Success Stories

If there’s one thing you take away from a conversation with Torrie Savage, co-owner of The Savage Way, a creative marketing agency based in Charlotte, it’s optimism.

When you visit the company website there is a quote on the About page that reads, “We believe in the power of positive vibes and putting into this world exactly what we want to get out of it.”

Savage describes herself as an “artist by nature” and it shows in the work her company produces—using natural
elements to create unique messaging. “After a decade in the world of corporate marketing, I knew I wanted to go
out on my own,” she says. “Then one day, while pressure washing my dad’s sidewalk, the idea for ‘clean graffiti’
occurred to me.”

Clean graffiti is a technique that uses pressurized water and a proprietary stencil process to create messaging on
dirty concrete. And the results are stunning. “When you encounter our work in your daily life, you definitely notice
it,” she says. “It’s a great way for brands to get their messages in places they never were able to before. And from
an artistic standpoint, it really gives us the freedom to think outside the box.”

Launched in 2012 with business partner Paula Bartlett, The Savage Way has created clean graffiti messaging in over 60 cities nationwide. But the duo hasn’t stopped there—they have also introduced moss as a medium for messaging and branding. Yes, moss. “It’s really fun,” she says with an infectious smile. “When you see a wall or a logo made of preserved moss, it just adds a new dimension of brand immersion and retention.”

Suffice it to say, their innovative approach to marketing has been in high demand. “We were so busy,” Torrie says.
“And we were gearing up for a great year in 2020. But then it all washed away with the pandemic.”

Savage admits that back in March she was nervous about what might happen next. “My first thought was—‘What
the heck is happening? Is this real?’ I kept having to remind myself to stay positive, seek the good, and things
would work out.”


She and Bartlett then took a deep breath and reprioritized things. “Our primary goal was to take care of ourselves
—mentally, spiritually, and physically. We knew we were going to come out of this thing somehow, but we needed
to get ourselves right first. The early days of the pandemic were filled with chaos. It was easy to get lost in that.”
During Governor Cooper’s Stay at Home Order, the partners decided to refocus on the marketing side of the
business as a way to stay afloat. “We made something out of nothing with clean graffiti. We knew that we could
do it again. No matter what it looked like.”

A recipient of the City of Charlotte’s Access to Capital grant, Torrie’s positive outlook has helped her company
move back in the direction of “normal.” “The grant was a blessing. It gave us some much-needed breathing room.
And it was wonderful knowing that our City had our backs.”

As for advice to entrepreneurs who are struggling this year, Savage believes that introspection is the key. “First, and most importantly, you have to believe in yourself. You built something before the pandemic—you can’t let it get in the way of how you move forward. Stay true to yourself and be willing to change. Anything is possible when you believe in and stay true to yourself. You just can’t let fear take over—and turning off the news is a great way to keep that from happening.”

In terms of her outlook for Charlotte beyond 2020, she maintains a positive outlook. “It’s been so inspiring to see
other businesses rise up this year. And with the support of the City of Charlotte, I’m confident that we will come
through this as a city. Change is going to happen. If nothing else, that’s what we’ve learned this year. You just have
to stay positive. And true to yourself.”

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