We had the good fortune of connecting with Mara Freedman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mara, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
My decision to start my own business came from a lot of different reasons that can all probably be boiled down to happiness. I was working at Sony Pictures Entertainment, in the Theatrical Marketing division for the most kind and generous boss, where the idea to do something on my own first started. While there, I was doing a job that did not quite exist on paper, and my boss, Jamie Kramer, gave me the push to leave. She encouraged me to go out on my own, knowing that I had the creativity and skills in me that I didn’t know I had yet. It took me a little while to get to that point as a searched for the right opportunity, all while slowly taking on clients. Shortly thereafter I took a short lived creative director role at a company that I truly disagreed with the ethos and whose client roster was nothing that I would really want to associate myself with. I became seriously ill, and after a week in the hospital, I planned my exit, deciding I was finally ready to go out on my own. I wanted to create a business to work with people I could be proud of, believe in, as well as feel fulfilled in my life. My business is about uplifting voices, helping people tell their stories, and doing in doing that, I get to feel true to myself, and those who work with me.
What should our readers know about your business?
What sets me and Storyd Media apart from others is that I truly believe social media is a way to tell a story and craft a narrative. Having come from the film world first, when I entered marketing, I was able to approach things not as quantitatively as my colleagues, and instead ask the questions that they would never even think to ask. Having a background both as a storyteller and as a skilled marketer, I am able to be an asset to my clients, so that we are posting content that serves a purpose, and is not just clutter. I’m proud of this ability, as well as working with clients that I truly believe in. That has not always been an easy thing to accomplish, especially when I was first starting and I was more concerned with how I was going to pay rent. In the early days of my business, I had difficulty with boundaries, as I was always trying to please my clients. Along the way I have worked hard to establish work life boundaries, although, oftentimes it is on me to not pick up the phone or reply to a text after a certain hour and be comfortable with knowing my client can wait till the morning (unless there is an urgent need to reply, because in social media…there are those moments). I also had a client early on that was very disrespectful and a true test for me was letting her go as a client, knowing that I had stood up for myself and my self worth. This also made me button up my accounting and made me get contracts drawn up, an experience anyone starting a business should do. Spending money paying a lawyer to write up contracts and accounting software is the best money spent! I also came out of that experience with my number one rule, No assholes allowed, so it was a very valuable learning experience. As a client of mine often says, “Don’t come out of hell empty handed.” What I would love people to understand about the work I do is that I can’t sell your story for you if you don’t know what it is. I can help you figure it out, as believe me I do often. But social media isn’t just posting a cute picture. It’s about purpose, and with the companies I choose to work with, passion, and that’s why we grow. Because people are along for the story and are engaged. I urge everyone to look at their Instagram grids, and ask themselves “Why?” If you don’t know, then your customers, followers, or friends won’t either.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m going to pretend this is in a land after we’ve all been vaccinated, as I haven’t gone anywhere in almost a year and only have gotten things delivered. I miss going to all of these places! First stop on any visit, is a trip to Platefit for the best workout ever. I was a regular in precovid days. This 27 minute HIIT workout is a must, as is the recovery class after. Next stop, Pop’s Bagels for literally the best bagel in LA, not to mention the best gluten free bagel anywhere! Next up, is a walk along Montana Ave (with stops into Erin Mckenna and Breadblok for treats, and Femelle, where I always find the cutest fashion), where I love walking down to the water and along Palisades Park, and back up through the neighborhood to look at the houses. Now on to Palisades Village, to walk around, and of course to go to Sweet Laurel Bakery! Back to Santa Monica, for a drink in the lobby or the rooftop at The Proper. Now, onto dinner at Double Zero in Venice, and there is always a cool spot after along Abbot Kinney for drinks. For brunch, you can never go wrong with Farmshop or Lunetta. Farmshop is especially great, because you can walk around the Brentwood Country Mart after! Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shannon Soller and Simone Capelouto of Beauty Beyond LA were the first people to give me a shot and hired me as their social media manager. It was their faith and trust in me to message out their business that gave me the confidence to be where I am today, and I am so honored to still work with them. Their business fell so perfectly in line with my mission and what I was trying to accomplish, and they have been my cheerleaders from day one. And they are the reason that my skin glows and I never have to worry about what products to use. What they say goes! I also have to shout out Jamie Kramer, my former boss at Sony, who gave me the kick in the ass I need to leave Sony. I had worked in entertainment for a while, and for a lot of other women, and Jamie is the rare woman that I experienced who championed other women. She is the model of the type of boss I want to be, and how I want to mentor and encourage other women. Amy Nelson, of The Riveter, who is now actually a client, also gets credit in my story, as does Heather Carter, who used to work at The Riveter (and is now off doing amazing things with her new startup, Coterie). Working at The Riveter changed the trajectory of my career, gave me the confidence I needed to believe in myself, and allowed me to meet so many amazing women. This is definitely an instance of the saying, “You have to spend money to make money.” By being there, I met Maria Shriver, who I have now worked with for a year and a half. She has become a phenomenal mentor, and someone I learn from daily.