Sheila Marmon of Mirror Digital on never giving up in the face of challenges, and coming out of 2020 stronger than ever

Sheila Marmon_Blog Header

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

As a junior media executive at a major corporation, I was working on an array of exciting product launches. My work was primarily focused on the areas of digital innovation OR multicultural markets. I decided to marry these two passions and focus on how innovation in media could help leading brands reach people of color on digital media platforms; hence, Mirror Digital was born.

What was your background prior to starting your own business? 

I was fascinated by different media business models – and continue to be. Before I launched my own business, I held a number of functional roles in the media and publishing industries from finance, to operations, to strategy. I really loved the work I had the privilege to be involved in and learned from amazingly talented professionals who taught me so much – especially female leaders. The women I worked for really pushed me to learn and take on stretch roles that helped me grow. Without those years in Corporate America learning from some of the best executives in the business (who just happened to be women), I do not think I would have been as prepared to launch and grow the thriving business I have today. 

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur? 

I grew up in an under-resourced community in Los Angeles and even as a child, I felt like what our community needed was more jobs and I wanted to help fix that. At Mirror Digital, I am intentional about hiring young, diverse professionals – many who are from under-resourced communities – and training them to be successful in our industry.

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? 

My business operates at the intersection of the advertising technology industry (“ad tech”) and multicultural marketing. There are very few people in the ad tech industry who look like me , and I was surprised by the lack of support I received when first launching my business – especially given my professional experience and educational credentials.

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

We work with some of the world’s most recognized brands as a trusted partner to help them build their businesses by tapping into the multicultural growth markets. Mirror Digital has been a pioneer in helping brands understand how to reach and authentically connect with multicultural and trendsetting communities across digital platforms. In doing this work, we have helped support a thriving, independent marketplace of diverse-owned media partners who share unique voices and perspectives.

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

I always ask people which aspects of their previous roles they liked most and liked least? I find that helping prospective talent identify their passions and incorporate those elements in their day-to-day roles helps keep them motivated. This has been critically important for millennial and Gen Z professionals.

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

When COVID initially hit, we saw an immediate pull back from some of clients in categories hit most dramatically impacted such as theatrical films and retail. It took a moment for everyone to adjust to the new normal and assess how they would be able to continue to do business during the pandemic. 

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

Today Mirror Digital operates a digital publisher network, a social influencer network, and a programmatic marketplace that reaches over 30 million Asian, Black, and Latinx consumers each month. We’ll continue to grow our reach and surface the newest, most relevant multicultural voices in digital media. We’ll also build on our innovative solutions for our brand and ad agency partners to help them speak and connect with these audiences in effective ways.  

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020? 

Don’t give up! We faced some challenging moments and some folks around me were questioning whether I could pull the company through. My team came together as a collective to help us survive the roughest moments of 2020 and we have come out stronger than ever.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business? 

My plan was to operate as a venture backed start-up. I did not expect the headwinds I experienced as a black woman trying to raise money in 2012. Fortunately, the market seems to be much more receptive to diverse founders – for women, people of color, and for women of color. My company has perpetually been under-resourced, which always requires us to be twice as creative and work twice as hard.

How have you managed to stay grounded this year? 

When things get tough, I always look at the great perspective and give thanks for my health, my family, and my friends. My team laughs because when people are getting a little too stressed about work, I tell them “stop and take breath, we are not curing cancer – everything will be okay.”

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips? 

I believe in work/life integration more so than work/life balance. The path I chose as an entrepreneur inherently demands a lot from me. Consequently, I am intentional about working with people I like and partnering with friends to pursue opportunities whenever I can. That way, at least I spend the long work hours with people that I want to be around.

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

I map out my high priority list of tasks I need to address on graph paper at the start of each week as my “do or die” list. There are so many things that can pop up and demand my attention as an entrepreneur, I have to carve out time to do the important things that drive my business, even when they are not the most pressing things at the time. 

I live by my calendar – if there is something I need to do or somewhere I need to be, my team puts it on my calendar. This helps keep me organized and makes sure I don’t miss things.

I time block my email responses – I set aside time to respond to outstanding emails and hold them all in drafts until I am done. This way, I don’t get responses coming end distracting me from the other emails I am still crafting to send out.

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you? 

Being an Entreprenista means celebrating female founders who are launching and growing businesses on their own terms and following and amplifying this path in my own life as a model for the next generation of female business leaders.

Share it!

Posted in
Tags

Leave a Comment





Ansley Pridgen of Ansley Media Co. on helping small businesses grow

Describe your business in a few words: After attending SMU and receiving an Undergraduate Degree in Accounting, I moved to New York City to begin a career in fashion. While in NYC, I learned about fashion production, design, life, and hard work. However, I couldn’t suppress my deep love and connection to the South. After…

Clinical Therapist Kendra Toothill on how to unlock your well-being transformation

Describe your business in a few words: Hey! I’m Kendra Toothill. I help women unlock their well-being transformation by using their physical scars. I have been a clinical therapist for nearly a decade, and I help women heal from their physical and emotional health challenges by using my groundbreaking system: Scars Reigniting Your Feminine. Did…

Michelle Carter-Love of sHe Eco Investments promotes a healthier and more sustainable home purchasing option

Describe your business in a few words: What motivates me to have chosen a field dominated by men to pursue is to take part in lowering gas emissions and decreasing waste that has led to the acceleration of our climate crises in the construction industry. By profession, I am a financial coach for over 7…

Ariela Gorodzinsky of ZIBARI on founding a premium purveyor of authentic culinary foods from around the world

Describe your business in a few words: I grew up in Mexico City. Four years ago, I moved to New York to study for my masters in Food Studies at NYU.  Two years ago, I moved to Miami and founded ZIBARI. A premium purveyor of authentic culinary foods from around the world, offering a diverse…

Vanessa Ungvarsky of Taylor Made on creating her unique custom nail polish kits

Describe your business in a few words: Taylor Made Polish brings elevated experiences to savvy clean beauty enthusiasts with our patent-pending Custom Nail Polish kits and 15 Minute Organic Manicure sets.   Anchored in historic downtown Easton, Taylor Made sits at the intersection of scrappy and stylish. We are deeply connected to our community and if…

Kristen and Lindsey Archer of ARCHd on empowering women through handmade home decor

Describe your business in a few words: Sisters Kristen and Lindsey Archer create handmade home decor with their original female empowerment illustrations, skyline designs, and landscape photography. From “build your own” wood bookend sets to large wall art, each piece features bold colors and is uniquely made. ARCHd gives back a percentage of each online…

Felena Hanson of Hera Hub on collaborating with like-minded business owners

Describe your business in a few words: Felena is a long-time entrepreneur and marketing maven.  Her latest venture, Hera Hub, is a spa-inspired shared workspace and business accelerator for female entrepreneurs. This as-needed, flexible work and meeting space provide a productive environment for growing businesses.  Hera Hub members have access to a professional space to…

Joy Williams & Jane Molina of Ninni Co. on being moms’ “breast” friend

Describe your business in a few words: We are Joy Williams + Jane Molina. Sisters, best friends, and co-serial entrepreneurs. We launched the Ninni Co. brand on March 1, 2021, and sell direct-to-consumer from our website. Our featured product and what we’re known for is our breastlike pacifier. It’s a technology we patented and worked…

Business Coach Mary Massey on gaining clarity and achieving success

Describe your business in a few words: My journey to becoming a life coach began over 13 years ago when I became depressed after my father’s passing. Having lost my mom at a young age, I learned to grow up fast but never had the tools I needed to help me overcome loss and other…

Candace Noel of Flora Noel on setting the tone of any event with florals that convey desired moods

Describe your business in a few words: Hi! I’m Candace Noel, Founder and Owner of Flora Noel, a floral and event design studio based in Houston, Texas that specializes in personalizing experiences for special events and private spaces. We design floral arrangements that convey the desired mood of each event through color, shape, texture, and…

Dr. Sarah Nadimpalli of Same Team Childcare on streamlining the nanny-parent relationship

Describe your business in a few words: I am Dr. Sarah Nadimpalli of Same Team Childcare, a mom, nurse, and researcher.  Through using my academic lens and personal experiences in working with nannies, I have streamlined the nanny-parent search, hire, and onboarding process by creating a time-efficient online course both parents and nannies take together. …

Dental Entrepreneur Melissa Turner on making dentistry a better experience for patients and providers

Describe Your Business in a few words: I am Melissa Turner, a dental entrepreneur. I am a dental hygienist who has launched several businesses. I am an influencer and speaker to make dentistry a better experience for dental patients and dental providers. What was your background prior to starting your own business? I’ve been in dentistry…

Product Management Consultant Christina Kelley Weiss on empowering business development

Describe Your business in a few words: I’m a product management consultant & interim product executive for startups with ten years of experience in product management, software development, and digital health. I work with early- and mid-stage startups to help them grow & optimize their strategy, product team, and development processes. What was your background…

Kaitlin Nares of Hagen | Nares PLLC on helping families affected by serious injuries get relief

Describe your business in a few words: I am a Coloradoan. I am a mother to a beautiful and funny 6-month-old redheaded son named Brody. I am also a dog mom to two rescue pups named Boston and Bella. I am married to an entrepreneur, and he encouraged me to launch my law firm. Hagen |…

Michelle Dear of Tandem on empowering couples’ financial lives together

Describe your business in a few words: Hi Entreprenistas! I’m Michelle, the Co-Founder of Tandem, the easiest way for couples to share expenses. Tandem is an iOS app that eliminates the back-and-forth of Venmo without the need to get a joint account. Our mission is to empower couples’ financial lives together. What was your background prior…