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Meet DeAnna McIntosh of The Affinity Group International

Today we’d like to introduce you to DeAnna McIntosh.

Thanks for sharing your story with us DeAnna. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
Entrepreneurship and fashion are a part of my DNA. Since middle school, I have had countless notebooks filled with scribbles of different business concepts (one of which was co-working. Not executing that one still hurts!). In high school, I won DECA entrepreneurship competitions and worked at local small businesses.

While in college, I started my own accessories business.  I bought my inventory in the NYC fashion district after class at FIT, and then took a bus on the weekends to my hometown of Chesapeake, VA to merchandise and sell my accessories at in-home parties and in boutiques. After graduating from FIT, I closed that business and moved to Southwest Florida to begin my merchandising career as a Buyer at Chico’s FAS Inc.  Five years later, I moved to Miami to be near my fiancé, now husband, and to work as a Strategist for Office Depot.

On social media and amongst my peers, I was constantly hearing about the struggles of different business owners and entrepreneurs, and each time, in my head, I began strategizing ways to solve their problems utilizing my professional experience from the Fortune 500 & 1000 companies I’d worked for, the international studies and travel I’d done, and the accessories business I’d operated. I also questioned why, in this time of information overload, that these entrepreneurs weren’t able to find the help that they needed when they needed it. But that was just it – too much information makes it difficult for people to sort through the “noise” and determine what is true and who is real.  It makes it difficult to find a reputable company who can take your project or business from concept to reality. Insert The Affinity Group International (nicknamed TAGI).

To give you a little insight into the heart of TAGI, you have to understand the word Affinity. We always hear and read about brand loyalty, but the ultimate goal of brands is a level higher and more coveted than loyalty, brand affinity.

When the connection you have with your customers becomes an emotional connection, it is called brand affinity. It’s when your customers adore you, can’t live without you, will wait in line for you. Think Apple, Starbucks, Jordan. This is where you belong, and TAGI exists to help propel you there.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
This journey has not been a smooth road, but it has been rewarding. I strongly believe in learning from every bump.

A recent struggle that I will share is the revamping of our site. We needed to test out new web designers to join our team, so I tested them out by having them do an overhaul of our site, because surely if they want to work for us, they’ll ensure they do a great job right? Wrong. We tested two designers, one of which actually ended up being a con artist. I literally had two meltdowns.

But through it all, it actually further confirmed our sole purpose and mission – to be a reputable company that clients can come to and trust that their project will be handled as if it were our own. We vet people before they’re added to our team. We go through the drama and vetting, so you don’t have to be left stressing later about how much money you’ve wasted, and how you are still left with an incomplete project.

Please tell us about The Affinity Group International.
TAGI is an International Brand Strategy Consultancy Empowering Brands & Retailers to Thrive Profitably and Passionately in Today’s Ever-Evolving Retail Landscape.

We offer Branding (your identity), Visuals Design (your look), Experiential Events (your feel), and Strategic Planning (your plan) services. We empower you to make strategic decisions backed by data, have merchandise your customers crave, produce creative driven by your story, and cultivate brand affinity through events.

We are not business “coaches,” we are strategists. There is purposeful data and industry research behind each decision we make for ourselves and for our clients – regardless if you’re working with us on your logo design or if we are creating a financial plan for your merchandise inventory. This is the critical piece that sets us apart from other companies.

Our 12+ years of industry experience specific to the retail/wholesale industry make us an essential resource for brands and shops looking to start, grow, and expand. Our team is known for our collaborative and energetic work style, and conducting business with integrity and transparency.

All of our clients receive their own digital project portal where we manage all the details of their project and communicate constantly.  For all design projects, clients receive both a Visuals Designer and a Creative Director for their project.

Of all the things we could be proud of, we are most proud of our clients. It is so inspiring to see the vision and passion behind their businesses, and we are honored to play a part in their success story.

Through this business, it’s opened my eyes truly to what entrepreneurship means to me. I finally accept that I personally cannot execute all of the millions of ideas that I get on the daily, but instead, I get to pass those ideas to my clients and get the satisfaction of seeing them brought to life through their businesses!

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If I had to start over, I would have started this second business earlier actually. That would have given us even more time to evolve and grow into what we have become now.

I cannot tell you how glad I am that I have not quit my full-time job to do this business full time – that was a lesson for me. And it’s not because I wouldn’t be able to sustain myself financially. It is because I actually enjoy my full-time job, as a Merchandise Director for a National Designer Lighting Manufacturer.

My full time role is a competitive advantage for my business for a few reasons.
1) I have one foot still in the “corporate” door and access to what’s going on in the industry on that level, which I pass on to our clients.
2) It allows me to take risks with the business that I wouldn’t be able to if all my income depended on this one source.
3) It allows me the opportunity to continue to grow personally and professionally and make connections that I otherwise may not have.

I strongly encourage people not to quit their jobs until they have fully vetted their concept and have a steady income flow from the business. The way the world conducts business is continuously evolving, and with that, your business model has to evolve with it.

My original concept for TAGI is not the same concept it is now, and may not be the same concept in five years! Evolving is the key to staying competitive and in business.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Moments with MK Photography, Kike Valderrama Photography, Christina Block Photography, St. Clerv Phot

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

2 Comments

  1. N. Green

    January 17, 2019 at 1:37 am

    DeAnna and her team are great assets to have during event planning! She and her team help me plan my soft launch. The Launch party was a success and I even scored points with a ln unexpected investor. I strongly recommend her services!

  2. DeAnna McIntosh

    January 26, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    Thank you so much for your kind words! Hope to serve you again!

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