Go-getter speaks to Lake Village interns

Go-getter speaks to Lake Village interns


Youth interns in the Alex Foundation’s work experience program were listeners to entrepreneur Elizabeth Michael, at LVA Church in Lake Village recently.

Alex Foundation, a nonprofit organization, aims to encourage students to consider careers and entrepreneurial opportunities in architecture and design, according to its website. The foundation recently launched its internship at Lake Village.

Michael, who grew up at Lake Village working at her family’s home decor and furniture company, Paul Michael Co., shared her story about her experiences in business, including helping grow the Michael business.

“I was living in Philadelphia, Pa. After a year, I went back home and started working for my dad. My dad’s only marketing before I came was using a guestbook that people would sign their addresses. He would mail fluorescent pieces of paper for sales that had black text on them. He wasn’t collecting emails. He didn’t have a website. With a $500 website budget, we got it done,” Michael said.

Michael said she created a digital space for the company.

“We really digitalized a lot of the marketing. We got on social media. We launched an online store. Around the same time, Pinterest came out. Pinterest plus home d├ęcor equals gold,” Michael said.

It was at Paul Michael where Michael became interested in marketing.

“I created this whole situation I couldn’t manage. I started interviewing advertising agencies to help me. I interviewed a Little Rock ad agency and told them that instead of me hiring you, how about you hire me. And they did,” she said.

Michael said being hired by the Little Rock ad agency was a defining moment.

“That’s how I ended up in Little Rock at this ad agency, where I really flourished. They gave me all the training tools and tips. Basically, how to educate myself. I had the tools to do really cool stuff,” Michael said.

Michael headed up social media and content strategy at that agency.

“We did all of the tourism for Arkansas, the Department of Health, the Department of Transportation Click it or Ticket, things like that. It was really cool to have the voice of Arkansas on social media and when you have something like that, social media companies recognize you more,” Michael said. “I really got to explore what the business of social media was there.”

Michael left that agency and started her own ad agency, Bud Agency, focusing on the cannabis industry, such as medical marijuana and dispensaries. Developing ads for this type of industry requires precision.

“These types of ads can be very meticulous, due to all the laws and regulations surrounding the product. Many regular ad agencies don’t like to bother with them due to that reason,” she said.

She has seen progress in the legislative process.

“After Arkansas legislature passed the cannabis marijuana [bill]; and because of a bunch of things, I started getting a lot of referrals for that. I partnered with another ad agency, and we started doing marketing and advertising for the cannabis industry. It’s been interesting to watch something evolve into a huge tax generator,” Michael said.

While she works on the advertising and marketing side for the cannabis industry, Michael said her husband provides a different service.

“My husband has a fintech company that provides financial services to the cannabis industry. He has developed the software to provide companies with banking and financial services. Some (traditional) banks don’t want the money because it smells,” she said. “It’s really an interesting industry to be in.”

In college, Michael majored in English literature, with a concentration in writing and rhetoric and Arab and Islamic studies. Her minor was in philosophy. She conveyed to the youth that their college major may not always be their career path.

“I didn’t major in marketing. I got into it really randomly. I gravitated toward it. The ad agency route is a fun start. Getting paid to be creative is fun,” Michael said.

In addition to her ad agency, Michael also owns Bark Bar, a venue where people 21 and older can take their dog to run and play while they work, relax, eat and drink. It is a unique establishment and the only one of its kind in the Arkansas, according to the news release.

The youth interns also heard from Vernard Henley, an assistant dean at the University of Arkansas Little Rock College of Engineering and Information Technology (EIT.)

A former Exxon Mobil engineer, the soon-to-be retired Henley discussed STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers and a college path to obtaining a career in the profession, including STEM summer camps and scholarships.

Among his responsibilities at UA Little Rock, Henley manages his department’s recruitment and retention, summer programs, outreach events, EIT career fairs, pre-engineering programs and outreach partnerships.

Angela Courtney is the Alex Foundation executive director. Details: www.alex-foundation.org.


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