Name: Antoinette Marie Johnson
Neighborhood and City: Fishtown & Rittenhouse, Philadelphia
Livelihood: Owner of Cohere, a creative agency on a mission to revitalize cities through the power of design
Woman I Admire: Angela Duckworth – Grit!
Go-to Outfit: White collared shirt, high waisted jeans and tan leather heels
Can't Live Without Product: I can live without any and all products
Favorite Quote: “Stay focused man” – HOV. He rebranded himself. So can I.
De-Stress Technique: Yoga and a coffee smoothie with chia seeds, coconut oil and cashews. Journaling regularly.
Favorite Track On Your Current Playlist: “Why iii Love the Moon” by Phony Ppl (I’m a moonchild – cancer horoscope)
What are the three words that best capture you?
- Relentless (given to me from my favorite mentors John Longacre, and also the word that the Temple football team has painted on their wall at the Linc)
- Leader (very naturally, can’t even try to shake it)
- Caring (also can’t shake this!)
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
My team. At this point they’re leading me and I’m just trying to keep up! But when that doesn’t work, Tim Ferris’s podcast
In your words, what is your brand and what is its mission?
Cohere is a creative agency with the mission to build better cities through thoughtful design. We take formerly abandoned spaces and make them into badass brand experiences.
What was the moment you knew you had to create your brand?
While I was at Temple University I felt an extreme level of white guilt that paralyzed me in an awful way. Walking around our campus on the border of blighted communities made me feel in my gut like I needed to be apart of positive change in my city. That’s when I knew I had to be apart of transformation. So now we are creating some of the most exciting neighborhood developments in the cities we serve, far beyond Philadelphia too. I believe that all ships rise with the tide, so as long as we are focused on brands that contribute to physical change and economic growth – there should be no stopping the type of development cities truly need for long term successful growth.
What parts of yourself are reflected in the soul of the brand?
The empathy we bring to our projects and the people involved are very different than traditional creative agencies. We leave the ego at home. It’s important to me that transparency is a value we demonstrate in our work and in our office culture. While Cohere is now a completely co-created brand, I think that this part of our endeavor reins true to who I am at my core – to a fault at times, honest.
What was your biggest doubt before starting your brand?
My biggest doubt when rebranding At Media to Cohere was that it wouldn’t be true to my core. Previously with At Media, I had committed 10 years of my heart and soul to accomplishing every “goal”, or check box, on my checklist. And at the end, it wasn’t what I truly wanted.
I was terrified when setting out to create something better, that I would again choose “soulless goals”. Things that I thought I wanted, but in truth were just distractions and check boxes to waste my time with.
What makes your brand so different from others in the space?
Other creative agencies specialize in a service, like making websites or PR. We are hyper focused on our mission – to revitalize cities through placemaking projects and brand experiences. Instead of convincing clients of a value or a process, we are just aligning with their visions that are already in place. Each employee shares this passion. Each client subscribes to it. In general, there is no competitive agency in this space and we are owning it like it’s white on rice!
How does your brand help women feel more fearless?
I’d like to say that we help all genders feel more fearless by making them a strong voice in everything we do. We wouldn’t be where we are without equal parts contribution. Personally I have a difficult time identifying as a woman leader, and not just as a leader, period. (ok, pun intended there ;)
Where can we connect with you and get some for ourselves?
I don’t know. I’m asking myself that question right now with how busy we are!!
(Her website is: http://cohere.city/)