someone always would say, oh my God, you’re so glittery, or you’re so sparkly, or your work is just so glitter sparkly. I went, oh my gosh.
Had a feeling that would be the answer. That’s a good segue into the overall conversation to set the tone for your energy and everything you bring. Was the domain available, was it easy to go get glittersparkle.com?
Yeah, and I’ll tell you a lot of people thought I was nuts, right? You’re naming your marketing vehicle Glitter Sparkle? Who’s gonna take you seriously? I will tell you, no one forgets me for so many reasons, but name wise, everyone remembers it.
It definitely does stand out. You had a pretty successful career for many years as a non-entrepreneur. It looks like particularly in the world of theater, was that path intentional? Did you ever think you’d be gearing yourself up to own your own agency or even your own business for that matter?
I wanted to be a producer at first, for Broadway. That in itself is an entrepreneur’s business, right? You’re creating theater for the masses, but it’s a business. I think it was always in my blood. I grew up, my dad was head hunter, had his own company, built it from the bottom all the way up. My mom was an artist, built her own company. It was integral for me at some point it might sprout. Did I think I was going in that direction at certain points in my career? Maybe. Not until later in life was I really grounded enough and confident enough to say, unleash the beast. It’s happening.
Here you are today. Producer, and I know you did a lot of work in theater. I have to imagine there’s a few cool stories or two just from your time in that world. Anything in particular come to mind?
Gosh, I worked for the public theater for over four years, working next to some of the best creative artists in the world. I think it teaches you not only about marketing, but it teaches you about life and as a business owner, how important creating relationships with audiences, consumers, they’re all kind of analogous together how important that is. My background comes from yes, financially being strong and successful. Not a question, but it’s a question of how to do that. What are the attractors? It was through theater that I really learned the foundation of does someone feel your vibe? Suspension of disbelief, out of the box mechanisms to attract, to connect what makes something stick in the marketplace. I was lucky enough to be with some of the best business makers in the world and see their art front and center. Then I moved to Serino Coyne where I worked with, Wicked, Fiddler on the Roof. Nancy Coyne is one of the best business leaders I know. I had the privilege of working with these masters and they shared with me their knowledge, their experience and it was pretty remarkable.
That’s awesome. I love Wicked. That’s my little secret I guess, that’s the only musical I think I’ve seen multiple times now. When did the idea come about to start your own agency and how did you decide to move forward?
I’ve been a director of marketing for several nonprofits, and a lot of them were in the Jewish sector. I was probably at my second round of being a marketing director at a JCC. I was still running my own theater company as well but at that point I said can I have greater impact? What are the pain points of all these marketers? What’s going on in the nonprofit world that they really need some kind of corporate help and expertise and they’re really not getting it. It took me until I moved to Dallas and I was working at the incredible JCC there and Artie Allen is the CEO there, and he said to me one day, man, if you were doing this for more people, they would get to experience your magic in so many ways. It was like a little bit of an extra, it was watering that sprout, and then I knew.
How long from when your sprout got water to when you actually decided to get started and move forward? How long did that take and what was that process?
I am not the average individual. My husband, myself and my kids, we’ve moved, I think eight times in the last 20 years. Which is a lot. People like, oh my God, are you army? I’m not. It’s the reaction that happens when you have a husband who works in the corporate world and companies get bought out and happiness is always at the forefront. You move, you do what you need to do. We had to move from Dallas begrudgingly. We were moving to Philly and at that point I said to my husband, you know, I think it’s time. I don’t wanna go back and work for other companies. I wanna be the company that people come for the help and for the support. I’m ready, it’s time. I’ve been consulting my whole life. Since I’ve been in Broadway I’ve been consulting on the side, I’ve been doing events, I’ve been doing strategy on and on, so forth. It was time. We moved in 2018. The minute I literally landed in my home, I opened up my LC about five days later and the rest is history.
What did getting those first set of clients and business development in general look like for you once you made that leap and as you said, set up your own LLC and got started?
I was lucky that I had some great connections and people who knew me in the marketplace and so all I did was make a phone call and say, I’m opening up my own shop. Will you give me a try? They were more than happy to. It was all about those relationships that I had created over the last 20 years. Those were the people that I made an indelible mark, personally speaking, and when I was ready to offer more, the attraction was there. That’s what I did.
I’m curious about that because, I’ve talked to several people now that are in that same boat that they were just great networkers before they got into their business or their agency and that seemed to be a really great jumping off point for them versus others. Any tips or tricks for someone, looking down the road that may be thinking this is something they want to do on how to build that network and how to create a better jumping off point for themselves?
I’m gonna go back to my day of theater and say to you that first impressions are everything but the connections that you make with people are what people remember. My advice to budding entrepreneurs, or those who are interested in going on their own path is make sure that when you are in a meeting or at a presentation or at a conference, that the way that you behave and the way that you connect afterwards really makes a difference. If you are paling with someone at a conference and then once you get back you’re like, I’m never gonna talk to them again, who cares? I was the girl that I’d see them at every conference and then I’d email them in between. Maybe I’d even create like a little chat and say, hey. By the way, I’ve always been the woowoo girl. Some quote unquote label me as out there, magical, crazy, even too much.
Or dare I say, glitter sparkle?
Glitter sparkle. Yes. Let me just say, people always question, is she genuine? Is this for real? The answer is yes, just because of who I am, how I was brought up, the things that have happened in my life. Life is too short to not be real, and I think that is something that people really vibe with about me. I say how I feel. I really try hard. My relationships are everything to me. I love being the smartest person in the room. I like that a lot, and I love being with the other people who are the smartest people in the room. I’m always thirsty. That’s the other thing that I think people are attracted to is that I want to not only know the best, I wanna be the best. That drive, tenacity and care, it connects. It’s Velcro. My advice is be who you wanna be, but also know that you have to work at it. Everything takes work, right? Marriage takes work. Being a parent takes work. Being an entrepreneur takes work. Connecting takes work. It all takes work. You gotta be willing to put in the work.
The takeaway there is being genuine, whether you’re more outgoing and glitter sparkle as in your case, or maybe you’re even more a quiet person, but being genuine and following up, that’s a really great takeaway. Not too long into your business, the pandemic hit. How did that affect you and your business?
It actually helped me in my business because I worked remotely. I had been working remotely. People were looking for people who had that experience that could have a team that wasn’t in-house at the moment, that could get things done quickly, efficiently, that had an understanding. I was that girl. Where everyone unfortunately lost their business, had trouble with their business. I was riding the wave of, I’m here, I care, I’m really good at what I do. Come surf my wave. And they did.
I don’t know if this is gonna be expanding upon what you were mentioning earlier, but yes, you’ve been really great in your career at leveraging your positivity and your building community, so to speak. Obviously that helped you in your business to get going and get your first clients out of the gate, but are there other ways you’ve seen that be effective and grow your business?
One of the things that I do is I mentor a lot of college kids. I have seen a definite difference in the generations that now are graduating, and the need to mentor them, support them, teach them and show them what work life can be as well as, from an artist point of view, from a business point of view, how to really achieve success. Part of the business was also finding that talent, nurturing it, and then bringing it to different companies and or working with their companies, and working with their teams to help develop better relationships. During covid, everybody was working out of fear. We were in a whole state of trauma, and there are certain people that do really well when fear approaches and there are certain people who don’t, it’s just how we’re made up. Some go into fight and flights, some just get paralyzed. Some shut the door and say hell to the no, I am not dealing with this. All these companies, especially nonprofits, didn’t get a break. The medical world, the bigger agencies, the schools, they were not stopping their business. They didn’t have a luxury to close their doors and say, we are gonna take a time out like everybody else right now to deal with this horrible epidemic. We have to keep serving. Guess what I was in the business of? Supporting those who are serving. It came from a place of not only having amazing artists, designers, strategists on board that we have nurtured and fostered. We were ready. We were ready to help these agencies along their path and say, not only will we give you the service, but what they really needed was care. They needed the person and the agency who is gonna be there almost 24/7, who is gonna listen to them complain on the phone. Who was there when crazy things happened, to give advice on pr, to give advice on strategy. Mostly we were there to say, how do we create these relationships with your consumers so that they’re informed? That they still are interested in your brand, that they still have a connection? That’s what we did. It was our love language that we were sharing with them to say, we’ve got you. We are holding space for you. That allowed them to hold space for their consumers and community members.
I really like that. A fortuitous cycle of empathy and care and, as you mentioned, in a time where folks really needed it. Given a little bit of your own background and you mentioned nonprofits. Has that been a particular focus area from you as an industry in terms of clients you work with or are you still pretty diverse in that sense?
I think we’re pretty diverse. We definitely for the last two years have been very nonprofit heavy, and now we’re looking into diversifying. I really believe in the ocean, everything comes in waves. We found our niche during Covid with nonprofits. We spoke their language. They spoke our language, and it wasn’t the time to go get profit centered clients because they weren’t spending the budget or the means to really go out and have diversified marketing or out there marketing, they were playing it safe, right? Cause it was in the middle of Covid, but now people want difference and we are the people to give you different, and we care. I think that’s the element, Russel, that I can’t put forth enough, which is, we really care. I’m the girl that when I go to a conference, I don’t need to be with the popular people. I wanna go to the ones that are sitting by themselves. That’s just me. I like the underdog. I like the people who think different, who want different, who wanna do good in the world, but just can’t sometimes figure it out, or who can, and just need an extra teammate. We are that for them. Some people just need a cheerleader. Some people just need, I call it ping ponging. Some of the best CEOs in the world have a vision, but they need people to enhance it, elevate it, give inspiration to bring it to new levels, and then of course, produce kickass marketing to go with that. We are that. We are the coaches, right? You want us on the sidelines, and that’s what we give. I don’t know a lot of companies that do that.
I can identify that in a couple different ways. In a more professional sense I’ve always felt the reluctant voice was often the best voice to hear or as you might have said the quiet voice. And then I think often it was my teenage son that, what’s going to get done is what he cares about, and if he doesn’t care about it, that’s the one where you gotta poke and prod a little bit more too. To your point, care goes a long way, whether it’s teenagers or in the workplace. If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice, when would you go back to and what would you tell yourself?
Oh gosh, I have so many things floating in my brain. The first thing I would say is it’s okay not to always do. We are human beings. We’re supposed to be and not always do. What I have learned later in my life, burnout is not necessary. There’s a difference between working really hard and working your ass to death, right? There’s a difference of being efficient, being mindful and productive versus just hustling to the point where you’re not really serving anybody. I will tell you, my earlier self, and I’m now a mom of three teenage boys. I worked through every single pregnancy. I don’t think I took a maternity leave except for two weeks. I worked and I worked. I will tell you that being a female entrepreneur, you bet that I support other female entrepreneurs because there still is a sense that women do everything and we have to somehow manage. We cannot say, I can’t do this or it’s not in the best interest of me or my health. Somehow we have a Wonder Woman complex beyond compare, and we put it on ourselves. Now in 2023, I think we’re getting used to the idea of saying, I need to own my nos so I can earn my yeses and boundaries are sexy as hell. I wish I could tell my earlier self to set more boundaries and create more space for what allowed me just to be and not always do because we miss things.
I know there’s a lot of female listeners out there, that’s some good advice. As you look to the future for yourself and your agency evolving in the coming years, what does that look like and what is your big goal with the business?
We would love to work with more clients who are really doing good in the world, in all facets. I think one of the attractors for us is, of course you wanna go for those big brands, and mind you, I’d love to go for bigger brands, don’t get me wrong. But we really like the ones that are on the up and up. We like the ones that are different, that are sustainable, that have these incredible, monumental products that are really helping individuals or mindsets or habits. That’s what I see our company, Glitter Sparkle, sparkling the next level with. I will tell you that, it’s so interesting. We wanna be more and say more. We really want to work on business re imagination We wanna work on consumer vibrations. We wanna work on employee intimacy or employee magnetism. We wanna work on igniting marketing power, that’s in our blood. There’s so many trends out there. We wanna be the trend stimulators. We are not only the forecasters, we wanna take those trends and use them for our clients’ benefits. I see us moving in a bigger space to help develop, help mentor. Help coach. Some people say, we’re the relationship masters, the relationship doctors of marketing. I know that sounds so crazy. I know, but that’s really the case. We have this incredible superpower of understanding your community, understanding your consumer base through all this different analysis that we do, but a lot of it also comes into how is your team taking that information and actually using it? Are you looking at the whole brand health of your organization, inside and out? That’s where we come in. We look at the whole thing, but then we work with your team. We just don’t give you advice and be like, see you later. We are not a one night stand. That is not what we’re into. We wanna do the hard stuff because let me tell you, it’s the most satisfying experience when you get to work with us because it’s intimate. It means more. You get so much more out of that. There’s so much more value. I’m working towards creating a bigger empire of Glitter Sparkle. We have one of the most extraordinary teams, and diversity is really important to us. I wanna work with more companies that are diverse. Diverse in their mission, diverse in their structure, diverse in their teams, diverse in their marketplace, diverse who they’re targeting. That’s exciting for us. I wanna get more surfboards out into the ocean and let’s go ride some crazy waves and then have a massive bonfire after. That’s what life should be about, is to feel good.
Who can complain about surfboards in a Glitter Sparkle empire? As you think about that and your goals, what do you feel like the key challenge you need to solve in order to get there?
I think it’s understanding the new pain points that exist in the marketplace right now. There’s so much marketing fog, Russel. There’s so much going on. It’s one of those things to know as a company, there are so many people doing what we do. We have to figure out what we do differently and what we do better, and then pivot, highlight, elevate, and put that out into the universe. For example I would be more than happy to work on your social media, but time and money is better used if you hire us to work with you on enhancing your vision, creating the materials you’re gonna put on social media and letting us train your team or a team member on how to execute it. I wanna empower people. I don’t want people to rely just on us. I think the biggest challenges right now is one, educating clients on how the market is changing, and as we move into a recession and people start holding onto their budgets in different ways and saying, oh my God, what are we gonna do? Because people are not buying the same way. Let us be your in source connection. Hire us to work inside out and understand now what your consumers are wanting today. The craziest thing, Russel, I think about marketing is that it changes so rapidly. If you don’t keep checking in, you don’t know what’s happening. I’m gonna go back to the love language, right? If I don’t check in with my husband and say, are we on the same page here as we parent our three crazy teenagers who I love more than anything, but woo honey. Three teenage boys, okay. Are we on the same page? Can we check in with each other? Tell me how you’re feeling about this. It takes work and time, but I’m gonna call it my own wife survey that we do or parent survey. It’s the same thing you have to do with your consumers. We have to keep checking in, and I’ve noticed a trend of companies not doing that as often, or they do it in really small little sectors. Honey, we’ve got a whole movement happening. We’ve gotta be more knowledgeable, and then we gotta act upon it. For example, if you do it and then you change the marketing for your product, which you should, you then have to actually check in and say, do you like this? Does it feel good? What else do you want? Does it work? Is there anything else I can do? That’s kindness. That’s respect. It’s just like core values. That’s the Glitter Sparkle way.
Enough said there. Especially as you think of your own journey, last question I always ask folks, are entrepreneurs born or are they made?
Oh hard. I think they’re born with the attributes, but they’re made through their experiences in their environment.
Succinct and to the point answer for that question, that’s perfect. If people wanna know more about Glitter Sparkle, where can they go?
They could go to glittersparklellc.com or check out me on LinkedIn, so that would be Glitter Sparkle LLC on LinkedIn.
Thank you so much for joining us here today, Ashley, it was absolute pleasure to get to hear your story and I really appreciate your time today.
Thank you so much.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of An Agency Story podcast where we share real stories of marketing agency owners from around the world. Are you interested in being a guest on the show? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. An Agency Story is brought to you by Performance Faction. Performance Faction offers services to help agency owners grow their business to 5 million dollars and more in revenue. To learn more, visit performancefaction.com.
We’re thinking about how to amp up our marketing for ourselves, right? I’m on with my team, who by the way, is in all different cities across the country. We have this incredible relationship. We could be a reality talk show. I’m just saying, Glitter Sparkle glow up right now. It’s there. We’re discussing the idea that we really work on intimate relationships with our consumers and our clients. And one of our team members is oh, Ashley, the reality is that we really help our clients achieve a Glittergasm. And I was like, oh my God. You’re right. The next thing you know, the Glittergasm like popped open. A whole movement of my whole team and we’re now deciding do we give vibrators as an offshoot of our brand to people to say vibrate with joy and feel the goodness? It is crazy. I’m just saying that the Glittergasm is achievable through working with us, and that definitely has become a comical moment because I was like, sex sells.
Talk about going all in on your brand. I think you’ve got something there. Yeah, that is a,
I’m just trying to watch your face right now and I’m going like, wow.
Yeah, that was a doozy. Yeah, that’s a good one.