In Conversation with Laurel Mintz of Elevate My Brand
Describe your business in a few words?
Elevate My Brand (EMB) is a Digital Marketing and Live Events Agency located in Los Angeles, CA. Here at EMB, we exercise a unique offline and online marketing methodology that provides innovative, creative solutions for new, emerging brands and well-established companies. We specialize in helping both business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) clients gain the attention and exposure they deserve within their niche markets, regardless of their size or stage of operational growth.
Since our founding in 2009, hundreds of clients have taken advantage of our approach to developing and executing perfectly tailored strategic marketing initiatives to elevate their brands. From rebranding to product launching, from online marketing to developing a social media presence with your brand, EMB’s solutions open new markets, expanding your consumer base and increasing your visibility and profitability.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
Believe it or not, entrepreneurship was never part of the plan for me. I fell into entrepreneurship when I had to run our family business right out of school. My father had become ill and I had to make sure that our family could survive. I was 26 and had a team of 60 and ran two 20,000-square-foot custom retail shops. When my dad recovered and I was able to step away, I was asked to consult for other retailers I had developed relationships with in the time I ran the showrooms. In 2007, I partnered up with a friend in San Francisco who ran a venture fund and we worked to put together projects for our clients and get them off the ground. It was really exciting.
A few years later, I was asked to be a founding member of the Los Angeles Consulting Group (LACG). That was a great partnership, but the firm was focused on financial services, so I exited and started Elevate My Brand. At that point, I realized what I was good at and, more importantly, what I wanted to do and for what kind of clientele. And I never looked back.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
Before starting my marketing agency about 12 years ago, I was a corporate M&A attorney working out of a firm in San Francisco. I know that’s a big jump from being in law to being in marketing, but I did have my J.D. / M.B.A., so I had both sides of the coin.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Nope! If you had asked me in college where I saw myself in 10 years, my answer would have been as a partner at a law firm.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
I’m a natural born salesperson so our strategy was all about networking and creating a name for myself and the agency. It takes a lot of time to first create visibility which eventually converts into profitability. It’s a lot of the same work we do for our clients. We really walk our own talk. Of course now it’s not just me and there are a lot of other channels, but we do for ourselves the same we do for our clients because our strategies work!
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
Surprisingly even though I’m an attorney I’ve had a few contract missteps. Early on I had a client poach one of my team members and I realized I didn’t have a non-solicitation clause in my contract. I felt pretty dumb about that but I fixed it and haven’t had the issue since. Mistakes are just opportunities for growth. They only continue to be mistakes if you repeat the bad behavior.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Finding and cultivating unique talent and giving back to our community through our pro-bono and board support. The awards are nice but it’s really about my team and bettering my community at large.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
I ask 2 really weird questions:
- What’s your favorite word and why – this gives me insight into a person’s headspace and likes/dislikes.
- How many elephants are there in the world – this allows me to see if someone is thoughtful and process oriented which is critical for the type of creative problem solving we need at the agency.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Well 20% of our business was experiential so that went away instantly, but we’ve found other opportunities like building out stronger content, offering digital events, etc. that have kept us moving forward. We also closed down our offices which, while being a blow to my ego, was the right thing to do for our team’s health and wellness and ultimately for our bottom line.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
World domination of course! In all seriousness though, we had a rough year as did a lot of companies, so we’re looking to build back up, hire a more diverse and creative team and launch a few new products for the agency alongside our service model. Stay tuned!
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
That there is beauty in the unknown. That you grow the most from the things that scare you. That we are more resilient than we could have ever imagined possible.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
That everyone is faking it so I didn’t need to feel less than or intimidated by anyone. I still tell that to my mentees every chance I get.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Lots and lots of martinis.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
You’re never going to be perfectly balanced, so let that shit go. Know that every day is different and sometimes the hardest part is just getting up and putting one foot in front of the other and that’s ok. Being human shouldn’t be a negative, it’s something you should lean into and honor.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
Even though my last name is Mintz I HATE mint. Really mint, cilantro, dill, parsley. I guess I have that issue where it all tastes like soap to me. Bummer that it’s in my name and I have such an aversion to it, but hey, life is ironic like that sometimes.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
- Create a to do checklist in your phone and get the hardest thing done first.
- Multi-task simple things like take a call while getting your steps in.
- Delegate when possible. You have a team for a reason, use them so you can focus on your best and highest use of your energies.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
It’s being empowered as a woman, a leader and an entrepreneur. I love the combination of all those things into one word. As a marketeer it’s all about the branding and this is a good one!