By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
Knowing what’s at stake for clients, Chasiti Shepherd has a motto that drives her and team members at her Birmingham-based public relations firm—“Always see it through.”
“My father was in the Army, so he always instilled in me a huge sense of discipline,” she said. “If you ask any of the staff the phrase I say the most, they’ll say, ‘See it through,’ because … it’s not finished until it’s done. I’m real big on that and people can see that in my day-to-day,” she said.
Shepherd, 37, is the owner and president of B Grace Media, a public relations and marketing agency that connects brands and businesses to people through storytelling. She’s aware of how much clients need the best service.
“When people have to feed their families and they’re relying on us to do it, that is a charge I don’t take lightly,” Shepherd said. “I don’t quit, and I truly believe you have to see everything through. You can’t take no for an answer; it’s not acceptable.”
Shepherd, who founded the firm in 2012 and has more than a dozen clients, has expanded her business over the past seven years.
“When we first started, we did mostly media buying. We now do full public relations and social media [Instagram, Facebook, etc.]. We have expanded our reach,” she said. “When you work hard and try to do the right thing by people, people tell other people [about you], … and that’s how we grew. Right now, we’re killing it, and hopefully we can maintain.”
“Worst Year of My Life”
While growing her business, Shepherd persevered through several challenges, particularly in 2018. In January of that year, her daughter, Brailee, was born three months early and stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for several months: “When she was born, she weighed like two pounds, so it was rough.”
Shortly after bringing her baby home, Shepherd had to deal with the illness of her brother.
“Before I had my baby, my brother, [Dominique], had pneumonia and didn’t go to the doctor,” Shepherd recalled. “Because he had [the illness] for so long, the infection in his lungs caused his lungs to work so hard that it caused him to have heart failure. [Though] he had gotten better, there was [a lot of] damage to his heart.
“He had a stroke in April  and he didn’t pass away until June 9, 2018, because my parents could not take their baby off life support. He wasn’t even 30. Who wants to take their 28-year-old son off of life support, [a young man] who had just started to live?”
Around that time, Shepherd also lost some important contracts, including one with the city of Birmingham, and she wanted to quit.
“I had to dig down and [work the way I did when] I started,” she said. “I had to start all over again and start utilizing our resources. We picked up additional clients and, by the grace of God, we survived, … we thrived. I think I’m better today for it.”
Shepherd is still dealing with the loss of her brother, but she is making progress. Her daughter, who is almost 2 years old now, is doing great: “[Brailee] is thriving. She’s phenomenal. She’s a boss and handling her little business,” Shepherd said.
“The company is doing well, too,” she added, noting that she is working with the city again. “I would say to anybody who is in business, ‘You just have to ride the rollercoaster. You can’t quit. You just have to ride the waves. Just because things happen doesn’t mean things has to stay that way.’ We’re rocking and rolling, and we’re doing a lot better.”
“Two Peas in a Pod”
Shepherd grew up in Huntsville, Ala., with her parents and younger brother, Dominique. Growing up, she was very active in her church, Saint Bartley Primitive Baptist Church, where her uncle was the pastor and she participated in the church youth group and choir.
“I came from a very close-knit family,” she said. “Even though I wasn’t a preacher’s kid, I might as well have been because in the neighborhood where I grew up everybody knew you and you couldn’t get away with a whole lot.”
As far back as elementary school, Shepherd’s enthusiastic personality shined.
“In the sixth grade, the awards I would always win were Most Likely to Succeed, Most Talkative, Most Enthusiastic,” she said. “I was a cheerleader, and, of course, I danced, too.”
Shepherd was very close to her brother; the two were inseparable. She was seven years older than him, and he always tagged along with her.
“We were two peas in a pod,” said Shepherd. “Growing up, my parents were kind of strict, and I couldn’t go anywhere if he couldn’t go with me. If my friends and I were going out, going to the movies, Dominique was tagging along. I’ll never forget when I took my [high school] senior pictures, he had to tag along because my parents had to work. I drove, so he had to come.”
Shepherd attended Huntsville High School, where she was the only black cheerleader and one of 17 black students in her graduating class. Experiences like those drew her to attending a historically black college and university (HBCU): Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where she studied marketing.
The transition to college was difficult. During her first semester, Shepherd cried almost every day, but she persevered because of what her dad had instilled in her: “If you start something, you have to finish it.”
“So, there was no transferring. I had to see it through, and I did,” she said. “I did well [at Stillman]. I pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. I was a member of the Student Government Association and on the dance team, and I was part of a modeling troupe.”
Shepherd graduated from Stillman in 2003 and got hired for a position in Birmingham at AT&T Advertising and Publishing, where she worked for seven years. In 2009, the company had its first round of layoffs, Shepherd said.
After leaving that job, she went into medical device sales, selling inferior vena cava (IVC) filters, small devices that can stop blood clots from moving into the lungs. Still, she stayed in touch with several clients she met while working at AT&T, many of whom would ask for her advice.
One of those clients was Anthony Ifediba, a Birmingham-area attorney who invited her to a meeting where she met a local advertising professional Jeff Melton, who asked if she was the “agency” for her client. At the time, Shepherd didn’t know what an “agency” was. Melton explained that being an agency for a client means you consult with people about their marketing and advertising efforts—and he told her, “You should really think about doing the agency thing.”
“I’ll tell anybody, [Melton is] the reason B Grace exists. He showed me the ropes and told me what I needed to do and how I could be successful,” Shepherd said. “I did a lot of research and figured out how I could make this thing work.”
In 2011, Shepherd she got the idea for the business, which she started a year later under the name Chic Ad Agency. When she gave birth to her first daughter, Bella Grace, in 2014, she renamed the company to B Grace and decided her second daughter would have the initials of B Grace, as well.
B Grace has a staff of five, all of whom focus on helping clients grow their businesses.
“We connect them with the right type of people, so people can talk about them and people will call them. We do that [via] traditional public relations, social media, influencer campaigns, marketing, event planning. … We’ve done it all,” said Shepherd, who credits her success in business to her never-quit attitude.
“What we do is not easy. This is a very hard, grunting job,” she said. “People think public relations and marketing are easy. They are not. [Our clients] rely on us to grow their brands and expect us to help them be profitable. … I tell the team all the time, ‘When you walk in here every day, you need to have one thing on your mind: How do we help our clients?”
BGrace Media can be reached by phone, 205-537-1100, or email, email@example.com.