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Erin Abernathy and Stephanie Pulido on why you need to think very hard about who your business partner will be

Think very hard about who your business partner will be (and yes, you should have one). Starting a business is an emotional rollercoaster ride, and you’ll need someone supportive to go through the process with you. Your business partner also becomes more like your life partner, you have to make all your decisions together, which […]


Think very hard about who your business partner will be (and yes, you should have one). Starting a business is an emotional rollercoaster ride, and you’ll need someone supportive to go through the process with you. Your business partner also becomes more like your life partner, you have to make all your decisions together, which often impacts your personal life, so you and your partner need to align on two very important things — moral values and ultimate goals for the company.

I had the pleasure to interview Erin Abernathy and Stephanie Pulido. Erin and Stephanie, co-founders of Out Of Office Media, started the company in 2015 as a collaborative community for up-and-coming bloggers and influencers to meet, share information and make friends. Today, Out of Office Media works with leading brands and hosts parties for its 5,000+ micro-influencer network and has created an owned media property, My Life Out Of Office, which has a reach of roughly 500k per month. The two were named to Forbes 30 Under 30 list in November 2018.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

We (Erin & Steph) are best friends who met at the University of Georgia. We moved to NYC to pursue careers in PR and digital advertising sales, respectively, and started a lifestyle blog together on the side. Through blogging, we started to make lots of new “influencer” friends and began hosting intimate events where we could all get together, share information and make friends in real life. Our community started gaining traction through word-of-mouth, and our informal group turned into a business.

With backgrounds in PR, marketing and sales, we quickly found new ways to monetize our community of influencers. The buzz around our influencer community as well as the revenue we brought in allowed us to continue to build what was once our blog into a digital media property — My Life OOO.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting?

One mistake we made early on was trying to guess what our community would like, rather than asking them! We just got so excited about all the ideas we came up with! One specific “fail” was when we first started, we thought it would be fun to bring a little piece of home (we’re from the south) to our community. We tried to host a hoedown-themed event in Williamsburg, and basically no one bought tickets! What we didn’t really understand at the time was that people in NYC didn’t really know (or care) much about “hoedowns.”

While it was important to engage with our community, it was more important to pinpoint meaningful ways to engage — finding things that really resonate! Our parties have much better themes now 🙂

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

From the beginning, we wanted to develop a really inclusive, organic (and just plain fun) community of millennial women. We’ve worked really hard to build a brand that acts as that light-hearted, energetic, in-the-know friend you can always rely on to keep you updated on the newest, “coolest” things.

So, when we hear from so many girls (influencers, readers of My Life OOO and even clients) that they’ve meet some of their best friends through our community, whether at an event or through a brand project, that’s really special to us.

When readers tell us that they look forward to My Life OOO email newsletters and visit our website to decide how they’re going to enjoy their time out of office, we’re thrilled to know we’ve inspired happy times.

And when our clients tell us that we’ve made their lives 100 times easier by generating buzz around their brand and being easy to work with, it feels great to know we are doing our job well!

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

For us, 2019 is going to be an exciting time for content. We’re working a lot to up our game even more in order to continue providing helpful, engaging information to our readers and influencers.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

Managing a team is honestly one of the most difficult aspects of being a business owner — human capital is one of your biggest resources. No matter how big or small the team is, it’s important to make sure you’re staying cool, calm, collected and most importantly, positive no matter what the situation may be. The leader sets the tone of the company, so maintaining a positive attitude will motivate your team and help ensure they produce the best results.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person or group of people who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

While we haven’t had much financial support (we are self-funded), we’ve been lucky enough to have an extremely supportive community emotionally, which is equally as important! We are super grateful towards our female, millennial community who are (and always have been) the reason we have a company. Additionally, Steph’s boyfriend has been monumental in helping us from a legal perspective, and her sister has “volunteered” countless hours to help with everything from financial modeling to working the door at events.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We have fostered an inclusive, supportive community of female, millennial women. Our in-person events and digital community provide a platform for these women to make authentic connections, share information and just enjoy time together when out of office.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Stick to your passions

If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, our first piece of advice would be to start a company around something you are truly passionate about. Like with any job, you have to love what you do to really succeed. If you start a project in an industry you don’t really care about or if you only want to start a company because you want to be your own boss, you may lose interest quickly.

2. Get experience and learn as much as you can

We’re both very glad we got experience in the “real” working world before starting our company. It gave us a ton of experience and a perspective on what we liked and didn’t like about the industry. For us, working other jobs for a few years gave us the idea to start our own business because we saw how the industry was changing and felt micro-influencers could be the next big thing. And, once you launch your company, the learning has just begun!

3. Surround yourself with the right people

Think very hard about who your business partner will be (and yes, you should have one). Starting a business is an emotional rollercoaster ride, and you’ll need someone supportive to go through the process with you. Your business partner also becomes more like your life partner, you have to make all your decisions together, which often impacts your personal life, so you and your partner need to align on two very important things — moral values and ultimate goals for the company.

4. Always be honest and ethical

There’s a lot of pressure in business, and we’ve seen that pressure lead to unethical business decisions. While, “cutting corners” might fix an issue in the short-term, it’s almost always a poor long-term move. Remember to stand behind your moral values, even if you must remind yourself of those values when you’re under pressure.

5. Be adaptable to change

We’ve realized it’s important to be flexible and open in order to be successful. It’s totally fine to change directions or switch tactics if something isn’t quite right. I think we’ve re-positioned how we’ve pitched our company about 20 times, and each time, we learn something new!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I’m not sure if we made this up, or heard it somewhere, but we love the phrase “just keep chipping away at the iceberg.” This can be applied to your personal or professional life. Success doesn’t happen overnight (or even over several years / decades!), so you must celebrate the small victories — it’s what keeps you going!

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 with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?

We would love to have lunch with Gary Vaynerchuk of VaynerMedia! We really admire his approach to media — combining an “agency” model with an online publication. We believe he’s always thinking “ahead of the curve.”

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