Mallory Mitchell of KIN Creative on finding a strong support system early on
Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business:
Hi! My name is Mallory! I was born and raised in Burlington, Vermont. I landed my first marketing internship at the age of 18 and haven’t looked back since! I spent most of my 20’s living in San Francisco and worked at a few awesome companies doing various marketing roles. I made the big move back to the East Coast and landed in Miami in 2015 and spent the next 6 years working at marketing agencies down there. I had the chance to work with some incredible clients like Frida when they were just getting started and once I became a mother in 2019 I knew working with women-owned businesses was my calling. I took the scary leap and founded The Kin Creative in January of this year and it’s been the most rewarding and exciting experience. This agency focuses primarily on women-owned and operated businesses with a similar target audience. Because we focus on a niche client base, my all-female team is able to get in-depth with our clients, their personas and target audience from day one. My goal with KIN is to create an incredible team that can make a huge impact on women-owned businesses everywhere!
What excites you about being an Entreprenista League member?
I think the aspect of being part of a community of like-minded women is beyond exciting. I have so many incredible friends, an amazing mom tribe, and a huge family. But when it comes down to what it takes to set out as an entrepreneur, it’s hard to have conversations with other people who aren’t in that world. I can’t wait for all the connections and mentorship I know that I’ll find in this community!
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
The female clients I’ve worked with over the past 5 years and the drive to create an agency that I know would be capable of serving and supporting them better than the ones I was previously employed at.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
Marketing for pretty much my entire working life, but I also attended the Gemological Institute of America and hold a gemologist certification from my time there, and I also spent years working in fashion/ecommerce before making the move to full time agency life.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Growing up in Vermont, I lived down the road from businesses like Burton Snowboards, Magic Hat Brewery, and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. Vermont from the outside gets pegged as a place full of rich hippies who like to ski, but in reality, it’s a VERY small business-centric community. I was always involved with friends, neighbors, and community members who had their own businesses including my dad and grandfather. The passion for small-business mixed with loving to work from a very young age was the combination that set me on this path I think.
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?
This is slightly embarrassing… but I didn’t have a marketing strategy in place AT all. I left my cushy corporate job after saving every penny possible for about a year. I had enough to cover my own expenses for a few months and my plan was to jump into consulting for a while and figure out what my next step was and what exactly I wanted to build. But within about 2 weeks after taking the leap, the universe just opened up to me and within 1 month of leaving my job, I had 10 clients lined up and 3 incredible women who are now part of my team. It was the fastest and wildest thing I have ever experienced. It was as if all the pieces of this puzzle I had been working on for years finally came together. So long story short… I didn’t have a marketing strategy in place because I didn’t initially intend to build a whole agency. But in March I was able to take a breather, hired a fantastic business coach who is helping me setup what the next 5 years at KIN will look like, and I have started to drip out some marketing campaigns. I’ve been incredibly blessed to have gotten so many referrals that I haven’t had to do my own marketing yet… but that is not a strategy I would advise to my clients lol.
What is the biggest challenge you have encountered along the way and what did you learn from it?
Ooof. There have been many but a recent one that stands out is learning to delegate in order to grow. I love content creation and getting down and dirty in all aspects of marketing. I could tweak social posts and target audiences of ads campaigns all day long. But one of the quickest lessons I’ve learned is that in order for me to grow this company I need to be able to focus on building and not delivering services. I heard a great quote recently from Mara Smith, the founder of Inspiro Tequila (who I think might have been quoting somebody else) but she said if you have somebody on your team who can do something 85% as well as you… hand it off to them so you can focus on other things. That hit me hard and is a challenge, but I’m working to tackle it on the daily!
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
I’m not sure I would call it an accomplishment exactly, but I think something I am the proudest of in my career is that I was brave enough to take the leap into entrepreneurship. I’m a single mother to a wild three-year-old boy and two rescue dogs, and the prospect of leaving behind cushy paychecks and benefits was terrifying. But I put faith into the gut feeling that I had for so long which is that I knew what I was capable of building with the necessary freedom. That being able to create a company like KIN would be worth the risk, in order to make a difference in not only my clients’ businesses but also in their lives as business owners and mothers. And that I could also build a company that was as equally amazing to work with, as it was to work for. I truly believe that women shouldn’t have to choose between their business and their babies, and my goal is to make that a reality for as many female entrepreneurs and business owners as possible.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
That’s a hard no. I believe in work-life integration and while I know that can seem like an unhealthy perspective in terms of boundaries, I look at it more in the way of being all-in on whatever mode I’m in. If I’m in work mode, cranking out campaigns with my team, they have my full attention. I block off my schedule, I make sure they have what they need in order to do their jobs well. And then when I switch gears to mom-mode, I give Rowan my full attention as well. Of course, that kind of reality only exists in a perfect world and I have definitely taken zoom calls in my ‘mobile office’ aka pushing a stroller around the block, and I have slacked clients/coworkers while sitting on the bathroom floor mid-potty training with Ro. Some weeks I pour a lot more into my work cup and some weeks I pour a lot more into my mom cup. And in some especially hard seasons, it can really end up being hour by hour. Wake up at 5, work for 2 hours before Rowan gets up, spend the day with him, get in a few hours of work during his nap, head to the park in the afternoon, then finish work after he goes to bed. It seems like a lot and it’s definitely not the kind of situation that would work for everybody. But in any given day I’m able to be there for my clients and my family, which to me is worth the hard work. I also know things won’t look like this forever so I just try to enjoy and be grateful for however my day ends up! My best tip – do what works for you. Listen to all the podcasts, read all the books, get all the advice.. but at the end of the day, do what works for you and don’t ever feel bad about changing things up that aren’t working.
What’s a piece of advice you can share that you wish you’d known when you first started your Entreprenista journey?
I would probably say to find a community of fellow entrepreneurs early on. Don’t wait until you’ve ‘made it’ or feel like you’ve reached a certain level. The people in this world who will end up being your biggest cheerleaders and who will end up providing you with the best guidance and advice, are people who have already done something similar to what you are trying to do. They know what it takes so their support will amplify and motivate you.
What have you achieved recently that you’d like to celebrate with our community?
I hired a business coach! This was the first big investment I made in my company (and in myself) and I could not recommend the experience more. I think the hard thing with entrepreneurs is most of us are multi-talented and multi-passionate… aka we can probably do most of what it takes to launch a business. It’s also hard to invest in something like that when you are bootstrapping your business. But having somebody help lay out the fundamentals for you and help you organize your business in a way that has the vision to scale from day 1 can make a massive difference in how you end up spending your time and energy down the road.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
My goal with KIN is to create a large and passionate female team who are as excited to jump online each day and get to work as I am. I am planning to expand my services well outside the marketing arena and also to grow a partnership with The Mom Economy, a non-profit out of Miami that I am on the board of. The Mom Economy’s mission is to raise money for maternity leave grants for female entrepreneurs and I am so excited to get the community of KIN clients involved with that!