We had the good fortune of connecting with Jian Huang and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jian, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
When starting the marketing agency with my business partner Holly, my thought process was pretty simple: why not us? I had been working in communications for a decade, and even worked for several established institutions — government, museums, nonprofits, boutique agencies — but always working for a boss. That’s not to say my bosses were bad to work for. On the contrary, I had some terrific mentors in the past. But as I matured, I felt like I had more to offer — ideas for how to direct a project, for how to manage clients, how to run the business — a bigger vision that I just didn’t have the opportunity for when working for someone else. So in 2017, Holly and I took a chance on ourselves. We invested a lot of sweat equity and pooled all the spare cash we had at the time (about $400), built a website, printed business cards, and called everyone we knew. Just like that: we were in business.
It was scary to go into business for ourselves, but it has also been an amazing adventure! I’m happy to report that today our business is thriving. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
What should our readers know about your business?
pH Collective is a Los Angeles-based creative & marketing agency with a focus on brands that are doing good for our communities. From entrepreneurs to institutions, we love to work with those who are socially conscious in what they do, starting with a strategy that makes sense.
I’m most proud that we bring something different to the standard marketing agency. From our two female founders on down to our collaborators, contractors, vendors, interns and pretty much everyone who works with us, we practice what we preach in bringing a diverse sensibility that is tailored and responsive to our communities.
Holly and I both come from humble backgrounds – her mom is a school teacher and her dad worked for a nonprofit. My parents were both working class immigrants with no English skills. I think it’s pretty cool that two people like us decided to take a chance and it worked out. We invested in ourselves and we worked really hard to where we are today. This may sound cliche, but I really hope our story can inspire others to also follow their dreams. Anything is possible.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Any Angeleno will take you to the iconic spots – Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood Sign, the beach, etc – but I would take my best friend to see some different treasures of LA. Here are some picks (in no particular order):
-Late night Korean BBQ + a cocktail at the HMS Bounty
-A drive through Topanga Canyon and picnic on the hills of Pepperdine University overlooking Malibu
-A meal at Chengdu Taste in the San Gabriel Valley
-Vist to Claremont Colleges and see the James Turrell “Skyscape” installation at Pomona College
-Thrift shopping along Melrose Avenue
-Burgers at In N’ Out
-Hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains and Big Santa Anita Canyon
-Hanging out in as many “Old Towns” as we can find in Los Angeles County (Pasadena, Monrovia, Whittier, etc)
-And if the timing is right, a tailgate on game day at USC campus (my alma mater)
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shout out to my business partner, Holly! She has been my ride or die since the beginning. I say if you’re going into business with someone, go into business with someone who makes the workday a lot of fun.
Noé Montes Additional Photos: pH Collective