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Meet Carrie Yang and Lank Pierce of Group (hugs:) in Downtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Carrie Yang and Lank Pierce.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Lank and I are business and life partners. Before we dove into entrepreneurship, I had a career in start-up marketing and worked for companies from a bidet start-up to a telemedicine app. Lank’s career was in finance, having completed an investment banking program followed by working in private equity with companies across all industries. A little over a year ago, Lank and I quit our career jobs and moved to Denver to begin our life and businesses together. We visited Denver five times the year before and knew this is where we wanted to take the leap and put roots down for our future. In the summer of 2019, we launched our first project on Kickstarter. It was a weatherproof, multifunction outerwear made from 100% recycled eco fabrics and made in the U.S.A. We raised over $25,000 but failed to fully fund, which means you don’t get to keep any of the money raised. SAD… but not for too long! After our “failed” Kickstarter project, we took some time to evaluate the life we wanted to create and the projects that were most aligned with our goals.

During this time, we started on a few side projects including managing the communities for LSDREAM and GRiZ, a local Denver musician. We then started building YouTube strategy, community, and content for TUSHY, a Brooklyn-based sustainable bidet brand. We very quickly saw the business opportunity, the value, and the dollars we created for clients in growing their brand, fans, and movement.

In March of 2020, we officially launched a group (hugs:), our community activation agency that builds and leads engaged power groups for movement-driven brands. Community is definitely a buzzword, and what we mean by that word is an engaged power group is a collection of your top fans and potential fans that’s gathered around your brand and movement. Lank and I have always been advocates for mental health in our professional and personal lives, and we know that belonging and positive relationships are at the heart of mental wellness. Now, through group (hugs:), we can also help people find “their people.”

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Definitely not… (insert long sigh). We thought we would be working on one business which ended up “failing.” That was extremely hard on us especially since we’d invested so much money and time into it. Without that, though, we wouldn’t be here — exactly where we were meant to be. It’s funny how the Universe works. 🙂

Building and growing businesses, in general, is a roller coaster ride full of ups and downs (blah blah you’ve all heard this before). On your harder days, there’s no boss telling you what to do or to keep going. You have to find that will inside yourself especially when there hasn’t been anyone that’s done what we’re doing. We feel really grateful for our unwavering conviction for the value we are creating for brands, so even on the hard days, we know we’re doing the right thing.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Group (hugs:) story. Tell us more about the business.
We are a community activation agency working with movement-driven brands to create, collect, grow, and activate superfans around their movement. We build engaged power groups made of your top fans to be your bottoms-up grassroots, powerhouse supporters to amplify your brand efforts. We’ve built groups with tens of thousands of members for brands. Our power groups also have up to 90% engagement, meaning 90% of the members engage at least once a month versus an average of 3% on Instagram! Yes, there are REAL numbers. Depending on the organization, we can build groups in the physical or digital worlds and on platforms like Facebook Groups, Slack, Discord, or whatever best fits the client.

We believe (with every single cell in our bodies) that investing in your community is as important if not more important than maintaining your social media presence. The group is the heart of your community. It’s your top fans. Your top advocates who will tell others about you! People always value recommendations from friends over ads. Still not convinced? Here’s why gathering your brand’s top fans in a group is the secret sauce to rapid growth. 1) All breakout brands need a movement and all movements need a digital headquarters aka your group! 2) With an engaged group, you capture more attention, money, and brand loyalty through genuine group engagement. 3) Legacies are built in the now and off more than just ads, emails, and Instagram posts. 4) Engaged groups increase organic growth and lower acquisition costs because this is grassroots marketing! 5) Your brand will own the market and niche with loyalty and brand connection. Why? Competitors can’t take what can’t be taken. 6) You get to capture and lead conversations around your brand and movement. If you don’t, someone will.

We see community activation as a HUGE opportunity for brands, so we created a new type of organic marketing agency! We scoured the web, and there’s no other agencies or individuals offering what we do. Our agency is NOT a full-service marketing agency where we say we can do it all. We solely focus and specialize on one thing: activating your community and helping your brand grow and make more money through sustainable grassroots marketing.

We are so proud to work with musician Sami Diament, aka LSDREAM. He left his former music project, BRILLZ and started the LSDREAM music project in March of 2018, and in February of 2019, we started working with him to build his LSDREAMers Facebook Group community from zero. Now, the group has 11,000 members with some of the highest engagement known to Facebook groups (90%!). With our leadership and work, LSDREAM has sold out shows, sold out multiple merchandise drops instantly, and booked some of the world’s largest music festivals. What’s going on in the LSDREAMers? We get over 65,000 engagements a month around the LSDREAM movement and growing. There’s even a holiday gift exchange, a book club, meditation club, among many other inspiring projects that were all born from the group. It’s so amazing to see that a huge portion of the members was invited by other members, and this, my friends, is organic growth.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Oh man. We’ve definitely gotten to where we are with a mix of luck and opportunity. We view luck as things that happen to you, but the opportunity is seeing the luck and making something of it. How we went from making apparel as our first venture now to building communities for brands is hugely due to being ready to use that luck and make it an opportunity to grow. We were so lucky that our friend Jaclyn Fu generously opened up her home to us again and again and brought us to Denver (also immensely grateful). She’s the co-founder of a bra start-up, Pepper, which is KILLING it by the way. We were so lucky that we came into such an amazing community of friends. We were so lucky to have seen LSDREAM at one of his first shows, and then we turned it into an opportunity when we started LSDREAMERS and grew it to where it is today. Our work with LSDREAMERS led us to have the opportunity to work with GRiZ and now our current clients.

Luck is all around us, and it happens when we least expect it! We approach life and business with open eyes and ears to see when we get lucky and make it into an opportunity.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Chandler Berty

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