The culmination of a lifetime spent immersed in design and successfully holding leadership positions across various industries, Alysha Smith has been named CEO of acclaimed Utah-based strategic brand design consultancy modern8.
Formerly the Managing Director of the agency, her new leadership role signals an exciting new direction for modern8 as it looks to radically shift its business strategies and goals, embracing not only new client partners but new ways of thinking. Since joining, Smith has already leveraged her interpersonal and business skills to reorganize modern8’s structure, workflow and customer service. As CEO, she hopes to focus on the bigger picture for modern8, strengthening that foundational love for design and continuing to grow the business while not forgetting its singular approach — a process that has resulted in successful projects for Ritual Chocolate, Surehand, Nush Foods and a host of CPG and DTC brands, as well as educational institutions.
“I spent the last several years handling the nitty-gritty of project and team management, client coordination, and finances,” explains Smith. “Since then, my goals have always been to redefine and expand our strategic offerings, keep ahead of the trends in branding, and refine and retain our team of strategists and designers. I’m looking forward to what I see as a fluid challenge but also a great opportunity.”
Before joining modern8, Smith honed her leadership skills with Banana Republic and Gap Inc. as one of the youngest and most recognized in retail management. For her efforts, she was awarded a leadership-in-excellence award, a people development award, and a visual merchandising award. Her deep love of design, however, eventually led her to take her expertise and apply it to a new space, originally joining modern8 in 2012. “When (agency founder) Randall Smith approached me with the opportunity,” she says, “it felt like the right moment for me to re-establish myself and become a leader in this new industry.”
Now, as one of the too-few female leaders in design, Smith looks forward to applying her belief in diversity, mentorship and entrepreneurship toward fostering new perspectives in the agency’s work and its partnerships. “It’s a different time to be a woman leader in design,” she explains. “Where there was once a lack of the feminine point of view, business leaders now are recognizing the need for differing vantage points and mindsets. Nowadays, leaders also recognize the value of diversifying who they hire within their company to share their brand story — because diversity shows to their audience as well.”
To further this belief in diversity, she founded NaNa — a collective that brings together like-minded women and identifying women from all industries to create crossover opportunities that generate inspiration, collaboration, and friendships through various events, panels, workshops, and meetups. Smith also acted as Salt Lake Design Week Director, organizing events that bring together all design disciplines for opportunities to celebrate, interact, collaborate, and learn from the creativity of the local Utah community.
“Alysha brings management experience from outside our industry — bigger companies with different needs,” affirms Founder Randall Smith. “That perspective has already changed things, having an impact on our process, employees and environment, and is an exciting portent for the future of modern8. I am looking forward to seeing how Alysha moves the agency to new strategic and creative heights.”