I had the pleasure of interviewing Connie Wong of Moderne Press.
Jean: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory” of how you become a founder?
My career in PR started like many others — with a summer college internship. I fell quickly in love with the thrill of seeing brands I worked with in the press, and being a part of that process. I was offered a part-time position with that same PR agency in the fall at the conclusion of my internship, and continued working there and growing my skills over a couple years — working with both Fortune 500 brands and small businesses alike. Upon college graduation, they offered me a full-time position and I worked there for an additional year or so.
Following that position, I moved to Los Angeles for a social media position at a beauty media start-up — and that was when social media and influencer marketing was in its infancy. I primarily worked with bloggers directly, and managing our partnerships with them and brands we worked with. However, while I enjoyed working with bloggers/influencers, I also missed the PR piece tremendously — especially working with editors and brands more directly.
After leaving that social media position, I initially was looking for PR position that really felt like “home” and married what I had learned about PR and social media directly; in the interim, I started freelancing for other agencies and eventually found myself in a position of continually encountering independent designers and brands that were looking for PR but didn’t have a big agency budget to spend on PR. As I reflected on that, I realized that in my past experiences, I truly enjoyed working in partnership with small businesses and becoming an intimate part of their growth partnership. Originally thinking of taking on a few freelance clients, my dad was actually the one who prompted me to formally create and structure my business — in case of growth but also because of legal liability. Once that idea took hold, I realized that I could create the PR home for myself and also be passionate about the clients I worked with. So in summer of 2008, I signed my first two clients, and Moderne Press was born! (Also while I do not work formally with either of those brands currently, one of them has actually turned into one of my best friends — and the other, it always gives me a little thrill to see her new company in the press.)
Jean: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We champion small businesses, and we’re incredibly passionate about our clients. We truly believe in working hand-in-hand with them to create success. We truly view our relationships with our clients as partnerships (and we hope they do the same!). Also, I think that we really go beyond just PR — we’re also here as sounding boards for product development, life and much more.
For instance, we had a client whose little one caught hand foot mouth (so common but scary!); we were happy to jump in and not only help with any PR/social needs during this time, but also able to dispense any advice from personal experiences since a couple of us are also parents.
Jean: Are you working on any exciting projects now?
We always are! We’re currently working on a few projects that are exciting — including a new category launch for one of our long-standing clients, Chasing Paper, as well expanding our brand roster to include a beauty brand.
Jean: Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?
I’m really loving “The Life- Changing Magic of Tidying Up” right now.
My good friend Erin is currently reading this and told me about it. I am normally a Type A person, but after reading this book it has helped me really streamline my living space and focus on decluttering my space. My family of 3 lives in a modest sized apartment and this book makes me really think about how I can be more strategic with our space — tips on storing, offers folding methods to maximize space, and also what I actually should hold onto and not what I could hold onto. I feel freer and lighter!
Jean: What are your “5 Lessons I Learned as a Twentysomething Founder” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
1. The learning curve of the financial, legal, etc. areas — and how it’s a continued educational process throughout the years as your business evolves.
2. Be firm and stand your ground for what you believe is right. And by that, I mean that I’ve had some clients take advantage of me over the years, especially in the early years — both from financial, service and strategic points of view — and wish I had stood my ground more often. It’s something I’ve improved upon over the years, and I’ll continue to work at!
3. Be prepared for ups and downs. When I started Moderne Press, I knew that it would be a hustle and struggle for the first few years — but this industry and business overall can surprise you even years down the line. Moreover, the industry and clients can change, so you have to both mentally and fiscally prepare yourself for “down” times.
4. Don’t take on projects you don’t believe in — and work with people you like. Generally speaking, I’ve tried to do this as much as possible because I find that you won’t deliver the results both you and the client want otherwise — and as the agency has grown over the years, I’ve tried to focus on taking on clients that I (and my team!) are genuinely passionate about.
5. However, be open to change! When Moderne Press was first launched, we focused on two categories: fashion accessories and home décor — and over the years, we’ve expanded beyond that into other lifestyle categories from kids to beauty, because we love those industries as well.
Jean: Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
Jessie Randall of Loeffler Randall — First, because I’ve loved her line from the beginning! I still have shoes from her first few collections. I also think she’s a savvy entrepreneur, and has been incredibly intentional about the growth of her business. Lastly, she just seems like a very cool, chic and most importantly, nice woman!
— Published on June 27, 2018
Originally published at medium.com