“We can’t go as fast as the internet,” explained Erin Allweiss, cofounder of No. 29 Communications. Allweiss, who established her firm in 2013, has witnessed the burnout epidemic firsthand. “I think the internet makes us feel like we can and should be everywhere because of the rate at which we consume things, but it’s just not practical,” she shared.
After working in Washington D.C. for Oxfam, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and on Capitol Hill, Allweiss moved to New York City and began working with a public relations agency where she focused on mostly art and design: “There, I realized that if we could combine art, fashion, design, and sustainability, we could really move the needle, particularly with people who don’t think about policy.” She partnered with writer and media relations professional Melody Serafino to create No. 29, which focuses on giving voice to brands that strive to make an impact – particularly in the world of design, media and sustainable fashion.
Although sustainability and impact are buzzwords today, those ideas weren’t in vogue when No. 29 emerged. “When we started our agency, people thought we were insane to create a PR agency solely focused on sustainability and impact,” Allweiss shared. Now, representing clients like TED and VEJA, No. 29 is generating an impact across a myriad of industries.
Furthermore, Allweiss believes that responsibility and transparency should be ingrained into the framework of every brand and ensures that companies No. 29 represents are truly being fair and honest in their practices. “Transparency is the new sustainability in terms of where brands should be going,” Allweiss revealed. With social media, it’s easy to spread misinformation, so it’s now more important than ever for brands to be open about their practices.
When asked about advice she’d give to aspiring entrepreneurs, Allweiss shared a number of tokens she learned while building her firm. “Really focus on the things that move you, and don’t look at other people. It’s so easy to get swept up in what others are doing, especially with Instagram, but you don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes. It’s just a distraction from the work that you want to do,” she advised. She also encourages individuals to have open conversations with fellow entrepreneurs: “People do want to have real conversations, not only about the achievements that we share on Instagram but about the real challenges.” For Allweiss, it’s important to have a community to lean on.
With regard to the burnout epidemic, Allweiss talks about what’s been lost in the bustle of the digital era: “Sticking to the things that human beings need — the fundamentals of sleep, good meals, company with friends, and connecting with nature, which has really been lost. Let’s all return to that.”