1Please give us a brief bio of yourself, your company, job profile, etc.
As Founder & CEO, I’m responsible for Helen & Gertrude’s overall company mission, strategy, and growth. I began my foray into the advertising space when I joined Brand Networks and social advertising was in its infancy.
There, I was the first interaction designer on a small five-person team that quickly became a 250-employee global company changing the game for some of the world’s largest brands.
I went on to build the Creative and Content Services Teams at Brand Networks, which then saw double digit growth year-over-year. Now we’ve done the same at Helen & Gertrude. In the past year, we’ve doubled the number of employees. And doubled our revenue.
Fun facts, I grew up on a small family farm where I developed a passion for sustainable food practices. I’m also a foster dog mom for both The National Great Pyrenees Rescue and Rescue Pit—a Rochester-based Pit Bull rescue organization.
2Tell us a bit about your business and what you do.
Helen & Gertrude is a social-first, certified women-owned advertising agency headquartered in Rochester, NY. We use data and insights to inform every step of our process. We believe that creative and media cannot successfully exist without an equal balance of each other. Breaking down these silos is what allows us to build branded content and campaigns that work harder for our clients. It’s also why our name is Helen & Gertrude. Helen Lansdowne Resor represents our creative right brain: one of advertising’s original #squadgoals leader. And Gertrude Cox for our logic-driven left brain: the “first lady of statistics”.
3Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2019 Muse Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?
Our multi-platform social media campaign was created for LUMIFY® —the first and only OTC eye drop developed with low-dose brimonidine tartrate for the treatment of ocular redness due to minor eye irritations. We thought the work was award-worthy as it took a highly-regulated pharmaceutical product and not only successfully, but also in an aesthetically-pleasing way, marketed it to an audience with beauty interests. Plus, the results were outstanding. Within its first year of launch, LUMIFY became the #1 product in the Red Eye category!
4What was the biggest challenge with this project?
Speaking to beauty mavens within the legal constraints of the OTC eye care health market. This was especially of importance for a product that relies so heavily on before & after pictures because Facebook and Instagram policies are extremely strict in terms of what you can and cannot show.
Instead, we presented LUMIFY in situations that fit within the beauty lifestyle (i.e., purse, gym bag, suitcase, bathroom vanity). On Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat, we created a highly-targeted media plan to increase awareness. And as always, we reviewed content performance each month to optimize and drive campaign effectiveness.
5Where do you see the evolution of creative industry going over the next 5-10 years?
The creative industry has the power to truly drive and build more revolutionary communities. By taking on more cause-oriented initiatives with real social impact, we have the ability to help everyday consumers take action. We must keep moving in a direction that’s continually more inclusive of disabilities, gender, body shapes and sizes, race, and more. The creative industry is an ideal platform for underrepresented groups to enable their voices in mainstream society.
H&G recently sponsored an event for BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Color) artists and their creative contributions to society. It was important to us because our content needs to speak to more people, and not just one group. The more we consistently work with a variety of people with different perspectives, the more well-rounded we are as an agency. And even more significant, for the mental health of people, in general. As we know, social media can be harmful to people’s self-esteem. The more we can open up these ideas of beauty and what’s normal, the better off all of our minds (and hearts) will be.
6If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring Muse Award submitter, what advice would you give them?
For a student entering the industry, I’d recommend learning to be self-sufficient at work, school, and home. Be a sponge in the workplace, but also learn everything you can off the job. Take classes, have hobbies, get a sense of curiosity for things that don’t just apply to school and work. Maybe its learning how to code a website, to do your laundry without shrinking your favorite sweater, or how to make a really good pot of coffee. Acquire a taste for taking risks, gain new experiences, and be able to problem solve independently.
7What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the creative industry?
I would say to re-evaluate where you find inspiration. For example, if you work in social media, don’t just look to social media. One of the activities I love to do is take photos while on vacation. I don’t worry about how “pretty” or “right” they are. Just snap and make a collection. Then I go back and look for common themes to get my inspiration.
Also, one of the biggest design lessons I received to improve my skills was from a professor at RIT. He said to take something you really, really love and break it down into individual pixels, then build it back up again. This helps you learn the techniques from experts in your field and get down to the tiniest of details.
And sometimes, I need another completely different creative outlet when I’m stuck, like cooking, floral arranging, home organization (yes, really!), interior design, and traveling. If you’re feeling stagnant, pick up something else, find something new to tinker with. It might be time to shake it up!