We had the good fortune of connecting with Martha M. Garcia and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Martha M., what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think about risk in terms of two silos: personal and community. Questions that I ask myself include: how is the risk that I am taking going to affect me, my partner and our daughter. For community, I ask myself how will this risk affect the community or the collective that have access to me.
It’s important for me to think about this because I believe that one individual can inspire and/or empower the collective to drive change. This didn’t always come easy for me to think about, but when I learned to align my integrity to my purpose, decisions around risk were easier for me to assess and make a decision on.
What should our readers know about your business?
I left my corporate job in January 2021 after working there for 5.5 years. Like many, 2020 made me realize the importance of my time, integrity, and value. I was also extremely burned out and wanted to take control of my schedule.
I decided to start my own company called I Am Collective. I Am Collective’s mission is to nudge brands to become the leading example of brand building that prioritizes inclusive marketing. We empower brands to form authentic connections by centering historically excluded communities, while ensuring these communities are seen, heard, and supported.
I launched I Am Collective in April and have learned a lot of valuable lessons as I self-fund the company. I have also realized the lack of access to information that is available to folks. My parents brought me to Los Angeles when I was one year old. They worked and navigated labor intensive jobs. While I learned a lot from their work ethic, I did not learn what an LLC or DBA was, nor was this taught in grade school. For these reasons I am exploring ways in which I can provide people with more access to the information that I learn. It’s important to me that I share resources.
A big lesson that I am learning now is to trust myself. When you work in job, and especially in corporate, you do have colleagues you can easily go to because your decisions may affect them so it’s important to collaborate. I don’t have that same structure anymore, therefore I have learned the importance of trusting myself and my judgement. I also remind myself that I can’t fail because I decided to bet on myself, and I will never let myself down.
I want the world to know that I Am Collective is here to meet their brand where they are if they care about brand building. Marketing has the power to change culture and we want to work with brands who need our services. I am providing brands with custom solutions that are inclusive and intersectional.
As for what I want the world to know about Martha M. Garcia….I want them to know that I am perfectly imperfect, that I work hard everyday to make sure that my words match my actions and my actions match my words. I hope that when people cross paths with me they feel seen, heard, and valued.
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.
We would start Friday with drinks at Perch LA in Downtown. I love the views from the outdoor seating areas. Dinner would be at Bottega Louie in Downtown – I love their portobello fries. (The Downtown location isn’t open right now, but I read they were opening later this year! The WeHo location is worth a visit.)
Saturday morning would start with coffee and a pastry at Black Elephant, followed by a hike at Griffith Park. I would also find any excuse to stop at La Monarca Bakeries or Antigua to grab another coffee and pan dulce.
Lunch options are endless. Some of my favorites include: Guisados, Portos, and Daikokuya. I also believe in supporting street vendors. Some of the best food I’ve had in LA was from community street vendors who are people of color, and I’m not talking about the hipster food trucks. 🙂
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My previous boss, Lee Cox, deserves recognition. He advocated for me in ways that no boss has ever advocated for me. He trusted me and my ability to lead, finding ways to manage me based off of my skill set and emotional intelligence. It’s important for me to give him a shoutout because I was mismanaged my entire career until I met him. We had our challenges and had to learn how to best work together, but ultimately we were both able to hold space to listen and learn from one another. He was the first boss that when I challenged him on an idea or perspective, he didn’t negate me or brush my thought away. I was able to become the leader that I am today because he showed me what it was like to sponsor someone.
I think it’s important for people managers to learn how to manage individuals on their team. Everyone is different and will received and retain information differently. Going that extra step to get to know how someone wants to be managed is really powerful. This will also lead you to having a team who feels empowered and confident to do their job.
Garcia family photo credit: Footwear News