In the world of communications and brand positioning, getting the right advice and specialist help is key. In Mauritius, that’s where The Talent Factory comes in, led by one of the industry’s key exponents, founder Marie-Noelle Elissac-Foy.
Lionesses of Africa learned more about this boutique communications consultancy this month….
What does your company do?
The Talent Factory Ltd is a boutique Public Relations Consultancy. We provide the following services : Public Relations, Media Relations, Event Management, Business Networking and Editorial Services. We are active members of various professional networks and we deal directly with wholesalers of products/services and equipment, which mean that we are in a position to offer quality products and services at competitive prices. Our pool of professionals include: web designers, graphic designers, social media managers, freelance writers, freelance video-photographers, printers. This allows us to offer tailor-made solutions to our clients. Our business model and approach means that our clients get the same type of services that a big communication agency provides but pay a much more competitive rate. We believe in establishing personalized relationships with our clients rather than servicing the client only to blow up the service fees and hourly rates charged. We pride ourselves on our reactivity and flexibility.
"Our business model and approach means that our clients get the same type of services that a big communication agency provides, but pay a much more competitive rate."
"My clients’ success is my priority….. I want the client to see what added value I bring, even if I'm not a big agency with lots of resources."
What inspired you to start your company?
My entrepreneurial journey is unique and probably reflects all the challenges, highs and lows that many women can feel. It took me years to be a confident solo entrepreneur.
I have worked 10 years in the press - at La Sentinelle, one of the most important media groups of the island. As Chief Editor, I managed various publications and editorial teams. During this period, I created Essentielle, a woman glossy magazine. This process whilst being very challenging and rewarding, led me to meet many empowered women who had decided to take the big leap out of their own comfort zone. I was fascinated by their audacity because at the back of my mind, I always had this nagging question: will I always be a Chief Editor or can I be something else? What if I could harness my experience in the media at the service of companies?
Why should anyone use your service or product?
Because I am totally invested in my client's work. In fact, my clients success is my priority. I do not delegate to junior staff. First, because I don' have staff and more seriously, they want the personalised attention I give to their project and goals. It often happens that I go beyond what is expected of me. I do this because I want the client to see what added value I bring, even if I'm not a big agency with lots of resources. They often say that they do not get this service from big agencies. The fact that I have experience in the media (press, tv and radio) means that I approach their projects with another perspective, not like a typical agency would see it. This makes all the difference. Also, my rates are attractive. There are no hidden costs with me.
"I am proud to be working as Public Relations Consultant for one of the major industry associations of the island, the Association of Mauritian Manufacturers, which has created the label Made in Moris (made in Mauritius in creole)."
Tell us a little about your team
Over the years, I have come to build a support system around me. I have a network of service providers - graphic designers, events logistics specialists, caterers, copywriters, translators, photographers, videographers - who work with me. This means that, though I am a company of one, I can take on bigger projects. Over the years I have also learnt to ask for support on major projects, even from smaller PR agencies who have more resources than me. Today, I also have a small administrative team which helps with mainly with the invoicing process. In my team I must also include my husband Gerard who is always here to help me with my events. He's often the one driving me to my meetings, helping me with the logistics of my events, amongst other things. And he is very proud of my achievements.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I had first the opportunity to move from the media to go into the corporate communication world. The first thing I did, whilst making this move, was to set up The Talent Factory. For me, this would be my Plan B if ever the corporate world no longer attracted me. And after 2 years in the corporate world, I decided to give it a try at being an entrepreneur. That said, I will be honest to say that I embarked, with fear and excitement, on this new journey. This explains why I pursued for several years, long term assignments along with working for clients through the Talent Factory, for financial security mainly. During this period, I went from working for the national tv and radio to teaching public relations at a private university.This was my learning curve and it has helped me acquire new skills. Three years ago, I finally decided to take the plunge and to become a full time entrepreneur. Since then, I have never regretted this decision. I started with a few small jobs - translation work, writing articles, etc. Today, I have a growing portfolio, repeat clients and good figures says my accountant. I am proud to be working as Public Relations Consultant for one of the major industry associations of the island, the Association of Mauritian Manufacturers, which has created the label Made in Moris (made in Mauritius in creole). I always select my projects based on their values and the difference I can bring. I also work for various cultural festivals. This year, I worked for the main artistic event of the year - the Retrospective Serge Constantin - which featured 3 major exhibitions, the launch of 2 books, artists’ workshops, etc. I am more and more solicited by the financial sector and by companies looking to organise workshops and networking events. Since I am associated with some high profile events, I get other leads for other jobs. It is also interesting that communication agencies now come to me to provide PR services to their own clients. They introduce me as their strategic partner for PR. Some even want to invest in my company. This is so encouraging. I am also currently preparing to go to the next level by servicing my first international client. I feel a new chapter is opening for me. I also have to say that I have a supportive husband who helps me a lot.
"I always select my projects based on their values and the difference I can bring."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
Right now, I see the need for me to build a more solid and structured support system around me. As entrepreneur, this is another risk that we are a bit afraid to take: recruiting a staff, renting an office, etc. But for 2018, it will be my goal to work in an office and have at least one administrative support and one junior staff who can assist me. Until now, I have been working form home and using offices as and when required.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
The self confidence I am building. The fact that I learn never to give in to discouragement and fear. The fact that till now I have built my portfolio only on referrals by other clients. As a woman, I feel that we often tend to belittle our achievements. I no longer want to give in to that trend. We must learn to be proud of ourselves. Let's pat our own back !
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
Do not be afraid to try. Do not be afraid to fail. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Find your added value and build your service offering on it. It is worth it!
Contact or follow The Talent Factory
Why LoA loves it….
Taking the plunge into the world of entrepreneurship can always be daunting, no matter how many years you have worked in the corporate world. However, when that inspiration calls, it is always good to take all that experience you have gained throughout that corporate career and apply it to your own business. For Marie-Noelle Elissac-Foy, that meant bringing all her specialist editorial and communications skills to the table and to her business, The Talent Factory. Today, her expanding client list is able to take full advantage of this array of specialist knowledge and expertise, whilst at the same time contributing to the growth and development of an exciting new PR brand name in the country. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa