This founder spotlight is brought to you by our partners at the Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs (AMSE).
You could say that Selena Conmackie, owner of boutique digital strategy firm Hauoli-Socially Inspired, is in the business of good vibes.
"The name of my small business literally means 'happy' in Hawaiian," she says.
The hashtags and algorithms might have come later, but hospitality has always been always part of Conmackie's life. She originally spent two decades in the restaurant industry, managing a Planet Hollywood through the chain's '90s heyday and beyond. That all changed when the single mother met her second husband, a member of the United States Army.
"I found myself at 40 knowing how to do life — but not military life," she says. The itinerant life of a military spouse compelled her to reanimate an old personal blog back from the days when platforms like Blogger and RSS feeds ruled the world. After polishing her skills through several crash courses in SEO, social media, and digital strategy, today she runs Hauoli remotely from her home in Fort Hood, Texas, working for a variety of clients including Christian authors, violin shops, restaurants, podcasters, pool contractors, and pretty much any business looking to perfect its online presence.
Her go-to advice is to approach a consultant like her with a clear sense of what you're hoping to gain from the relationship: "Find the right person that understands the vision of your product or service. Make sure the website has an intention for why it exists. Is it it to sell? To educate? You must have a specific intention for why it exists."
That process sometimes means an owner realizing that they might be good business owners but bad storytellers. Conmackie says her services are a good option for clients ready to let go of the marketing reins and try something new. "My job is to motivate you and feel passionate and brave about putting your business out there," Conmackie says. "Your site is a virtual home, and we need to beautify it."
In many ways, Hauoli's sector — digital strategy — is one that the coronavirus has only made more relevant. Conmackie says she's actually more busy than ever with her clients as they strategize ways to re-engage their physical audiences and tell their story through social media. One theme she keeps circling back to with clients is authenticity — both in terms of meeting your audience where they are and having the courage to get real about the impacts of COVID-19.
"The one thing I tell everyone is to get on Facebook or Instagram Live somewhere and let people get to know you as your business — it really builds this trust factor," Conmackie says. "That’s the one thing I say no matter if I’m doing graphic design or copywriting for a client. Go on Live and talk about this thing I’m building for you! Talk about this hardship you're experiencing! People want to see the real, messy people behind a business, not a perfect photo of a juicy burger. The algorithm gods love that stuff so much, and you'll see the numbers reflect the risk."
The Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurs (AMSE) provides milspouse entrepreneurs with the tools and connections to help them succeed. Click here to learn more.