Studio Bank Empowers Creators and Community
April Britt is the co-founder, EVP, and Chief Experience Officer of Studio Bank, Nashville’s first start-up bank in more than a decade. April has responsibilities for creating the studio experience for both clients and employees–including retail, banking, brand marketing and culture, as well as human resources. Not only has the bank focused on empowering creators, but April saw an opportunity to provide for women in business to network through a group she created called the Studio Women’s Collective, where regular events foster engagement and peer networking.
So as a founder, tell us how did the impetus for a new bank come about? Was it a scary time?
April Britt begins by admitting, “Well, I would say starting a bank or any business is always scary, right? There’s always that big leap of faith that you’ve got to decide to take.” She reminisces back to 2016, where she and co-founders got inspiration to start a bank that was “different” from the other local banks Nashville already had. The window of opportunity to begin a new bank lied in the fact that increasingly people were wanting to move to more local banking relationships, but the actual amount of local banks in the area had declined.
What does your mission of empowering other creators in your community mean to you?
“If you think about it, what makes us unique as humans is our ability to create things that are purposeful for the benefit of others.” Britt empowers creators in all types of business with resources like capital accounts, education, and even simply just safeguarding those finances. She states that finances are both the fuel for and the result of creativity.
How does your membership concept work and how are those values expressed in the bank?
All humans, naturally, are pretty social creatures so Britt thinks of a bank as a sort of nexus point for bringing people from all walks of life together. There may be a group of people that all come from different industries, but are connected through the bank they belong to. Taking advantage of this connection, Studio Bank decided to create a membership program. “As a member of Studio, you’re more than an account member and you’re part of a network–and as part of that network, there are very tangible benefits and access to our leadership. Not everyday that you can walk in a bank and actually go spend time with the CEO, right?”
How did you decide which elements you wanted to focus on?
“The majority of us have been in banking 20 to 30 years. So you use all of those experiences and all the things you’ve listened to… previous banks you’ve worked for and the challenges you’ve heard clients having… you really get a blank slate. I felt like we had such an advantage to sit down and say, well, what do we want it to look like? And, if you think about it, a lot of banks, if they’re 20 and plus years old, they’ve maybe merged with other banks. There’s lots of different technologies that are being pieced together… We got to start fresh and get the best and the brightest of technology right there in 2017, which was awesome.”
How did the French Bulldog become your logo?
One of the ideas that appealed to Britt, during a year and half of planning and strategizing, was having an animal be a part of their branding. The team sat down and started thinking about different animals they and their customers could connect with… “We looked at rabbits, we looked at Gazelle’s–I mean, there were various animals that for various reasons could have worked or eventually didn’t work. One day our CEO and I were talking, he said, have you ever seen a French Bulldog?” The thing that stood out to Britt about the French bulldog was its stature, she shares, “They have a sophistication to them even though they have this sort of fun side to them. They’re small but mighty, and so when we started thinking about or company, that felt like us. Small but mighty sophisticated, approachable but fun, just that kind of perfect blend.”
Who participates in your Women’s Collective initiative? What are the benefits of that?
Britt shares her origin story, beginning with her passion for women in business. When Studio Bank first came about, she thought about her two daughters along with herself, and the need to create a broad community, as well as smaller communities within this. She pulled together her board members that were women as well as women investors, got some wine, and started talking about how Studio Bank could become the bank for women. When they put together their first event in 2020, almost a hundred women signed up, and from that response, she knew there was a need for a women’s community. Now, a little over three years later, seven hundred women participate in the Women’s Collective. Attendees include both bank members and non-members. Programs cover a wide range of topics interesting to women. And the Women’s Collective also keeps participants informed about other women’s activities in the region.
Resources and Links
Studio Bank website: https://www.studiobank.com