We had the good fortune of connecting with Gina Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gina, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Actually, starting my own business was a happy accident – I had just finished a 6-month consulting gig on a convention event and I was pounding the pavement in search of my next full time job. Nothing was really leaping out at me and a friend suggested becoming a freelancer. Back in 1999, the internet was brand spanking new and we used dialup for our connection to the World Wide Web. But the idea of being my own boss and being able to choose my projects really won me over.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
When I started GLS, the business was focused mainly on entertainment marketing, promotions and events, which was my industry specialty for many years. Then the 2007 writer’s strike hit LA and all bets were off. I may not have been earning a paycheck as a writer, but the studio and TV network promo budgets did affect me as they cancelled all non-essential spending. That led to scrambling to find areas of the industry that weren’t as affected, like audiobooks, to carve out a living. It was total karma – Scott Brick was ready to grow his production company and I was ready to expand and branch out into other industries. In taking on his business manager role, I learned and became proficient in so many vital areas of business: setting up a corporation; corporate tax prep; payroll and EDD filings; Quickbooks and creating vendor 1099s; and operating an e-commerce website. Talk about covering the full corporate gamut. From there I branched out into designing websites and logos. Eventually I eased back into marketing and promotional campaigns, but not at the level I was engaged in before the strike. Was it easy? Going from one industry specialty to another? From one industry to another? Not really. But I wouldn’t go back and change a thing. Having so many diverse proficiencies has made me more versatile and appealing to clients. Plus I can perform all these duties on the road while traveling or from home, which proved invaluable during the COVID-19 sheltering in place. Earlier this year, I officially changed the name of my company from GLS Entertainment Marketing to GLS Entertainment Services to highlight the diverse new services the company now offers: Career Consulting; Business Management; Business Setup and Consulting; Web and Graphic Design; and Professional Organizing. I even launched my own, long-overdue website. GLS has truly become a one-stop-shop for those looking to launch a new business. Or taking an existing company to the next level. And I love it all. Ok, maybe not the tax prep – which by the way, is NOT on my list of services offered. Necessity is the Mother of Invention. Or in my case, Necessity is the Mother of Innovation.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Welcome to LA! Our whirlwind tour of the city includes – Day 1: Breakfast at Hugo’s in West Hollywood for the super yummy Cinnamon Swirl French Toast and french press coffee; then off to Robertson Avenue for some boutique shopping; next is lunch at Granville near the Beverly Center; more shopping on Beverly Blvd and Third Street; then it’s off to K-Town for Korean BBQ dinner at Bulgogi Hut. Day 2: Head to Studio City to grab a Blue Bottle Coffee and bagel; then it’s off to explore the Hollywood Reservoir for a great walk and the best view of the Hollywood sign in town; on our way down Barham Blvd., we’ll pass the Warner Bros. Studios Lot (sorry no time for a tour) on our way to Magnolia Park for even more shopping; then it’s off to Universal CityWalk to grab an afternoon flick at AMC Theatres (hopefully in IMAX) with a quick stop at Voodoo Donuts for theatre snacks; after the movie yet even more shopping at CityWalk; then it’s down the hill to Miceli’s Italian Restaurant for some chicken parmesan and serenading servers. Day 3: Jump on the Expo Line to the Santa Monica Pier to go biking along the beach; grab a slice of pizza at Perry’s along the bike trail; continue biking to Venice for shopping on Main Street and Abbott Kinney; head back to the metro and stop at Versailles Cuban Restaurant on La Cienega for their world-famous Garlic Chicken dinner. Day 4: Sleep in.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Hmmm… well, I’d like to thank my parents, my 8th grade drafting teacher, and… Ok seriously, I’m gonna dedicate this shoutout to the folks at RPMC. Not only did I develop lifelong friendships during my time there, the many events and marketing projects I managed helped prepare me for the jump into freelancing. AND really lit a fire in me for traveling, especially across the pond to London. So thank you: Robert Olshever, Murray Schwartz, Vivienne Stern, Kelly Weinberg, Donna Graves and everyone from the RPMC team.