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Meet Angel and Kristine Mason Broadus of Puzzle Pieces Marketing in Mission Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Angel and Kristine Mason Broadus.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Angel and Kristine. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Angel: We’re two dope queens who are the essence of #relationshipgoals. Not only are we the President and VP, but we’re married partners in life as well. We’re so excited and grateful that we get to share the trials and tribulations of small business ownership together. When I started my professional journey, I never could have imagined that this is where I would land, but I’ve been running this business for the last 11 years and both Kristine and I are completely committed to our team, our clients, and ourselves.

I, Angel, never wanted or dreamed of being an entrepreneur or business owner, but over the years of running the business, I realized that this is exactly where I belong. I founded Puzzle Pieces Marketing in 2009 when I was fortunate enough to be laid off from my last corporate marketing position. It may sound odd, but I genuinely consider it a gift because it gave me the confidence I needed to take the leap.

When I was laid off, I thought it was the worst thing that could have happened to me both personally and professionally. It was a huge blow to my self-confidence, I was terrified and felt as though I was disposable. I took the layoff as a reflection of my value or worth. I pulled myself together and through my tears, I immediately sat down at my computer and started looking for another job. That’s when I realized that going back to work for someone else where I could easily be discarded again was not something I was ready to do. So I made the decision to try to start my own consulting business. I didn’t have high hopes and gave myself six months to figure out if I could make this business work. Well, here we are 11 years later and we’re still in the game.

In 2015, Kristine joined the company full time as our Vice President. She manages all of our Digital Marketing services with our Social Media, Search Engine Optimization, and Website Development team members report directly to her. I get to manage our team members for all of the other stuff like Marketing Strategies, Public Relations, and Graphic Design and Branding.

Kristine: I grew up in a small town in Missouri. I was poor and raised by a single mom. I was blessed to be able to go to a small Catholic school that instilled so much discipline, critical thinking, and motivation in me. With the good, there is usually another side. Being the only Black person, poor and living in some questionable neighborhoods put a target on me, but it didn’t stop me at all. My school was highly academically competitive and that made me want to be better each day. I was always on Honor Roll, took college classes in high school, and excelled in my education. I always had huge goals for myself. I would catch myself thinking maybe I should own a business, but had no clue what. So, I did what everyone thinks you should do after high school and decided on a university.

I used my intelligence to get out of my circumstances and received a full undergrad academic scholarship. Graduating with a BA in Psychology, my goal at the time was to be a social worker. I got into UNLV, packed my car up, and fled to Las Vegas in a hurry. Once young Kristine realized how broken the system actually was, she decided social work was not her forte. To make a long story short, after multiple years of being a server, a tutor, going back to school and becoming a Respiratory Therapist (Valedictorian) specializing in Pediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care, I met Angel shortly after starting a position at a Children’s Hospital in Kansas City, MO.

I asked Angel to marry me, she said yes, and we both thought it would be better for our future together for me to stop doing work for everyone else and build the business with her. In 2015, I became Angel’s sidekick (VP) of the company, we rebranded, and there’s nothing but smoke behind us from the fire of remnants of a power couple moving so quickly. I guess there really is some truth to not forcing your life and going with the flow because it took me right where I belong.

In 2017, we rebranded and that’s when we made the decision to focus on working primarily with nonprofits and mission driven businesses. It was the best decision we could have made. Growing up, my parents taught me that you don’t live on this earth for free. The price you pay is to give back and to contribute to your community. We both were always raised to understand the importance of volunteering, getting involved, and philanthropy.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Starting this business definitely wasn’t easy and we have experienced our share of challenges. One of the biggest challenges we faced was learning how to be a small business that runs effectively and efficiently while leading with compassion.

Being a female and Black-owned business has come with its own set of issues and challenges. We have to work ten times harder to be seen, be heard, and oppose stereotypes before we even enter a room or a conversation.

Being married and running a business together can be a challenge, but we have ensured we listen to each other as business partners if in work mode. When not in work mode, we listen to each other like a married couple. Knowing when to turn on and off work mode can be difficult, but we do it by saying, “Let’s stop discussing this in 15 mins.” This way, we control how much discussion is based around business and not let it engulf our relaxation.

Please tell us about Puzzle Pieces Marketing.
Our agency is the definition of creative and colorful. We’re creative in the sense that we are unique and think outside the box and colorful meaning that our team is as diverse as the clients we represent. Just take a glimpse at our website and you’ll understand some of the craziness that is us. We focus on creating a unique brand identity that helps businesses and nonprofits tell their story in a way that inspires action and generates support.

Even though both Kristine and I come from healthcare, we have long been dedicated to amplifying the voices and reach of mission-driven, caused-based and nonprofit organizations that contribute tangible positive change to our community. When we rebranded in 2017, we took the opportunity to further align our company with our personal values and refocused our efforts on partnering primarily with nonprofit organizations and purpose driven businesses.

As a women, minority, a veteran, and an all-around power couple owned business, we are proud to be among San Diego Black-owned businesses that have long advocated against the discrimination and systemic inequality that marginalizes people of color. As social justice has taken center stage like few other times within our generation, we’re driven now more than ever to use our power to uplift Black voices, disrupt business as usual, and amplify the voices of the LGBTQ+ community.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Thinking back, one of the things I definitely would change is implementing better and more efficient processes in the beginning, that would have allowed us to scale and grow more effectively. We experienced tremendous growth in 2017 after our rebrand and refocused, but the growth in our team wasn’t as seamless as it could have been. I would also have focused on working with nonprofits and mission-driven businesses from day one if I could do things all over again. I truly enjoyed and valued the relationships that we developed with the clients we started with, but the work was not as meaningful and rewarding as the work we do today. Helping nonprofits tell their story has become our mission and it really gives us all a sense of purpose.

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Puzzle Pieces

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