By James Dupraj
For over 13 years, Carla Williams-Johnson has worked in the field of marketing, advertising, and communication. As a Media Marketing Specialist, Williams-Johnson spent her early career working “my fantastically fabulous buns off” while others built their dreams and became financially independent based on the strength of her concepts and ideas.
“Everywhere I went, my colleagues would always tell me I should open my own business because I was so talented with such great ideas,” she said. “A voice inside me said, ‘You could do it’ but fear is such a powerful thing, especially fear of the unknown. I mean, getting a salary was better than nothing, right?”
In 2016, Johnson was working an 8-4 job and was unhappy with her position in life, physically ill, and under-appreciated at her job. “One morning I was called in by HR who informed me that my job was now redundant. After sacrificing to stay in a job I hated, here I was being told that I was no longer needed,” she remembered. However, although the turn of events was ironic she felt free and happier than she had in a long time.
“I felt like this was my time to shine, on my own.”
Her life changed when she finally decided to trust her instincts and listen to the small but determined voice within that constantly said, “You could do it, don’t worry, you’ll be alright.” After years of corporate entities building their successes on her brainpower, she decided it was time to become her own entity.
“So here I am, a young single mother, with no job, no plan of action, no money, and no clue what to do. I was a bit scared, but a lot determined that I needed to get focused,” she said of the time of transition. She fell back on what she was good at and what had always made the companies she worked for successful. She started to meet people, expand her horizons, and make valuable connections.
“Sometimes I made no money at all, sometimes I made just enough to cover my bills,” Johnson shared. “There were days I cried long tears and almost lost it because I knew I was working hard.”
By returning to her marketing roots – her strongest technical skill – she started helping others grow their businesses but this time as her own boss.
In 2017, she landed her first major contract, and after that she began getting calls for interviews about her work and was featured in local and international publications. She was even named one of the Top 99 “Limit Breaking Female Founders” – a list compiled by the world renown media house Huffington Post and Thrive Global.
“Could you imagine?” she said with a smile. “In just a few months I went from not having a job to being recognised on such a global scale? That’s the reward of using your innate gifts, talents, and abilities,” she added of the ways her persistence and resilience helped shape her career today.
Proudly, she stated that by letting go of fear, self-doubt, and her less-than-stellar results of her first year as an entrepreneur, she rose to the occasion and trusted in the Universe’s plan for her.
Johnson’s business, Carli Communications (carlimedia.com), is homage to her father. Being his only daughter, she was a bonafide “daddy’s girl”. When he passed away unexpectedly in 2010, she felt as if her world had crashed around her.
“But through the darkness, my business was born. It was time to come out of the shadows, because his death taught me a tough lesson – that no matter what, while you’re here on this earth, do something worthwhile that you would be remembered for,” she said of the drive this loss inspired in her.
“My business life changed when my dad passed away. Out of it my passion for doing good in the world was reignited because through the tears and heartache I realised I wanted to leave a legacy for my daughter, just like my dad left for me.”
Johnson’s business, which is also a nod to the name her father affectionately called her, specialises in branding and marketing strategy. Her unique understanding of the advertising and marketing worlds and ability to understand the media through creative thinking makes her a force to be reckoned with, she believes.
“I’m a warrior princess,” she said with a laugh. “I consider myself an advocate for businessowners and entrepreneurs who truly need to put themselves out there the right way to the right audience without losing themselves in the process.”
She also doesn’t believe in “selling out” her clients in order to make a buck. “Over the years, I noticed there were a lot of businessmen and businesswomen being ill-advised by inexperienced sales reps looking to make a quick profit or using their lack of knowledge against them to sell something that made no sense,” she said, adding that she sometimes feels like a superhero to be honest with her clients.
“I am here for my people. On the surface my company helps you with promoting your business but what we really do is assist you in finding the best and quickest ways to truly connect with your ideal clients.”
Her ideal clients are entrepreneurs who may be confused, tired, or stressed out because they are at a loss for how to invest in their business to see the returns they wish for. “Also, budding businessowners who want to step out of the shadows but are overwhelmed by the numerous choices out there to connect with people,” she elaborated. “And single mums who are trying to turn their ‘side hustles’ into something much more.”
With creative solutions, Johnson said she can help such entrepreneurs reach their desired clients sooner with step-by-step approaches that indicate exactly what to do, where to be, and how much to invest for the best results. “What I guarantee to businessowners is clarity, confidence, creativity, certainty, and consultation. What I do is offer them advice on ways to promote themselves both online and offline as I believe that a mix of both is crucial.”
She would also like to engage in special projects with secondary school-aged students, showing how social media can be used as a positive influence for entrepreneurship. “Too often they see it as entertainment, but even at that young age I want to show them how social media can be used for business and help them build themselves,” she said, highlighting that platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can all be utilised for more than just recreational purposes and adapted to real world marketing and brand strategy.
Next on the horizon for Johnson is becoming a new mother for the second time after 17 years. She still finds it hard to believe that she will soon have a newborn and an adult in the same year. “Being a mum is truly a driving force – in life and in business – because everything you do is for your children,” she gushed. Her daughter is vocal about the pride she has in Johnson and her own wishes to start her own business upon seeing the example set by her mother.
“She saw the highs and lows I felt during my dark days. Now that I have my own business, she understands the journey and feels like she can do it, too,” Johnson said proudly.
To business people who feel hopeless or overwhelmed, she said, “You are not alone on your journey. There are so many others who are dealing with the same things you are and it’s okay to feel down sometimes but the trick is rising up and overcoming it.”
Speaking from a place of experience, she said every person – no matter their position – has the resilience and power within to rise above the challenges of life.
“You have the knowledge, expertise, passion, and desire in what you do. Sometimes you just need a little nudge on how to get there. Your ‘friendly neighbourhood marketer’ is here and I won’t let you get left behind,” she laughed. “Think of me as your tour guide to the success of marketing your business.”