We had the good fortune of connecting with Audrey Smoak and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Audrey, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
When it came down to starting my own business I was faced with emotion. There’s an audience that will tell you to make business decisions without emotion attached – and though this is incredibly valid, my situation was a bit different. The moments before the foundation of my business had blossomed, I was sitting on the beach with my mom – completely distracted and taken away by my thoughts. The setting felt cinematic in a way – grey skies, a vacant beach in Charleston, SC and the memories of my upbringing playing before me while I was brainstorming what would be the biggest thing I’d hold dear to me. I live in Charlotte, NC and at the time I was charged with frustration from a rather unfortunate journey with a local business in the city. My time with this music industry based company gave me my first insight to sexism, false promises, lack of humanity and a draining sense of passion. It was the heads in charge that had such a negative effect on my overall view of the business. Something I pride myself in is the ability to walk away from people and opportunities that don’t serve me; which is exactly what I did with this situation. Having left on moral reasons, I was astonished at the mistreatment that had taken place to the point where I needed a week to be surrounded by family. Tuning back in to that cinematic setting – I got up from my chair and headed for the water. Whenever I feel flustered, I love to go into the ocean and just float with my eyes shut. There’s a sense of peace behind this that brings me clarity – probably has a lot to do with my overactive creativity never wanting to shut off. While I was floating, I had mentally wrote a poem and once it came to a close I got out of the water, pulled out my phone and quickly jotted down the lines before I could forget them. There was still an unsettling feeling after I got done writing. After jumping a few more hurdles in my head, it clicked. I thought, ‘how could anyone have treated me that way and be that grimy. I hate how I feel, this mixture of anger and pain – I don’t want others to ever feel this way. Am I just that selectively social, how hard is it to be a good person?’ **Clicking** My business is called Selectively Social and I’m the Creative Director and Founder. Selectively Social is a Woman led agency that specializes in Creative and Music Management, available for hire in a wide range of artistic channels. I’ve made it my mission to craft a distinctive community that house’s the client’s individual goals and ideas. When you work with Selectively Social, you’re choosing to bridge the gap between corporation and innovation – your new home to creativity. As I mentioned earlier, I’m based out of Charlotte, NC and available for travel. The artistic channels I can fulfill include graphic design, music management, branding / social media management, publicity / PR, photography, videography, Journalism and podcast management. You can keep up with all the creative content into my intimate firm through my perusal IG @audrey_smoak and my business account @beselectivelysocial. The concept of Selectively Social is simply being a good person – I want to work with like minded individuals who share a level of respect for themselves and others while going after what they want. When doing this, you have to be able to adapt, say no to the people and opportunities that don’t serve you and know when it’s time to walk away. I have found these 3 qualities to be incredibly rare in a way where they’re fully embodied. Being selective with your time and energy speaks volumes and it’s something I take very seriously. Something I always say in the conversation with a new or potential client is ‘Bad people do bad business and nothing good comes from that.’ I’ve learned a lot along my journey and I’m incredibly thankful for all of the lessons that have put me in this place and I’m even more grateful for the ones I work with. People who are willing to go after what they want in such a way that raises the bar of standards are gems; so I want to say thank you to the gems already in my life and to the ones I have yet to meet – I can’t wait until we cross paths.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
There’s a special connection to my art that I find unmatched. Through every piece I put out – no matter the medium – there’s a part of me in it. The beautiful thing about my art is it’s vast range of mediums and personality. Such forms include poetry, graphic design, acrylic / oil paintings and art installations to name a few. I want my audience to be able to depict a storyline from each piece; in a way I want my creativity to act as a mental exercise to the consumer. I am where I am due to the story lines of my own life – all of the mistakes I’ve made and lessons I’ve learned have aided in my journey. For every fall I ever took I got back up twice as a fast and more determined to succeed than the prior time. One thing I’ve learned is I’m not afraid to fail and I don’t care what people think. These two qualities make or break a lot of people. I obviously don’t set intentions to ever fail at something but I don’t beat myself up over it if I do because it means there’s room for growth which means I’m on track to being my best self. There was a lot of elevation to be present with my current self, in and out of my career – though it was not easy, it was beyond worth it and has been incredibly fulfilling. I’ve learned a lot about myself and have come to really love who I am and the morals and standards I hold myself to, as well as others in my life. I’ve learned that people will act out and it’s of no correlation to you but rather a reflection of how they view themselves and their own problems. The biggest way to overcome any challenge and it’s what I do if I come across a speed bump is to simply keep going. Don’t let anyone or anything stop you – have grace and respect with every action you take and be patient. I want the world to know that my brand is me and I am my brand – a genuine reflection of who I am and what I believe in is exactly what sparked the entire vision of Selectively Social and I wouldn’t change that for anything. The little moments from my adolescence to now are just as big as the lessons and accomplishments I’ve faced and will continue to face. Your work and story is something to be proud of and I’m definitely proud of mine.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I just made the joke recently that I’d be an excellent tour guide. I love walking to the extent of drastic 6 or 7 mile walks that I claim as casual. It’s something that really levels me and tunes me in with nature – I’ve gotten to see Charlotte, NC from a historic viewpoint as well a normal bystander and consumer. The city is well split and each section flows into the next. Our downtown is called Uptown because in the earlier day of Charlotte, the residents would have to walk or carriage ride their way literally up town so it kind of fell into place. It’s split in four different wards and each ward has its own beautiful park – my favorite section being Fourth Ward. The area caters to a historical crowd and has a great view to look at all of the skyscrapers. This section has some beautiful neighborhoods tucked away, one of which reminds me of Charleston, SC’s famous Rainbow Row. The other unique feature I really enjoy about Fourth Ward is the Old Settler’s Cemetery. The land goes on for acres and is home to some insane mausoleums and WWII veterans. NoDa is considered to be Charlotte’s art district and is full of energy on the weekends – every weekend local vendors will fill the sidewalks and display their crafts to be viewed and purchased. The area is nothing short of vibes as there’s a scene for everything – you can shop, eat, enjoy nature and more. I’m vegan and there’s this South African restaurant called Oh My Soul – it’s in the middle of NoDa and is a genuine experience to just sit at – food ordered or not. Dilworth and Elizabeth are the inner city suburbs that are home to some extremely insane parks and beautiful homes – Freedom Park and Latta Park. You can go shopping, get dinner and lose yourself in your thoughts on a long walk. Lastly, SouthPark is considered our shopping district which I also have a love for – typically you will find more families and retired couples living in this area but it’s a quiet spot in comparison and incredibly nice to explore. I’m definitely leaving out a bunch of other spots and neighborhoods in Charlotte however I’d need my own talk show to go over all the wonderful establishments I appreciate in this city. The biggest thing to note as someone who is obsessed with coffee is the best coffee shops I’ve come to love so far – Salud, The Hobbyist, Queen City Grounds and Waterbean Coffee.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are definitely figures in my story I want to give recognition to. For one, as cliche as it is in every monumental speech or text – my parents. My mom and dad stood by me in my decision to chase my dreams and have supported me through every step in my career and out. The two have grown to be my best friends and I genuinely don’t know where I’d be without them.
Along the lines of music management and how that came to be I want to shout out my EDM DUO, name unknown (@officialnameunknown on IG). Joe and Austin, the guys behind the duo sparked a large path for my music management journey and I’m very thankful I get to oversee such talented gems. They’re constant reminders of what it means to chase what you want as musicians. My other artists that I’m grateful to know and work with include Part Native (@partnative), Ashlyn Uribe (@ashlynumusic) and Javes (@officialjaves). One stream from Part Native and you’ll find all of David’s songs in your music library. Ashlyn’s voice is angelic and will have you searching for your next breath and the energy of Javes is one that’s rather rare – she has a beautiful flow and embodies any CDJ she steps behind – I love watching them all grow.
A major shoutout goes to my boss at Loud Crowd, Stuart Hackley. I met him backstage at an Elephante show due to my earlier connection with Tim (Elephante – @iamtheelephante) at Lollapalooza in 2019. I attended the festival as press and media and got the opportunity to interview him. I was thrilled to discover the amazing humanity and talent that fueled the artist. Tim invited me to his show in Columbia, SC where I met Stu. A week after meeting him we got together at a coffee shop that has come to be one of my favorite spots in the city. We discussed his company and I quickly found myself as the Director of Social Strategy for Loud Crowd. Loud crowd (@loudcrowdlive) cultivates a personal experience through music to bring you closer to the artists you love.
Through the lens of letting my creativity soar – I have a few last names to drop. Bailey Robinson is the founder and Creative Director of Bailey Vintage (@bailey_vintage), a southern luxury streetwear brand. Bailey brought me on about a year ago to take on branding and marketing with some design and media work as needed. There’s never been a moment where he’s tried to mute my voice, render my work or diminish my skillset. My Creativity and eye for art is always being displayed through the brand and I am so lucky to work with someone like Bailey. I’m grateful to consider him a good friend as we’ve come to really know each other throughout this past year and a strong friendship is something I don’t take lightly. Matt Lee is another client of mine who’s prepping to launch an app we’ve been working on for a couple of seasons since my onboard, while this is a project he’s been molding for a few years. The company is called Sense (@senseclt), and we provide up to date wait times, capacity limits and gender ratios to the favored bars of Charlotte, NC. Lastly, I want to shoutout Steve Muelz (@stevemuelz) – Steve is an insanely gifted videographer and creative in general. He saw the raw talent in me from the jump and has been so consistent and dedicated to having me on his team since our run-in that is due to the beautiful and overwhelmingly talented artist, Annalise Azadian (@annaliseazadian). It was an earlier interview I did with Annalise for my brand, Selectively Social that merged the three of us together. I had no idea at the time of this interview that I’d be flown out to New York 10 months later to work and be part of the House of Muelz (@houseofmuelz) team. I’m so happy our paths have crossed and I cannot wait for the ventures that are ahead of us – you are now entering a vibe, always.
There are many names along my journey that have aided my continued passion for what I’m doing and I couldn’t say thank you enough to each and every one of them. While I’ve already named the last person In my shoutout – I do have one last entry that’s unlike the others. It’s more of a personal statement and with that I want to say thank you to my younger self – without her I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today and I know that she is proud of who I’ve become.
Other: TikTok: audreysmoak
Projector Photos: Rico Marcelo Heart Jeans Photo: Kelsey Halm Dock Photos: Jimmy Rojas