I have always been–weird. I wasn’t your typically kiddo, unless your kiddo at 7 years old figured out how to create access databases for their pretend grocery store. Then I am totally like your kiddo! I’ve always been a global thinker who sees connections to things that others don’t. I see how all the little pieces layer together to lead people on their journeys.
I typically explain it like in the Good Doctor, when Shaun starts problem solving a medical mystery and he can see everything come together–that’s how my brain works with systems. But I had a crazy journey into entrepreneurship and to be honest–this is the farthest from what I ever thought I would be doing in my life. I thought I was going to be a lawyer!
So, if you had told a 17 year old me that I was an international brand strategist running my own business–I probably would have thought you were thinking of a different person. See back then–I had different priorities. I had just graduated from high school and was struggling to pay rent at my measly $6.25 an hour job where I was working 60+ hours a week.
I was determined to not repeat the story of my parents–where debt was the norm and money in the bank was a dream. So that mean I refused student loans–and with that ☝️☝️ shitty job, my dream of going to college and becoming a lawyer were shot. I didn’t qualify for scholarships because well–I couldn’t have cared less about homework. I mean I B-/C+ average, but it’s not like people are handing out trophies for that!
But I came from a military family so when all of your options are gone, and you don’t know what to do–in my family, that means it’s time to join the military. So that’s just what I did! Hello, Air Force, here I come! And looking back now–I wouldn’t be where I am today without having joined the military, because they taught me a super amazing skill–and it wasn’t actually what I was trained to do! (But that’s a story for another time.)
Somewhere along the way–my command figured out that I am really good at seeing how to put things back together. (I promised this would be PG-13–so I won’t say what I usually do) but essentially–I kept being put in positions of authority where I needed to piece back together programs that either weren’t working, didn’t exist or weren’t effective. And with every responsibility I learned more and more and more about how to create and build systems. Heck–at one point I even ended up designing UX for a new program–but I digress.
Near the tail end of my military career–my mental health broke down. I was barely a shell of a human, and it was affecting everything. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t breath and what used to be the occasional squeak (yes, I squeak) turned into me shaking like a chihuahua and screeching like what I can only imagine is the sound of an infant velociraptor Low and behold–not only was I anxious, depressed, and feeling the effects of PTSD–I had Tourettes’ Syndrome. For me–and the way all that manifested that meant no more military.
When my retirement hit–I was lost. I didn’t know what to do and things got majorly worse before they got better. The thing I had learned in the military is that I can do things I don’t want to do–but at the cost of my well-being and sanity. I didn’t want to go back down that path, so whatever I chose it needed to be something where I had complete control. That’s when it hit me–I needed to be creative.
At first that manifested as a do-all-the-things-my-brain-thinks-I-can-do Shop. From paintings and peg dolls to stationery and scrapbooks. I did anything that gave me a creative outlet and that people would pay for. Eventually, I realized that graphic design really lit me up. And I niched down into stationery. For several years that meant having an Etsy shop that eventually after some time took off. BUT–I still felt like it was not what I mean to do.
That probably was because when I was supposed to be creating new designs, I was creating access databases, building my own custom client management system or tweaking my website–again. Then about 5 years ago, I started getting plugged in with other stationers and they were always asking questions about systems, workflows, tech, programs–and I always seemed to be able to help. That’s when it hit me–I’m the behind-the-scenes magician. I am the strategic person to help people grow. I see the patterns that most creatives don’t see–because they are amazing at creating in their zone of genius.
From there it was like an express train–the more the person I was on the outside reflected the person on the inside, the more my business grew! I learned new software, I upleveled my coding skills, I dug down the rabbit hole of systems and tech and trenched myself where I could help busyAF entrepreneurs who want to make shit happen!
My journey was not linear or without struggle and it took tons of reflecting to even find WHO I wanted to be and HOW I wanted to show up in the world. Where I am now wouldn’t be without the help of Heather Vickery for teaching me that boundaries are a good thing, and that I get to decide what they are. I wouldn’t be as open and authentic without the help of Angela Locashio for showing me that consent is a part of every aspect of life–and when we live in our wheel of consent magic happens! And this might be hilarious to many–but I wouldn’t be any part of who I am if I wasn’t such a nerd and absorbed all my life lessons from Star Trek. That people are people and culture is beautiful. That every person has the right to be who they are meant to be.
So here I am. A neurodivergent brand strategist who is crazy nerdy, helping out entrepreneurs who have felt like the lone sheep that never fit into the flock–make AH-MAZING things happen for themselves.
Molly Hicks (she/her) is a brand strategy badass and founder of the self-named brand strategy and design micro-agency that helps busy AF entrepreneurs make shit happen. Her out-of-the box, cookie-cutter free strategy helps biz owners build sustainable systems that not only grow their business but also make sense to their unique way of thinking.
Follow Molly: https://instagram.com/themollyhicks