Success Profile: Kandia Johnson, CEO of The Kandid Agency

Wordpress Image Size (29)

Walker’s Legacy recognizes unique women of color in business who embody the legacy of Madame C.J. Walker, the first female self-made millionaire. In this installment, meet Kandia Johnson, CEO of the Kandid Agency.

Some women know they are born to be entrepreneurs and others find the path more serendipitously. Kandia Johnson, CEO of the Kandid Agency, a strategic marketing firm, is of the latter class. In our conversation, she discusses ways to position your brand to attract the right audience, the importance of automating processes in your business, and how she helped her clients land international speaking engagements.

Tell us a little about your background and what led you to start your business.

Well, entrepreneurship was never on my radar. But I spent many years climbing the corporate ladder to success only to realize that my ladder was placed on the wrong building. Four years ago, I was working for a management consultant firm as a Communications & Learning Consultant and traveling weekly Sunday or Monday–Thursday, throughout the US and Canada. After 10 years, the frequent business travel wore me out; I did not fit into the corporate culture and I felt stuck and unfulfilled. So I quit my six-figure job. Initially, I planned to use contracting companies to find short-term projects, but later I started to attract opportunities, which positioned me to become an accidental entrepreneur.

You have a podcast entitled “Kandid Conversations.” What type of discussions do you have with your listeners?

Too many of us, especially women of color, are playing it safe and living by someone else’s definition of success. I know because I was “that girl” following my parents’ and society’s definition of success.The Kandid Conversations podcast features actionable career advice as well as a dose of inspiration from women around the world, who have rejected the status quo to define their own rules in life.

Ultimately, Kandid Conversations is on a mission to champion women around the world to be bold and unapologetic about their path in life.

You’ve been published in Black Enterprise Magazine, The Forbes Travel Guide, Diversity Woman Magazine, TravelistaTV, Fortune and Tech Moran. What advice do you have for bloggers who want their articles featured on larger platforms?

Beyond good writing skills, publications want to see consistency, credibility, and relevancy.

o   Develop your own platform (e.g., website, podcast, YouTube channel) and start with a topic you’re passionate about. I started a blog based on my travels around the world and I used those writing samples to pitch publications.

o   Research the publication – figure out what types of content is missing from the platform and pitch them on the value you can add. When I pitched Black Enterprise, I combined my passion for travel with my curiosity for finding other entrepreneurial women of color around the world, who were not only making a profit, they also were changing lives. Next thing you know the Editor gave me my own section: Power Women of the Diaspora—trailblazers who have taken their passions and made them profitable—from the US to Africa and everywhere in between.

o   Build relationships with journalists  – Find out their sweet spots for stories. Read, comment and share their articles. Pitch and always follow up.

How long did it take you to build your brand as we see it today?

It took about 3 years. Contrary to popular belief, a brand is not born overnight. Your brand is an evolution of who you are, what you stand for and your unique approach for making success happen in your line of work.

Talk to us about the various projects you work on for your clients.

I have a B2B  (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) business model. My B2B clients are mid-sized companies that hire me to help their managers and executives communicate more effectively in the workplace. My workshop, “Communicate to Win,” which covers mastering self-awareness and leadership, confident public speaking, and managing conflict is the most popular. Most recently, I worked with 30 lawyers and 25 mid-level managers from a woman- led social service organization.

My B2C clients are entrepreneurs, creatives and change makers driven by purpose as well as profit. They ‘ve found an unmet need in their community and are changing lives as well as the global conversation about something lacking within their respective industry.


How do you determine which opportunities to accept and which to pass on?

“Equally important to your logic is your intuition”Kandia Johnson

I have non-negotiables (most people say core values) in life and business. So if I feel a potential client is not telling me the complete story, or they’re looking for an overnight success—that client is not for me.

What advice do you have for young women of color who want to start their own business?

    1. Understand the sacrifice, mindset, and investment required to grow a successful business. Embrace the setbacks and mistakes as a required phase in business. Remind yourself that failure is feedback for the come-up. When a setback happens, ask yourself: What’s the lesson? What next best action I can take? Then, it’s on to the next.
    2. Determine your systems and processes that are required to succeed –As an entrepreneur, you crash and burn quickly. The biggest mistake I made was jumping into business without having the tools required to succeed. Learn to automate key functions of your business like using Wave for customer invoicing, Acuity for scheduling appointments with clients, Hootsuite or Coschedule for social media marketing and Mailchimp or ConvertKit for automated emails. Understand your customer journey—create documents and processes that greet them every step of the way.
    3. Cultivate and Collaborate – You can’t do it all by yourself.  So building mutually beneficial relationships with people from diverse backgrounds should be a part of your business plan. Remember this: the right relationships can take you places money can’t.  
    4. Get tunnel vision—Success takes blood, sweat, and tears, but social media makes entrepreneurship look easy or sexy. For most of us, that’s far from the truth. Every 2 weeks, I say NO to notifications and take a digital detox to focus and get work done.

How can we reach you if we want to learn more?

Web:, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn @KandiaJohnson and Instagram: @KandiJ


Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith is passionate about connecting marginalized populations to resources that position them for success. As a business counselor at the Women’s Business Center of Northern Virginia, she equips aspiring business owners with the tools they need to become economically empowered through entrepreneurship. She teaches monthly business startup classes and conducts daily counseling sessions to meet the individual needs of her clients.