True innovators are visionaries—they see a new way of doing things that others can’t possibly imagine—and they bring it to life. That’s true of Karen Bennetts as she leads her strategic brand development firm, Little Red Bird, to bring innovation to businesses across all industries.
With a background in marketing and advertising, Karen built a successful career working with top firms in places like New York City. While she was successful, something was missing. So she took her years of expertise and decided to launch Little Red Bird in 2008 as a new kind of firm that focuses on brand development “to help companies discover and express their brand voice.”
Based in North Carolina, Little Red Bird operates with a six-person team and is regularly supplemented with freelance experts who specialize in different facets of brand development. The business serves regional and national clients with an emphasis on non-profit organizations, which is a huge plus for Karen. “One of the reasons why I started Little Red Bird was to do what’s in the best interest of the clients, but also to choose the clients we most want to work with,” she says. “Much of the work we do is with non-profit organizations, and it’s work we believe in.”
Supporting and advocating for women business owners is also work Karen believes in, as she has been an active NAWBO member for the past eight years. As a past president of NAWBO’s Charlotte chapter, and chair elect of NAWBO National President’s Assembly Steering Committee (PASC), she has found immense support and motivation in the NAWBO sisterhood. “I went to one NAWBO meeting here locally, and before the end, I was signing up to be a member. I felt I was not only getting education from a business perspective, but also the support and camaraderie from women business owners,” she says.
As Chair Elect of the PASC, Karen has also been able to support and connect business owners across the nation. “I think what’s been the most rewarding part of that is being able to do for current chapter leaders what they did for me. There are always questions and situations where you’re looking for someone outside of your local group to help you navigate,” she says. “The other rewarding part of being on the committee has been to connect chapter leaders around the country and watch what happens when those introductions have been made. They find someone on the other side of the country who is going through exactly what they’re going through with their chapter. They bring that learning to the other chapter leaders around the country. That sense of camaraderie is a beautiful thing to watch.”
Looking ahead, Karen is excited to drive more positive change for women business owners on a global front with NAWBO. In her own business, she also plans to continue to focus on bringing innovative brand development to her clients, while emphasizing growth of the mid-sized segment of her client base.
What’s some of the best financial advice you’ve received for your business?
“The best advice I got was from my dad. He was not a fan of going into a lot of debt and he owned his own business from the time I was 2. In starting Little Red Bird, I was careful not to go into a lot of debt. Considering that we started the business in 2008 before the crazy that was coming, that turned out to be the smartest decision I could have made. Be careful of where you invest and how much you take on.
Also, staff for the valleys and not the peaks. So staff for the valleys and supplement for the peaks, so you won’t have to waste a ton of time and money when the peaks go away. Little Red Bird has full-time staff for the valleys and we supplement for the peaks.”
Did You Know?
Little Red Bird got its name during a full exploration of the company’s naming process. “After seeing a cardinal land on a bare branch on a dull, overcast day, it stood out vibrantly and proudly, much like what we strive to do for our client’s brand voices!” Karen shares.