Hilary Lentini has seen a technology change or two since founding Lentini Design & Marketing (LDM) 25 years ago. From new, better, faster Apple computers and the latest in Adobe software, to websites, smartphones, tablets, social media and digital printing, the list of technological advances in the past two-plus decades literally goes on and on.
Through it all, Hilary has thrived by not only embracing change and all the opportunities that come with it, but also by turning to her NAWBO sisters since becoming a member six years ago after attending NAWBO-LA’s Annual Leadership & Legacy Awards Luncheon. “The women in the room were brilliant, accomplished and successful, and I decided then and there that I had to be around these women more,” says Hilary, who is now president of the NAWBO-LA chapter. “I have gained clients, best friends, resources and solutions to challenges.” In fact, she says that, “just about every time I’ve made an important business decision, it’s been at the recommendation of a NAWBO sister.”
For instance, Hilary turned her business into an S corporation three years ago at the suggestion of another member. After starting small and staying small by choice while her two daughters were young, Hilary has been growing her firm ever since—from freelance graphic design to a full-service marketing agency that handles graphic design, websites, e-communication, social media and more for B2B service-based organizations and non-profits. In recent years, she needed a broader company structure to support the arenas she was doing business in, including government contracting for cities and counties, as well as to reward her 10-member team with benefits like retirement, healthcare and paid holidays. Forming an S corporation was the perfect solution.
Hilary has also enjoyed doing business with some of her NAWBO sisters, including recent website redesigns for Maria’s Italian Kitchen (for which LDM won a national design award) and UltraGlas—both owned by NAWBO-LA members. “As NAWBO sisters and women in general, we like to work with our friends,” Hilary says. “We then have the work we’ve done for them in our portfolio, and in turn, they become our ambassadors, telling others about us, and vice versa. NAWBO really becomes a broad network of resources and connections to help us grow professionally and to grow our businesses.”
So what have been some of the biggest technological changes Hilary has embraced throughout her years in business? For one, websites. “In 2005, the writing was on the wall,” Hilary recalls. “My clients were asking me to move into web development so I taught myself to code.” Websites now account for 50 percent of her firm’s business. Then, there’s marketing. Hilary’s business growth used to be completely fueled by networking and referrals. In recent years, though, she’s discovered the rewards that come from using technology to stay top of mind with clients and reach out to new ones. Lentini Design & Marketing, Inc. now features their latest work on social media. They also regularly blog and drive readers to their website through e-blasts that link to useful, relevant content.
The firm is dedicated to learning and mastering any new marketing tech tools that enter the marketing space, so that LDM can add them into the marketing tool kit they offer their clients.
What’s in a Winning Logo?
Hilary is the winner of the 2016 National Women’s Business Conference Logo Contest with her firm’s “Leading the Way” submission. The contest called for a logo that celebrated women in leadership and in public service. Hilary found out about the contest just a day before submissions were due and quickly went to work. “We went for it and were excited for the challenge,” she shares.
The result is the 2016 “Leading the Way” theme and logo featuring a dynamic compass and Americana colors. “We knew it was strong because it crossed that bridge between both worlds—with women in public service leading the way for their communities, and women business owners leading the way in running their businesses every day.”
For Hilary, the theme resonates personally in how she leads. “I’m very collaborative in how I run my business and work with my team,” she says. “I’m interested in their ideas and approach. I also let my team work from home several days a week. They’re welcome to do it to be more flexible with their time or their commute to work. I want them to be happy here at LDM and in their overall lives. It’s the same for our clients. We are highly responsive, always fair and want to know what we can do to take things off their plate and make their day-to-day lives easier.”
She adds that her service with NAWBO as a leader is one way she leads the way in her community. She’s also an architectural aficionado and volunteers her time with the West Adams Heritage Association to design materials that share information and resources on how to upkeep and refurbish old homes as well as raising money for the association through home tours. She’s even worked with the association to help upkeep homes when people of a certain age or circumstance can’t do it on their own.