Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Shelly Jackson Buffington, Co-Founder of The Look & The Feel, located in Asheville, NC, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We're an award-winning branding agency specializing in smart design, compelling copy, and innovative strategy. We provide intentional full-service branding for creative and purpose-driven organizations through powerful visual storytelling. Our team works to harmonize the look (visuals) and feel (voice) of your organization so that your website and related marketing materials have a clear, consistent, and cohesive brand identity. Ultimately, story-centered branding is intentional and authentic and helps you create more thoughtful, compelling, and enriched relationships with your customers. We work with global and national brands, and we support small businesses that are mighty in their own way.

Tell us about yourself

I love the work we do. The people we work with are why we do what we do each day. We help inspire and build better brands for our clients—and the work pays off. When we see our clients' successes, they feel like our wins, too. My co-founder, Callie Cullum, and I first created The Look & The Feel® because we recognized the need for brands to have a full-spectrum approach to a business's looks and feels. When a brand doesn't consider how the visuals and the voice of a brand work together, there can be a disconnect and inconsistency in how a brand message lands for a customer.

We created The Look & The Feel® drawing inspiration from our collaborative branding process. Our design and development experts drive and define the captivating look of a brand—the head-turning prowess of your project. While our team of skilled copywriters and brand strategists refine the feel of your brand. Our approach to messaging and story-crafting leads to the success of each project. This dynamic synergy of look and feel creates a brand that is not only visually engaging but resonates deeply with a brand's audience and continues to stand above the rest.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Over the years, I've celebrated small wins and larger milestones. Appreciating the places you've grown as a business owner is essential, even the less noticeable ones. My business partner and I started our company with a few hundred dollars. We've never been in the red—even from the start, we've always been in the black. In just a few years, we were able to scale our business to a six-figure company, and we are proud that we've done it in a way that is strategic without being overly cautious or even risky. We work with global brands like Coca-Cola and Amazon, as well as nonprofits and small businesses that want to put good into the world. By being discerning with what kind of projects we choose to take on, we are able to be nimble and support a diverse client base.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Making sure you don't burn out. Hold yourself accountable for your business tasks, success, and growth, but don't be a servant to your work. It's vital to take time to rest, recoup, reflect, and re-envision your next step. Without a higher perspective on your work, you can't effectively grow, evolve, and sustain.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Try not to fall into a comparison trap—businesses that seek to follow rarely ever succeed on their own or outlast their competition.
  2. Avoid trying to offer everything to everyone all at once. Scale wisely and strategically.
  3. Collaborate with other brands that align with your business values. High tides float all boats.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.