Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneurs: Caitlyn Coverly and Steph Davidson

Caitlyn Coverly and Steph Davidson were both working full-time when they realized their potential for launching a business; within months, they’d leveraged their journalism backgrounds, applied their skills to a new industry, and Inked Communications was born…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell.
Inked Communications is a small public relations and communications firm based in Toronto. By leveraging our journalism backgrounds, we develop engaging and creative public relations campaigns and comprehensive communications plans for entrepreneurs, small businesses, start-ups, venue launches, and brands looking to make a mark on this city. As entrepreneurs ourselves, we are drawn to fellow risk-takers, movers, and shakers who are as passionate about their work as we are.

Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
Inked was created over brunch one afternoon in March 2012. At that time, we were both working full-time and working on a few small freelance PR projects on the side. We are former colleagues so we have always been comfortable sharing ideas with one another and working collaboratively on projects. Over the course of the afternoon, the idea to form a business for our freelance projects surfaced and it was hard to ignore the potential of one day owning our own business. We were also in the process of reading Chris Guillebeau’s The Art of Non-Conformity and when all these factors collided, we found ourselves brainstorming names for our newly-created business. 

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part of owning a business – at least our business – is how we become an integral part of our clients’ companies. We work so closely with them that we become a member of their team, and that relationship is critical to the success of our campaigns and our overall working relationship. The most challenging part of our business is managing clients’ expectations. As journalists, we have a keen eye for what is newsworthy and what is not. For some clients, it may be hard to hear something they are doing isn’t as newsworthy as they think. However, by incorporating a comprehensive communications plan, we are able to leverage so much more of their business than just simple media campaigns.

Where do you see your business going in five years?
We have been lucky enough to experience some amazing growth in the last few months. Like any business, we have experienced ups and downs as we try to gain our footing as entrepreneurs without any real business education. In five years, we hope to have a full team working alongside us and exploring for other creative ways to expand our business.

What does success look like to you?
Success is depositing a cheque and knowing you made every single cent of that on your own terms. We are happy to go to work every day. We are excited to meet with our clients and hear about their upcoming projects. Success is making work not feel like “work.”

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
We have had a lot of memorable milestones in our first year and a half in business. One that stands out for both of us was making the decision to leave our full-time jobs to pursue Inked full time. Steph made the decision within two months of us starting Inked. I followed shortly thereafter in August 2012. It was a huge risk, but it was worth it.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
We get asked this question a lot and I think our best advice is to go with your gut. We experienced some not-so-great client relationships and when we looked back at them, we realized there were a lot more red flags than we were willing to see at the time. After that, we made a point of listening to our intuition a little more and that has made a world of difference going forward.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
We have worked with several charities through client projects in the last year. We are just starting to think about where our affinity lies as a company and how we will proceed with that in the next few months.

What is Notable to you?
As we say on our website:

Behind the scenes of a city in motion like Toronto, there are imaginative risk-takers: people committed to leaving their unique mark on the cityscape. They are hardworking, creative, and never settle for anything less than their vision. If you look closely, you can see their projects come to life at City Hall, in reviving neighbourhoods like the Danforth, and in the heart of downtown. They are determined to make this great city even better – and they already have. 

These are our clients and this is what is notable to us.

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
We are both iPhone users after years with Blackberry. The transition was a little tough at first, but I don’t think we will be switching back any time soon. Once you go Mac…

How do you keep active, energetic, and vibrant?
Some of our best ideas have come from off-the-cuff interactions with unique people. We strive to get out and meet as many new people as possible because you never know if your next client – or friend – is around the corner. Networking events keep us sharp and up-to-date with what is going on in Toronto. We also make a commitment to furthering our education on the subjects that are crucial to our business, such as social media strategy and branding, by attending conferences, reading, and participating in online courses. As business owners, we can never be stagnant; we must always be looking forward and planning for the future. 

Photo courtesy of Dukát Photos