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Powerful Brands and the Women Responsible

On February 28 in our San Francisco studio, Rapt’s Head of Strategy Rachel Newell led a panel of women as they shared their perspectives on designing for the full human experience within the language of powerful brands.

Rapt exists to leverage the power that brands have to forge meaningful connections, touch us on a personal level, and even shape the way we live. We all know the brands that touch us, and that resonate in a way that defies description – brands that create memorable experiences and emotional connections. Behind many of those brands are thoughtful women who are deepening and expanding the way we experience them. All around us, women are orchestrating compelling moments and environments that vividly engage with their customers, employees, and the greater community.

We wanted to hear from a few of them who are based in San Francisco – so we invited them to share their stories. To an engaged audience, they talked about what they’ve learned during their careers in branding, strategy, and design – touching on the successes they’ve earned and the challenges they’ve faced along the way. Peppered throughout were personal anecdotes that resonated with all in attendance.

“There are no better stories than your own, and the stories that came before you,” Ashara reminded the audience. “Creating opportunities for us to see each other is important, because there isn’t one way in which one way of being, one way of storytelling will thrive.” Jen added, “At the end of the day, I think it’s about really specific, authentic stories.”

Among the most meaningful questions we asked the panelists were the following: How do you help people connect authentically with your brand’s story? How do you keep your eyes on your goal while staying flexible enough to shift course when circumstances demand it? How might being a woman have influenced your process – and your brand? Their answers illuminated a few key truths about branding – that The Why lies at the heart of any successful endeavor, for instance.

“What I always think about as a brand builder is, at the end of the day, what is the one thing you want to be the best at — whether on your block, in your city, in the country, in the world?” asked Jen. “Doing all you can to limit your vision and stay laser-focused is important.” Sound advice, we think.

We’re thrilled to have heard from the group and been inspired by the morning, and we can’t wait to experience what they create next.

A very special thanks to everyone who attended, as well as members of the panel itself:

Moderator: Rachel Newell, Account Director and Head of Strategy, Rapt Studio


  • Ashara Ekundayo, CEO of AECreative and Co-Founder of Impact Hub Oakland
  • Paige Grossman, VP of Design at Ancestry
  • Kate Kittridge, Head of Brand at ThirdLove
  • Jen Pelka, Owner of The Riddler and CEO of Magnum PR
  • Robyn Sue Fisher, Founder and CEO of Smitten Ice Cream