Making Bold Moves: From Agency Start-up to Representing Brands Like Mercedes-Benz
When I first heard of Robyn I just knew I had to meet her. Robyn is a firecracker filled with vivacious energy, a quest for equality and a drive for success. Her story showcases her vast experience in both the agency and brand worlds and her work represents her confident, unwavering commitment that energy applied in the right way will yield the right results. Hats off to Robyn for paving a beautiful path highlighted with all the colors of the rainbow.
Tell us about what you are doing now.
I am currently the CEO and Founder of The Mixx, a strategic marketing and creative agency, and Titanium Worldwide, a collective of independent diverse agencies in the media, marketing and communications space.
How did you get to where you are today?
I started my career at Citibank, working with agencies in the marketing and creative space. Over time I realized that all the agencies being used were BIG. Thus, the A team would do the pitch and then the C team would work on the account, Frustrating!
When Citi moved to Long Island City, I realized that there was a bigger opportunity out there for me, a gap in the market that had to be filled…I was determined to do something different, could I possibly be on the other side of the fence, working with brands to help them solve their marketing and creative challenges? With that, I made the decision to open my first agency The Mixx, out of my apartment with a phone and a desk. Now, almost 23 years later, The Mixx is a thriving agency built on client service, diversity and doing what’s right for a brand.
What pivotal moments did you face along the way and what inspired you?
Over the course of my agency’s tenure our team has continued to develop our strategic approach to business challenges, ensuring that a research driven approach fuels our creative muscle. And although it may seem that way, this is not typical for every marketing/creative agency. By leveraging consumer insights and data, we push our clients to speak to their customers in engaging and authentic ways, without pandering. A great example of this would be our work with our long-standing client Mercedes Benz and how we encouraged them to engage the LGBT consumer segment. Starting with a small print-based campaign, we have grown this business over the past 4 years and are already planning for year 5. The response within the LGBT community has been tremendous, existing customers felt appreciated and seen for the first time and LGBT individuals who may have been considering a new car now are brand advocates for MB.
What do you see as the major opportunities or challenges for women today?
Women are in a very key point in history, with the power of communication and standing together, we have been given a powerful voice that will help to break the glass ceiling forever. We need to ensure that we keep standing up for ourselves, we keep empowering each other to take seats in the board room and demand to be on executive leadership teams of the world’s largest corporations, and of course, supporting/empowering independent woman owned companies.
These women are the change agents paving the path toward the future with less of a gender gap and by using their voices, during a vote for a new board seat or potentially vetting staff for promotions, we hope that there can be more equal opportunity for women.
What solutions or advice do you have for women who are wanting to embrace these opportunities or challenges?
Never be afraid to stand up for what you believe in and what you deserve. Women as a whole, are sometimes fearful to go for that promotion, to share where they could provide more value and why. This is one of the reasons why there are so few of us in the C-Suite of Corporate America. My mission is and has always been to create a better, more equal place to work together, instilling collaboration as the only “way of working” and empower people to go for gusto. If we all knew what the path forward was, life would be inextricably boring and calculated! Take the chance, never stop pursuing education and growth; I have seen members of my staff grow exponentially by not accepting what they aren’t “great at” and finding ways to get better. These are the people who continue to build on their career and I hope that all women can find a way to continue to grow, each and every day.
Who helped you in your journey and what advice did they give you that really shaped your thinking?
I’ve always been a person that when I saw an opening, I’d take it, never mind if I was a good fit for the job or opportunity. I have had many guides and mentors, but one that stands out amongst the rest is Marc Byron. He is a true entrepreneur, a visionary and a world class, all around guy. He helped me launch my first company and I respect him and his advice implicitly. He always told me to know the numbers, follow my gut and never look back. I live that mantra every day.
What one thing would you have done differently early in your career if you had the right bit of advice?
Two things come to mind that I would have done differently, one is that I would have taken on a partner, someone to bounce off ideas with and share the good times and bad. Its lonely being a sole practitioner. The second is that I would have sought out a financial backer or private equity. This would have enabled me to invest in more senior talent and technology to grow the business more swiftly and efficiently vs having to cobble together insights and strategies.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, money or talent would be no object, what would you be doing?
I would have my own fitness studio, focused on women over 50 years old who still want to train hard and be surrounded by their peers! This truly is my future and something that is destined to have my name on it! So be on the lookout.
Final tips to share?
Follow you heart, Don’t let your fear get in the way of your happiness, and surround yourself with positive energy and people that have your back…all very important things, and very difficult to achieve.