Beth Doane | The Woman Behind Some Of the World’s Biggest Brands And Executives
Pinning down Beth Doane isn’t always easy: on any given day, you could find her on a private jet to a client’s film premier, at an estate in London where she’s been asked to advise an heiress, or Silicon Valley, CA where she’s building a brand strategy for one of the world’s largest tech companies.
As managing partner of the strategic branding firm Main & Rose – a global agency she built with her co-managing partner Kelly Gibbons in 2013, with its first headquarters based in Los Angeles – Beth was propelled to notoriety among the world’s business and celebrity elite not because of the firm’s branding work for companies (which they do a fair amount of, for the likes of YouTube, and the United Nations), but rather for its services for individuals who want to raise their personal profiles and increase their philanthropic legacies.
Beth and her team have helped clients host exclusive summits on private islands, receive prestigious awards and nominations, get access to investment opportunities, secure book deals, launch TV shows and, when needed, eradicate negative press from the Internet. To do this, she leverages a carefully cultivated private network of executives, billionaires, and philanthropists, along with the firm’s roster of eyebrow-raising clients – the official names of whom neither Beth, nor her business partner, will disclose to me.
Beth laughs when I comment that her life sounds like a mix of glamour, jet-lag, and intrigue. “You have the jet-lag part correct,” she confirmed. “I love what I do – no two days are the same and strategic branding for both companies and individuals has become more important than ever in the modern digital age. I also firmly believe those who have the largest resources of time and capital also have the greatest responsibility to use it in ways that make a lasting impact. Today, more and more of the world’s ulta-wealthy are eager to give back and use their network and even their most personal stories to inspire others, which I think is a really exciting and brave type of philanthropy.”
“We are also seeing a trend of younger millennial and next-gen philanthropists who are asking us to help them create for-profit entities designed to make a difference,” she added. “This has also become a major part of our work. We are passionate about taking on clients who want to see positive change on a global scale and are willing to work hard to make it happen.”
Beth, now 35, began her career in the fashion industry in Los Angeles. She launched an import and distribution company that brought luxury European labels to high-end American consumers. But it didn’t take long before she became disenchanted with the industry.
“I fell in love with the extraordinary, beautiful culture of fashion that I saw taking off across Western Europe at that time,” she explained to me. “But I soon realized that there was a darker side to the fashion industry: so much of the clothing we wear is made in countries that just do not respect human rights, and the environmental degradation that occurs through the industry is appalling.”
I asked her to explain, and she ticked off a series of statistics about pollution and sub-standard worker conditions. “So many of these men and women are often working in poor conditions, without proper breaks. And what’s most heartbreaking of all: hundreds of thousands of children globally are put in horrific situations as victims of forced labor.”
Beth is hopeful that the statistics are getting better – awareness has increased significantly, she assures me, but much more needs to be done. To address the issues she was seeing in fashion, she launched her own apparel line that was dedicated to ethical and sustainable production, becoming one of the first in the industry to do so. After a North American launch at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in 2009, her brand’s environmental mission helped reforest thousands of acres of endangered land by planting more than 40,000 trees.
For Beth, her apparel line was just the beginning of her career in the social impact space. “I wanted to not only create change with what I could do,” she told me. “I wanted to inspire others, especially young business owners, to think carefully about what kind of companies they were building and why.”
This personal mission was also the inspiration for Beth’s first consulting firm, which helped clients launch CSR initiatives and social impact campaigns. Eventually, she narrowed her focus to branding. “I realized that so many companies were being hindered by a simple problem: not understanding how to tell their story. Client after client would come to me, and ask, how can I sell my product?, when they should have been asking, how can I tell my story to the world? The truth is, people don’t want to buy things, they want to be inspired by a narrative – and today the personal narrative is what people are bonding with more and more. This is so important in social impact-oriented fields, in particular. I’ve seen this with even some of the most famous of brands and our most prominent clients: if you’re not branded well, it’s going to be so much harder for your philanthropic initiative to succeed.”
Beth has spoken about branding and the power of a well-told story at Google, Harvard, the United Nations, and other leading global conferences. “I’ve been fortunate enough to work alongside some of the top CEOs and business leaders, and I’ve learned a lot about building brands that last, and about life, too,” she said. “And I can’t stress enough how important it is to chase what inspires you. No matter how much money you make or how famous you become, you will never be fulfilled if you’re not going after what you really love doing and staying surrounded by people you admire and who inspire you. I’ve seen what happens when people are working only in pursuit of profit and it’s really unfortunate. Chronic stress, depression, and the discussion around mental illness are getting a lot more attention lately and I think that’s a good thing because we are finally opening up about what happens when we are focused on the wrong things.”
I asked her what else she had learned. She answered immediately. “Be kind. Be thankful every single day for what you have in your life.”
I asked her about her advice to young entrepreneurs. She referenced her own experience: “I never went to business school or thought I’d be an entrepreneur when I was younger,” she mused. “It’s so important that we be open and be ready for any opportunities that come our way. One of my favorite people and authors, Howard Buffett – Warren Buffett’s grandson – told me once how most people just don’t think big enough and I couldn’t agree more. We need to approach what we want even if we are afraid and be tenacious, because the path to creating anything meaningful is always difficult but absolutely worth it.”
Written by Steve Cragg