James Toney has a pretty interesting job. He is partner in Sew, a community-minded creative agency based in the Arts District of downtown Los Angeles. The company creates strategies and campaigns that unite brands and communities around their fundamental values and shared sense of purpose, according to its website. Sew looks for ways to help the community while assisting brands on development. The company has done digital and brand strategy for Ford Motor Company as well as the Oprah Winfrey Network, social impact strategy for Verizon Wireless, and brand strategy for the Gap, among other projects.
TNJ.com: Why did you decide to form Sew?
James Toney: We believed that if could leverage our strategic skills and creativity to make good profits for companies, business could become a powerful engine for social change–not just wealth creation.
TNJ.com: Why the name Sew?
JT: Binding things together is what we do: philanthropy and business; branding and customers; and talent and opportunity. You get the idea.
TNJ.com: How does Sew work?
JT: We are a strategy-led creative agency. We conduct comprehensive research for our partners to understand that brand truth will resonate best with their target customer. We develop a strategy based on that insight, design a campaign or product based on that strategy and bring it to market.
TNJ.com: How did you get funding for the Sew startup?
JT: Parents chipped in with loans here and there, but we never took on any investments. The company is owned by the four founding partners (Toney, Steven Ocheltree, Tyler Simmons and Ian Elliott).
TNJ.com: What are your main goals for Sew?
JT: To help as many brands as possible become successful in growing their business through initiatives that make the world better.
TNJ.com: What are your goals for Sew this year?
JT: My goals for 2015 aren’t too unique to what our goals are every year. However, this year we are launching a few technology initiatives that go beyond the traditional work we do.
TNJ.com: Is Sew your main focus now, or are you also working on other things? If so, what?
JT: Sew is my main my focus, but I try to contribute to other projects. I am on the board for Bright Pink, a national non-profit dedicated to breast and ovarian cancer prevention among young women. My mom passed away from cancer in 2008 and I’m very honored to get to serve with them.
TNJ.com: What about Sew gives you the most satisfaction?
JT: Without question, the people I get to work with. The people on my team inspire me. I’m constantly learning and being challenged and we all care about each other like family.