Inspired Chicago | Dannie Fountain

When I first looked at Dannie's website my initial reaction was - "damn, does this girl do everything??" She wears quite a few hats as you'll see below and during our coffee date/photography interview at Asado coffee in the West Loop - but I just couldn't help but be impressed with all that Dannie's done for such a young person. Not only does she run her own marketing business that helps entrepreneurs, she's also an integral part of the marketing efforts at...wait for it...Google. Yeah. She's so cool, right?

Thanks to you Dannie for spending the afternoon with me, letting me get to know you and your story, and for being such a badass boss that inspires me greatly. :)

Q. What do you call yourself? Small business owner, author, designer, etc.

My “formal title” within my business is “Strategist. Author. Educator.” This also happens to be my tagline. If you compare my role to that of a corporate role, my work would fall into the Marketing Director’s description.

However, there are many titles for who and what I am - Whiskey drinker. Tattoo hoarder. Airplane flyer. Aggressive food segregator. Googler. Hotel pen collector. Passionate friend. Devoted partner.

Dannie Fountain, strategist, author and educator photographed for  Inspired Chicago

Q. How did you get into doing that?

I started my business just over 9 years ago. My first client was a total accident, but an amazing experience. Since then, I’ve had many amazing twists and turns that brought me to where I am today. The basic overview is this:

10 years ago, girl meets boy. Boy’s father asks girl to help with marketing strategies for his upcoming State Senate run. Girl has dreams of being a lawyer and sees this as an amazing opportunity to dive in, and says yes. Boy’s father gets elected.

He continued to refer me business and I began to build my own marketing practice, which would support me throughout the remainder of high school and throughout college. I had many other jobs during this time as well - McDonald’s Manager, HR Block Tax Preparer, and Campus Tour Guide, to name a few. During the latter half of college, I pivoted to focus on resume development and career consulting (a foreshadow of my future decision to pursue a MS in Human Resources).

After I graduated undergrad, I got a “real job” in Brand Management for Whirlpool Corporation. I kept my side hustle alive, designing marketing planners for direct sales businesses and selling them on Etsy. Soon thereafter, I pivoted back to the original marketing practice I had built.

Over the years I have tried offering many different services that relate to marketing - but one service has remained consistent. Marketing strategy.

Laptop of Google employee Dannie Fountain for interview with  Inspired Chicago
Headshot of Chicago marketing strategist and educator Dannie Fountain

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Q. Was this where you always intended to be in your career, or were there alternative career paths you considered?

My family tells stories somewhat often about my desire to be a lawyer. When I was three years old, I said that I wanted to be a lawyer someday, and my passion for the law grew from there. I actually was even pre-law in undergrad for a time! The goal was to be a Mergers & Acquisitions lawyer and then run for Congress one day.

Though I no longer am in the law field, I am still passionate about law. I even accidentally collect lawyers as friends - Samantha Foley, Joey Vitale, and DeJohn Allen, to name a few. But I am beyond certain that marketing is my true calling - so much so that I accidentally got a job in marketing at Google earlier this year.

Dannie Fountain marketing strategist in Chicago is interviewed for  Inspired Chicago  feature series
Headshot of Chicago marketing strategist and Google employee Dannie Fountain

Q. Why did you choose to do that in Chicago?

I originally came to Chicago for love. As the story goes, the love didn’t work out, but entrepreneurship definitely did. I began to make friends in Chicago and fell in love with the city, and so I stayed. There’s a strong entrepreneurial community here and incredible resources too, like 1871 (Chicago’s Technology & Entrepreneurship Center), where I am a mentor.

Branding headshot of Dannie Fountain, Chicago entrepenur

Q. Do you feel like you're connected to a creative community, and if so, how has it affected you and your work?

Definitely. I couldn’t survive without my creative community! I have my friend group here in the city, largely comprised of entrepreneurs. I’ve been able to get involved in a few different projects because of the creative community as well - I’m the Creative Council Chair for The Rising Tide Society, a member of the Creative Women’s Conversations Advisory Board, and one of the faces of Burgundy Fox, a curated lingerie and sleepwear company. I feel so inspired by the tremendous creative entrepreneurs here in Chicago and across the globe.

Katharine Hannah

Katharine’s work has graced the walls of institutions such as The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Harold Washington Library of Chicago, and local galleries such as Dreambox Gallery, Siragus Gallery and Blick Art Materials. She has also been featured on websites such as the Huffington Post, Phlearn, Fstoppers, Tigress Magazine for Girls, Bitchtopia, and Golden Boy Press.

In addition to photography, Katharine has been a mentor and educator in the arts since 2013. She has worked with students in various organizations and projects over the last two years, including Hive Chicago’s PROjectUS initiative and Digital Youth Network’s Digital Diva’s and Chicago City of Learning programs.