May 3, 2022Comments are off for this post.

Shifting from Hustle to Self-Care Mindset

In this talk from March 2022 for Boston University's College of Communication, alum Ivellisse Morales moderates a panel on the importance of self care in both personal and professional spaces, and disrupting the "hustle" mindset.

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.

Audre Lorde

How many have heard the phrase “hustle hard”? Society told us that the hustle makes people more successful and get ahead. Yet, studies have shown that hustle culture takes a toll on people’s emotional, mental, and physical health. For people in marginalized communities, the damage to their overall health is worse.

During the pandemic and racial reckoning, various campaigns filled our social media timelines with resources for consumers to address their mental health and wellness. Self-care became popular. As communication professionals promoting these campaigns, what are we doing to change our mindset to practice self-care and wellness in our lives? How can organizations implement best practices to ensure that we have that work-life balance to keep our overall health in check?

Join our panelists as they provide:

  • Insights and data on hustle life
  • Signs to look out for to avoid extreme burnout
  • Tips to add self-care practices in your personal and professional life
  • Ways to welcome and encourage companies and colleagues to practice wellness at work

About Our Panelists

Yi-Hsian Godfrey (COM’97), CEO & co-founder of Apiari
Yi-Hsian (pronounced "E-Schwan") Godfrey is CEO & co-founder of Apiari a curated childcare platform helping families find, book and manage vetted and experienced night nannies, babysitters and enrichment leaders in minutes.  A former corporate executive turned entrepreneur, Yi-Hsian is also a mom to school-aged children, daughter to elderly parents, wife, sister and friend, she understands the challenges parents face in pursuing the proverbial "work-life balance."

Alice Hu (COM’10), Founder of Woo Woo Company
Alice Hu is the founder of Woo Woo Company, a guide for all things woo, spiritual, and holistic wellness. Going through your Saturn Return or have questions about your career? Alice will use all the tools and modalities that helped her discover her calling and purpose to guide you in your journey. 
Alice also just released season two of her podcast Into the Woo and an ambient music album titled Dreaming Abundance. She is currently working on creating a career-focused astrology app. You can sign up via

Charmain F. Jackman, PhD, Psychologist, Speaker, Writer, Consultant, & Founder/CEO, InnoPsych, Inc.
Dr. Jackman is a Harvard-trained licensed Psychologist with 23+ years in the mental health field. She is the founder and CEO of InnoPsych, Inc., an organization on a mission to disrupt racial inequities in mental health. She also consults with organizations on topics including mental health, and racial trauma, employee wellbeing. She has won several awards for her impactful work including the 2021 American Psychological Association’s (APA) Citizen Psychologist Award and City of Boston’s 2021 Innovator of The Year award. Dr. Jackman has been featured on national media outlets such as the New York TimesNPRPBS, and the Boston Globe

MODERATOR: Ivellisse Morales (COM’12), Founder of bombilla
Ivellisse Morales brings a decade of experience in using marketing as a force for good—for brands of all sizes from inside major creative agencies like Ogilvy, Cone Communications and IDEO and nonprofits like Year Up. Since 2018, Ivellisse has served as the visionary behind bombilla, a branding & design agency for social change. Bombilla (lightbulb in Spanish) is fueled by a national network of diverse creatives who conspire with systems-changing organizations to make the world brighter

May 2, 2022Comments are off for this post.

Interview: BU Alum’s Branding Agency Promoting Creativity & Community

In this article, originally published in April 2022 by The Daily Free Press (Boston University), journalist Stella Tannenbaum interviews BU alum Ivellisse Morales on bombilla's branding agency origin story and members of team on the what it's like to work at bombilla:

Bombilla, which means “lightbulb” in Puerto Rican Spanish, also happens to be the name of a design and branding agency created by a 2012 Boston University College of Communication graduate. The name is a “nod” to CEO and founder Ivellisse Morales’ Puerto Rican heritage.

“It’s hard to say without a smile on your face,” Morales said. “It’s unique, it’s memorable, it’s easy to pronounce and it signals from the very beginning that we are different.”

Morales sought to create a mission-driven agency seeking social change. The company, which is run by a team of six women, focuses on graphic design, brand strategy and visual identity.

“Our clients are women, Black and brown, queer-owned small businesses, nonprofits, social enterprises, visionary individuals who are using their skills to make change,” Morales said. “And we’re supporting them with our own skills.”

Kimberly Cho, creative project manager and designer at Bombilla, said using her design skills for social good is an experience she does not take for granted.

It brings me a lot of purpose and light just because knowing that I’m able to apply my skill sets to work that really matters and benefits the world I live in is definitely something that I’m definitely grateful for.

Kimberly Cho

Prior to launching Bombilla, Morales worked at a corporate agency that she described as “a culture of nonstop grinding.” She said while working at a corporate agency can jumpstart your career, the work environment is demanding.

In 2018, she set an exit plan for her corporate job and began her journey to create Bombilla.

“February 1 was my first official day working for myself,” she said.

From a business model that incorporates “creative human hours” — a concept based around working four to six hours a day — implementing “No-Meeting Mondays,” “Fitness Fridays” and two “Wellness Weeks” a year, Morales is creating a conducive work environment optimal for her crew of designers and brand gurus.

Before joining the Bombilla team, Design Director Tiffany Threets experienced intense burnout in her previous job.

“It turned out to be one of the most damaging experiences for me as a human,” Threets said. “Especially a woman of color.”

Threets began searching for a company like Bombilla because she was “sick of being the only Black or brown person in the room” and wanted to use her design expertise to benefit the greater good.

She described Bombilla as a “secret pot of gold” providing all she could have hoped for in a company.

“It seems like the ungettable get, but it existed,” Threets said. “Bombilla is everything they say they are and more.”

Threets said it’s important for young women of color in the design industry not to “water down who you are.”

Don’t dim your light and don’t lose who you are. Everything will come full circle.

Tiffany Threets

Cho said as a freelance designer she was often criticized for her design decisions, but that all changed when she joined Bombilla.

“I never got that from Ivi,” Cho said. “She was really understanding and very trusting of the design process that I had already established and laid out.”

Morales creates a culture of “camaraderie and connection” that makes the members feel comfortable bringing up their questions and concerns, Cho said.

“We don’t have to feel like we need to hide who we are at work,” Cho said. “We don’t have to code switch to be a certain way. We are able to work as a team, but I also feel like there’s definitely a huge level of trust and friendship that’s there that you might not always see at a corporate company.”

Morales is excited by the amount of BIPOC and queer creative agencies “filling in that gap” in the advertising industry.

We’re in a position where we’re able to be the storytellers and keep it authentic. We do bring a justice, equity and inclusion lens. So if we’re working with a predominantly white client, we’re staying honest about their language, their tone, their representation and imagery.

Ivellisse Morales

Check out the original article by Stella Tannenbaum on The Daily Free Press (Boston University).

April 27, 2022Comments are off for this post.

Interview: Founding A New Kind of Creative Agency

In this interview from September 2020, Ivellisse discusses her path as an agency founder navigating through creative challenges, a pandemic, and reimagining the agency model. This interview, conducted by Michael Freedman at Float, was originally published as part of the interview series "Agency Founders," which features founders of independent creative studios who are breaking the status quo.

In one sentence, can you tell us about your agency?

We are bombilla, a creative agency on a mission to move hearts and minds through branding and design.

What's the story behind your name?

Bombilla (bom-bee-yah) means lightbulb in Puerto Rican Spanish. It's symbolic of the power we all have to make the world brighter. It's also hard to say without a smile on your face.

Our theory of change is that the more creatives conspire towards the greater good, the sooner we can accelerate the changes we need as humans. That's why we focus on systems-changing organizations—from serving women and Black & Brown-owned businesses to social enterprises and nonprofits who are addressing issues like federal paid leave policy, racial & gender equity, and access to educational and economic opportunity.

Can you tell us more about that?

We're the creative directors of our shared future on this beautiful blue planet we call home. How are we going to step up to solve the great social, political, and environmental crises of our time? I'm doing what I can from where I am by mobilizing creatives for justice and serving entrepreneurs and leaders who are leading the charge.

We need everybody to be #litonpurpose; to embody the change the world needs by focusing on how our individual gifts can collectively make the world brighter. Change starts with you (us).

In the words of Dr. Howard Thurman, "Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

How large is your team now? As a fully remote team since day one, has your work routine changed much during COVID-19?

Right now, we're rocking and rolling as a team of nine, including me. At one point, we had colleagues actively working from Tacoma, Washington; Natchez, Mississippi; Boston, Massachusetts; Austin, Texas; San Francisco and Oakland, California. We have visual designers, strategists, web developers/designers, project managers, and communicators who range from moonlighters and freelancers to fellow creative studios and (soon-to-be) employees. I'm proud to share that our network is primarily filled with folks who identify as women, Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and LGBTQ+.

Honestly, the biggest challenge in our daily routine is reminding ourselves that we're human. This requires trust and vulnerability to share struggles, prioritize care for oneself and one's team, and stay realistic with timelines and commitments.

Thankfully, we have the culture and trust to be honest about how we're feeling and to discuss what's working and what's not. We recognize that sometimes we just need to take a break from it all. That's one positive aspect of this all—we're a little bit more real with each other about our human experience.

The pandemic had had a profound impact on businesses both big and small. What's it been like for your business?

When I signed myself up to be an entrepreneur, I wasn't expecting to deal with all of this! Between apocalyptic fears, low cash flow, mental health issues, social distancing, and the political climate, it's all a bit much. I'm grateful we've been able to sustain the business through small budget projects, the support of government loans, and a recent surge in demand.

My vision is to build the Pixar for progress. I'm inspired by the magic that happens in a collective of creatives with different perspectives, identities, and lived experiences. I believe in the power of storytelling for human transformation. I want to build a creative workforce that's truly representative of the United States of America. Our workplaces need to reflect us as people. This means teams that are multi-racial, multicultural, and multi-generational. We're making space for different identities, with perspectives all anchored in the same values, which is what makes "team" work and the dream work.

How about the impact on the industry as a whole?

With community, communication, and collaboration (and adjusting), I think the creative industry will bounce back stronger than ever. The playing field is leveled now that we're all at home. We're going to see the rise of thriving creative collectives, especially as unemployment continues to rise.

I believe that the agencies that survive will be the creatively nimble ones, with the team dynamics and humility to learn and learn from each other.

You've said you want to build an agency that's anti-oppressive and anti-racist, and one that goes beyond the billable hour. How do you achieve that?

First things first, there is no blueprint, and I don't have all of the answers. I'm learning and navigating as I go.

What I do know is that the traditional agency model is broken. I'm trying to avoid the toxic culture, the stressful lifestyle, and the expectations and structures that uphold white supremacy (perfectionism, urgency, hierarchy, etc.). This is why we all end up getting burnt out at one point or another in our careers.

We obviously need the billable hour as a unit of our inventory to measure work hours for payment, and as a standard hourly rate to present to clients. Where it gets dangerous is when humans are treated as billable hours on paper, without regard for their full lives and full selves. In my early days, I remember being told I would be "overbooked" with no regard for my personal life or my well-being. Like, what?

With the support of my accountant, tax preparer, and business mentors, we're building a financial model that'll allow us to lean towards values-based pricing. If anyone has figured this out/is exploring this as well, please let me know! I'd love to connect.

What can other agencies do to improve the work-life balance?

One thing agencies can immediately start doing is asking their team how they're doing and what they need from them to be their best human selves. We're all working from home with reduced productivity, dealing with the uncertainty of a global pandemic, and how it intersects with systemic racism and the climate crisis.

The pandemic is inviting us to revisit these business norms that were never human to begin with. We are humans, not robots!

We all need to level set and recognize what's realistic. We have the power to push back, reset expectations and prove that high-quality, well-informed work takes time.

What does a typical project look like at bombilla?

We begin all projects with a discovery phase where we immerse ourselves in our client's brand. This includes an in-depth brand audit, getting smart on their industry, evaluating and comparing alternatives in the marketplace, customer interviews, and (my favorite part) strategic brandstorms where it all comes together.

From there, we head into design & development, where we make magic happen using the organization's strategic goals and our informed work to cook up something good—whether it's a communications strategy or a new visual identity system. This is the phase that can get a little bit chaotic with feedback sessions and ongoing refinement. Then we arrive at the delivery phase, where we finalize and package everything up.

Our process is nothing new. What makes us different is the perspectives, lived experiences, and talent we bring to the process and the team. We enjoy building real human relationships with our clients and with each other. Creativity, community, and collaboration are our key ingredients in making this dream work!

Have you ever turned down a project because it didn't fit with what you do well or it went against what you believe in?

That's the beauty of being your own boss! You can select the clients and projects you want to work on. In the beginning, I said yes to everything and had to make ends meet. I had to learn the hard way that saying yes to more projects does not always lead to more profit.

As the CEO, it's my job to protect my team and myself. I'll only be hurting us if I accept projects we know we can't fulfill to the best of our ability. This means pushing back when necessary, standing in our value and worth, sticking to our process, and gracefully and confidently saying no.

It's very scary to say no to money, but we're also saying yes to peace and leaving space for the right opportunity that speaks to our sweet spot as a creative collective. It's super important to align team members on creative projects and social issues they care about. This is where we shine!

While the percentage of female creative directors has increased substantially over the past decade, women still account for less than one-third of all the CDs in the U.S. Why aren't there more female-led agencies?

There are systemic reasons why there are few female-led agencies. The industry started off as a boy's club. If anything, I'm inspired by the number of female-led startup agencies and studios in the last few years.

We're leaving to start our own companies, creating our own rules, leading with our own values, and designing the workplaces of the future.

What were some unexpected challenges you faced when you were first getting started?

I left my corporate job on January 31, 2018. By that summer, I was abundantly drowning in inbound demand. I started as a full-time freelancer and quickly built up the agency in months. I wasn't expecting to grow so soon and so fast. I was super optimistic with my time, saying yes to everything, fueled by a scarcity mindset, real financial responsibilities, and, of course, the eagerness to serve.

Thankfully, my days as an older sister, student group leader, and agency account manager have set me up to be a delegating queen!

Running a business is personal and professional development all in one. You will get tested. Your insecurities and areas of growth will be exposed for all to see. You will need people to talk to.

I started bringing in confidantes, friends, and independent contractors behind the scenes to support me. This is where the collective was born. Shout-out to Stephanie DerrickEmily SeamanAndrea Cameron, and Betsaida Dimas who supported me behind-the-scenes in the early days and for all of the family, friends, and mentors who've provided referrals, projects, encouragement and emotional support (and still do) since day one.

Can you tell us about a project you've worked on recently that you're particularly proud of?

We're very proud of birthing a new brand for a woman of color-owned small business in Oakland, California, called Birthland. Co-founders Anjali Sardeshmukh and Kiki Jordan are community midwives who are addressing a critical need to provide affordable and accessible birth services to families who are historically marginalized from quality care.

I met Anjali and Kiki as fellow students studying microfinancing in Uptima Business Bootcamp, a member-owned business accelerator that supports diverse entrepreneurs in creating thriving businesses. What an honor to work with and support the work of my community!

In our work together, we embodied: home and family, the feminine divine, strength and resilience, and the joys of new life. Our collaborative process started with hands-on branding exercises, research and reflections, and ended with a powerful look and feel that we're all equally proud of. It brought tears to my eyes to see our work come to life on their newly-minted storefront.

How do you measure progress as an agency?

We're not trying to be the "best" agency or the "most successful" design team. We're here to scale soulfully, sustainability, and slowly. What's most important to me is that we're making a living, making a difference, and having fun. The day this isn't fun anymore is when the quality of work, quality of life, and quality of engagement and commitment suffer. I measure this by how happy and fulfilled my team and clients feel.

And if we can also build creative spaces that celebrate diversity and justice, that would be progress not only for bombilla, but also for the design industry.

While brands typically like to play it safe, advertising can sometimes play an important role in shaping culture and promoting social change. How can agencies and brands work together to meet the current racial justice movement?

We're finally talking about anti-Blackness and racism directly, across industries and sectors. It's taken us centuries, generations, and multiple movements to get here, and we've still got a long way to go. We're in the biggest fight of our lifetimes! Dismantling white supremacy and decolonizing isn't easy. Transformative change isn't easy.

Change is messy, beautiful, painful, regenerative, violent, inspiring, powerful. What a time to be alive!

Before we talk about the content of advertising, we need to talk about the people at the agencies and brands producing the work. Both agencies and brands need to address their internal culture and the diversity of their teams. This is why we need to focus on diversifying who is behind the scenes. Who are the creative directors? The copywriters? The strategists and communicators? The media buyers? It boggles me when brands make insensitive gaffes that could've been prevented if they had the right members on their team at every stage of the production process.

A number of initiatives, programs, and communities exist to support underrepresented professionals and students in the creative & media industries. Some of these include, but are not limited to: ADCOLORThe 3 Percent MovementColorCommSix Hundred & RisingHold the PRess and Where Are the Black Designers? There is no excuse anymore on "where to find talent."

What advice would you give to someone who is considering starting their own agency?

Know your numbers.

You're in business to make a profit! Teach yourself basic accounting and bookkeeping, hire a CPA-certified accountant and/or bookkeeper, and invest in the right accounting software to set you up for success. I adopted some of these later in the game, which became more expensive than if I had invested in them sooner.

My accountant is currently helping me develop a custom cash flow and revenue spreadsheet to help inform project scopes and new hires. For once, I'm feeling geeky and excited about math!

Excel in your zone of genius.

As an agency, it's easy to say yes to projects outside of your wheelhouse or to be "full-service" and pretend to do it all. I've been burned by what happens when you fake it until you make it. Without the right team, systems, and capital, this can become very painful, very quickly.

You don't have to be everything for everybody. It's perfectly okay (and even ideal in the long-term) to niche and lean into your zone of genius. This is what you're uniquely talented in as an agency—that special "thing" that nobody else can emulate, no matter how hard they try!

Check out the original blog post published as part of Float's interview series "Agency Founders," which features founders of independent creative studios who are breaking the status quo.

December 18, 2020Comments are off for this post.

Scaling Soulfully Together in 2020

Scaling Soulfully Together in 2020

Dear Community,

Every day, I wake up blessed to be building the business of my dreams. Thank you for helping me make this all a reality. We're doing it through creativity, community and collaboration. It's amazing what unfolds when one steps into their purpose. 

One too many burnouts forced me to re-evaluate my creative career in corporate social responsibility. Like a flip of a light switch, I knew it was time for me to build my own purpose-driven agency. I left the corporate world in February 2018 - I needed to be the change I wanted to see. It’s been history ever since! To date, we have built a brilliant core team, a talented national collective and a bright constellation of world-changing clients.

Our goal in 2021 is to deepen our financial resilience and to keep shining bright. You can play a role in our story by: hiring us and referring us for mission-driven brand strategy, visual identity and graphic design. Think of us as the go-to creative agency for small teams inside organizations with big dreams. Check out examples of our kick-ass work on our website.

Thanks to your projects, connections and support, here are some major milestones we made possible this year. Join us in the celebration:

With your help, connections, and creativity, here are several major milestones you made possible this year:

September 28, 2020Comments are off for this post.

Reimagining the Radically Inclusive Future of Work at The 3 Percent Conference

Ivellisse Morales, CEO of bombilla, speaks at The 3% Conference.

This summer our Founder & CEO, Ivellisse Morales had the honor of speaking in front of thousands at The 3 Percent Conference hosted by The 3 Percent Movement. Since its inception, The 3 Percent Movement has helped raise the percent of female Creative Directors from 3% to 29%, while giving agencies a clear road map of ways to champion female creative talent and leadership.

The theme for this year's 3% Conference is "The Radically Inclusive Future of Work".

Themed "The Radically Inclusive Future of Work," this year’s conference aimed to address four key pillars about the future of work: agile work environments, wellness, conscious leadership, and multigenerational workforces.

Lit on purpose hashtag by bombilla

In her talk, "Three Keys to Be #LitOnPurpose: How to Be Creative for a Change," Ivellisse shares her secret to carving out a creative career in social impact, bringing in influences from literature, music, art and her entrepreneurial passion projects that helped folks in her family and community.

Missed the talk? Check out Ivellisse's interview with The 3 Percent Movement (originally published here):

What’s happening right now?

“alarm’s been ringing
it’s not too late
to wake ourselves up
from this senseless state
start asking questions
ask yourself why
use your own senses
and sniff out the lies”

^ a short poem I wrote one day when I felt deeply disappointed, depressed and yet radically optimistic about the state of humanity and the planet

What might happen next?

What a time to be alive! We are at an existential crossroads as human beings. We’re globally grappling with the raw realities of white supremacy, patriarchy and global capitalism. “What might happen next?” is a question I ask myself every day. Peering through the fog of fear, there’s one thing I do see with certainty. We’re living ancestors writing history. It’s time to reflect, reimagine, redesign -- collectively, without permission, and with urgency. Let’s lean into the transformation that we desperately need.

What exciting creative opportunities does this open up?

What would it look like if all humans were #litonpurpose? If we all harnessed our creative gifts and angled them towards social, economic, political and environmental justice to accelerate change? How might we reimagine and rebuild our world so we can all thrive? We’ll only get there collectively, and it starts with individual action.

To be #litonpurpose is to embody the change the world needs. Change starts with you (us). And we have powerful renewable resources in our hands: creativity, collaboration and community. In the words of Howard Thurman, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

I believe we all should be employed to solve the great social, political and environmental crises of our time. We’re the creative directors of our shared future on this beautiful blue planet we call home.

The future of our planet is sustainable. The future of business is responsible. The future of work is equitable. The future of humans is #litonpurpose.

We got this.

September 25, 2020Comments are off for this post.

Changing the Way We Live & Work with Client PL+US

This is the first episode of a new series of interviews from Paid Leave for the US (PL+US) with dynamic leaders who are changing the way we live and work.

In this first conversation, PL+US Founder and Executive Director Katie Bethell interviews Ivellisse Morales, CEO of bombilla, a creative agency focused on social change that is on a mission to be inclusive and hire creatives who have been historically underrepresented in the media industry: people of color, Black people, indigenous peoples, and women.

Katie and Ivi talk about what it takes to build a diverse and inclusive firm that puts people first.

Paid leave and having that time to just breathe, gave me the expansiveness to think about what my future could look like outside of climbing the ladder on someone else’s company that I don’t want to be climbing.


Thanks to Katie and the PL+US team for facilitating this important dialogue. You can learn more about PL+US and their mission to win paid family and medical leave for everyone in the U.S. at

Pluuus, check out our awesome work together as PL+US' go-to creative agency here!

We are a proudly AfroBoricua-led small business, shining bright from sunny Oakland, CA. We are based in xučyun (Huchiun), on unceded territory of the Lisjan Ohlone people. 

We are a proudly AfroBoricua-led small business, shining bright from sunny Oakland, CA. We are based in xučyun (Huchiun), on unceded territory of the Lisjan Ohlone people. 

We are a proudly AfroBoricua-led small business, shining bright from sunny Oakland, CA. We are based in xučyun (Huchiun), on unceded territory of the Lisjan Ohlone people.

We are a proudly AfroBoricua-led small business, shining bright from sunny Oakland, CA. We are based in xučyun (Huchiun), on unceded territory of the Lisjan Ohlone people. 


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