Getting personal with Piquant Marketing Co-Founder & Creative Director Kristen Scharf
Ok Kristen, I feel like I know you pretty well after working with you at Whole Foods Market for 3 years and now talking pretty much all day every day for the past year but I bet there's a lot I don't know especially since we never sit down with the intention of picking each other's brains. So let's go deep!
If you could go back in time and talk to yourself a year ago, what would you say?
Going back one year ago I'd have to say it's important not to just chase the pay cheque, but make sure you're only taking on clients that you have a good connection with and genuinely care about their product. Going in to this business I had mini heart palpitations remembering my short time in advertising and having classes in school about managing clients. Clients were always painted as complicated and needy personalities. We've been incredibly lucky to work with such great local brands. All of our clients have been straight up delightful and I feel like they are as much our cheerleaders as we are theirs. This comes from having meetings and getting on the same page before we sign any paperwork and having that overall giddy feeling after meeting them.
What is your personal vision for yourself and this company?
Right now I’m excited that our little Piquant Marketing is growing! We’re heading in the direction of what i’ve always envisioned - a well rounded team of talented individuals who specialize and excel in complimentary ways to our own skill sets. As we continue to grow I look forward to working even more on the creative direction of the work that we do for our clients and ourselves and continuing to collaborate with and learn from our talented team to deliver even stronger work.
How do you think you've changed since becoming an entrepreneur? (If at all?)
I don't think I've changed too much as a person, but my overall lifestyle has changed. Ditching set 9-5 hours (and beyond most days) has allowed me flexibility and to take better care of myself, which is an important part of creating good work. The dog is pretty in to having extra time to take lunch trips to the park too! I'd be lying if I said pursuing my other interests usually takes a back seat to the business, but it was an investment I decided on when we started the company. I've also become more disciplined when it comes to managing my time. You need to be self motivated and organized when you're an entrepreneur. It was hard not to get sucked in to nice days outside when we first started, but learning better time management has taught me that you can have balance of work, professional development and a little fun too.
What do you think people don't know about you? Or what would I be surprised to know?
I'm coming from a fine arts background. Ten years ago the idea of a role in marketing would have felt like selling my soul, but I had always felt like I had a natural knack for it deep inside and even considered pursuing a degree in it at one point. I went back to school six years ago to gain skills in graphic design and realized that I finally had an outlet to merge my creative side with some of that marketing interest.
I think we're too inclined to be modest so I want you to brag about yourself and tell me what your strengths are (even though I think I know them!)
I'm opinionated (only in a slightly annoying way most of the time). I like to take my time to do things right. I'm a bit of a control freak when I need to be (once again, only in a slightly annoying way most of the time). I love the details. Yep, those are my strengths. I fully believe that these are some of my strongest attributes because I truly only want the best for our clients and our business. I'm pretty good at keeping track of the details and remembering those small things that clients mention in our meetings. I'm lucky that Lindsay always has the big picture vision and I have the details to round each other out.
What are your sources for inspiration?
It depends on which hat I'm wearing! When it comes to our daily work I always love following anything Refinery 29 or Brit & Co are doing. I can also easily log a few hours on Pinterest to solve any creative block.
What is your biggest pet peeve in the line of work that we do?
We all have our strengths. Unfortunately marketing seems to be turning in to a world of people who are required to be a jack of all trades - social media management, event planning, graphic design, photography, etc. Unfortunately it's rare to be a master of all. I would encourage more collaboration rather than trying to teach yourself skills that are maybe not your area of interest or that don’t come naturally. Team up with someone who has complementary skills to you and you'll get the best quality and happier clients. It’s tempting to keep the pay cheque all for yourself, but you’ll develop stronger work that will hopefully lead to even more clients down the road. I love when I see work coming out of other agencies that makes me jealous because it's a good sign of a well rounded team.
Also, image resolution. Please don't post low quality resolution photos....
Who is your inspiration or role model when life is challenging?
I wouldn’t say there’s a specific role model that I have that pulls me out of the challenging moments. Anytime I’m feeling like I’m in need of a pick-me-up or to work out any frustration I find that time in the gym or time to draw or paint will typically give me the time I need to reflect on things and get the confidence boost that will carry me through any project.
What’s your personal mantra?
Trust your gut. Sounds generic, but I think i’ve always had good personal intuition. I always seem to have the right feeling when a potential client might or might not be a good fit, when to take a risk, or just having a that “good feeling” to keep pushing myself.