Payge H. Kerman of Wink Digital on building an agency with personality

Website Header Template (1)

Describe Wink Digital in a few words?

A marketing agency with personality.

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

I started Wink when I saw that there was a major hole in the market. When a client engages with an agency, especially for websites, they usually get one of two things: 

1. A templated site that was semi-customizable to them, but that still doesn’t feel exactly right. The benefit, though, is that they can, at least, make their own changes. -OR- 

2. A beautiful custom site that fits their brand like a glove, but doesn’t give the client any autonomy to manage their own content.

Wink, for me, is the brainchild of this gap in the market. I wanted to create and utilize technology where our clients could get the best of both: a stunning custom website -AND- autonomy to manage their own website once it is set live. This hole in the market is (hopefully) closing, largely due to our work. 

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

My personal agency background comes from the UX design and web design side. In the early parts of my career, I worked for an agency doing UX design, specifically for larger, corporate accounts. Though my heart was not always attached to the large projects in the same way it was to the smaller brands, I gained invaluable experience and expertise in analyzing user data and translating that into functional design elements. Towards the later part of my career before opening my own agency, I worked as a web director – this involved overseeing the creative and technical elements of the website design and development process.

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Believe it or not, I actually went to college with the hopes of becoming a neurosurgeon. However, after two semesters of chemistry, I realized that it wasn’t the right fit for me. I explored other majors and options until I found Technology, Arts, and Media (TAM) – this program is specifically designed for students who want to be involved in the art-side of computer science, like large-scale art installations, sensor-based robotics, game design/development, and more. This felt like a perfect fit for me – nerdy, but creative. But, I was always content working in agencies. I never felt like I needed to be an entrepreneur to be successful.

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?

We sent out thousands of cold emails, and much to our success, they worked out beautifully!

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?

I made a great decision for my business years ago, offering long payment plans, that ended up creating massive financial issues for my business today (read: $500k outstanding in A/R). Unfortunately, sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know until you take a chance. I took a chance on these payment plans, and although they kept my business afloat for years, they became more burdensome than beneficial in the long run. When my business started experiencing the financial impacts of this decision that I made before I knew better, I felt as though my value as a business owner was in question, and that my ability to make good decisions was gone. Now, we offer long payment plans, but we require higher deposit amounts and higher interest rates for those who choose to use them.

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

One of our proudest accomplishments is helping to launch a CBD extraction lab by providing comprehensive marketing services, including a website, branding, social media strategy, exhibition design, print marketing materials, email marketing, and sales sequences. This company, as a result, prevailed quickly as an industry leader and one that set the standard for the future of CBD marketing.

When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?

One of my favorite questions is one that my coworker, Isabelle, came up with. She always asks people for fun “If you were a piece of furniture, what would you be?” If people answer with “Couch” or “Chair”, you know they’re people that like to be seen and experienced by all. If someone answers with something like “A lamp”, you know that they care about their function more than being flashy. If someone answers “Rug”, you know they’re okay being walked all over.

My best hiring tip came from working with my business coach, Winn Clark. She mentioned that the first interview I do with candidates should be a group interview so that it a) doesn’t eat up mass amounts of time if I have to interview 20+ people, and b) so that I can weed out anyone immediately who gets intimidated by being outshined, or people who are not interested enough. This has been crucial in selecting the right candidate.

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

In the early parts of COVID-19, we thrived. Everyone needed to build strong, impressive websites in order to stay relevant. However, since the return of in-person shopping, we have certainly seen things slow down and people invest their money elsewhere.

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

If you had asked me this question before COVID-19, I would have given an entirely different answer. I would have probably mentioned revenue goals, team size, and more. Right now, my goals are:

1. Prepare financially for situations we can’t control. This involves growing our team sustainably, developing forecasting documents and savings goals, safety nets.

2. Expand our breadth of work, while ensuring the quality doesn’t suffer. When you expand services, there is often a “wobbly” effect that occurs: a period of time where your competency level does not meet your expectations, largely because your processes weren’t outlined well enough. My goal is to scale so efficiently that this “wobble” time disappears.

3. Continue fostering a company culture that values people over profit. We are a business and we do need money to survive, but things like mental health, time with family and friends, a fun and energizing workplace, and more, help our team understand that they are not just tools for our profit, they are essential figures of growth in a way that supports both their lifestyle and our goals.

How have you managed to stay grounded this year?

Podcasts, puppy snuggles, and making my bed every day. The little things in life 😉

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

I am marrying my first employee (who, since 2019, has been my business partner). We met on Upwork– ha!

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

1. I set my phone on “focus mode” and block programs like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Tiktok, Fantasy Football, or anything else with push notifications that might distract me from staying on top of my tasks.

2. I give myself designated time to check the things that tempt me the most. If you don’t restrict them entirely, they become less novel.

3. I play very loud music in headphones (or I sit in a dark nightclub with loud music) to help myself focus on what’s in front of me instead of letting my mind wander and to prevent looking at my surroundings. For me, having over-stimulating surroundings tends to help me zero-in on what I need to accomplish.

4. (BONUS) Though everyone is different when it comes to what helps them focus, I’m a firm believer in time-blocking and teaching yourself to put away distractions voluntarily as a means of producing better, more valuable work.

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

It means that I get to be a resource for others looking to grow their business, and have a group of other successful women to turn to for resources when I’m looking for some answers.

Share it!

Posted in
Tags

Leave a Comment





Ashleigh Barker, Head of Beauty for Lincoln International, on her unique Entreprenista journey

Describe your business in a few words: I am the Head of Beauty for Lincoln International, an investment banking platform that advises brands and management teams on growth capital fundraising and M&A advisory strategies. What was your background prior to starting your own business? I’m an M&A strategy, advisor and investment professional with both investment…

Cheli Grace of Book to Millions Reflects on 1 Year in The Entreprenista League

Brief description of your business: I offer professional publishing services with business strategy. I help you write, publish and market your non-fiction book that is aligned to your business and brand. We have a 5-phase system that does a lot of the work for you so all you have to do is show up with…

Rosemary Leader, Founder of Connect The Kind, has set out to change the way we gift

Describe your business in a few words: My name is Rosemary Leader, and I started Connect The Kind in December 2020. At Connect The Kind, we have set out to change the way people gift. Our mission has been to create a more meaningful, impactful way to celebrate the good people in your lives. We…

Ashley Reckdenwald, Founder of Working Mom Notes, on her mission as a Mamaprenista

Describe your business in a few words: I am the Founder of Working Mom Notes. My mission is to empower mothers through community and experience, enabling all to prosper in both career and motherhood. I believe in moderating difficult conversations to help women feel seen and heard. What was your background prior to starting your…

Riley Flanagan of Riley’s Rows on starting her own international wine company

Describe your business in a few words: When I was four years old, Dad and I had our first harvest. I came home and knew I wanted to be a winemaker. I have loved growing up in this industry and I started Riley’s Rows as a way to share wines with people. My mission is…

Adriana Robinson, Founder of Reina Skincare, on her “accidental” success as an Entreprenista

Describe your business in a few words: My name is Adriana Robinson. I started this business in 2018. I was suffering from Acne all over my body and the products in store were not working for me. I decided to go the natural route and I accidentally ordered 10 pounds of Shea Butter instead of…

Laura Elliott, Co-Founder of Kula Inc., on taking the leap to launch a podcast

Describe your business in a few words: I am Laura Elliott the co-founder of Kula Inc. Kula is transforming the way moms receive support with a membership-based platform that allows moms to book 1:1 virtual sessions with a network of maternal wellness experts, including sleep consultants, counselors, career coaches, nutritionists, and more. What was your…

Meet Britney Mahoney: Senior Executive Assistant turned Entreprenista

Describe your business in a few words: As an 18-year highly experienced executive assistant with a diverse background in providing support to senior-level officials through in-person and virtual settings. Your business is our business. I believe in making your dreams and goals a reality and my Virtual Assistants know just how to do that. We’re…

Dawn Scott, Host of The Empowered CPA, is educating Entreprenistas with her curated courses

Describe your business in a few words: I am a CPA, podcast host, digital content creator, and co-founder of a blow-dry bar. What was your background prior to starting your own business? I worked for boutique accounting firms, a publicly traded utility and high net worth trust companies. Did you always know you wanted to…

Meet Caley Adams, Founder & Creative Director of Wildes District

Describe your business in a few words: Caley Adams is the Founder & Creative Director of Wildes District, an NYC-based design studio that specializes in emerging women’s and e-commerce brands. Wildes District works closely with founders to build meaningful experiences that span multiple touchpoints — including brand, web, app, print, packaging, and more. Caley has…

Public Relations Leader and Entreprenista, Ronica Cleary, on highlighting important and impactful stories

Describe your business in a few words: I launched Cleary Strategies to provide public relations, media placements, & crisis management to leaders and corporations. I’m a former television journalist who most recently worked as a White House Correspondent and hosted a weekly political talk show for WTTG Fox 5. My goal is to help you…

Brielle Brown, Founder & CEO of Anxiety Cosmetics, on Launching a Beauty Company Mid-Pandemic

Describe your business in a few words: I am the Founder & CEO of Anxiety Cosmetics! We are a Clean Beauty Brand Specializing in CBD Infused Cosmetics. BRAND STORY: The story starts a few years back when I was eating CBD gummies before bed due to my own Anxiety. I would toss and turn at…

Alla Koretsky of HeyLayer is on a mission to make sure women are represented in Web3

Describe your business in a few words: Alla Koretsky is Co-founder and CEO of HeyLayer – the one-stop NFT management solution to help brands transition into web3.Before founding HeyLayer, Alla spent over 15 years working as a buyer in luxury fashion, E-commerce, and subscription business startups, bridging gaps between branding, marketing, and product development. Her…

Ashley Girard of Welly’s Wellness on how her early days shaped the Entreprenista she’d become

Describe your business in a few words: Hi, I’m Ashley Girard — CEO and Founder of Welly’s Wellness. We sell prepackaged snacks, drinks and on-the-go essentials, as well as salads, fresh pressed juice + shots and more! Think of us like a healthy 7-11, but on wheels (and way cuter!). We also launched an MVP…

Donatella Arpaia: Serial Entreprenista, Attorney turned Restaurateur and Head Judge on Iron Chef America

Describe your business in a few words: Donatella Arpaia is a serial entrepreneur, trailblazing attorney turned restaurateur, celebrity chef, cookbook author, motivational speaker, brand ambassador, and mother. Donatella is best known for her recurring role as Head Judge on Iron Chef America. What was your background prior to starting your own business? My background was…