Teresa Lundy, and the Power of Communications in Building Equity
As the principal and founder of a TML Communications, Lundy has built a strong team who strives to be a solution toward long-standing issues.
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If you were to ask Teresa Lundy about her upbringing, she’ll say she had “the best of both worlds.”
Born in North Philadelphia and growing up in Abington, Pennsylvania, she immediately learned to adapt to both the inner city and rural parts of the region.
As the child of a traveling pastor, Lundy and her mom often spent time in various different parts of the city.
“[My mom] went to a whole bunch of churches, preaching the gospel,” said Lundy during an interview with AL DÍA.
“I was able to interact with a whole bunch of people, get to hear a lot of issues, go to community events, and participate in a lot of service projects,” she added.
Those early experiences would influence her life and eventual career path. It was those experiences that sparked Lundy’s understanding of the power of communication and storytelling, as she was able to meet different kinds of people.
Today, Lundy is the founder, owner and principal of her own firm, TML Communications, where she helps lead efforts carrying out that very endeavor.
The path to this venture was far from linear. However, each step along the way has been a learning experience to get there.
Beginnings of a Career
Lundy is a graduate of Temple University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in media studies and production.
Her career arc prior to becoming the entrepreneur she is today was influenced by two key professional experiences.
One of which is working for about 10 years in retail. During that decade-long venture, Lundy learned a lot — from product selling to scheduling, budgeting, reaching sales goals, and corporate meetings.
All of these play some role in being a successful entrepreneur.
“Sales gave me a new perspective of seeing how the market actually changes,” said Lundy.
Lundy also has a background in government. Locally, she worked for the City of Philadelphia as supervising media coordinator, helping ensure that technology was something that was invested in to fully engage constituents.
Nationally, she served as Special Assistant to the US Congress, where she saw the day-to-day grind of advocating for long standing issues that heavily impact constituents.
The opportunity to work at both the local and national level gave Lundy a broader, wide scale view on how decisions are and can be made politically.
Lundy’s affinity for government can be summed up in seven words.
“It is the voice of the people,” she said.
As a resident and citizen of the United States, she wants to be a part of the system she is investing in and also have a seat at the table.
Coupling the experiences of working in sales and the government, Lundy managed to combine the skills she learned in both in order to venture into her entrepreneurial journey.
“The reason why I went into business was because I saw there was a need, and I said, ‘Well, if no one else is tackling it, I’m going to try it,’” she said.
Launching TML Communications
In 2015, Lundy officially launched TML Communications, a full-service strategic public relations, crisis communications, and community engagement firm.
For her, the process of transferring her skills in retail into entrepreneurism was aided through reading, speaking with other entrepreneurs, and looking at government resources specifically tailored to those who want to or have started a business.
“Once I took on that path, the goal became a little more clear what the next steps were,” said Lundy.
Once her firm was established, she proceeded to set out some of the things she wanted to accomplish, with an eye toward the five-year mark.
In retail and in government, Lundy developed a clear cut understanding of challenges that individuals often faced, from a lack of community engagement to racial equities, among others.
From there, she decided she wanted to have a hand in finding a solution to those challenges, and a key part of that is through communication, which is a major component of her firm.
“I started to fall in love with the stories… [starting a business] gave me an opportunity to also build a team around what it looks like to tell people’s stories and actually get results from it,” she said.
Since launching TML Communications, Lundy has kept the mission front of mind — being a solution.
The Five-Year Mark, and a Pandemic
Reaching five years as an entrepreneur was one of Lundy’s biggest goals when she first started her firm.
The five-year mark for her coincided with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.
Once the pandemic hit, Lundy used her trusty whiteboard and wrote down ways in which her firm would be impacted, based on how long the pandemic could potentially last.
“I came to the conclusion that I needed to revisit my business plans,” Lundy reflected. “I needed to revamp how we interacted with people.”
The first step was access to capital — looking at grant and loan opportunities — to ensure that the business could be funded and maintained financially.
Lundy’s mind was on the state of both her team and her clients, and how their needs would inevitably change as the pandemic raged on, with an eye toward finding opportunities to expand services.
A prominent part of that was investing in reliable technology platforms to ensure that her team and clients could still connect, as well as receive and provide services, respectively, during quarantine.
In addition, Lundy and her team began to write monthly columns for Metro Philly, lending her voice to the topic of business, tips on running a business, and also spotlighting other Black-women-owned businesses and business owners in the region.
“It gave me an outlet to grieve and also to connect to tell stories,” she noted.
Beyond that, the pandemic has also taught Lundy some very valuable lessons as a business owner and entrepreneur.
“The lesson for me as it relates to business was if this is really what you want and this is the path that you want to pursue, then you have to go hard,” she said. “And that’s what we did.”
That lesson is what helped TML Communications continue to grow in spite of the pandemic challenges.
“Profit margins definitely soared, new clients developed, I was able to have a fresh perspective with my team trying to figure out the best way to communicate through tough times [and] through challenges, but also through triumphs,” said Lundy.
Coming Full Circle
Lundy is a Black woman entrepreneur who is part of a business ecosystem in Philadelphia where there are very few.
She admits that entrepreneurship “isn’t for the weak or the faint of heart.”
However, as someone who has gone through the trials and tribulations, while also being unafraid to share her story, she hopes that the work she does will inspire other women leaders to step up and do the same.
“Being a woman in the business space — especially a Black woman — sometimes I’m the only one at the table,” said Lundy.
However, while she may be the only Black woman at the table, she is not only advocating for herself and her business, but many others.
“We can’t just be in the room as a token, we have to be involved and invested,” she added.
As also a business community advocate, Lundy is afforded the opportunity to go back to her roots growing up — attending community events, supporting other Black women and entrepreneurs, and tapping into those values she was taught at an early age.
Through that, she is able to learn about others, see where she can provide services, and help create a path for more young Black women to enter into the business space.
In her experience, for more diverse women to enter the entrepreneurial world, it takes commitment, investment and an understanding of your purpose.
Lundy’s advocacy work all circles back to her reasoning for launching TML Communications in the first place, which she feels is her purpose.
“I saw a need,” she said. “That Black and Brown people’s stories were not being told the way they should have been, I saw that there were strategic plans that weren’t fulfilled.”
“And I saw that there was an opportunity where someone who looked like me, that had the experiences growing up in the hood and also growing up in the suburbs, and then investing in the communities that I not just drive through, but also walk through,” she continued.
A member of the African American Chamber of Commerce and various boards, the desire to give back is not lost on Lundy.
Opportunities For Growth
As a boutique firm of a team of five, one of Lundy’s goals for TML Communications is to continue growing, eventually into a medium-sized firm with perhaps a second location.
Lundy is also looking to publish a book, providing tips on effective storytelling.
“I’m just looking to invest in communities by doing more social impact,” she noted.
Lundy sees herself as a future thought leader in the business community, providing the roadmap to success in this area and overcoming challenges.
“It’s the lessons you learn from these challenges that’s going to take you to the next level and hopefully I can inspire someone else to do great things,” she added.
“Keep passing it down and keep paying it forward is the message.”