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How Willow Hill Is Building Purpose-Driven Brands That Move Humanity Forward

Willow Hill, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Scout Lab, embodies a commitment to transformative brand development, creating a lasting impact within the realm of creative communication and brand strategy.

Willow’s career trajectory was defined by a pivotal role in shaping Airbnb’s global brand, a valuable experience that profoundly influenced her approach to building community-centric brands. In 2017, alongside Co-Founder Kaitlyn Barclay, Willow launched Scout Lab—a pioneering creative communications agency. Scout Lab partners with companies at the forefront of cultural shifts, resolving brand and communication challenges to amplify their societal impact. Today, Willow and her team prioritize collaborations that champion human and planetary well-being, remaining dedicated to purpose-driven initiatives. 

We asked Willow about the founding story behind Scout Lab, how her definition of success has evolved throughout her journey as a founder, and how she would describe the journey she’s been on thus far.

Tell us the story behind your company’s founding. How and why did you start working on Scout Lab?

Scout Lab is a creative communications agency that works with challenger brands shifting culture. We’ve worked on the cutting edge of everything from health tech, direct to consumer, AI, and more. My Co-Founder, Kaitlyn Barclay, and I started Scout Lab in 2017 with an intention to be the top partner guiding the next generation of brands to advance humanity forward.

What problem does Scout Lab solve? 

We solve brand and communications problems for our clients, helping them to capture more brand awareness and love through campaigns, rebrands, and communications plans. At a cultural level, we work with companies on the cutting edge with a focus on human and planetary health. 

In what ways has your upbringing or past experiences contributed to how you operate as an entrepreneur?

Early in my career, I worked on building Airbnb’s global brand. Creating the world’s fastest-growing hospitality brand had a profound impact on the way I think about building community-driven brands. I was also fortunate to work for founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia. They are incredible creative leaders who helped shape the way I think and approach problems with design and culture at the center of decision making. 

The past seven years as a founder and entrepreneur expanded my definition of success. Beyond the awards and success for our clients, I find that as a leader I also view success in watching my team learn, grow, and thrive.

We dare you to brag: What achievements are you most proud of?

This year, Scout Lab was named purpose-driven agency of the year by The PR Net. We’ve been recognized globally for our work and worked along some of the most visionary founders of our time. Our mission is clear, and the work we do reflects that. Our clients' success and our work are proof that the next generation of consumers wants brands to be purpose-driven without having to compromise revenue. In fact, it supports it. 

Has your definition of success evolved throughout your journey as a founder?

The past seven years as a founder and entrepreneur expanded my definition of success. Beyond the awards and success for our clients, I find that as a leader I also view success in watching my team learn, grow, and thrive. Creating a healthy and positive culture is one of the most important things you can do as a leader. Strong cultures can increase your organizational capacity for weathering challenges with optimism and creativity. 

What people have contributed the most to your successes?

Our business has grown largely through word of mouth. When we do amazing work, our clients refer us to others. That has a huge impact. Beyond that, our networks and other entrepreneurial networks are supportive in the process. 

What have you learned about building a team and a support network around yourself?

Over the years I’ve learned that building a network and a team is a long-term process. You have to invest in people and relationships. That means being quick to give and support others in their growth and journey. Participating in networks like Dreamers & Doers and supporting other founders has also been pivotal. Working this way builds long-term success one relationship at a time.

How would you describe the journey you’ve had in a few sentences? Would you do it all over again?

The journey of Scout Lab as a company has been profound and culture shifting on so many fronts. The creative work we’ve done with our clients has had a major impact in almost every category over the last seven years. It is not without its challenges, but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. 

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