Melissa Dawn Simkins

CEO, Velvet Suite

Melissa is a highly sought-after keynote speaker and pioneer of the personal branding movement whose proven track record and personal story transforms the way we learn, live and lead.



Based out of: Virginia


Melissa Dawn Simkins is a personal brand leadership pioneer and advisor to Fortune 100 organizations, c-suite executives and influencers. Her proven track record merges talent management strategy with brand leadership innovation to accelerate growth from the inside out.

She is CEO of Velvet Suite ® (www.velvetsuite.com) an award-winning leadership innovation firm advancing the future of profit through people. Velvet Suite delivers brilliant branding through purpose-driven leadership that accelerates growth and delivers breakthrough business results.

She is a contributor to Inc.com and has been a frequent guest on media outlets such as CNN, MSNBC and more. She is the author of Brand Me. Make Your Mark: The Ultimate Playbook for Personal Branding (Xlibrus). Melissa is a sought-after keynote speaker on leadership innovation.

As founder of The Brand Leadership Institute (BLI), a digital accelerator platform merging coaching, content and community, she is disrupting the leadership development industry. Currently, the BLI offers corporations a proven platform to advance, retain and develop a pipeline of leaders.

As an innovator, Simkins was the first African American female advisory board member for the World Brand Congress. Velvet Suite created the NFL Player Brand University in partnership with the National Football League, the first personal brand development academy of its kind in all professional sports. Other Velvet Suite clients have included: Boston Scientific, Lincoln Financial, Allstate, Home Depot, Southern Company, the National Basketball Association, celebrities and pro-athletes and more.

She has been named NAMD Entrepreneur of the Year, The Atlantan’s Women of Power & Influence and her firm is a finalist for the Greater Washington Innovation Award. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for The SHRM Foundation (Society for Human Resource Management) and newly appointed to the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.


  • Employer Branding

  • Leadership Innovation

  • Personal Brand Leadership

  • The "Intrapreneur" Leader

  • Women in Leadership


"True leaders aren't looking for followers; they are looking to develop new leaders."