Natives get restless, branch off to launch new branding firm

Kasey Hayes has launched Cure with creative director Allison Yacono, left, and business partner Alex Brito. All three previously worked at Native Collaboration, which Hayes co-founded. (Courtesy Cure)

After five years together, the founding partners of a Richmond marketing firm have gone their separate ways, adding a new player to the local ad scene in the process.

Native Collaboration co-founders Kasey Hayes and Liz Stiff have split, with Stiff continuing the agency they started in late 2013 and Hayes launching a new firm, Cure, with business partner and Native colleague Alex Brito.

Hayes and Stiff described the decision as having to do with differences over the direction of the business. Stiff said Native would continue its focus on digital marketing and content, while Hayes said Cure would put more of an emphasis on creative design and analytics.

“It was primarily a differing of opinion in terms of what we wanted to be doing,” Stiff said Thursday. “We’re continuing to do a lot of digital marketing, more content creation in the digital space, and she (Hayes) wanted to do more of a design direction.”

Hayes, who launched Cure in mid-December, chalked up the split to creative differences and business approach.

Hayes and Liz Stiff, right, founded Native Collaboration in 2013. (File photo courtesy Native Collaboration)

“We just had different visions for where the business was going as we continue to grow,” Hayes said. “It was just a good juncture to go separate ways.”

Joining Hayes and Brito is Allison Yacono, a graphic designer at Native who will serve as Cure’s creative director. Brito, who worked four years with Native as digital director, has a minority ownership in Cure, with Hayes the majority owner.

The group brings with them a former Native client, Pocahontas Reframed, a film festival held at the Byrd Theatre. Hayes said Cure also is working with the Byrd on a logo and branding for its 90th anniversary.

Other clients include Richmond-based Kelly Blanchard Real Estate Group, Philadelphia-based AcademicCME, and Miami-based EAM Worldwide. The agency also has picked up Newport News-based Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA.

Cure is taking over Native’s storefront at 418 E. Main St., part of a building that Hayes and members of her family purchased through an LLC in 2016. Hayes said upgrades would be made to the space, while renovations to the building’s adjoining storefront, which Native had planned to move into, have been put on hold.

Cure is taking over Native’s storefront at 418 E. Main St. (BizSense file photo)

Native is now based at the Scott’s Addition Gather coworking space, and Stiff said she’s looking for longer-term space, eyeing options in Scott’s Addition and Jackson Ward, as well as the new downtown Gather under construction on East Broad Street.

With the Cure team’s departure, Stiff said Native’s staff now totals eight, five of whom are local. The rest are in Nashville, where Stiff’s brother and Native creative director Robert Dyar is based, and in California, where Stiff said the agency just landed Major League Soccer team LA Galaxy as a client.

Other clients include the Los Angeles Kings hockey team. Native also has worked with Richmond-based Andrea Donnelly Studio, Henrico-based Spark Product Development and American Evolution, a 2019 commemoration of 1619 Virginia.

Hayes, a Richmond native and Freeman High grad, launched Native with Stiff after they met at the College of Charleston in South Carolina and reconnected in Richmond following stints in Miami and Washington, D.C., respectively.

Cure joins other Richmond-based firms that have spun off from established local agencies. Last year, animation studio Hue & Cry broke off from The Martin Agency as an independently owned company, after five years as Martin’s in-house studio.

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