Speaker Q&A with Missy Palacol and Kalisa Jenne-Fraser
Our Slow Flowers Summit Speaker Q&A series continues with a fun conversation conducted by contributor Mackenzie Nichols:
Missy Palacol and Kalisa Jenne-Fraser, co-owners and partners of marketing strategy firm Kalyx Group, are passionate about helping small businesses stand out by finding their true, independent voices.
The co-owners have been friends and colleagues for 15 years, working first in startups, then for Fortune 100 and 500 corporations separately, and ultimately rejoining in 2015 when they decided that working in “high level marketing” was frustrating because of the complexity and inability to connect with their clients on a personal level.
Now, Missy and Kalisa use their expertise in marketing strategy and creative vision through Kalyx Group to aid businesses large and small, including supporting florists, wedding coordinators, yoga studios, and more.
Both born and raised in Seattle, the two women now live 30 minutes outside the city and work from Missy’s kitchen island and countertop, consulting their clients using all-inclusive branding strategies to set businesses apart from competitors by finding their own unique styles and messages.
Missy, who runs the branding photography side, became interested in the field when she was 16 and studied it for her undergraduate degree in Santa Barbara, and then at the Art Institute of Seattle. While working as a wedding photographer and for branding clients, Missy noticed how much fresh flowers could add exquisite details to photographs. She now uses her skills through her role with Kalyx Group to offer photography services for business websites and social media platforms. She works closely with Slow Flowers by leading branding shoots once a season, helping founder Debra Prinzing express the visual story and message of Slow Flowers. You can learn more about Missy Palacol Photography here.
“I think that the market niche of the Slow Flowers movement is unique, I think it is something that is very heartfelt, by not only Debra but by other members of the association. It’s something that they truly believe,” Kalisa points out. “The exciting part of looking at businesses is finding out what makes them go to work in the morning, that’s true personal branding right there.”
I caught up with Missy and Kalisa to chat about their collaboration and what to expect from their 2019 Slow Flowers Summit panel presentation, "Authentic and Visual Storytelling for Social Media," which they will co-lead with Niesha Blancas of Fetching Social Media (subject of our next Q&A).
Q: What is it like working together at Kalyx Group?
A. Kalisa: “There is really that partnership of ‘throw and catch.’ Missy played competitive softball, so she’s taught me how to be a good team player, and I think that’s critical to the success of our partnership -- we know how to toss and catch the ball. It’s an easy working relationship where we complement each other.”
Q: What do each of you bring to the table in terms of expertise?
A. Kalisa: “I am analytical and focus on strategy, and Missy has strengths in sales and marketing, plus she has an entrepreneurial and creative mind. I am more about creating a plan, executing and seeing where that gets us. Missy’s creativity and designer’s eye helps immensely. We both bring complementary talents to our customers. We have fun brainstorming to deliver a strategy and services that truly reflect who they are and what they should be doing in terms of marketing.”
Q: How do you set Kalyx Group apart from other marketing strategy firms?
A. Missy: “We want to separate ourselves as Kalyx. While everyone has a side hustle and a dream, most solopreneurs find that there are bigger companies who have figured something out marketing-wise and struck it big while you’re trying to sell the same thing. We’re thinking about this from our backgrounds working with Fortune 100 companies and we explain strategies to people as easily as possible without wasting time on the ‘one size fits all’ approach.”
Q: What can we expect from your panel in the 2019 Slow Flowers Summit?
A. Kalisa: “I will be talking about branding and understanding who you are; Missy will talk about how you understand your job; and Niesha Blancas of Fetching Social Media will talk about how you understand what your brand looks like and how you use it to drive impact and engagement on social media.”
Q: What do you tell your clients about marketing from a big picture standpoint?
A. Kalisa: “The magic of marketing is that there’s no magic. It boils down to understanding who you are and why you do what you do. It’s brand imagery, brand voice, and engagement on social media platforms. You don’t want to compete with FTD or 1-800-Flowers, that’s not your niche, so why would you try to brand yourself as something you’re not?”
Q: Do you grow flowers and plants of your own?
A. Kalisa: I inherited a garden in 2011. My house is on 8 acres previously owned by two Master Gardeners. I have many exotic plants here, which I also inherited. While my mom is a Master Gardener, I don’t have a green thumb. Then again, I grow more than 20 orchids for my own enjoyment. So I know I can keep an orchid alive.”
Missy: “I am a firm believer in having fresh florals in the house. My husband brings flowers home. Ever since I met farmer-florists in our area I’ve clearly changed my mind with the Slow Flowers movement and wanting to know where they came from. I’ve become a flower snob. Slow Flowers changed my mind about frequenting flower fields that use chemicals. I feel like I’m cheating if I don’t buy with the Slow Flowers mindset.”