Stephanie Melodia had a successful marketing career working both agency side and in-house until she made the leap and took her talents off to start her own marketing agency, Bloom. She knows firsthand what goes into small businesses and startup life - the highs and the lows - and is now on a mission to share her knowledge and help others blossom and grow too.
Stephanie is a powerhouse and not surprisingly Bloom has taken off. Now entering their 3rd year, Bloom is outgrowing their offices to move to new premises.
Read on to find out how Steph's built her business from the ground up.
There are natural aspects to my personality which I believe would be there anyway, such as adaptability, high social aptitude and excellent communication skills, which could easily be attributed to growing up abroad - but who's to say which is the cause? It's the age-old question of nature versus nurture. I believe that, to a degree, we choose how much we want the many influences in our lives to affect us.
I think it’s also important to mention that everyone attracts and gravitates to certain individuals. As they say, your vibe attracts your tribe! And this is true wherever you are in the world.
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. When I was 17, I snuck into my art school basement after class to screenprint T-shirts and flog them to my friends. I roped in my sister to be the model and borrowed my Dad’s digital camera for the photography - which would be an “aesthetic” in today’s Instagram era!
When I set up Bloom, I had both the agency-side and in-house experience I wanted over my career. I’d had the opportunity to go into business beforehand but took a pragmatic approach and wanted to satisfy my curiosity of working in a few different companies first. My business has substance and strength - I didn’t want to jump in for the glory or for the sake of being “an entrepreneur”.
As this was an ambition always on the horizon, I’m sorry to say that there was no single dramatic moment of me slamming the door on a previous employer and decorating my new office to the backing track of “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves” - haha!
My entire career and personal passions have always centred on marketing. Growing up, I was always incredibly creative but desired the mental stimulation of more analytical areas, hence marketing for me was the perfect answer - the artful blend of creativity and numbers.
As a business idea, this was very safe too, I’ll be honest. A B2B service offering like Bloom’s ultimately just requires manpower and technology. I remember making my first business investment in my laptop at John Lewis, nervous and excited. Once this was all set up I was basically ready to go!
Having had the insight on both sides of the fence, working for agencies and on the client-side, I know myself well enough that I'm more suited to agency life. The fast-paced nature, the multiple plate-spinning, learning about different clients and the sectors they are in. I find it all very stimulating and rewarding!
My goodness, every day feels like a memorable moment on this rollercoaster ride!
Of course there are all the firsts from the early days; first buying my work laptop, first publishing the website, the first client and the first time I announced the news to all my friends and family.
There are good memories as well as bad, one of which is of our worst month ever, where we didn’t make any money AT ALL. This was a pretty gut-wrenching moment when there was no money coming in and yet we still had all our monthly bills to pay.
Thankfully things have been on the up since and more recently I’m enjoying some fantastic benchmarks in the company’s history, with new staff, new offices and new clients. It really feels like things are on the up!
Bloom office @ Second Home
Confidence is enough to help you take the first leap. Resilience is what gets you to the next level.
I’ve never thought of myself as being a particularly sensitive person but when you care about something, how can emotions not get tangled up in your work? I see this as a largely positive thing, to be clear! Because without emotion we’re just left with apathy and then what’s the point? So with that in mind, I did find it particularly tough to pick myself back up again after a bad experience. Resilience for me has been one of the biggest business lessons I’ve learnt with Bloom!
I hear from other business owners or senior managers how hard it is to find the right people. Whilst I agree it can be a challenge (especially when people can make or break a company), I believe the thinking around this needs to change. We need to hold up a mirror to the employers making those decisions in the first place.
There are bad managers out there who have never really had any proper training or understanding of managing people. It’s one thing to delegate work and pass on a to-do list, but if you can’t inspire or motivate people, it’s a lose-lose situation.
I also think employers set themselves up for failure when they have certain expectations of their staff measured by themselves (or worse still, simply looking for their clone). Everyone is unique, we all have our strengths and passions and in business, it is absolutely crucial to identify those traits in your team and hone in on this.
Also never use recruiters.
Great question. All our clients at Bloom are already our dream clients!
I am currently obsessed with Tony’s Chocolonely though, so if you see this, talk to me.
There’s a very healthy naïveté that comes with the start of any new project, whether it’s a travel adventure or a new business. I believe this is a serious benefit that propels you from the get-go and you learn what you need to along the way. If I didn’t have the skills to build Bloom to where it is today, it wouldn’t be where it is today!
The only time I ever really entertained the idea of taking external investment was a few months ago when the business was around 18 months old. We had a good track record but I had ambitious expansion plans that would have only really required a cash injection to speed things up. I was starting to understand that, newsflash: my energy was not a limitless resource! And so continuing at the pace I was going would have led to another burnout. Things changed very quickly though and it was never really an idea I was overly enamoured by, so it fell by the wayside and never happened. I may be open to it in the future but I’m very aware of everything that comes along with borrowing someone else’s money, which I don’t like the thought of anyway. Bloom has got to where it is now off my hustle and I’m content with that achievement for now.
We will continue to grow, with a focus on new clients first and then growing the team. We will be moving into the new Bloom building in Farringdon coming in Q1 2020. Further ahead is harder to plan for...we have our eyes on the prize but the exact roadmap is TBD!
My hero is Gary Vaynerchuk, so my current ambition is to be the female Gary Vee. If Bloom turns into the next VaynerMedia and I get to motivate people, I’d be very happy.
Wow, this is a great question. I am very aware of how incredibly fortunate I have been in finding the most amazing people who have played such pivotal roles in this business journey.
The first person that springs to mind, without a shadow of a doubt, is my accountant. Not only is he incredibly knowledgeable and helpful but he is one of the sweetest, warmest and most generous people I have the great fortune of simply having in my life. He also has a way of taking the dullest subjects (tax!) and breaking them down, explaining them clearly and with the patience of a saint!
He’s been with me from the start and definitely impacted the business in the most positive way possible. I recommend him to everyone and not only do they love him but they go on to recommend him to others too! A testament to how great he is. Hit me up for his details if you’re interested!
I’m super lucky to be surrounded by the most wonderful mentors too and these come in all forms; previous bosses, fellow business owners, friends and my partner.
Last but not least, the brilliant team at Bloom is what makes it all possible. I am impressed literally daily by their skills and talent and count my blessings to be surrounded by these wonderful people.
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Thanks Steph! So great to see someone growing their business organically. That’s very rare but something we totally support. We also love that you're wanting to motivate others to build their best lives - we couldn’t agree more.