After working as a financial reporter for the Dow Jones and receiving countless pitches from corporate publicists, Miatta Johnson felt there was something greater she could contribute to the market.
She had honed the gift of creative storytelling and had friends in the music industry that needed support garnering press for their artists, so she began offering publicity services for free and realized she had gained more fulfillment from the role than from her full-time job. Her sister Massah David, felt the same after working her way through roles in the music industry from an internship at an artist management company to becoming a marketing executive for the largest indie record label in the country, at the time.
“Collectively we realized that we brought something different to the table and when we put our skills together it was magic. The nexus was storytelling,” says David. Coming from an entrepreneurial family, this inspired the sisters to make their dreams a reality by merging their passions for media, music, and culture to co-found MVD, Inc.
Since launching the boutique creative agency in 2002, Johnson and David have specialized in creating immersive experiences that leverage strategic positioning and integrated marketing to host some of the most creative and exclusive events of this time. Their list of clientele and Fortune 500 companies span music, film, fashion, and tech, including creative direction for brands like Universal Pictures, Netflix, ESSENCE Magazine, and the Recording Academy.
From Witnessing A Need To Creating Opportunity
“As a marketer, I would often view everything from the lens of how do we cut through the clutter? What makes this special? Why should people care?” says David. With their work cultivating those spaces in their prior careers through marketing music and PR relations, it created what David highlights as a unique opportunity to highlight and concept for their events creatively without limitations.
Expanded creativity at its core has been the true strategy to their success, which is made up of a fusion of who they are and what they wish to share with the world. In addition, David and Johnson approach their work from a lens of multiplicity rather than singularly focusing on planning and production. Their boutique’s vision is to create connectivity through experience: “We’ve always viewed it as breaking a barrier and doing something that has never been done before. We want you to remember that experience from 10 years ago that turned into a cultural moment,” David and Johnson express. With their combined skills, they’ve set a bar that extends beyond the latest trends to curate events that are timeless.
How to Make Events About The People
With time and experience in the field, David and Johnson have found their industry has sometimes focused solely on “the data and generic methods of event production.” To circumvent this, the sisters have been mindful of creating experiences for guests by thinking about all the elements encountered by guests from conception to fruition by thinking of an event from beginning to end. They approach each phase of their projects by being mindful of:
• Intentionality: They’ve found it important from the start to define the goal of an event. Subsequently, everything from the tone to the flow and life of their events have revolved around it.
• Details: They also describe themselves as being in the details business and as such have endeavored to be mindful that guests are interested in knowing and feeling that an experience has been carefully crafted with them in mind.
This has enabled Johnson and David to produce events for organizations from The Recording Academy to Netflix, Def Jam Records, Sony Pictures, and Samsung. Some of their favorites include recently planning this year’s Recording Academy Honors Presented by the Black Music Collective Black Music Collective, Essence Black Women in Hollywood, a series of DONDA listening parties, A$AP Rocky’s album release party, and the Pyer Moss Met Gala Afterparty.
Breaking Barriers & Sowing Forward Wisdom
David and Johnson’s successes have also come by way of making the most of unforeseen challenges. From moving to the United States as child refugees after several years of captivity to climbing the music and publicity ranks and later thriving in the creative agency space, their vision has been nothing shy of greatness. The sisters and co-founders started out as a few of a handful of Black publicists who owned their own event firms and have gone on to create environments for continued inspiration and encouragement for others.
However, as they’ve scaled they often still do not see many people who look like them in the spaces they occupy: “When you do stadium tours and work with organizations that have been around for decades and you see the looks on everyone’s face when you walk into the room… It’s usually one of surprise and skepticism. We’ve still had to show and prove ourselves–after 20 years in business–and fight for jobs that don’t typically come to us but usually go to our male counterparts,” says Johnson.
To circumvent those challenges, MVD’s founders have endeavored to live by the following, which they encourage newcomers to the field to do:
• Keep going: “When difficulty arises there’s always an opportunity on the other side of it. If you give in soon, you may miss what was on the other side. Feel your way through life and allow your intuition to guide you, not fear.”
• Pull as you climb: “Creating a space for others to thrive can leave a lasting impact on the industry. Representation matters and helps to achieve a diverse landscape that can take creative event planning and production one step further.”
• Remember there is room for everyone: “We each bring something unique to the table. There is space for all of our contributions.”
• Don’t let the industry change you, change the industry: “Stay true to your core. When you stand in your authenticity you can cut through the clutter and thrive. Be your own competition. Identify what sets you apart and lean into that. Always show up as exactly who you are, that’s your power.”
• Focus on perfecting your craft: “Great work will always get noticed. And staying in a state of constant learning allows you to ask better questions, find unique solutions, and gain greater wisdom.”
Expanding Their Footprint: Dope Africans
In 2019 David and Johnson brought their brainchild, DOPE AFRICANS to life with the goal of creating unique experiences that allow the African creative community to connect to celebrate their culture and duality: “With many of us in various sectors of business and entertainment we felt there needed to be a space and collective for the diaspora to feel at home away from home,” the co-founders express. The response to their first signature event was beyond what Johnson and David had imagined inspiring them to host another event and priming them to gear up for a global launch.
Long-term, David and Johnson aim to expand the rich flow of opportunities for attendees that resulted in numerous connections–like major music or fashion collaborations. Reflecting on the occasion David shares: “There’s nothing like seeing the sheer joy on guests’ faces after finding a sense of community when they learn a peer is from the same country. Or attendees having jollof discussions to determine which country’s jollof rice was the best…” Communal memories last for lifetimes and the sisters look forward to continuing to create spaces that help others create those memories.
Source : Forbes