The 3% Accelerator: Ivellisse Morales
The 3% Accelerator is a business and wellness initiative for women entrepreneurs of color. The program supports creative visionaries who are building the agencies and companies that they want to work for during the critical early years of entrepreneurship. The Accelerator addresses key business challenges, professional and business development, leadership, as well as personal support for the unique challenges that women of color in the creative industry experience.
Meet one of the nine women, Ivellisse Morales.
Founder of Bombilla
Tell us about your background. Where are you from? What makes you you?
I’m apocalyptic yet radically optimistic. I’m a bilingual bookworm, an Enneagram-3 military brat, an ambitious third culture kid, a responsible older sister, and the first in her family to “grow up” American. I’m from nowhere and everywhere. By the time I was in 4th grade, I had lived in Germany, Puerto Rico, Washington state, and Connecticut. Now I’m based in sunny Oakland, California. This planet is my home!
I come alive when I exercise my craft and curiosity to positively impact the world. Since college, I’ve carved my own path in mission-driven communications from PR internships at major nonprofits like Teach for America to executing cause marketing campaigns and developing philanthropic programs for Fortune 500 brands at Ogilvy, IDEO, and Cone Communications.
I’m traditionally trained in public relations, self-taught in graphic design, and a business-brained creative unicorn. I’m filled with gratitude, joy, abundance, creativity, and love. That’s a little bit about me.
Tell us about your company. What do you do? What prompted you to start it?
Bombilla is a branding & design agency for social change. We're a national network of diverse storytellers, designers, and strategists who use our skills to ignite awareness and action in the United States of America. We are creatives who are #litonpurpose. Together with our clients, we make the world brighter.
Bombilla (bom-bee-yah) means lightbulb in Spanish and is symbolic of the power we all individually have to make change. It’s also impossible to say without a smile on your face! 💡
We specialize in brand strategy, visual identity, and graphic design services for world-changing organizations. Our theory of change is that the more creatives conspire towards the greater good, the sooner we can accelerate the changes we need as humanity. That’s why we focus on systems-changing organizations--from Black & Brown-owned businesses to social enterprises and nonprofits who are addressing issues like federal paid leave policy, racial & gender equity and access to educational and economic opportunity.
They say the best businesses solve personal problems. One too many burnouts forced me to reevaluate my communications career in corporate social responsibility. Like a flip of a light switch, I knew it was time for me to build my own values-based creative agency. I decided I needed to be the change I wanted to see. I left the corporate world in February 2018 - it’s been history ever since!
What are some challenges you’ve faced in getting your business off the ground?
Choosing entrepreneurship is to intentionally choose the thrill of risk, experimentation, and adventure. Challenges I’m learning from include, but are not limited to:
- The isolation that comes with building the business of your dreams
- Not burning myself out with my own ambition and poor calendaring skills
- Being conscious of my and my team’s humanity and capacity to work during the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and global rampant racism
- Not being afraid of the numbers and becoming best friends with my bookkeeper for better cash flow
- Staying true to my values and vision in a cut-throat capitalist society
As an AfroLatina, who are your biggest inspirations?
I find inspiration everywhere I go! My curiosity leads me to explore the art and science of human creative self-expression and the power of communication as a force for good. My creative inspirations include:
- Octavia E. Butler’s apocalyptic yet radically optimistic vision and message in Parable of the Sower
- Tara Nicholle Nelson’s transformation-driven marketing philosophy and her soul-driven business
- Teneisha Warner Jackson’s purpose-driven creative career and successful agency
- Keith Haring’s provocative yet universally accessible doodle activist art
- Chris Do’s creative education empire and bold goal to impact a billion creatives
- My growing team at bombilla
What can our community do to support you?
Our goal in 2021 is to deepen our financial resilience and to nurture the creativity, culture, and community that keep our bombilla lights on. You can play a role in our story by: hiring us and referring us for mission-driven brand strategy, visual identity, and graphic design projects and retainers. You can think of us as the go-to creative agency for small, collaborative communication teams inside organizations with a big mission. Check out examples of our kick-ass work on our website.