We had the good fortune of connecting with Rachel Romero and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rachel, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I consider risk to be one of the most beautiful and important things in my professional life and I can honestly say that I would have a much different reality if I didn’t take some pretty huge swings early on in my career. When I moved to Los Angeles, I knew about four people and didn’t really have a solid job lined up at all (and only a few months guaranteed remote work). I had no idea what I was really going to do and wasn’t even sure what I wanted to do. But, it was worth the risk for me to make a move, shake up my life and my environment, and challenge myself to find new ways and new areas to thrive. I welcome the opportunity to take risks, always, even if I’m not comfortable at the moment with taking a big leap.
Whenever I assess risk, I ask myself two important questions. The first is from one of my old bosses and a brilliant marketer, Kevin Doohan. Whenever a situation started becoming uneasy or getting a little intense, usually a sign of some sort of risk or problem, he’d often ask me, “Rachel, is the juice worth the squeeze?” It sounds so simple but taking a step back, analyzing whether or not taking a big chance will help guide you towards your goal is so crucial and oftentimes so overlooked.
The second question I always ask myself is, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Even more so, thinking through unexpected silver linings, though unantic
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
If I had to summarize my career in three words, it would be: ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. As a carpenter’s daughter, I grew up around sawdust and blueprints and initially got my start as an architectural and structural designer while moonlighting as a promoter and co-host for an independent hip hop radio show out of Boulder, Colorado called Basementalism. I loved seeing something that I drew come to life and provide meaning for so many people. Some of the biggest projects that I worked on were a prison in Barbados and a fire station in southern Colorado.
When the economy fell in 2008, I had an opportunity to change things up a bit since the banks were no longer funding construction projects and many of my colleagues, including myself, found ourselves suddenly unemployed. I started working for a new online media company, Examiner.com, that hired experienced journalists and passionate hobbyists to write hyperlocalized content on their website (Our writers had titles like Hollywood Food Examiner and Los Angeles Dodgers Examiner). I hadn’t really realized that all of the work I was doing for our radio show for so many years was actually digital marketing work and I found myself super engaged in my new career. I was always a huge internet nerd and spent most of my teenage years in Aol chatrooms so being able to turn what I thought were hobbies into a real career was meaningful to me. A bit of a light went off in my head and while I was passionate about architecture, I was REALLY passionate about promoting, throwing events and parties, and finding new ways to celebrate the work that we were doing.
In 2011, I moved to Los Angeles and worked for Penske Media Company (PMC) briefly before accepting a position in the marketing department at a new web-based video company called Machinima. At the time, I had no idea that video on the internet could be monetized and I learned a ton about the cross-section of entertainment and digital. I also met a bunch of people that would be instrumental in my professional life here in CA — wonderfully brilliant and capable humans, many of which I still work with in some way today. At this point in my timeline, I really understood the value of networking and aligning with people that bring you joy through the work that you do together.
In 2015, I started working as the editor-in-chief and co-general manager for Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, which lead me to eventually run marketing for the rest of Legendary Digital Networks’ brands, including Nerdist and Geek & Sundry. There, I met the Critical Role cast and have had the wonderful opportunity to help shape and innovate our marketing approach from the ground up.
My time at Critical Role has been invigorating, beautiful, and challenging at the same time. We’ve accomplished things I could have never really dreamed of and I’m so proud of the work that we’ve done together so far. Since 2018, we opened our own production studio, launched our own nonprofit (Critical Role Foundation), and our own board game publishing company (Darrington Press). In 2019, we launched what would become the most funded Film & Video Kickstarter campaign to help deliver our dream of our upcoming animated series, The Legend of Vox Machina, which is being created with a ton of love from our friends at Titmouse and Amazon Prime Studios.
I’ve taken so many of the things I’ve learned about building buildings into the way that I approach building stories and marketing plans. It all really starts with a block, an idea, a foundation. Being able to understand what a fully finished, beautifully ornate building might look like from a set of blueprints is very similar to understand how marketing plans might feed into a really big launch or announcement. Having that early vision and understanding of the desired end result is everything.
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.
Din Tai Fung My best friend, Debz, has sparked a love of all things soup dumplings in my life. I can’t stop thinking about them and this place is my favorite.
Taqueria Los Anaya
When my partner Ed and I moved to MidCity six years ago, we found this Mexican spot before we had even put in an offer on our house. I am pretty sure that their wet with green sauce + carne asada burrito may have convinced us to move into the neighborhood. If you’re not spicy shy, try their fermented hot sauce. The last time we went, we bought a jug of it to keep on hand.
The Dolorosa Tattoo Company (Echo Park)
I was just here over the weekend and used to frequent the old shop in this location quite often (shout out to the old Thunderbird Tattoo!). My artist, Julie Bolene, guests from time to time but all of the artists at this shop are legit.
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles
I LOVE museums as much as I love natural sciences and have been a proud member for the museum for a very long time. They have a wonderful First Friday series with music and science that I just adore and also… DINOSAURS.
The Raven Spa
One of my most favorite treats is a wonderfully long massage. I love The Raven Spa because it feels comfortable and like home and has some of the best massage therapists that I’ve found in the city.
Ed, my partner, is a true NYC native and he’s incredibly picky about pizza and Gracie’s has his seal of approval. The thin crust, NY-style is great but I also do love a big ol’ hunk of square Grandma’s pizza from time to time too.
The Library Bar at the Roosevelt
Any time anyone comes to visit for the first time, I try to take them to the Library Bar at the Roosevelt because it’s just cool. It feels cool, the bartenders will make you something magic if you give them a little suggestion to start with AND you can either vibe in the library, lobby, or maybe people watch a bit if the pool is still open. And, of course, Hollywood is RIGHT OUT THERE, so you can fully get your tourist on as well.
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?
I’d like to dedicate my shoutout to the founders of our company — Matthew, Marisha, Travis, Laura, Ashley, Taliesin, Sam, and Liam. The stories that you continue to tell with each other have brought big tears, uncontrollable belly laughs, intense drama, and unparalleled admiration to my life, as well as the lives of many others around the world. Thank you all for being such bright lights in the dark times and I appreciate your friendship and support more than anything and can’t wait to continue to grow and build with you all.
First image: Christopher Lockey Second image: Kat Jones