Firm Founders: Turrency Political & BlackBrown Partners

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Kara Turrentine was working in the corporate marketing world when she realized she wanted to do campaign politics full-time. So she set out on what became a multi-year journey to put her eventual Nashville-based shop, Turrency Political, on the path to succeed. 

“I think the most important thing is to definitely bet on yourself to do it,” Turrentine said in a recent interview with C&E. And while being confident enough to make the leap to found your own shop is essential, Turrentine said no matter how much industry success practitioners already have under their belt, they need to be prepared for at least a couple of lean years as a new firm founder. 

“From the moment I knew I was ready to start my own firm and the moment that I actually resigned from my [previous job], there was a three year window. I took the time to prepare mentally, to prepare my family, and to prepare financially to make the leap,” she said. 

Turrentine said putting herself in a position where she knew she wouldn’t have to worry about just paying the bills if her solo venture didn’t have instant success was a key part of being able to focus on a longer-term business plan in the early stages of Turrency Political: “And so that’s one thing I did do that served me well. I knew that if I didn’t get a single contract that year, I was going to have a place to live. I was going to be able to eat every day.” 

Another critical piece ahead of launching the firm, which focuses on direct mail and media for Democratic candidates, was building up a larger portfolio of creative work. So Turrentine essentially took on as many projects as she was able to manage in the early going, including some pro bono work for the Women’s March. 

“I think it’s really important in the early stages that you have work product to show,” she said. “So we built a portfolio of candidates, of causes, and we were able to go out and pitch that to bigger and bigger candidates. So for us in a year’s time, we went from doing city council races to Bernie Sanders.”  

That’s where Turrentine’s second venture comes in: BlackBrown Partners, the firm she co-founded at the start of 2021 with Democratic strategist Chuck Rocha. The two also did an interview with C&E earlier this year about the joint venture. BlackBrown Partners is a full-service media, mail, and digital agency, founded with the goal of ensuring more diverse voices are at the table when advertising and creative decisions get made on Democratic campaigns.

“As a Black woman working in direct mail and communications [I found] myself often in those rooms alone,” said Turrentine. “And so we talked about the needs — how important the Black and brown vote was to the 2020 win and the fact that when you look at the very top levels of elections in this country, oftentimes you don’t see people that look like me in those rooms, making the decisions about how our stories are told.”  

Now with more than one political firm founding journey under her belt, Turrentine said the best advice she can give to aspiring firm owners is to network like crazy in the early going, finding political industry mentors. That’s the one thing Turrentine wished she did a bit more of when launching Turrency Political.  

“[You want to] have people to talk to and to talk you through some of those early challenges that you have when you’re starting a new venture,” she said. “I had great people outside of politics that could help me navigate it, but I didn’t have folks that really understood the goals of what I was trying to build. We were kind of recreating the wheel a little bit, so I’d probably do that differently.”  



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