Several years ago, Emily Raleigh decided to create the Smart Girls Group in hopes to inspire young girls and help them find their strengths. Recently, Smart Girls Group went through a major rebrand, creating “Spire & Co.,” a resource to help women to lead powerful and inspiring lives. Raleigh answered our questions about her major rebrand, her amazing work and what it took to get her to this point.
You recently made a major transition from Smart Girls Group to Spire & Co. Why did you make this decision? What does the new brand stand for?
Emily Raleigh: In the past four years, whether I noticed it or not, the business has changed and so have I. I knew this big change was coming for well over a year, but the timing had to be just right and there’s a ton of planning that goes into something like this. Basically, I wanted to be able to expand the brand and cater to a larger audience, and in order to do that, we needed to allow the brand to evolve to meet those needs. There were a lot of things we wanted to improve upon within Smart Girls Group–from editorial verticals to imagery to how we communicate via email–and in the process of transforming all of that, it became clear that what we needed was to start a new chapter all together.
We chose “Spire” because it is derived from words that mean to be able to breathe easier and the highest peak on a summit, which together really represents what we are and have always been trying to do. The “Co” is for content, collaboration, and community, which come from our mission statement. The new name feels very close to my original intentions for the brand, which makes me so happy with the rebrand. The new brand, while it may look different, is truly just Smart Girls Group with an exclamation point–we stand for the same things but we know how to project it better.
Why do you think branding is important to make an impact in the mind of viewers? What advice do you have to girls trying to build their brand?
ER: I see branding as the door to the experience. The brand is what brings people in but the intentions behind that are what keep people there. The only way someone is going to open that door is if that door feels inviting. So we see branding as that first step towards the transformative experience we hope defines the Spire & Co reader experience.
My advice for girls trying to build their brand is to stop thinking of it as a “brand.” The concept of branding draws up images of successful bloggers or celebrities or visually appealing brands, like J.Crew or Free People or Apple. From the outside, those brands look like they are focused on their color scheme consistency, singular signature voice, their social media presence, etc. But the truth is, what makes a great brand truly great is the intentions behind it–what they are providing to the universe that is impactful. I found that when we stopped looking at what our Instagram color theory should look like or what font our logo should be and we got down to the nitty gritty intentions behind it all, that was when we truly defined the brand.
So my advice is take the concept of “branding” out of it. Think about it in terms of what you intentionally want to give to the world. Think about what you want to make the world feel. The brand is what comes from those intentions.
What is the mission of Spire & Co?
ER: To be the trusted resource for young women aspiring to live their smartest, most confident lives. Whether she wants to run a marathon or run for President, we want to help her get there through content, community, and collaboration (the three Co’s “Spire & Co”).
What do you hope to inspire in the hearts of young girls?
ER: I hope that we are able to inspire young women to create the lives they aspire to lead and find purpose and fulfillment in every step of the way.
What’s the biggest advice you could give to an ambitious young girl longing to make a difference?
ER: It’s easy to get caught up in doing everything all at once. But the power is in the focus. If you want to make a difference, focus on keeping it simple. Plant your roots deep and your growth will be much stronger and more impactful.
What has been one of your biggest obstacles along the way?
ER: I think the biggest obstacle along the way has been focusing. My primary focus has always been on the girls who read Spire & Co and who have been a part of our community. But with that came me wanting to fulfill every wish that every one of them had. If one wanted us to offer something, I found a way to make it happen. Before I knew it, we had 12 products that were not as strong as they could have been simply because I wanted to dive into every project possible if it would make a girl happy.
It took a while for me to learn that to truly impact her, we needed to focus on what we do best and how that can best serve her. Plus, what both Spire & Co and business school have taught me is that sometimes we as consumers don’t always know what we want until it is placed in front of us.
What has been one of your biggest successes?
ER: I think the biggest success in life and in business is finding fulfillment. I’m lucky that I found something like Spire & Co at a young age because it truly has filled me in ways I never knew were possible. My hope is that Spire & Co helps our girls feel fulfilled in their own lives as well. I think my biggest success with this so far has been understanding what fulfillment feels like and hopefully being a part of creating something that guides others towards finding that within themselves.
Who do you consider to be one of your biggest role models?
ER: For sure my mom. She has raised my sister and me to know what it means to feel strong, independent, and smart, and she has led by example every step of the way. When I think of the kind of woman I hope to become–as a friend, a mom, a wife, and simply as a person–I always think in terms of my mom. And I think that’s what makes someone a really good role model.
Why do you think it’s important for young girls to find role models/mentors?
ER: Quite simply, we cannot be what we cannot see. Plus, there is so much to learn and surrounding yourself with people who challenge you to be a greater version of yourself will really propel you forward towards the person you want to become.
How can girls get involved in Spire & Co? What resources do you have to offer?
ER: We have an awesome ambassador program that we are kicking off this month where ambassadors have access to workshops, experiences, and exclusive opportunities, and we have a very open door policy in terms of pitch submissions for the website, which young women can take advantage of if they want to be published.
As far as resources, we are very focused on creating content where each article is a resource itself, but in addition, we have an opportunities board that has internship and job opportunities, as well as a local chapter program so you can be a part of a micro-Spire & Co sisterhood in your area.