Making Things Happen
by Jane Harrison Fisher
Meg McElwain (BA 01) believed in herself when she ventured into a marketing career. With roots deep in Mississippi and after graduating from Ole Miss with a degree in Radio and Television, McElwain moved to Charlotte, N.C., and started her professional career. Her visions and professional relationships evolved into owner of Magnolia Marketing.
A native of Grenada, McElwain fell in love with Charlotte because she saw a beautiful, vibrant, clean, southern city with a healthy community that had a booming economy. She literally landed in Charlotte after visiting there with a friend that was moving for graduate school. McElwain started her career in sales in Charlotte and after a year she went to work for a small marketing firm. In 2003, she opened Magnolia Marketing.
“I feel like I have good ideas and I believe community-based marketing is so important and I felt that is something that I was lacking in that environment,” said McElwain. “I felt like it was time to open Magnolia Marketing”.
Working from home in her dining room, McElwain started her company and used contract labor when she needed help. She was on her own when it came to the business decisions. Still a home-based business today, McElwain now has three other employees.
Meg McElwain with her husband Frank Turner
“Magnolia Marketing is a full-service marketing, advertising and professional communications firm,” said McElwain. “The majority of our clients are non-profit organizations that are deeply rooted in the Charlotte area. I have really found that is a good area to focus in. It is a group that we feel we can really make a difference with.”
McElwain is from a family of entrepreneurs and business owners, so growing up in that environment she knew if she believed in herself that she could do it. She felt she had something to offer to the business community and the non-profit community in Charlotte.
“Charlotte is a growing community but the people here are like no other, only second to Mississippi,” said McElwain. “In order to be a community leader, all you have to say is you want to be involved, and they will reach out to you and help. I have been extremely fortunate to make contacts through projects that have supported me in my projects and as a business owner. I am not alone in that because it is the vibe of the city.”
In all businesses there are challenges, even home-based businesses. McElwain says finding balance between family and work is one of her biggest challenges as a business owner.
“As a small business, one that started from the ground floor, I have watched the business grow slowly but surely and sometimes the business does not grow fast enough,” said McElwain. “Especially for someone like me. I am a doer, I am visionary, I see it and I want it right then. The great thing about the slow growth is it is consistent. There have not been a lot of ups and downs, it has been slowly growing which is a good thing for me.”
When looking back at her time at Ole Miss, her fondest memories are the times that she attended Ole Miss events and the Grove. That is why she chose Ole Miss.
McElwain said, “In my family, I did not know there was another choice. Ole Miss was where you went to get your education, and I hope my children will carry on that tradition.”
McElwain contributes her success to having great mentors. Her grandfather, her mother and her father were all incredible mentors. She has leaned on them and drawn on experiences with them to make a lot of decisions for business in general. They were the people that influenced her growing up.
“I also think I have a little bit of fire in me,” she said. “I don’t give up easily.”
McElwain and her husband, Frank Turner, currently reside in Charlotte, N.C. McElwain is the daughter of Maryhardy Bays McElwain (BAE 63, MLS 81) and the late Joe Mitch McElwain (BA 63). McElwain is an active member of the Charlotte area Ole Miss Alumni Club.