Challenging the Status Quo
Cartier Lebatie discovered the power of social media when she has crowned Miss Earth Zambia in 2014. Today the Zambian-South African is a lawyer, digital marketer, and founder of C-Suite Legal and Marketing. Cartier’s family wanted a conventional career path for her and it was hardly surprising when she chose to study law. But when she competed in Miss Earth her eyes were opened to new possibilities.
She shares, “I went to compete in the Philippines. I was competing with several other countries that at the time were more digitally advanced than both Zambia and South Africa. There were certain parts of the competition, which required your audience to be able to vote via your social media platforms. It was through that that I really learned how digital presence can have a direct effect on your business or professional and personal life.”
When you have a corporate job, you work 9 to 5 but when you have your own business, you work 24 hours a day!
Cartier shares, “When I graduated with my legal degree, I knew the legal fraternity was stagnant. The laws can’t change easily and it’s a long process to be able to change legislation.” Thus began her foray into digital marketing and building a personal brand. Cartier continues, “I want to have a career path that allows me to impact someone’s life directly, but I also want to enjoy what I was doing. The legal degree gave me something to fall back on.”
The pandemic turned things around and Cartier brought together law and digital marketing and launched C-Suite Legal and Marketing. She explains, “I worked as legal counsel and when COVID-19 hit I didn’t want to be in a position where my company was going under. I realised that my salary, my income, my livelihood, were based on someone else and I didn’t have control over it. I made the decision to start my own legal advisory firm and marry the two worlds of legal and social media and form a legal advisory firm that specialises in digital marketing and social media.”
Digital marketing is fast becoming the more affordable and preferred way to reach customers immediately. “That is the power of social media in a pandemic,” she exclaims.
Starting a business during a pandemic is no easy feat but it’s a trend we have seen the world over. Cartier explains, “I started my business when people were cutting marketing budgets and being retrenched and it’s so scary to do so in the middle of a pandemic. Big corporations had cut their marketing budgets in half because they no longer could afford television and radio advertisements, and that’s where my business came in. You are getting the marketing aspects and everything else but at a lower cost. It’s online and it’s hitting your target audience during COVID because people are home on their devices.”
C-Suite Legal and Marketing is an advisory firm. Cartier explains what that means, “There are two aspects of the business. From the legal side, we handle everything on a corporate level, from the drafting of your contracts to employment agreements to handling legalities. The other aspect, which is the digital marketing and social media aspect, we help build brands from the ground up. This includes everything from developing a digital marketing and social media strategy for your business.”
I started my business when people were cutting marketing budgets and being retrenched and it’s so scary to do so in the middle of a pandemic.
When it comes to digital law, Cartier reveals a concern of hers that brings together her two areas of expertise, “In South Africa and Zambia, we don’t have actual digital legislation that has been enacted. We’ve seen an increase in cybercrimes in the past two, three years. We’ve seen an increase in social media harassment, social media criminal activity, and we don’t have adequate legislation to protect businesses, individuals, in both personal and professional aspects. From a legal standpoint, because we don’t have specific digital legislation, when you are interacting on these social media platforms in your personal or professional capacity, or even as a business you need to be careful. You need to make sure that firstly, you are contracted in the correct way.”
With Cartier’s experience as a fashion model working with big name brands like Coca-Cola, Dolce & Gabbana and Zara I was curious to know how she positioned herself strategically to get recognised by them. She explained, “I work very strategically. As much as we would love to believe that one day Coca-Cola is going to find us on Instagram, you’re competing with over a billion accounts.
When I approach a brand, and I’ve been very fortunate to work with some phenomenal brands, I made sure that I have a digital profile and a rate card and that I have a strategy. The strategy must show what I want to do with the brand, how the client will benefit, what my target audience is. When you pitch yourself, you need to make sure that your pitch is flawless and, of course, it comes with practice.
I think being authentic, having consistency, and then having an organic synergy between you and the brand will elevate any partnership.”
As for the big trends in the digital sphere for 2022, Cartier passionately shares, “The big trend right now is NFTs or non-fungible tokens. An NFT is a unit of data and it’s stored on a digital ledger that we call the blockchain. What makes it so phenomenal is that a secure digital file is used to validate ownership within the blockchain. No one can steal an NFT from you. In South Africa and around the world, people are using NFTs to sell art. You’re selling the art and it has a unique code in it and because it’s on a digital platform it removes the need for a gallery and saves on costs for the artist. When I buy art from an artist, it’s mine and no one else can own it, it’s unique to me. We’re are trying to incorporate the use of NFTs into C-Suite Legal.”
When she isn’t passionately breaking down NFTs or talking brand and influencer contracts, one wonders what Cartier does in her spare time. She jokes, “You know when you have a corporate job, you work 9 to 5 but when you have your own business, you work 24 hours a day! When I do have downtime I love to spend it with my husband and my family. My husband is my best friend! Outside of that, I take my health very seriously, so physical fitness is a big thing to me. Whether it’s going to the gym or doing yoga, and then honestly in front of the TV with a good series is where you can often find me.”