Hi!!! I’m so excited you’re here for my next edition of Sky’s The Limit, a blog of Q&A-style interviews featuring women entrepreneurs I admire. My next interview features Marisa Flacks, founder of RISE Creative—a creative marketing agency for ethical fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands.
Believe it or not, Marisa and I met at a networking event and hit it off right away even though I’m considerably older. That’s right, Marisa is only 24 years old and has been running a kick ass AND successful creative marketing agency for two years now. She employs three people and services many brands I love, including: Acacia Creations, UNCVRD Jewelry and Saint La Vie. I’m pretty sure her story will inspire you to chase your dreams and live fearlessly. Enjoy!
You see a lot of companies and small business state that they're sustainable, eco-friendly, vegan, etc., but what do you believe makes a business ethical?
I believe our responsibility is with people. As long as the brand is treating its people fairly, I consider it ethical. That means no child labor, no sweat shops, and fair wages for all employees. Sustainability and impact on the environment is also important. The more transparent the company is with their production processes, the better.
Why did you decide to create an ethically-focused business?
Fashion has always been a passion of mine. I grew up outside of New York and started working in the fashion industry when I was 12 years old. In college, during an anthropology class, I learned about the negative effects the fashion industry has on people around the world, which really affected me. While working after graduation, I noticed there was a need to help new businesses, non-profits and social enterprises with their marketing and that’s when I decided to start RISE Creative.
What's your company’s expertise?
Everything digital marketing, meaning social media, emails, newsletters, blog posts, SEO and paid ads. We're also starting to offer new creative services that will shift our business into more content production such as product photography and styling.
Who is your ideal client?
I wouldn’t say we have one ideal client. I categorize each client into one of three groups: beginner, developing and established. We help beginners set their brand strategy, and for developing and established brands, we manage and create their content. I love working with brands who have a creative vision and a good mission. We also work with bloggers to help them find brand collaborations, which is one of my favorite things to do.
How can “ethical brands” stand out in a crowded market space?
You will stand out if you strategize from a consumer mindset. Consumers aren’t willing to sacrifice convenience for sustainability or ethically made products. Beyond the production of your products, you need to figure out what your target audience cares about. More often than not, being an “ethical” company is just a bonus.
How can a consumer shop more ethically?
The barriers are always budget and convenience. Intention is a big part of shopping ethically. Do a little bit of research and follow bloggers who live in the ethical space. Social media is a great resource to find ethical brands. Every single account we follow on Instagram is ethical, so be sure to check out @risecreativeco on Instagram.
You also run a podcast—I want to hear about it!
It’s called Mission Driven Marketing and the purpose is to provide brands advice from experts within the marketing industry. Recently, I interviewed Natalie from Sustainably Chic, and we discussed the importance of paying bloggers.
What’s your marketing philosophy?
Although I consider myself a creative person, I strongly believe that your campaign or marketing tactics should be influenced by data analytics. It’s important to know your audience and how they spend their time and money.
With the New Year just around the corner, what are your goals for 2019?
I have my sights set on expanding into Canada and Australia because they both have huge ethical industries.
Wow! How will you do that with three co-workers?
We divide and concur—I foster relationships with new clients and develop the brand strategy. My co-workers will help execute the day-to-day activities. We have a great system.
Name a fear or professional challenge and tell me how you deal with it.
I’ve had a few people say that I’m younger than they expected, and sometimes I suffer from Impostor Syndrome. (Impostor Syndrome is defined as: an individual who doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of feeling like you’re not good enough). I remind myself that my fears and thoughts are internal and that I am an expert in my field. My faith reminds me that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.
What are you most proud of?
I’m able to do what I love every day. That feels like success to me.
What do you think someone should consider before starting their own business?
I think it’s important to identify your niche, especially with all of the new businesses you see. I want people to know starting a business that’s successful is hard work. You have to be persistent and consistent.
What social media tips do you have for business owners?
Don’t buy followers or engagement—I can’t stress this enough! Also, don’t depend on a social media platform you can’t control. Invest in your dollars in your email list and your time in real life conversations. Engage with your followers—ask them questions, respond to their comments and be authentic.