#BEYOUROWN MEETS MONICA CHALLINGSWORTH LYONS
Eustress + Demeter is a full-service branding and consulting firm focused on the hospitality, travel and luxury sectors co-founded by Monica Challingsworth Lyons who carries 14 years of experience in hospitality, leadership, and sales.
Having curated a record generation of over $25 million in catering sales alone, Monica has successfully designed, implemented, and executed extremely successful sales and marketing programs for some of the top names in hospitality and private equity. With a strong background in strategic planning, Monica is dedicated to defining and developing powerful relationships customised to the sustainable financial success of each of her clientele.
Welcome Monica, thank you for coming on board with us, can you introduce you and your company to us?
Yes, Eustress + Demeter is a woman-owned, woman-ran business-development firm. We’ve only been around for a little under two years and have already amassed national and international clients. We specialise in the hospitality, wellness and luxury sectors but are open to any industry that promotes community, serenity, and personal fulfilment for its team members and clientele. Companies can be as small as an independent yogurt shop or as large as an internationally renowned skincare brand.
We want to take core ideas and expand them to create organisational health and well-being for every client we collaborate with. We pride ourselves on developing and teaching the utilisation tools necessary to run a smooth, successful business that is lasting, influential and gratifying for all. Our core focus is engaging, developing and sustaining our clients’ most important assets: its people and top-line revenue while ensuring values are maintained and expanded through everything its leadership does.
Eustress + Demeter is the culmination of more than four years of soul searching. My mom, Darlene Erich, and I had been sharing our frustrations with the current corporate construct. I had been in the hospitality industry for more than 14 years, mostly focused on leadership and sales. Darlene worked for decades at two major healthcare companies in leadership development.
We started musing about what the perfect company for us would look like – a place where the team members were truly valued for the unique, talented individuals they were in a safe, empowering, collaborative environment. And if we could develop that for ourselves, why couldn’t we develop it for our clients?
That became the vision and impetus for Eustress + Demeter. By taking one scary step at a time, we began to find a way to enact this dream by pooling our breadth of knowledge and skills while enlisting the talents of other women who connected with these ideals as well.
The results have been overwhelming! We’ve already had incredible client experiences with local, national and international companies of all sizes. We are branching out in so many directions but still keeping hospitality, branding, and wellness at our core. We’re realising it’s more about shared ideals and mutual passion and belief in a product or principle than spreadsheet margins. But, as we figured, that is coming too.
Our clients are seeing dramatic results in the earliest phases of their work with us and these results continue to increase. From here, we can go anywhere and we’re finding so many unique ways to fill a niche for the companies we’re working with.
Can you talk us through the path you have pathed to where you are as the co-founder and president of Eustress and Demeter?
With extensive experience in the corporate world, my mom and I had been sharing our frustrations with past leaders, the current corporate environment, and our ideal working environment, during the past few years. We began to ask ourselves why we couldn’t create this vision for ourselves and if we could create it for us, why couldn’t we help create it for our clients?
Though we came from different industries, there is a lot of overlap between healthcare and hospitality. They both serve people. They are most successful when the customer goes away happy, well cared for and treated like a valued human being. This is true if you run a single burger joint or a national healthcare conglomerate. And the same applies to your employees. They want to be happy, well cared for and treated like valued human beings.
From there, we pinpointed how to teach others to build a strong and healthy environment, where creativity is nurtured and the team unit is respected. Once we dialled this down, we knew we could empower our clients to place this at the core of everything they do. It informs every growth and business decision they make, usually to amazing results.
Because we are preaching these concepts, we must always walk the walk and we wouldn’t want it any other way. This is the environment we all dreamed of working in and now we have the opportunity to create it for ourselves and empower our clients to create it for their teams.
How are you aiming to bring your clients visions to fruition by developing meaningful and long-lasting partnerships for their company?
Because we are so committed to working with companies whose values align with our own, we approach every interaction as a potential long-term partnership, even if it’s a short-term problem fix. We want them to feel they can always come to us, whether they’re opening their second location or their 700th. They key is to make sure our values are aligned. If we truly don’t feel there is a solid mutual goal, we’ll respectfully decline the contract and recommend another consultancy.
If it is a good fit, there is nothing we won’t do to bring their vision to fruition. We have a “Playbook” that works at any level for any size company. If we stick to the strategies laid forth, it customises to every client’s needs and yields tremendous results.
You focus primarily on areas such as brand development and positioning, strategic program implementation, and creative marketing designed to increase revenue and support growth initiatives. However, what is your most favoured aspect of what you do at Eustress and Demeter?
Being able to impact companies and industries of all kinds and empower them to optimise their business growth is incredibly gratifying. We pride ourselves on individualising every circumstance or customer need and fulfilling it. If we can’t do it ourselves, we have developed a solid network of partners who we consult with for answers and resources.
Our team is a unique blend of individual personalities. Our experience, coupled with our creativity, helps us bring any brand and dream to life. We believe there cannot be sustainability without a strong foundation of trust, integrity, and personal empowerment, built on a solid employee-driven culture.
Can you talk us through the Eustress and Demeter company structure?
Apart from myself as the CEO and co-founder, we have Darlene Erich – COO and co-founder. Darlene is an incredible leader and mentor. With over 25 years in business, her passion for people in business has driven her to dedicate her life to helping build teams and discover leaders. She is certified as a DISC + Values Coach, making her an ideal person for communication and team building workshop, mentorship, and ongoing coaching support. Darlene focuses on creating leaders and developing strong teams from within.
We also have Devin Slatas, Devin is an incredibly passionate visual designer. Her creative focus is to help brands find their niche through branding identities, logos, websites, and illustration. She is dedicated to launching your project with extensive research, creative branding, and marketing. Devin has an artistic eye for precision and detail and creates conceptual designs that will inspire and improve your business
Adeniz Villar, Adeniz is a storyteller at heart and has over six years of expertise in using content and social media marketing to help brands build relationships with their audience. Witnessing the rise of social media and its effect on brand exposure and revenue growth she has found a way to connect brands with people through storytelling. Adeniz has an affinity for creating compelling imagery but also understands utilising social platforms to share that content and ensure it’s effective in driving conversion.
Nicole Schwartz has more than 14 years of marketing and social media experience. Having led a national retail chain’s marketing efforts from 1 to 25 units, she harnesses creativity to spark consumer obsession. Her strategy is to create a comprehensive marketing campaign, which integrates community and considers consumer behavioural principles to deliver results. Above all, Nicole is scrappy. She shuns cookie-cutter marketing plans and rather, works hard to tackle the unique challenges each business faces.
How is Eustress and Demeter funded and what was the start-up process like for you?
Eustress + Demeter launched as a self-funded company. We were able to save some startup costs by researching and doing much of the legwork and paperwork ourselves. From there, we started acquiring clients. After a short time, we obtained a small business loan to ensure we were always able to bridge the gap between paying our team while waiting for client payment. As any contractor or consultant knows, companies usually have a liberal payment window but payroll does not. We needed to make sure we had reserves to pay our team members expediently, even if we gave our clients a usual business time frame to pay. This allows us to take our projects to the next level, no matter the size or scope.
What has been the best project to date you have worked on?
We’ve had some amazing, gratifying experiences. However, each project is unique and we have enjoyed success with all of them. We strive to customise each situation to each client’s needs. One experience we found very powerful was when we were able to help a small, family-owned restaurant realise the power of their own story.
In business almost 30 years, with much of the same staff, the owners and team had committed deeply to their ideals but weren’t sharing that commitment with their customers through their marketing. We helped them frame and share their story as the foundation of the company’s mission and through that, they realized how valuable it was and are now reinforcing it through everything they do.
Can you share with us a particular career highlight so far?
Yes. One recent experience was so powerful. We had the opportunity to travel and work in Singapore with a natural skincare line called V10Plus, based in Japan. It is currently carried in 22 countries but it had yet to launch in North America. They asked us to help them penetrate the U.S., Mexican and Canadian markets. The principals of the company hosted us so we could personally product train with the founders. We met their families and learned of their inspirations and aspirations at every level. We came to realise V10Plus is the world’s first supplemental skincare line and we could optimise its North American rollout on multiple levels.
Our future business highlight is our goal to create a women’s entrepreneurial scholarship fund, where we help women business owners or aspiring business owners to realise their dreams. Through funding, introductions, and financial education, we will facilitate every step for entrepreneurs pursuing their dreams.
Number one rule in business you stick by?
Our entire company is rooted in our commitment to our mission and values. We wanted to create a positive, collaborative, empowering working environment, where every idea is welcomed and given credence. Our clients need to have the same mission and values we have. It is very important for us to work with others who value our team as much as we value theirs.
What are your preferred marketing methods for Eustress and Demeter?
To date, we are a 100% referral based through our clients and our strong creative partnerships. We have a website and social media presence that reflects our aesthetic so referrals can find us and further understand what we’re about but our business so far has been all word of mouth.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
For us, #BEYOUROWN is about finding your own way. Living your own truth. We believe you can have it all. We are devotees to the power of connection and mankind. When we are our own most powerful advocates, we can live every dream and inspire others to do the same.
Where are you looking to expand to next throughout 2019?
We’re ready to see where the tide is going to take us. A call may come in tomorrow that will take us to a place we never imagined. One element we’re particularly passionate about is doing more branding for the cannabis industry. Through the work we’ve already done with this all-new sector, we’ve learned incredible things about organic wellness we might not have realised before. From pet care to skincare to anxiety and pain management, there are so many innovations happening in this space and it has explosive revenue potential.
Image taken by Felicia Lasala