#QGTM: Get To Know Patreese Walker, The Mastermind Behind The Branding Bag
Black businesses have experienced significant growth in recent years, a direct result of community support and new initiatives. Patreese Walker, founder, and CEO of the Branding Bag (TBB), is helping elevate these businesses.
Established in 2020, the Branding Bag is an online-based business enterprise that allows small business owners to platform themselves and market their products. The company now operates across 32 states with over 7,500 members. However, while it has made a substantial difference for entrepreneurs through its platform, what really makes TBB stand out is its coaching academy.
The Branding Bag Academy offers resources and opportunities to budding entrepreneurs, including weekly meetings, one-on-one coaching sessions, and mentorship programs.
In an interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE, Walker discussed the launch of TBB, how her experiences as a Black woman have informed her path and her words of wisdom for other business owners.
Walker started The Branding Bag Academy after realizing that the needs of aspiring entrepreneurs weren’t being met and that traditional marketing techniques weren’t garnering results.
“As a serial entrepreneur, I knew the importance of networking and marketing yourself outside of your own timeline. I joined so many business groups to do just that, only to be told I can only post on Wednesdays or Saturdays or that I need to pay to post. When you’re small and growing it’s not always in the budget to pay per post with the hopes that you get a client,” she says.
“I actually got kicked out of a few groups with no warnings because I unintentionally posted on a day that wasn’t approved to post. I got mad, said enough was enough, and created my own group.
“While observing the businesses that were posted, I would see certain posts that didn’t get any traction, or get some complaints on the backend from customers of things that could’ve been avoided,” she adds. “Thus, the Branding Bag Academy was born. I made it my mission to do my part in assisting these businesses, as affordable as possible or for free. I realized not everyone had a support system, mentors, or anyone to coach them into their next level as I did.”
As of June 2023, Walker is officially certified as a business coach. However, she had already built an extensive resume over five years, working with real estate agencies and brokers, restaurant and food truck owners, daycare owners, hair stylists, tax preparers, and others.
“I created my group three years ago and have been assisting them for years as well. I finally decided I needed to make this official and brand myself as such,” Walker says.
Walker’s journey as an entrepreneur has not always been easy.
“Ever since I can remember, I have loved people and have always been a people person. All throughout high school, I was the class clown, the lovable but smart kid. Senior year I skipped school a lot and hung out with the older crowds. The principal sat me down and told me I couldn’t graduate due to attendance. Imagine that exemplary student with passing grades and homecoming queen couldn’t graduate,” she says.
The conversation with her principal served as a wake-up call.
Immediately after the discussion, Walker pivoted toward attaining her G.E.D. Though she succeeded, just seven months later, she discovered that she was pregnant at just 18 years old. Freshly out of high school, Walker was unsure how to proceed but remained as determined as ever. It was then that she met somebody who offered a helping hand.
“He hired me in finance at an entry-level position, and against all odds (being Black, being a woman, being uneducated), I worked my way up to assistant store manager, then store manager six months after that, and general manager a year after that,” she says.
Though Walker does not name the man who helped her, she says his faith in her ability gave her opportunities beyond what she could have imagined.
“The most important part of this story and the game-changer for me was the guy who took a chance on me, became my work mentor, and guided me on those goals. That was when I knew the importance of finding a mentor and I wanted to be that person for others. I then began working with businesses on the backend, helping them structure their businesses and create processes for their businesses. I used the knowledge I had gained in working in a corporate setting and in a management role.”
Since its inception, The Branding Bag Academy has positively impacted the lives of thousands of Black business owners.
“Anyone that I work with must align with our vision, mission, and core values. I use those as my guide along with my spirit of discernment to make the final decision. By vetting each business, it gives the consumers peace of mind when shopping with these businesses, and a mediator if it doesn’t work out,” she says.
She’s also offered advice to Black female entrepreneurs hoping to get their businesses off the ground.
“I am a firm believer in allowing God to order my steps. I always get his approval first. I also tell everyone to figure out their why first. Most people get an idea, form an LLC, apply for an EIN, and then get stuck,” she says. “If you discover your why, then and only then, can you be confident in marketing yourself, maneuvering through the highs and lows of entrepreneurship, and placing your roots firmly in this cold business world. Money can’t be your only motive because what is going to keep you going when the money is slow or nonexistent?”
The Branding Bag Academy has several different programs for entrepreneurs, ranging from $25-$65 per subscription. There are also free and unlimited resources exclusively in the TBB Facebook group, as well as free educational lives, Zoom training and webinars, and more.
For more information, visit https://www.thebrandingbag.net/about.
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