In Conversation with Samantha Kanter of Girl and the Gov
Describe your business in a few words?
Rebranding politics, Girl and the Gov is a multi-faceted company built around flipping the world of politics on its head. In contrast to politics as usual, Girl and the Gov generates sustainable interest and understanding of today’s political landscape amongst a hyper-critical demographic. Targeting millennials, a group known for their opinions, but not their voter turnout, we educate millennials on politics today, while connecting them with one another and their community through three active channels – bespoke events, an interactive Podcast (Girl and the Gov, The Podcast), and active digital channel and interview series.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I always had an itch to start a business. Over the years many GoogleDocs of business ideas were started and then promptly abandoned. I think my funniest idea was a book sharing all of the learnings my friends and I had garnered from our exes. Turns out – not enough learnings for a book (or even a page).
This time around was different. I was always searching for the hole in the market, but here, the hole in the market came to me. Taking the leap meant not missing an opportunity to capitalize and serve a market segment that so desperately needed attention from the lens that Girl and the Gov provides. That was the only catalyst I needed.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
Prior to and currently I also work in public relations as a communications director at an agency here in Manhattan. Contrary to Girl and the Gov’s focus on politics, my role is dedicated to the design industry and sharing the core ethos of makers, manufacturers, and designers with the target market of each.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Yes and no! In reflection, there’s not a specific point in my upbringing that screams “ah-ha moment” or “yes, one day I will be an entrepreneur.” However, I’ve always been fiercely independent, curious, and creative, which seems to be the perfect recipe for entrepreneurial roots to take hold. In becoming an entrepreneur, I can’t say I’d see it any other way – the shoe fits.
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?
When we first launched, we were solely events-focused. Naturally, we needed to get the word out about the events and sell tickets. What worked might not come as a surprise – a central focus on Instagram, listings within event directories and with related influencer accounts, and newsletter-style email blasts. The strategy was to engage with our target demographic in the same way we designed our events – by meeting them where they are. The strategy worked.
Now we have a digital channel and podcast, Girl and the Gov, The Podcast, which has altered our larger marketing strategy in a very positive way. Our approach now includes collaborative brand campaigns, partnerships, giveaways, multi-platform cross-promotional marketing, and more. Marketing is always a moving target in efficacy, but we’ve managed to find success in the campaigns executed thus far.
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?
We sure do! As a company that is rooted in interactive, multi-faceted events, 2020 wasn’t exactly the dream we expected. However, what we learned from it was the art of the pivot. In lieu of our events during these inevitable shutouts, we launched Girl and the Gov, The Podcast. The podcast, hosted by myself and Maddie Medved extends Girl and the Gov’s mission and extends its reach further than ever before. The podcast, which has a national following, has taken a challenge and turned it into a gift, providing a larger-scale medium for us to engage with millennial women on politics.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
This is like asking to name a favorite child, so I’m going to pick two. Pre-COVID-19 at the end of February we sold out our event with Pop Physique and 21 in ‘21. We hosted the most engaged crowd yet in the approachable setting that is Pop Physique’s Bowery Barre Studio. I’m excited to once again engage with New York’s businesses and political organizations to bring these events to life.
The launch and success of Girl and the Gov, The Podcast with my co-host and podcast co-founder Maddie Medved is also an accomplishment worthy of some serious pride. As we close out the year, we’re gearing up a sleuth of amazing guests for 2021 and brand partnerships that provide exciting opportunities for the Girl and the Gov brand as whole. This accomplishment in and of itself is the impetus for so much more, and that is something to be proud of.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
We’re in the process of hiring interns for the spring semester. Circle back with us in a few months and we’ll let you know what worked and what flopped (hopefully nothing).
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
COVID-19 prevented us from hosting any of our regularly scheduled events. Our IRL events are interconnected with the activities, classes, resources available onsite at local businesses. Girl and the Gov is guided from an organizational standpoint on doing it correctly or not doing it all. In this case, that has been passing up on online, webinar-style events. There is no shame in the game, but it wasn’t a brand fit for us. In lieu of, we expanded our roster of offerings to include a podcast and an interview series. Ironically, the pandemic, while a wrench in our events-arm, provided us the bandwidth to extend the wings of the business in a fruitful way.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
There is much to come for Girl and the Gov. First and foremost, the Girl and the Gov, The Podcast will continue to be a segment leader for the brand. This platform will continue to be a resource for millennial women, as well as younger generations for answering every political question under the sun with guests. Our events, which we look forward to bringing back to the main stage, will again be a focus. We hope, like the podcast, to bring these events to more locations and more cities across the country. I won’t say when, but I will say stay tuned for Girl and the Gov merchandise. That’s the short list to be brief.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
Go with your gut. If something doesn’t feel right for your brand, it’s not. Trust that.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
The cost of establishing an LLC and applying for trademarks. I wish there were a specific estimate that was provided in relation to cost. For example, in New York State, businesses applying for LLC status are required to take part in an archaic publishing campaign where the State selects the publications that your business will have to publish a notice in for six consecutive weeks. The pricing for these notices varies per publication and since you’re unaware of which publications you will be assigned, you can’t estimate cost. You only know the cost your business will undertake once you’re already in the process, and that is information I wish I knew ahead of time.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
I’ve managed to stay grounded this year by having a team of people that truly believe in Girl and the Gov’s mission. Shoutout to my co-host Maddie here who has been in the trenches through it all. It’s having those co-creators and partners in the trenches that have allowed for the word ‘grounded’ to even stay in my vocabulary.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
Stay hydrated – you might think I’m kidding, but seriously this is a game changer for your brain.
Take mini breaks – switching your brain to something non-work related even if it’s two minutes for a Snapchat show or Tik Tok scroll, allows a quick refresh in the creative zone.
The ‘schedule tool’ – scheduling emails to send at set times provides you breathing room and the ability to plan your day a bit better.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Being en Entreprenista means being nimble and able to problem solve in order to achieve a larger goal.