April McDaniel Wears Her Crown as She Conquers Creative Experiential Strategies With Major Brands

April McDaniel Wears Her Crown as She Conquers Creative Experiential Strategies With Major Brands

April McDaniel Wears Her Crown as She Conquers Creative Experiential Strategies With Major Brands

Running a business in this current environment, particularly in the creative field should incorporate the many cultures, nationalities, and forces that make the world as we know it today. With the audience being so diverse, it is important that representation is paramount. April McDaniel recognizes this and is making a way to have others see the world from eyes that don’t necessarily have the type of views people of color and women do.

As the owner and creator of Crown + Conquer, McDaniel is the driving force behind the mostly women-staffed agency. Already making strides by working with such brands as Nike, adidas, Sprite, Coca-Cola, Tik Tok, Amazon, and HBO, to name a few, the company is gearing up to exceed the success it has achieved thus far.

With the purpose to have the real world seen through the eyes of diverse people, Crown + Conquer is preparing the white male-dominated world to recognize what the rest of the audience truly sees, the dynamics of how diverse the world is.

BLACK ENTERPRISE got the opportunity to discuss with McDaniel the inner workings of Crown + Conquer, what the company is currently working on and the reason she chose a mostly female staff.

What inspired you to start Crown + Conquer? What is the primary goal of the entity?

It’s always come down to two things for me: working with people and brands that I like, respect, and admire, and on projects that I’m passionate about. Starting Crown+Conquer gave me the opportunity to do just that. The goal is to seek opportunities to build something that has never been done before. That may look different for everyone, but essentially it’s about challenging the norm and I encourage my teams to bring that mentality to every project we take on.

Your agency is mostly woman-staffed. Was that by design and what difficulties, if any, do you encounter in an overwhelmingly white male-dominated industry?

I’m honored to work with diverse women who put in so much effort every day. When I founded Crown + Conquer, I wanted to break down barriers for other women in the workplace. Corporate America forces women to conform and tone down who they really are. I didn’t want that for C+C. As the company continued to grow, the most supportive and understanding of who I was, were women. It’s this special blend of being a woman and a working mother – we bring something unique to the table, something that’s different. To go home from work and know that your job isn’t over because you have kids at home requires a lot of tenacity. With the team’s determination, diverse perspectives, and individual authenticity, we’re able to create creative solutions to bring brands to life in new ways.

My team and I never took “no” as an answer; if someone doesn’t want to do something, there’s someone else who will. And if it doesn’t happen, it’s not for me. I don’t force myself to fit into certain places and I don’t try to change who I am. We’re not afraid to say no.

You’ve launched an editorial internship program in partnership with Getty Images, can you tell us more about this initiative? Where can brands learn more?

Our partnership with Getty Images set out to change the narrative for creators from marginalized communities. Many of them lack access to brand and high-profile editorial opportunities. The internship is a first-of-its-kind editorial program designed for big budding creators that gives them the opportunity to grow their portfolios, sharpen their skill sets, and expand their business networks.

With one of our latest interns, Getty Images and our agency partnered with the Oscars to give him the opportunity to be live on the red carpet. This was an incredible opportunity for him to use his photography skills at one of the world’s biggest and most prestigious events. Giving these interns hands-on experience and access is what we set out to achieve.

We have one intern for 4 months in LA and the hope is to grow the program to several interns in LA and NYC.

On the Hoffman Podcast, you spoke about being real with yourself and others, as well as being more vulnerable, how do you bring this same sentiment to Crown + Conquer? What type of impact would you like to have on your community as you go forward?

Being a founder isn’t for everyone. As a founder, you’re told to be a certain type of person. It comes with many unrealistic requirements as if you need to be on a pedestal 24/7. For many, the title is glittery. It isn’t for me. It has an extremely high level of responsibility.

You’re going to need people to jump in and help and that requires showing vulnerability. Having a tribe around you that’s supportive is so essential, people that you can rely on and that allow you to be yourself. That’s really important when building a team. We’ve been brought up to believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness, especially if you’re in a leadership role. There isn’t a lot of compassion for leaders to feel comfortable being their true authentic selves and that needs to change.

For someone who has a passion and wants to start their own creative business, what would you tell them?

People need to understand that it starts and ends with YOU. You’re typically the last one to eat and the first one to get a complaint. They need to understand the level of responsibility that comes with the title of entrepreneur.

I’d suggest understanding what is best for you. Ask yourself questions like, “What type of leader do I want to be?” “How do I want to scale?”  “ What’s my bandwidth?” It’s really a process.

You’ve ideated and created events for brands like Nike, Sprite, and Coca-Cola, and helped brands such as Tik Tok and HBO re-enter the world of in-person events. Tell us, what’s next for Crown + Conquer? What can we expect to see in the next year or two?

Right now, I’m really looking for stability. Coming out of COVID has been really intense for our team and finding that stability is important. I’m looking to focus on continuously doing great work for great brands.

In the last 6 months, we’ve had a new leadership team onboard and we’re expected to grow by 64% this year – not an easy feat in a challenging economic climate. I believe that speaks to our level of dedication, commitment, and integrity toward our work and the brands we work with.

April McDaniel Wears Her Crown as She Conquers Creative Experiential Strategies With Major Brands


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