We had the good fortune of connecting with Stephanie Gardner and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stephanie, what is the most important factor behind your success?
Authenticity! Authenticity is important because building a brand is difficult enough when it’s authentically YOU; imagine how difficult it would be if you were wasting effort trying to be something you’re not? Or trying to market a product or service you don’t really believe in? Being authentic has allowed me to grow my social channels quickly, and to work with companies that align with my values. I love finding different angles to help companies market themselves, and that’s so much easier when it’s a company I already patronize and believe in. Several of the companies I have partnered with on social media were so impressed by my work that they extended opportunities to work with their company doing things like writing copy for ads or emails chains, driving strategy for their social media campaigns, and even leading workshops to teach marketing skills. These opportunities would not have presented themselves if I wasn’t being authentic in my content and the brand partnerships I select. Not only will lack of authenticity make you feel burned out, it’s apparent in the quality of your work. Consider how long you want to talk about something you don’t enjoy vs how long you can talk about something you love…. (as demonstrated by this long winded answer about marketing!) That’s authenticity.
What should our readers know about your business?
My business is a marketing coaching business where I teach clients to build their personal or professional brands. I took my first marketing job 10 years ago. I found it on craigslist and it paid $1000/month. I had 0 marketing experience but I felt like I used facebook, so I should be able to do marketing on facebook? I learned quickly, I did okay overall, and I walked away with a ton of knowledge.
Fast forward a few years later, and I was getting contracted by a lot of start-ups. (Probably because of my low rates and willingness to learn.) If you’ve never worked for a start-up, they move quickly and they don’t have a lot of time to hold your hand. While it was incredibly stressful at times, I find that I learn best under pressure. When I was told that a brand needed an instagram, a blog, a facebook page, and a bunch of video memes, I figured out how to get it done. I spent a lot of time on youtube, and yes, there were also some tears and meltdowns.
After my second daughter was born, we looked at the cost of 2 kids in childcare. It wasn’t practical for me to continue working outside the home, so I decided that if I could market for clients, I could market for myself. I started ParentDaze first. I wanted to use my platform to connect with other moms. Life with a second baby was difficult, and I knew other moms were probably feeling the same way. It started as a parenting brand, and quickly grew into a lifestyle brand as the kids started getting older. The next year, I started ExploreLongBeach. I wanted a way to share about all of the fun local events in Long Beach and also share about my favorite businesses. It was more or less a passion project but it also quickly grew into a brand.
At the same time ParentDaze and ExploreLongBeach were growing as brands, I started getting contacted by some of the businesses I had been promoting. I was hired for social media management for various companies before I realized I didn’t have the time or the bandwidth to manage so many social channels. I took some time to reflect and realized that my true expertise lies in auditing social channels and coming up with a road map for businesses to increase their engagement and build out their brands. While I work with both brands and individuals, I especially like working with other moms who were in my position: wanting to stay home with their kids while also having a career that they have control over, that earns them money, and that makes them feel good about themselves. And of course, I still post regularly on ParentDaze and ExploreLongBeach so give them a follow!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my bestie was visiting, I would want to give them a unique experience. We would definitely stay at the Hotel Maya for the week because it’s a beautiful resort and it’s a great home base that you can retreat to after busy days of activities. The big activities I would love to show them would be a Dreamscape VR experience in LA, chartering a sailboat at Shoreline Village with Jolly Sailing, checking out the Wisdome LA experience, visiting the Aquarium of the Pacific (and riding the ferris wheel at The Pike after), and ideally I could show them one of the many Long Beach monthly events if the time was right. Maybe the Taste of Downtown, one of CraftBeerLB’s amazing craft beer events, the LB Home Living Taco Fest, or Shoreline Village summer lunch cruises. We would definitely need to eat at the Bamboo Club, Belmont Brewing Company, Poke Pola, Fuego, and District Wine. I could honestly go on and on about all of the cool places to go and things to do in our area!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My aunt, Christine Gardner, has been a huge inspiration to me. She’s a freelance graphic designer and I always thought it was cool that she was her own boss and that she could choose her clients and hours. I’m kind of a free spirit so the idea of working for myself has always appealed to me. Since I started freelancing in marketing, she’s been my biggest supporter and is always willing to help me out.
I also want to give a shoutout to Cassandra Vitale. She’s a Long Beach local and a friend of mine. Last year on Mother’s Day, I gifted myself her coaching course and it completely changed my life. Up until that point, I didn’t realize that a lot of the roadblocks that were keeping my business from growing were a result of my limiting beliefs. Releasing these deep-seeded beliefs about myself has enabled my business to thrive, and it also pushed me into a growth mindset where I continue to seek out ways to improve myself as a businesswoman, a parent, a partner, and a human.