When it comes to applying for jobs, candidates are always placed in a box. If you don’t meet the employer's criteria or end up knowing more than the job scope, they don’t know what to do with you. Sound familiar? According to Co-Founder and Creative Director of The Participation Agency, Jessica Resler, this is your “woke” moment to become an entrepreneur and start your own thing.
Sometimes being a generalist can be your greatest strength. We live in an economy that is becoming highly specialized. Marketing, for instance, is becoming extremely fragmented: email marketing, SEO, AdWords, digital, programmatic, etc. It is impossible to be an expert at everything and if you are someone who enjoys learning and maintaining a vast breadth of knowledge, then entrepreneurship might be the best path for you. You understand the vernacular and who better to manage a team than someone who gets the timeline, challenges and solutions available with these platforms, right?
We sat down with Jessica Resler, Co-Founder and Creative Director of The Participation Agency located in the Lower East Side, NYC to chat about entrepreneurship, creativity, and experiential marketing. “I have always been my own boss in some capacity. I went to FIT and studied fashion, but quickly became interested in statistics and financial modeling when I joined NYU for my MBA. By understanding both the creative and financial sectors of business, I was able to better advise brands on how to create lasting marketing campaigns.”
Jessica originally never wanted to attend college but wanted to work instead. After much negotiation with her parents, she was able to do both. As a result, she had the resume of a 29-year-old when it came time for graduation at the age of 22. “I experimented with freelancing and most of my gigs came through my personal network. Don’t worry about starting your own thing in the early years of your career. That will come later. It is all about the opportunities and experiences at the moment as a creative that will foster your growth and unleash your future potential.”
“I remember when I was approaching my MBA graduation that I told myself if I won the business competition (a live case study presentation), I would start my own thing. I put a team of three people together (the average was 5) and spent most of my time meeting with the client/ business to further understand their needs and problems. By spending so much time with the client and building a rapport, I was able to take home that prize. This gave me the confidence I needed to be able to venture out on my own.”
Today, PA is a self-funded agency, with clients ranging from Oreo, Red Bull, FourSquare, and Joe & The Juice. Every year the agency puts together its own event to establish itself in the market and attract press, leading to an increase of business deals. This year, they launched Outpost which is a roadside micro-community that caters to musicians who tour the United States. “We give them a place to rest, energize and connect with their fans. Brands can also sponsor these experiences and it’s a great way to connect with customers on an intimate level.”
Why The Name?
“I am always looking for mentors, and it was actually one of my mentors that helped my co-founder and I name our agency. Back in 2011 (the year PA launched), the term “collaboration” was huge and brands wanted influencers and collaborators to come onboard. We believed that a synonym of this could be termed as participation. Participation can also be linked to the typical saying of asking clients how they much they would like to invest in a project, or, how would you like to participate? So that was also used as our mantra.”
For those looking to get involved in the experiential marketing sector you need to possess the following traits:
- Start building your network and curating your personal brand.
- Find a company that relates to your personality as culture is a BIG fit.
- Always be optimistic, different obstacles will be thrown at you every day.
- Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and do things outside of your job function.
- Keep an open mind.
Today The Participation Agency has grown from 0 to 32 team members ranging from people in Texas, New Jersey, New York and the West Coast. When not running PA, you can find Jessica painting on the weekends with her talented boyfriend, Gosha whose work you can find here.
Photo courtesy of The Participation Agency.