August 27, 1978 in Kingston, Jamaica.
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Kesi Gardner left Jamaica in her late teens, like many other young Jamaicans, to start a new life in the United States as a result of an incredible chance her mother received working for the United Nations.
She had a strong sense of self and drive from an early age. She has always considered herself a creative, whether she was drawing on her father’s old drafting desk or dreaming of designing major campaigns she would eventually be a part of. She went to The Dwight School on Central Park West, where she met Julian Casablancas, lead singer of The Strokes, and socialite Paris Hilton but skipped her final year and went straight to art school.
In her mother’s little Roosevelt Island penthouse apartment, Kesi would create anything from collages to oil paintings during her university years.
Kesi excelled at the Pratt Institute, winning a Freshman Honor to show in the Schafler Gallery on the Brooklyn campus, following in the footsteps of alumni such as film director Robert Redford, fashion designer Betsey Johnson, and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. She was also on the Dean’s list, but she had always wished to return to her native Jamaica.
She came home after the birth of her baby in 2002 and found employment as an art director for her brother’s now-defunct web development company, Zanzibar Technologies.
Kesi began her career as a graphic designer for a variety of firms, including McCann-Erickson Jamaica, a multi-national advertising agency, where she obtained vital experience in developing and bringing to life the “big idea.” Entrepreneurship, on the other hand, was always on her mind.
She landed a contract to work as one of Digicel Jamaica’s first in-house graphic designers, and she relished the challenge of managing projects from conception to completion in a fast-paced setting.
She was in an automobile accident late Saturday night on her way home from a wedding and suffered whiplash and a concussion. She realized she needed a change after several weeks of physical therapy. The advertising industry’s heavy workload and long, arduous hours had taken their toll.
It was eye-opening, and she realized that the only way to achieve the changes she desired was to return to school. She returned to school and earned a master’s degree in strategic communication with a focus on social media marketing from Notre Dame of Maryland University.
She received a job offer from Africare, an international NGO, while still an intern. She oversaw the marketing communications program’s digital component while also penning opinion articles for news outlets such as the Huffington Post on behalf of the President. Her enthusiasm for social media and digital marketing grew, and she was pleased to see a 25% increase in donor loyalty as a result of her efforts.
She came home to live with her family in 2013. Continuing her passion for advertising, but this time in account management, she worked as an account executive for Whistling Frog, one of Jamaica’s top three agencies.
She was involved in all aspects of account management, from liaising with production to meeting with clients and budgeting. She flourished in the fast-paced workplace, working on advertisements worth millions of dollars. She was a “triple threat” as a strategist, designer, and writer, and she frequently planned, wrote content, and created campaigns when she needed to get the job done.
She was honored to be chosen to judge and present at The Caribbean Blog & Social Media Awards in 2014. She was reminded of her passion for social media and digital marketing when she was there.
She’s worked with two of Jamaica’s biggest advertising firms, Panmedia and Advertising and Marketing, commonly known as AdMark–an agency affiliated with Foote, Cone and Belding, one of the world’s oldest agency networks–in the last few years. She worked on various 360-degree initiatives in the financial, insurance, and consumer goods industries during her time there.
Because of her desire to highlight Jamaican marketing trends and influencers in the digital world, she was named one of Digital Jamaican’s People to Watch in 2019 in the Micro-Influencer category. She was inspired by the nomination to create The Love Not Likes blogger/influencer network. Bloggers, influencers, videographers, and photographers are part of a network of content creators.
She’s also worked on media relations and public relations campaigns for personal brands and companies.
All this experience culminated to where she is today, which involves running The Storyteller agency.Cothat helps brands tell their story.
If you are interested in booking Kesi for your upcoming speaking event, please reach out to email@example.com.
Kesi Gardner is a storyteller, educator, and marketing strategist. Her site is regarded as one of world’s best marketing blogs by FeedSpot.
For more than two decades, she has worked in non-profits, public relations, and marketing positions, and now serves as the Director of The Storyteller Agency. Co, which specializes in public relations, content development, marketing counseling, and influencer marketing.
Kesi is a commentator who has been on CVM’s In Live at 7 with Simon Crosskill, TVJ’s Smile Jamaica, CVM-TV Sunrise, Global Voices.org, Caribbean Radio.com, Jamaica Observer’s Page 2, Buzz Caribbean, Caribbean Business Report, and Philanthropy.com, among others.
SHE’S BEEN FEATURED IN:
Silicon Caribe: My Facebook Success Story: Read here
Philanthropy.com: Non-Profits Aim to Build Success from the 1st Giving Tuesday: Read here
Ketch Caribbean: Top Ten YouTubers You Should Know: Read here
Global Voices. org: In the Social Media Age, How Should Jamaica’s Head of Government Communicate?Read Here
Digital Jamaican’s People to Watch in 2019: Read here
Jamaica Observer: Worthy Park single Reserve launch. Read here
Buzz Caribbean: All things luxury: Meet Kesi Gardner Read here
Gleaner: Kingston Creative Talks film, digital. Read here
Jamaicans.com: YouTubers to Watch in 2020: Read here
CVM TV Sunrise: Love Not Likes Bloggers Trip: Read here.
Something Extra: Gleaner Social at Coffee Festival Launch Read here
A Sterling Celebration. Read here.
7th Annual Jamaica Music Conference: Media Matters: Social & Emerging Media for the Reggae Mecca Read here
Kesi Gardner launches Creatives of the Future Ebook Read more
Culture in the time of COVID-19 Read here
Creatives Need To ‘Ooze Presence Over Zoom’ Read here
How influencer marketing can help save the Jamaican tourism and hospitality industry Read here
For the love of coffee: Coffee Roasters, Rituals celebrate V-Day Read here