Building a business and building a brand are two distinct concepts that are often interchanged but have different meanings. Building a business means creating a practical foundation, including products, operations, and sales. On the other hand, building a brand includes all the emotional, visual, and perceived aspects of your venture that your customers experience. Most entrepreneurs can attest that a company can have a strong business foundation but still struggle to build a brand.
We sat down with Blaze Group community member, student, and biz bestie - Sequoya "Quoy" GT, Founder of Array of Gratitude. Quoy calls herself a Creative Doula, specializing in infusing creative wellness with energy-healing techniques that balance entrepreneurs' work and personal lifestyles.
Casey Ariel -- I have the honor of hosting Sequoya on the couch. I remember the first time I saw her reaction inside of a communication board on her first day of a five-day Blaze Virtual Summit®️. What she wrote was vulnerable and raw, expressing surprise at the safety she felt. Sequoya is "sis" in these streets, having shown up in many ways. Sequoya, please introduce yourself.
Quoy -- My name is Sequoya. I often go by Quoy. I love helping solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, and creatives tap into the soul of their brand by giving them a more in-depth look within. Starting here is essential, as it helps them have a stronger foundation to build the business - to build the brand. I'm all about authenticity. I'm an artist, designer, and healer. I love saying I'm a creative doula because I love to give resources and hold people's hands through that journey of self-discovery. I feel like that's important when we're building a brand, at least a soul-led brand. You can build any brand you want, but I'm all about tapping into the soul, tapping into your authenticity, and being secure, safe, and feeling like self-love to be authentic to you.
Casey Ariel -- It's beautiful. I love you describing yourself as a creative doula. So often, we constrict our identity to being the founder of a business. Yet, when we think about Elon Musk, we see a visionary. We know that. It doesn't matter what he touches. When we reflect on the life of Steve Jobs, we see a visionary. It did not matter what he touched; we knew he would redefine how the world works. That is what Blaze Group hopes to do. It's why we build leaders. It frankly doesn't matter how many business ventures you start in this lifetime. The leader behind the vision makes the difference.
Sequoya, you say that our creativity goes hand in hand with our inner child healing. Those words touch me deeply because my inner child has had to heal so much in this entrepreneurial journey. Why does creativity go hand in hand with inner child healing, and what can that look like in our lives?
Quoy -- Creativity is a zone, a mindset in a way. It's not really about what you're creating. It's about where the intention is coming from. Creativity is something that we all have. We're all co-creators. Creativity is an experiment. You're learning and relearning how to utilize that creative sense within yourself so you can manifest, build, or design something that originates in your mind. That comes from a source energy inside of you.
It's also playful. It's joyful. That's where the inner child comes into play because when you look at kids five and under, they're intuitively creating things and being themselves. Kids are genuinely themselves. Over time, we develop other things within our minds. When we get to adulthood, it's typically work, work, work, work, work. We forget how to create, or at least the adults I've created with and had groups with have. They often state, "I'm not creative, or I'm not artistic."
Art is a lifestyle. It is what you are naturally because art and nature go hand in hand. How are you naturally using your gift? How are you discovering yourself in your gifts? As you grow, you're discovering more. I encourage all entrepreneurs to get back to the inner child. The inner child is playful. The inner child is connected to that source energy. It is connected to God.
Casey Ariel -- I believe you're exactly right. I think that's why brand development is so important. It is so important that we remember those things that are instinctual to us; just as kids do. Like you said, they create. It's already in us. It's not on us, it's in us. The degree didn't give it to us. The titles don't give it to us. Remembering who we were when we were free does. I think that's why entrepreneurship is so powerful, because we gain agency again. We decide what our days consist of, etc. To your point, Sequoia, creativity is one of the most natural things we can do.
I sat in Zanzibar one day. I was at a restaurant on the beach. The wind was blowing, and I started pondering. Flies move with purpose. They may not know why they're doing it, but they're naturally drawn to decompose matter that we discard. We need them for that. Maggots do something similar. Bees, they transfer pollen. They may not conceptualize it as such; they're just doing what they're naturally drawn to, like a moth to a flame. But because they fertilize, we see beautiful blooms that continue to spread. I pondered, asking, "What if humans? What are we here for?"
What was downloaded was that we need to remember that we are creators. We are drawn to construct and create. We paint because it feels good. I think that is what we have to tap into because the closer we get to that, the more we realize how to cultivate all things just from what's under our feet. Food is there already. Healing is there already. We talked a bit about the past; let's move to the present. You also said that authentic branding has to be soul deep. What do you mean by that?
Quoy -- I'm speaking about vulnerability; remembering who you are and your God-given talents. We can all have natural talents, but if we stay away from them for too long, we may forget them. Alternatively, we may not have a purpose for them. If we don't see value in something, we often disregard it. The authenticity part is remembering who you are, what you love, what feels good, and what your passions are.
I have dealt with a lot of struggles in entrepreneurship. I looked up and realized that many things I was doing were not aligned with my mission. An entrepreneur can own a business, take someone's system that's put together, and then be that business owner and that leader. On the other hand, they can be businesswomen and create something personally aligned with their purpose, mission, what they want to do, and who they want to serve. They can align with what they feel they are here to do.
There's a difference when we're talking about authentic entrepreneurship versus just the businessman. It doesn't mean one is right or the other is wrong. It's more about getting to the root of intention. Who are you serving? How are you creating? How are you using your gifts? I'm big on using gifts. I never wanted to waste talent. My mom used to say it all the time: "wasted talent." It just played in my head like, "Well, what is my talent? What will I do?" I've always wanted to help people. So here I am now. I am helping people utilize their authentic gifts and sharing them with the world.
Casey Ariel -- That's good, Sequoya. It brings my mind to a workshop that I was in last night. Shout out to The Well Work; Kat, Gabrielle is doing super dope things with the Build Wellth Founders Academy. I'm honored to be part of the inaugural cohort. What we talked about last night was building a brand. We were presented with a very clear question in the beginning. Are you building a brand or business? It's completely up to us. We have agency, we can decide. But as Stanley Vaganoz conveyed to us, certain brands get us so excited that we save their packaging. That's not because of the business. A business does not compel you to do that. You're going to use the solution that was created, but a brand is deeper. It takes time to develop the brand. It took Apple a while to develop the brand. The things we love today - that minimalist style, all white, simple design - that's not Day 1 detail. We must give ourselves grace enough to know that all of these things are coming. We just must to stay in the game long enough to get there.
Quoy -- Exactly! That's the reasons why people get excited about certain jobs. They'll say, "Oh, I work for Google," versus them saying, "I'm a data scientist." The two are very different. In the first case, someone has articulated the identity, and people have bought into those values.
Casey Ariel -- Sequoya, you also talk about how nourishment is important for combating future burnout. I'm so used to the focus on self-care. I'm so used to recovery. These are the words we use a lot, but I've never heard anybody talk about nourishment. With that word, you talk about something seeping into every part that can be permeated so that it stays moist and remains fertile. How can we activate nourishment in our lives so that we're not always going through these cycles of building and healing? Nourishment is different.
Quoy -- Nourishment is different. It holds hands with healing but circles back to exploring who you are and what you love. It's an understanding of self-love. Everybody has a love language. There are acts of service, quality time, and things that aren't necessarily physical self-care. When we can explore our emotions and needs, that's where the nourishment is. I was introduced to Reiki when I was a massage therapist. When I was a massage therapist, I had stopped going to school for graphic design because I was like, I don't know if I want to do this cool stuff. I was introduced to a whole different lifestyle. I liked it because it was very healing, and I started realizing the power of touch, how much we need it, and how many people don't have it (or it might be distorted in a way).
What do we need to feel whole? How can we retreat with that nourishment when we're going through our healing process? How can we put that lotion on and spend extra time on our skin so it can feel good? How can we put that cozy blanket on and maybe wear it all day if we work at home or whatnot? If you go to a job, wear some cozy clothes instead of tight pants. Eat some nourishing food made from your hands. The nourishment is like soul food. It comes with the word soul. It's something that's felt in your heart space. It's felt internally. Nourishment is priceless.
Sequoya the Creative Doula dropped so many gems on our Blaze Group Radio podcast. We deeply value how she's shown up for all of us inside of the community - as a Community Ambassador, a student in the Blaze Business Intensive, an attendee at the Blaze Virtual Summit, and beyond. We're honored to amplify her voice and essential message.
Want to catch more of this liberating conversation? Tap into Blaze Group Radio | Episode 57: The Soul of Brand Development! Be sure to like and subscribe!
Stay in touch with Sequoya the Creative Doula by checking out her links below: