Monthly Staff Feature: Thembela Mavuso, Alliance for Pioneer Square Marketing Manager

Thembela serves as the Alliance’s Marketing Manager, applying creative marketing strategies to achieve its communication goals.

This month we catch up with her to talk all things marketing and discuss what folks can look forward in the near future

  • In February you celebrated your second Anniversary at the Alliance. What are some key takeaways from the past two years?

Whoa, where has the time gone? These past two years have been such a challenging time for everyone, especially our neighborhood small businesses. Being part of the Alliance and Pioneer Square community has given me a new sense of optimism and outlook on many things both professionally and otherwise, because as tough as the going may get, there is always a bright side. 

I’ve witnessed businesses reinvent themselves, find new and innovative ways to keep their doors open and collaborating with their neighbors in ways not seen in the past, the community leaning on each other’s individual strengths to collectively weather the storm. I’ve also met and worked with some incredible people whose dedication to the success of Pioneer Square, talent  and wont quit attitude inspire me every single day. 

Two years in I celebrate all the successes we have had, grateful to have played a small part in the work that we have done to make Pioneer Square the neighborhood we all can love and enjoy. I look forward to the future with its many unknowns and I am confident that whatever it holds, we will be ready to take on head first.

  • Pioneer Square’s most recent campaign #ThisisPSQ, featured the neighborhood’s small businesses and highlighted their stories told in their own voice. Tell us why this was important? 

It’s safe to say that over the last couple of years Pioneer Square has made the headlines, and while some of it has been great news, a lot of it has not. Readers, viewers and listeners have often walked away with a somewhat skewed picture of the neighborhood, one that often neglects what those with a vested interest in Pioneer Square have to say. 

The “This is Pioneer Square” campaign is a chance to change the existing narrative by adding balance to the story and hearing from those who call Pioneer Square home. While designed to help promote neighborhood businesses and encourage folks to visit, the campaign gave audiences a look into the courage, skills and expertise that form part of our strong identity. Folks got to hear what Pioneer Square means to our businesses and hear why they are so proud to have this address.  

You hear a lot about our square mile but hardly ever from us. The campaign showed that Pioneer Square is more than just one thing. Yes, things are a little crazy in the city right now, but passion, perseverance, ingenuity and creativity, that is who we are. Come see it for yourself. 

  • What are some exciting PSQ initiatives happening right and in the works that folks should look out for? 

Since the start of the year, we continue to offer free parking at participating garages on First Thursdays to Art Walk patrons and have resumed our Free Parking Saturdays program with the Butler Garage, offering free parking every Saturday with proof of purchase from a neighborhood business. Also continuing is our Friday takeover series where we let one neighborhood business takeover our social media for the entire day. So keep your eyes peeled every Friday to find out what your favorite Pioneer Square businesses are up to or who’s new on the block. 

We have started work on our 2022/2023 neighborhood guide which covers everything you need to know about our neighborhood in both print and digital format. The guide will feature new updates and handy maps to all the great places to visit, shop and dine in Pioneer Square. The new guide will be released this coming June. As the spring/summer seasons approach, our team is also putting together a summer campaign with elements aimed at improving access to the neighborhood and within the district. 

  • And still in the recovery phase, what underlying message is important to convey in the telling of the neighborhood’s ever evolving story?

There is still so much goodness and so many great things about this neighborhood to be seen, had and enjoyed. While it can be tempting to just focus on the negative press and headline making challenges that Pioneer Square still faces, often this is just one side to the story. 

The other side is free live concerts in Nord Alley during First Thursday Art Walk last Summer, it’s community members coming together to participate in a neighborhood cleanup event to improve Pioneer Square’s landscape. It’s the return of March to the Match during Sounders game days, a new restaurant serving Peruvian cuisine to try out and our very own Il Terrazzo Carmine making OpenTable’s list of the top 100 most romantic places to eat in the United States.

It’s the new 80 unit ʔálʔal housing development by The Chief Seattle Club ready to welcome nearly 100 residents, many of whom Indigenous, poor and formerly homeless. A new mural under the Yesler Bridge titled “Duwamish,” by local native artist Stephan Smith, art exhibitions full of delights, monthly pop-up night markets and live bands playing again at the Central Saloon.

It’s countless other examples of businesses, property owners and those who live, work and play in Pioneer Square working together to create a vibrant neighborhood that is welcoming to all and alive with so many possibilities.