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40 Under 40 - Class of 2013
Business Observer Friday, Oct. 4, 2013 6 years ago

Melissa Link, 35

Owner, Brand Eleven Eleven

A trip to New York City in college a decade ago was an epiphany for Melissa Link.

Then a student at the Savannah College of Art & Design, Link thought she was going to enter a career in computer animation. But when she met with people doing it and heard about the 12-hour, and sometimes 16-hour days, she changed her mind.

Now Link owns a branding and marketing firm, Sarasota-based Brand Eleven Eleven. The name, says Link, is based on the synchronicity of 11:11.

The workload is still high, but Link is happy with her choice. Her animation background, she adds, only bolsters her business when she works with clients, which range from nonprofits to small businesses. “I have a lot of great ideas for clients because I went to art school,” says Link. “I didn’t have the box that other marketing people are in.”

A Naples native, Link says the juggle of running a business day-to-day is both her biggest challenge and what drives her to keep going. That juggle is only made more complicated by the fact that Link is a single mom with two young, active children.  “I love the design and strategy side,” she says, “but I have to make time to do accounting and bill collecting.”

Link says business has been good, though she worries the economy still has a squeeze on the budgets companies use for marketing. “I focus a lot on keeping existing clients happy,” says Link. “We all know that getting a new client is much harder than retaining a current client.”

— Mark Gordon


City of residence: Bradenton

Birthplace: Naples

Twitter handle: @savvymel

Alma mater: Savannah College of Art & Design

Best place to network: I meet new people just about anywhere, whether it’s a typical networking activity or even the grocery store.

Coolest business experience: There are so many. I would say most recently the coolest experience was having one of our clients, Easter Seals of SWFL, tell us about how a billboard we designed for them inspired a dad who was struggling to call. It is amazing when the work we do really makes a difference in someone’s life.

The most important business lesson I’ve learned: Be kind, be respectful, be helpful, never burn bridges and always keep an open mind.

One community group you’re most involved with: Central West Coast Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association. They play a huge role in keeping public relations professionals in our area up to date on the latest trends allowing them in turn to keep area businesses at the top of their game.

Two people, dead or alive, you’d like to have dinner with: Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Who would play you in a movie about your life: Ashley Judd.

If I had a magic wand I’d: Put rose color glasses on everyone so the world could regain the appreciation for individual talents and the small things in life.


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