It’s the middle of January (already!) and as promised, I’m officially kicking off 2015 at CraftWebSolutions.com with a new blog feature called Spotlight on Women Entrepreneurs in Digital Media. In 2014, my “relationship” with Twitter led me down the proverbial rabbit hole where I discovered amazing stories of strong, diverse women and young girls (Black Girls CODE and Girls Who Code) who were accomplishing some incredible things in the name of digital media and technology; to say it was encouraging is an understatement.
I decided that it was important to put a spotlight on these women entrepreneurs and others like them that nobody has heard of, yet. The purpose is not just to showcase them but it’s to also learn from them: how did they get started? What have been their lessons along the way: good and bad? What I want everyone, women and men, to get out of this feature is determination, ambition and drive to continue on their journey to be one of the next great entrepreneurs and small business owners that are doing amazing and noteworthy things in the name of digital media.
We live in an age where people are all about “Me, Me, Me. Mine, Mine, Mine.” We don’t always partner up with our “competitors” or share the great news that’s happening to them or to someone we might, one day, consider competition. I firmly believe that there are lessons out there, for all us, in the most unsuspecting places.
Case-in-point with Melanie Spring, Chief Inspiration Officer of Sisarina, a branding company in Bethesda, MD (recently moved to Washington, DC's Eastern Market area) that works with clients on building their company’s brand through creative works like social media strategies, website creation and more. The following Q&A is Part 1 of my interview with Melanie. Her passion for branding, sharing and connecting with other entrepreneurs and small business owners shines through Sisarina and Melanie’s Live Your Brand Tour, which is fantastic!
I asked Melanie a series of questions about herself and her journey with Sisarina, thus far.
Q: Who is Melanie Spring?
MELANIE: My mission in life has been inspiration and to remind people that they can be dreaming bigger. I have a degree in Marketing and being from an entrepreneurial family, I love being able to help people make money doing what they love. That’s why I started my business. I was a Webmaster for my college and started geting hired by people in town who needed help with their businesses.
Q: Is that how Sisarina started, by helping others?
MELANIE: I started the business accidentally and a couple of years later I went to work for other people to see how it is working from the inside. I learned a lot from them and I ended up re-starting my business after I lost my job in 2009. I was an entrepreneur again and a very happy one. I have a knack for marketing and it helps with the growing-the-business side.
Q: How soon after you were laid off did you start Sisarina?
MELANIE: A month before I left. They (the company) actually helped me get off the ground because they said, “What would you do if we couldn’t pay you anymore?” And a month later, I was an entrepreneur again.
Q: That’s awesome. So, how many people make up Sisarina?
MELANIE: Seven quirky humans.
Q: Did you find it difficult to hire people? How did you go about finding those key members of your team that you knew you wanted to build Sisarina upon?
MELANIE: I basically did some bad hiring in the beginning which I realized needed to happen in order to hire correctly. Hire great personalities and then choose the skills. With my first employee, she was with me for four years and was able to teach me a lot about how to manage my life. In return, I helped her learn how to understand the web and marketing industry. She’s now doing some big things! So, hiring for the personality fit first was a really a good idea. In time, you realize, you have to hire experts. If you don’t and you’re the one who knows everything and you’re gone (vacation, business trips, etc), nobody else knows what to do! Plus, you’ll never have anyone to learn from.
Q: Speaking of being gone, one of the things you do is the “Live your Brand Tour.” I read a few of your posts and they are great. And you’ve traveled recently to Africa. Where does your passion and drive come from?
MELANIE: One of our (Sisarina) core values is “Dream Bigger” and the other one is “Expand your World.” I wanted to start figuring out how could I get stories other people hadn’t heard? How could I stop telling the Nike story and the Apple story and the stories everyone’s heard? I wanted to go get new ones. I drove across the US and back in 3 weeks collecting 18 stories about how other businesses live their brand. It was spectacular. The Africa trip was one that I did for my heart – helping others and giving back my own resources. Being able to teach and learn are the giving and receiving of life.
Q: What is it that you love most about your job?
MELANIE: Watching the light come on above someone’s head when I’m helping them work through their business issues. It’s about being able to listen so someone will tell you what it is they’re really trying to do. A lot of people think that their problem is one thing, when it’s actually another. Knowing I can connect the dots for them gives me a sense of purpose and joy.