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Marketing veterans Josh Sullivan and Kesha Alexander founded Supper Co. early last year.
McKenzie Robinson | SBJ
Marketing veterans Josh Sullivan and Kesha Alexander founded Supper Co. early last year.

Business Spotlight: Time for Supper

Just 18 months into business, branding and marketing agency Supper Co. is building out its team

Posted online

Supper Co.’s philosophy and mission are subtly laid out in the company’s name.

It’s all about bringing people to the table to find creative strategies for branding and marketing.

It seems especially apt given the company’s focus on the alcohol, food, cannabis and hospitality industries.

Co-founders Kesha Alexander and Josh Sullivan say forming the company in 2020 was a logical next step in their careers. They’d each had over a decade of work in marketing and creative design.

Alexander says she pulled from her experience working at some of the region’s biggest advertising houses on national campaigns to create a vision for their new company. While at Noble & Associates Inc., she worked on Tyson Foods and Otis Spunkmeyer accounts, for example. At Marlin, she helped with McCain Foods and Proctor & Gamble campaigns. And for several years, she served as director of marketing and sales for Askinosie Chocolate.

Sullivan brings experience in marketing and art directing for Mother’s Brewing Co. and The Alchemedia Project.

After each went on to solo gigs, they crossed paths on some projects and, in January 2020, decided to go into business together.

“We felt there was an opportunity to bring bold creative, coupled with strategy, to local and regional markets,” Alexander says.

Gathered at the table
One of the challenges initially was how to structure the agency.

They opted to get away from the traditional structure, which is led by a creative art director and writer. Supper Co.’s approach is for all team members and the client to collaborate throughout the creative process.

At the top of the team are Sullivan as the creative visionary, Alexander handling strategy and accounts, and newcomer Kyle Drenon as director of digital engagement. The company also has a senior account executive and designer, two interns and two open positions: copywriter and social media manager.

“We are committed to hiring specialists in our agency,” Alexander says.

Drenon was one of those hires, coming on board last month. He previously served as marketing director for Murney Associates, Realtors, where he created a blog that drew 200,000 visitors a year and designed the customer-facing website that grew to 8 million visits per year.

Drenon says he was lured by the quality of hires at Supper Co. – now seven employees deep after 18 months in business.

“I saw they’d put together a team that had talent at every corner, and there wasn’t a weakness,” Drenon says.

Alexander says she and Sullivan didn’t initially plan to have a large focus on social media. But when it became clear clients were struggling to keep up with the demands of online content, they added Drenon’s position.

Drenon says his role is to make Supper Co. clients’ voices heard over the din of social media advertising. He says the days of pushing the same message across multiple social-media platforms are over. What plays well for TikTok won’t necessarily fly on Facebook.

He offers an example: Brown Derby liquor stores – one of the firm’s 12 clients – has an exceptionally broad age demographic, ranging from early 20s to 80s.

“For some of those messages, we’re using extremely visual creative things on Instagram, TikTok, Reels to hit a segment of that range,” Drenon says. “Then, we’re focusing on written word, history and nostalgia (for Facebook) because that’s an older range.”

Finding the vision
Alexander says Supper Co. prefers to start at the beginning of a client’s story.

“If someone would like a logo, we’ll take a step back and say, ‘Do you have a mission or vision for your business?’” she says.

“If a client needs a tactical thing, we may not be the right fit for them. Just a logo or just SEO? Sure, we can do that, but it won’t be as impactful.”

David Brodsky, retail director for The Farmer’s Wife dispensaries, says he was impressed by the work Supper Co. did for another cannabis dispensary.

“A lot of times in the cannabis industry, in particular, companies fall short with their branding and marketing. We were struggling with that, internally,” Brodsky says.

He and three of the group’s four partners spent a day with the Supper Co. crew hashing out a vision for the dispensaries.

“Both Kesha and Josh did a wonderful job of helping us think through who we wanted to be,” Brodsky says. “We had a lot of that on our own, but they really did a fantastic job in facilitating that conversation in a better and more productive way than in the past.”

By then end, he says the team had 10 names and branding proposals to consider.

“We fell in love with The Farmer’s Wife right out of the gate,” Brodsky says. “We’re interviewing folks now for our Springfield manager position. Thirteen out of 15 have asked about the name. When people ask me what’s up with the name, I think that’s what’s up with the name. The fact that you’re thinking about it, you’re intrigued by it, you’re curious about it.”

The Farmer’s Wife has locations in Mountain Grove and West Plains and expects to open its Springfield dispensary on Aug. 15.

“Not only did they help us with the name, they have done all of our visual assets, interiors of our stores, exteriors, website, social media,” Brodsky says. “When they call themselves a branding agency, it really is.”

Alexander says she hopes to provide that level of service to many other businesses in their alcohol, food, cannabis and hospitality wheelhouse.

“Our goal is to be a regional and national agency,” she says, declining to disclose first-year revenue. “We do believe because of the experience Josh and I both have, we have that growth potential.”

Meanwhile, the Supper Co. team is looking forward to a move to a larger, 3,200-square-foot office at McDaniel Street and Campbell Avenue. While they’re remaining downtown, it’ll be double the size of the original Boonville Avenue office.

“It’ll be great to have some breathing space,” Alexander says.

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