August 27, 1978 in Kingston, Jamaica.
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Storyteller and Entrepreneur
In her late teens, like many young Jamaicans, Kesi Gardner left and started a life in the United States as a result of an amazing opportunity her mother received working with The United Nations.
From as early as then, she developed a strong sense of self and determination. From painting on her father’s old drafting desk to dreaming of conceptualizing large campaigns she soon would be a part of, she always consider herself a creative. She attended the prestigious private school, The Dwight School on Central Park West with the likes of The Strokes’ lead singer Julian Casablancas and socialite Paris Hilton but she wanted to create so skipped her final year and went straight to art school.
Fast forward to University, Kesi would create everything from collages to oil paintings in her mother’s small Roosevelt Island penthouse apartment.
With walking in the footsteps of alumni like film director Robert Redford, fashion designer Betsey Johnson and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, Kesi excelled at the Pratt Institute, receiving a Freshman Honor to exhibit in the Schafler Gallery on the Brooklyn campus. She also appeared on the Dean’s list but always dreamed of moving back to her island home Jamaica.
After the birth of her daughter in 2002, she returned home and found pleasure working as an art director for her brother’s web development company, now-defunct Zanzibar Technologies.
Early in her career, Kesi worked as a graphic designer with several companies, including a multi-national advertising agency, McCann-Erickson Jamaica, where she gained valuable knowledge in conceptualizing the “big idea” and bringing it to life. However, entrepreneurship was always at the forefront of her mind.
Landing a contract to work as one of the first in-house graphic designers at Digicel Jamaica, she enjoyed the thrill of working in a fast-paced environment, managing projects from conception to completion.
One late Saturday night traveling home from a wedding, she had a car accident and suffered whiplash and a concussion. After several weeks of physical therapy, she realized she needed a change. The workload and long grueling hours of the advertising world had taken its toll.
It was an eye-opener and she knew that in order to make the changes she sought, the school was the only avenue. She went back to school and received a master’s of arts degree from Notre Dame of Maryland University in strategic communication with a concentration in social media marketing.
Still while an intern, she received a job offer from an international NGO, called Africare. There, she managed the online component of the marketing communications program, while writing opinion editorials on behalf of the President for news sources like Huffington Post. Her passion for social media and digital marketing grew and she was proud when her efforts garnered a 25% increase in donor loyalty for that year. She was even featured on Philanthropy.com.
In 2013, she returned home to be with her family. Continuing her love for advertising but this time on the account management side, where she worked as an account executive for one of the top three agencies in Jamaica, Whistling Frog.
She worked in every stage of accounts management, from liaising with production to meeting with clients and managing budgets. Working on campaigns worth millions of dollars, she thrived in the fast-paced environment. Being a strategist, designer, and writer, she was a “triple threat”, and often conceptualized, wrote copy and designed campaigns when she needed to get the job done.
In 2014, she had the privilege of being asked to be judge and presenter at The Caribbean Blog & Social Media awards. There she was reminded of her love for social media and digital marketing.
In the past few years, she’s worked with two of the top advertising agencies in Jamaica, Panmedia and the oldest agency in the region, Advertising and Marketing, otherwise known as AdMark–an agency aligned with Foote, Cone and Belding–one of the world’s oldest agency networks. While there, she worked on several 360-degree campaigns in the finance, insurance and consumer goods industries.
In 2019, she was nominated as one of Digital Jamaican’s People to Watch in 2019 in the Micro-Influencer category because of her willingness to highlight Jamaican marketing trends and influencers in the digital landscape. The nomination motivated her to start The Love Not Likes blogging/influencer network. A network of content creators including bloggers, influencers, videographers and photographers that come together to collab and network.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kesi Gardner is an educator, marketing consultant, and storyteller. Her blog is hailed as one of the top marketing blogs in the Jamaica.
She has worked in the non-profit world, PR, and marketing positions for more than 10 years and provides consulting services as Director of The Storyteller Agency. Co which focuses on public relations, content creation, marketing consultation and influencer marketing.
Kesi is a commentator and has appeared on national television shows and publications including CVM’s In Live at 7 with Simon Crosskill, CVM-TV Sunrise, Global Voices.org, Caribbean Radio.com, Jamaica Observer’s Page 2, Buzz Caribbean, Caribbean Business Report and Philanthropy.com
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
Culture in teh time of COVID-19 Read here
Creatives Need To ‘Ooze Presence Over Zoom’ Read here