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Q&A with Marketing Maven and Brand Consultant Katie Barchas Wilson

Q&A with Marketing Maven and Brand Consultant Katie Barchas Wilson

Written by Lia Hobel

There are those who walk into a room and then there are those who light it up. Katie Barchas Wilson, founder of The Market Group, is the latter. If you have ever been to one of her High-Heeled Happy Hours (a female networking event series that raises money for charity and causes) then you know. Her quiet confidence and undeniable talent as a marketing and brand strategist has made her a voice to be reckoned with in Loudoun County. She’s also the co-founder and chair of Loudoun 40 Under 40, an annual event that honors the county’s rising stars. With her office on Washington Street, Katie continues to spread her wisdom and energy to help brands succeed.

ML: As a female business owner, what is it like to work in your profession? 

KB: As a woman business owner that primarily works with female founders, I take immense pride in fueling their growth through branding and marketing services. This starts with foundational work: defining/redefining the underlying principles of the brand, the way they are communicated to the public, and the visual elements that bring them life. This branding work provides messaging for marketing collateral, content campaigns, public relations, and community outreach. 

ML: How do you support female entrepreneurs?

KB: There are a number of barriers that women face in business from limited access to funding to struggling to be taken seriously to lack of support systems. When I worked in the financial sector, a male-dominated field, I felt like I had to hide my femininity to get ahead. When I changed careers, I launched my event series, the High-Heeled Happy Hour, to celebrate women in business. With these events, I honored female business leaders and raised money for local charities. I attribute the success and longevity of that brand to it filling a very real need for women: community. 

Now with my consulting services, I’m able to provide much-needed support to female founders. I help them define what makes them exceptional and align with their purpose. I’m currently building an online learning platform that will house a virtual community for my clients so that they can learn from and support each other. Having a like-minded community is essential for all entrepreneurs, but female entrepreneurs in particular benefit from the confidence, accountability, expertise, perspective, and relationships that a community of peers provides.

ML: What do you enjoy most about the work that you do? 

KB: The most gratifying aspect of what I do is seeing my clients succeed when they deploy our strategies. Hearing “we’ve had our highest-grossing year to date” or “your services were the single best investment I made in my business” reminds me that I’m in the right place.

This past summer, I shuttered the tactical arm of my agency to focus on consultative services. We were facing burnout from managing content for a number of different brands. Hustle culture was killing our creativity and ability to deliver results. So we disbanded and I spent the summer traveling across Europe and the U.S. I also spent the summer learning, researching, and finally, for the first time in far too many years, working on my business instead of just in it. I knew my value was in my unique approach to brand design, messaging, and marketing strategy, and thus, I returned to work in the fall focused on a new goal: empowering business owners — primarily women business owners — to master their own marketing by working together to design sustainable strategies for measurable growth. My format went from a “white glove” do-it-for-you to a do-it-with-you model that some may call “coaching.” And I love it. 

ML: Who has been your biggest role model and why?

KB: It’s hard to speak of role models without talking about my parents. My dad was a marketing and sales executive in the cable industry before he retired. He’s extremely charismatic and knows how to work a room. I share his gregarious nature. My mother was an educator with a heart for philanthropy. My community involvement has been heavily influenced by her giving spirit. She passed away during the COVID pandemic and I think she’d be very proud of my recent change in trajectory. I’d also be remiss in not mentioning my mentor, Kristina Bouweiri of Reston Limo, who has opened doors for me throughout my career. She truly embodies the spirit of “lifting others as you rise” and I aspire to her level of leadership. 

ML: What do you love about working in Middleburg?

KB: Moving my office to Washington Street from Ashburn was life-changing. I traded a commute down a congested Route 7 East for the winding beauty of Foxcroft Road. It made sense for me to be close to my children’s schools — The Hill School and Foxcroft — and I love being steps away from my favorite haunts. I frequent Common Grounds for my daily dose of caffeine and community. My wardrobe is primarily sourced at Chloe’s, Zest, and Tully Rector. My jewelry is from Mystique Jewelers, including a custom cocktail ring Liz designed with a diamond I inherited from my great-grandmother. On warm days, you’ll find me with my son in the after-school line at Scruffy’s Ice Cream Parlor. I spend happy hours at the Oyster Bar and at the Gold Cup at Salamander, and weekends at Lost Barrel, Greenhill, and Boxwood. And I’ll stop my list there, because in truth, there isn’t a destination in Middleburg that I don’t love and to list only a few means to exclude so many others. It just doesn’t seem like a fair ask.

ML: As a brand strategist, how would you describe the Middleburg brand?

KB: I’d start where I do with all my clients: with the why. Why do people care about Middleburg? What does the town offer its residents and visitors? And I think the answer is rooted not in the scenery, or even in the attractions. Yes, Middleburg is beautiful. Yes, we have amazing places to visit and things to do. Our shops, restaurants, wineries, breweries, cideries, farms, museums, events, and accommodations are world-class. But it’s the faces, not the places, that bring visitors back. It’s the faces, not the places, that make our town a community. And so the brand story of Middleburg, the why behind what makes our beloved home so special, is the story of our people.

There are people who have shaped the town: people like longtime resident Punkin Lee, who has tirelessly served the Middleburg community for decades, and newcomers like Chief Shaun Jones of our police department and Ali MacIntyre of the Town Office, who work hard to ensure everyone feels safe and welcome. People like Tami Erickson of Seven Loaves who help ensure the less fortunate in our area have nutritious food without sacrificing their dignity. People like Don Woodruff of The Hill School who has ignited a love of learning in his students for over 50 years — nearly 30 at Hill. People like J. Douglas of Salamander Resort whose art adorns its walls and whose service ensures its repeat guests. 

And then there are the people who have shaped my own personal experience: people like Wendy Osborn of Chloe’s, whom I’ll visit when I’m having a tough day because she’s always ready with a smile and a compliment. People like Mark Metzger of Highcliffe Clothiers who, somewhat miraculously, got my leisure-wear-loving husband to don a tuxedo with tails. People like my own “auntie” Lisa Vella, who first introduced me to the Middleburg community many years ago and ensured that I, for the most part, stayed out of trouble. 

Middleburg may be steeped in history, imbued with equestrian tradition, and adorned with the bucolic beauty of the Blue Ridge, but its charm — and its mystique — are the result of the individuals who have shaped and continue to write its story. ML

For more information on Katie Barchas Wilson, visit

Published in the March 2024 issue of Middleburg Life.

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