We had the good fortune of connecting with Alejandra Calvente and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alejandra, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Working for one of the top 5 media planning and buying agencies in the country, I gained all my marketing experience and knowledge working on campaigns for major companies such as Microsoft, Kraft, P&G, Lionsgate, Vans, and Del Monte. Even though I had a great job, I always wanted to have my own business and use my creative energy outside the corporate cookie-cutter environment. I was never sure about what type of business I would want to have, but I knew a couple of things for sure: I wanted work/life balance and to be very creative. I decided to start a career as an influencer which opened up the doors to a new world of creative marketing that I was not exposed to during my agency days, which I found so exciting and interesting. As an influencer, I got to meet a lot of creative people and many new brands, which has been so much fun and fulfilling. As I was growing my influencer partnerships with brands though, I started to notice a gap between emerging brands and the influencer industry. The new brands did not understand the influencer marketing industry and they were losing money, resources, and time on campaigns that did not bring them across their KPI finish line. One day I attended an influencer event hosted by a local LA brand where I met my now dear friend and business partner, Mariana Parnes, who previously worked on the brand side creating partnerships with influencers and box retailers. We geeked out for hours over influencer marketing and brand partnerships and came to realize that we saw the same issues in the industry. We decided to partner and launch The IAM Agency, a full-service Influencer + Digital Marketing boutique agency, focusing on brand growth through practical, tailored marketing campaigns. Our agency aims to support the brand’s vision and goals to reach their target market, elevate their brand, and deliver the ROI expected without breaking the bank.
What should our readers know about your business?
IAM Agency actually took off organically, and while it certainly wasn’t easy requiring long work hours and restless nights typical of any new venture, it just took commitment and trust in each other to get to where we are now. Shortly after we started the agency, we connected with brands that we knew and had personal connections with from prior jobs, giving us the opportunity early on to support brands we knew well with Social Media and Influencer campaigns. We were basically on speed dial to many of the brands that Mariana and I had worked for, so that was no doubt a huge help in getting things off the ground. Initially we started with consulting services which led us to some very exciting (and somewhat surprising) clients such as Dior, Bank of America and several others. We knew that our passion was to help and service emerging brands though, so while some of these larger opportunities gave us amazing experience, it also helped us to shape the future vision and strategy for the business. We believe what sets IAM Agency apart from others agencies is our understanding of the hurdles an emerging or startup brand faces today in social media when competing with bigger brands. We know that well crafted social media campaigns are not cheap, especially when done through a traditional agency. That’s why we’re trying our best to perfect our craft to deliver great results and service to all of our clients (small or large), by thinking outside the box through creative social media strategies, with influencers that will reach their unique marketing goals at a lower budget. Starting a business is really hard no matter the industry or when you do it, so for me, I’m most proud of our ability to bring in new customers and exceed their expectations in such a difficult environment we’re all living in today.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I like to give my friends a gourmet tour of LA to really get a taste of the varied ethnicity of our food and neighborhoods, from food trucks to Michelin star restaurants throughout the city. I usually like to start from Venice beach with a bike ride through the canal, then Abbot Kinney stopping at Butcher’s Daughter for a vegan lunch, followed by some paddle boarding at Marina Del Rey, and wrapping up watching the sunset from the Griffith Observatory, maybe eating In N Out. We’ll be sure to stop by Malibu for some beach time and maybe grab dinner at Moonshadows, some Korean BBQ in K-town, maybe back to Venice for a stop at Scopa, and our secret favorite, Ethiopian food in Little Ethiopia. If you haven’t tried it, just trust me, it’s amazing! One day we’ll probably do a food truck tour and rate our favorite tacos. Depending on the time of year, there’s always the chance we drive out to Big Bear for some camping or skiing, or we could just hike in Santa Monica mountains. When everything is open again, I’ll have a whole list of stops for delicious drinks too!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would love to give a shout out to my business partner Mariana Parnes. During our journey together she has been able to push me to act on my dreams, challenging me with her different views while supporting mine, helping me become a better business owner. She has taught me to be resilient and committed when executing an over the top idea, and to never give up no matter the obstacles we may face. Together we are highly complementary, assertive, high energy, and outgoing, filling in the gaps of our personalities so well.