Episode
01

The Time It All Started

with
Becca Levian

Summary

Meet Becca and learn how it all started: from breaking through an industry without a degree or experience to creating a successful brand and web design agency - working with some of the biggest personal brands we all know and love.

Show notes

Welcome to the first official episode!

My name is Becca Levian, the founder and CEO and creative director of Skye High Interactive - our business that my husband and I run.It's a branding and web design agency. We work with high performing business leaders and individuals to create an unforgettable website experience.

I started this business about six years ago and my husband came on board as the CEO and CFO almost three years ago.

I have a design background that started basically as soon as I graduated college.

I went to undergrad for elementary special education.

I graduated in 2007 thinking I was going to be a teacher, and basically the day I graduated, I essentially ripped up my diploma and said, well,that was fun, but I'm not going to be a teacher after all.

I decided to completely switch careers, having no idea what to do. Long story short, I got an amazing opportunity at a startup, and thatwas my first experience working with entrepreneurs firsthand.

It was literally three of us - I really didn't know at all what I was doing, but I was thrown in to the deep end and kind of had to learnas I went. And it was the best experience that essentially paved the way for me to really understand what it was like as an entrepreneur.

From there, I kind of had the itch to get into design.

I started as a production designer at an agency, and I worked my way up to creative director over many, many years.

So I'm really passionate about design - even as the CEO of Skye High, I'm still designing, I still design most of our clients websites, and I do it honestly because I love to.

I like to think of your website as a window into who you are. You know, what's interesting about your website is many times it's the first impression that you'll give your customers.

And it's so important that that first impression is a positive one.

So the irony, I didn't even know this until recently is that my grandfather, my dad's dad, who I had never met, he died before I was born. Hein the Bronx, in New York City, he was a storefront designer, so he would go to shops where he lived and he would walk inside and tell this store owner, I want to remake your storefront. And they would say, you know, why is this So why? I don't need I don't need you to redesign my storefront. That's why is that important? And he said, because that's the first impression that people get as they're literally walking by it. And do you want them to just continue walking by it and not even notice it? Or do you want them to stop and notice it and better yet, go inside and shop?

So, you know, 30 some odd years later, I'm doing the same thing for our clients, but from a digital aspect, right? It's no longer necessarily just about your storefront, but it's about your website. And for a lot of shops, your website is your storefront.

You might not have an actual brick and mortar, but you have a website and that is where your customers go to really get a sense for you and your brand and what makes you special and unique and why they should care and why they should buy from you.

And it's so important that we really make that impression not only a strong one, but also an authentic one and one that really, truly reflects who you are.

What's interesting is that when we're working with clients, you know, we work with a lot of different types of people, a lot of different types of businesses, but I always say that the work that we do and working with us is kind of like therapy. So we equate it to brand therapy. 

Through this process, you not only get clearer on who you are and your unique value to the world and what you're bringing in your message, you really need to understand what makes you unique, what makes you you and what that story is, and then how to tell it and how to convey it through visuals, not only through messaging.

And so when I say that, I like to think of myself as a brand whisperer, I like to think that I kind of see somebody. I see their essence. I see that person's brand, and it comes in all different, you know, auras. It's like the colors might look different and the typography and feel and the styles, butI translate what I see into a design, into a brand, and making sure that what we create for that person, for that brand.

And I keep referring to people because a lot of what we do is really focused on personal brands.

So, it's so important that what we create for them feels really authentic to who they are. So when you go to their website, you immediately get a sense, a really good sense of who they are, how they are, what working with them looks like, how they are with their family, how they are with their friends, in that it doesn't always come across it - But I like to think of that the work that we do really, really creates that for people,

I think deep down, I always wanted to be a business owner. Idon't think I even knew it. But I think subconsciously it was always inside me.

I always looked up to my father. He was an entrepreneur for as long as I can remember. He started many businesses and some I worked at whenI was in my teenage years doing customer service and then later in life, he taught marketing for entrepreneurs at Babson. And I would remember him coming home and we would sit around the dinner table and he would be talking about his students and telling us about their business ideas 

When I say us I mean my sister and I and my mom, and he would tell us about, you know, what constitutes a good business idea? The wayt hat he would always phrase it is that it would be solving a really good problem.

So if you kind of created or came up with a solution to a problem that you had discovered, then that was the basis of a really sound business idea you know, inevitably would end up with like us, all of us, you know, I'd be waiting on what he should tell his students or another great idea that could kind of riff off one of their bad ideas.

And it would always kind of spark these really just interesting conversations about business and entrepreneurship and I also thinkthat he enjoyed kind of taking the lessons that he would be teaching about that day in class and like going home and talking to his daughters about them.

And like, we didn't necessarily have any, business, literally, like we didn't - we were two high school kids. But like, we alsofound it interesting and I think he enjoyed kind of using us as a soundboard.

I mean, don't get me wrong, there were many nights and many conversations around, you know, talking about the shows that we would watch asa family and dramas that would happen at school. But, I also think that it was always really interesting to me to hear about his students and their stories and their inventions or their ideas, because it was interesting.

It was, knowing not only what he thought of were good ideas, but then I think subconsciously it was like I was kind of filing that away asl ike, okay, noted, this is why this might not work as a business idea.

So, I think that kind of put the seed in me to be interested in entrepreneurship. And then, you know, fast forward 15 years or so and it became a real possibility. 

I don't even think I knew at any point that I wanted to be a business owner until I was probably in my twenties, maybe late twenties, or maybe even when I got my first job at that startup. And I was working with these two founders and I had kind of my first real experience in the startup world and I thought, Wow, this is really fascinating. And it looks really fun -because that's also how they made it seem.

I think if I had been in an environment that seemed really stressful and, and, and the founders that I was with were always, you know, frustrated and overwhelmed, I probably would have put a bad taste in my mouth. But, because of the situation in the startup I was in was such a positive one, it really got me interested in, okay, maybe I can see myself one day owning a business of my own.

This type of business that we own is very different than any other business that I had ever been a part of the advertising agencies that I had worked at previously in Boston and Los Angeles and Seattle, they were all, large agencies with hundreds of people, giant corporate office buildings - nothing about it ever felt boutique or small or intimate. I never worked at a small agency like that.

I had always worked at these agencies that had, you know, really big accounts. And so to me, like that was an agency.

I always had this desire in me this kind of fire in me to prove to myself, but also to prove to the people around me. My creative directors, my peers, the other designers that I was working next to. I always had this fire to prove to them and myself that I am just as worthy of this position as they are. And I'm not only as worthy, but I will be better. I will,I will prove myself that I can work harder.

I will get accolades, I will win awards. Like I was always determined to go above and beyond because I knew that I didn't graduate, you know, RISD and these other design schools like my peers did. So I have to prove myself that I can do this regardless of that.

So that was always a factor and a driver for me.

But at the end of the day, I don't think I'll be designing forever, but I do see myself as a business owner. And regardless of whether it's this business or another business that we create.

We wanted to create this podcast for entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs for business owners and, and people who maybe you are like me, you know where I was six, seven years ago and you're sitting in your agency or your corporate job and you're just dreaming about one day getting out of that job and starting your own thing and, the goal is that this podcast empowers you and inspires you.

And yes, we want to make you laugh. We want to really make you enjoy listening to our stories, but we want you to learn something as well.And you know, with every story there is a learning, just like with all of our failures and all of our fuck ups, there have been learnings and we have made so many mistakes, just like every business owner has.

But, the goal is to take those mistakes and learn from them and share them with others. So other people can learn from them as well.

Thanks for listening!

Till next time,

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