Mocktails Or Messy

Sarah & Alex: Exploring Pittsburgh's Creator Culture, and the Charm of Local Business Magic | EP13

April 17, 2024 Ryan Frankowski & Kelly Mizgorski Episode 13
Sarah & Alex: Exploring Pittsburgh's Creator Culture, and the Charm of Local Business Magic | EP13
Mocktails Or Messy
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Mocktails Or Messy
Sarah & Alex: Exploring Pittsburgh's Creator Culture, and the Charm of Local Business Magic | EP13
Apr 17, 2024 Episode 13
Ryan Frankowski & Kelly Mizgorski

Picture yourself strolling through the heart of Pittsburgh, mocktail or cocktail in hand, as Sarah, Alex, Kelly & Ryan peel back the digital curtain to reveal the bustling world of content creators and marketing mavens. With a splash of humor and a dash of sincerity, we swap stories from behind the scenes of our own voyages into the dynamic marketing landscape. From the fine dining trenches to the pulse of Pittsburgh's social beat, we break down the thrills and spills of personalizing local businesses, the shifting sands of the creator economy, and the indispensable role of media training that keeps us on our toes.

Our trek doesn't stop there – we delve into the origins of Pittsburgh Web and Sweb, our labor of love that spotlights the Steel City's hidden treasures. Alex's serendipitous leap onto our team and our shared astrological quirks add a twist of fate to our entrepreneurial tale. Amid anecdotes of hotel hijinks with reality stars and heartwarming moments of personal discovery within our circle, we underscore the profound impact of genuine connections. Whether we're discussing the magic of mocktails or the power of a well-crafted social media response, it's about creating a space where everyone feels part of the conversation.

Finally, don't miss our musings on the dance between influencers and local ventures, where both must master the steps of monetization and brand identity. As we navigate the vibrant streets and eateries of Pittsburgh, from bar crawls to the best pierogies in town, we celebrate the inclusive spirit that embraces sober celebrations and listens intently to the voices of our community. Our journey is punctuated by travel tales and the occasional work crisis, proving that whether we're paragliding in Switzerland or mopping up spilled coffee, it's all part of the misadventure that is life in the fast lane of the creator economy.

Send us a Text Message.

Mocktails Or Messy podcast
IG: @mocktailsormessy | TikTok: @mockmess
Watch | YouTube Mocktails Or Messy
Listen | Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Featured | #11 of Best Local Podcasts: FeedSpot


Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Picture yourself strolling through the heart of Pittsburgh, mocktail or cocktail in hand, as Sarah, Alex, Kelly & Ryan peel back the digital curtain to reveal the bustling world of content creators and marketing mavens. With a splash of humor and a dash of sincerity, we swap stories from behind the scenes of our own voyages into the dynamic marketing landscape. From the fine dining trenches to the pulse of Pittsburgh's social beat, we break down the thrills and spills of personalizing local businesses, the shifting sands of the creator economy, and the indispensable role of media training that keeps us on our toes.

Our trek doesn't stop there – we delve into the origins of Pittsburgh Web and Sweb, our labor of love that spotlights the Steel City's hidden treasures. Alex's serendipitous leap onto our team and our shared astrological quirks add a twist of fate to our entrepreneurial tale. Amid anecdotes of hotel hijinks with reality stars and heartwarming moments of personal discovery within our circle, we underscore the profound impact of genuine connections. Whether we're discussing the magic of mocktails or the power of a well-crafted social media response, it's about creating a space where everyone feels part of the conversation.

Finally, don't miss our musings on the dance between influencers and local ventures, where both must master the steps of monetization and brand identity. As we navigate the vibrant streets and eateries of Pittsburgh, from bar crawls to the best pierogies in town, we celebrate the inclusive spirit that embraces sober celebrations and listens intently to the voices of our community. Our journey is punctuated by travel tales and the occasional work crisis, proving that whether we're paragliding in Switzerland or mopping up spilled coffee, it's all part of the misadventure that is life in the fast lane of the creator economy.

Send us a Text Message.

Mocktails Or Messy podcast
IG: @mocktailsormessy | TikTok: @mockmess
Watch | YouTube Mocktails Or Messy
Listen | Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Featured | #11 of Best Local Podcasts: FeedSpot


Speaker 1:

You are listening to Mocktails are Messy. This is Sarah and Alex from the cohort the Platform. Thank you for coming to. Mocktails are Messy.

Speaker 2:

Apparently people care about what I eat, drink and do in the city Continues to astound me and I, like just being a tourist in my own city, shine a light on all the things that people don't know about. That gets me going.

Speaker 4:

I came to the world of creators and marketing a little bit of a roundabout way. I was a fine dining sous chef, a lot of my peers, or my cohort of peers, starting their own restaurants and struggling to show why their place was special. I knew how good they were.

Speaker 1:

There's got to be a solution. You guys have a really good synergy about you.

Speaker 3:

You're like twin flames.

Speaker 2:

One day I was like I can't work for anyone anymore. Marketing agencies or creative agencies are typically run by creatives and they have like no idea how to run a business. As someone who went to business school, like that infuriated me. Alex was my first hire and I tried to be cool about it.

Speaker 1:

What was your original thought whenever she reached out to you Was she in her birthday suit.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, like five minutes into it.

Speaker 1:

Like are we okay, man like this whole creator world like it really packs a punch, like I feel like kelly and me were just floored by it because we're not really from a creator influencer background.

Speaker 2:

That exact complaint, like I get forgotten about all the time because, which is so sad yeah, you know, we gave them lots and lots of alcohol and good food, and then we're like okay, like actually tell us what's going on.

Speaker 1:

Misinterpretation whenever you describe what you do to people in Pittsburgh 100% the whole creator economy.

Speaker 2:

it's like the wild wild west, and so I feel like that's what the cohort is in a lot of ways.

Speaker 3:

You both are really paving your own path right now, and you know how to get there. Yeah, school of life.

Speaker 1:

Okay, can I go to one of her master classes for media training? Sarah does media training for our clients. Oh yeah, he's like we want to personify local businesses on a different level, like you guys.

Speaker 2:

How are you going to turn yourself into a business? We always tell our clients businesses need to think more like people, but in the creator world it's like people need to think more like businesses.

Speaker 4:

People talk about creators and influencers as if they're this new fangled thing. But, we all have people in our lives that we turn to for recommendations. Where should I take my mom for dinner when she's in town? With one post completely change a business's trajectory.

Speaker 2:

Like they just need to find one another Trademark that Well, you know, we didn't study law.

Speaker 1:

This is why we we sure didn't.

Speaker 2:

Although both my parents are attorneys.

Speaker 1:

I want to know like what the business model is like tier system Crazy.

Speaker 2:

I want to know like what the business model is like tier system Crazy when you think about it, because the size of checks that you're getting what worked three months ago may not work now.

Speaker 4:

So much about learning, but also unlearning.

Speaker 1:

Your goal is to grow and grow.

Speaker 2:

We don't even know what's going to exist in 10 years. We want to work with people who just geek out on the industry. As long as you actually like what you're doing, I get to contribute to what this brand feels like to someone. How they sell without selling. That's who we want in our corner and in our client's corner.

Speaker 4:

Like do I like you? Can I have a conversation it?

Speaker 3:

seems that, as the bar is rising, you are staying ahead of it, and I did stumble upon the Pittsburgh web. I had no idea that you were the face behind it.

Speaker 2:

Took me a while to accept because I just felt so guilty. Also, I have three identities and the Pittsburgh Web I don't make money off of. I feel like that's the first time I've ever heard someone say they grew up in Bloomfield. Yeah, woodville Bridge Tavern, and we actually both bartended so everyone had DM me when I first started the account saying you need to go to Tesoro's, you need to get a burger at Tesoro's. It was that situation like in a movie, wherever.

Speaker 2:

Yes that is a Tesoro's thing, and I turned right back around. I felt so uncomfortable.

Speaker 1:

For somebody that loves attention, it's great Ugh.

Speaker 2:

I'm like.

Speaker 3:

He's talking about himself.

Speaker 2:

Night just got very ratchet. I gotta take it.

Speaker 1:

I'll be doing the mocktail version, but she'll be doing the messy. It's kind of where we started. We wanted to create this normalization of drinking, but also having the non-drinkers be included in the party. Yep, you know.

Speaker 2:

Whenever I've done like a mocktail list on Pittsburgh Web. It's one of my top performing ones for people to be like I just don't enjoy drinking. Like it's not that I'm pregnant, it's not that I've, you know, struggled with alcoholism.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 2:

I don't like how I feel the next day, or, you know, it makes me more anxious In 2020, like a lot of people really struggled because that's how they were coping.

Speaker 4:

Well, and I think it's something that people ask for yes, and so businesses, if they're smart, if they're smart, they're listening. Yeah, people can ask for something special and a business can deliver it, because they see the demand we both like can play well with others, but also love when you don't have to.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's a good way to say it, learning this new word solitude. Okay, I'm really tired and exhausted after work, but if you're gonna give me martinis, yeah, then I'll be extra, yeah yeah, exactly, was not that Mine, was just me getting old. What exactly would you recommend to a niche brand that wants to be broad, wants a big audience?

Speaker 2:

I have two answers and I think one you probably won't want to hear. Every piece of content should be there and I think a lot of people forget to have that gut check. It's not fitting into one of those three buckets. You're not going to get the visibility that you want and that's where the problem lies.

Speaker 1:

This is Ryan Frankofsky, kelly Mizgorski and you are listening to Mocktails are.

Speaker 3:

Messy.

Speaker 1:

This is Sarah and Alex from the cohort the Platform. Thank you for coming to. Mocktails are Messy. Thanks for having us. I feel like we have known you guys forever, but it's only been two months it's been a hot second, feels like just yesterday cheers to you guys. Thank you for getting us all together. I mean truthfully, like you had so many interesting speakers at the cohort platform. I know I want to say both names, I know it's just the platform but I feel like, let's just stuff it all in.

Speaker 2:

It's a vibe, it's a community.

Speaker 1:

It is.

Speaker 2:

It's your go-tos.

Speaker 4:

We're going through the same thing together.

Speaker 2:

I started Sweb, like five years ago, a full-service marketing firm. That is like my day job. And then Pittsburgh Web is like my other identity. I and then Pittsburgh Web is like my other identity. I do that just for fun, on the side. Apparently, people care about what I eat, drink and do in the city, which just continues to astound me. I like to drink a lot of wine, I like an old-fashioned, I like a margarita and I like just being a tourist in my own city and other cities. So anything that we can do in the city of Pittsburgh through Pittsburgh Web to like shine a light on all the things that, like people don't know about, like that gets me going Super cool.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, that's my school. Yeah, and I came to the world of kind of like creators and marketing a little bit of a roundabout way. I came from the world of hospitality, so I was a fine dining sous chef for six years. Before this I lived in DC and then I moved back here to be closer to my family and I just really saw a lot of my peers, or my cohort of peers, starting their own restaurants and struggling to show why their place was special, and I knew how good they were and I just thought there's got to be a solution and so that was how I found sarah. I've been with the agency for two and a half years now and yeah, it's just been slid into each other's professional dms on linkedin okay on linkedin very professional and now it's more of the personal dms very

Speaker 2:

up and up.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, yes you guys have a really good synergy about you. We're very similar, very similar, and also very different, but we're both Aries.

Speaker 2:

So, bless everyone in the room and around us. But yeah, I mean, when our two newer people that work for Sweb started, they were freaked out. They were like you guys finish each other's sentences. How do you just have a look and you know.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, how long have you known each?

Speaker 4:

other's sentences. How do you just have like a look and you know, yeah, how long have you known each other? Uh, two and a half years.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it'll be three. Yeah, it really seems like you're like twin flames.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, yeah, I like really feel for us our birthdays are like a week apart. Um, and even like the personal details of our life are very similar, yes, similar family backgrounds. It's wild.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so you're going to have to give me like a rundown. How did the cohort create like it was? You started out in a marketing agency, independently or with a company.

Speaker 2:

So Swab is just me. Before Swab I was in corporate healthcare, I worked for a couple of other big agencies and literally one day I was like I can't work for anyone anymore. Like the hard part about marketing agencies or creative agencies is that they're typically run by creatives and they have like no idea how to run a business. And as someone who went to business school, like that infuriated me. Like I feel like my brain's like 50 50, like I like a little bit of both sides but I'm not good at either one. Um and so when I started Sweb I was like okay, like we can do this, like we can make it happen. And then Alex was my first hire and I tried to be cool about it.

Speaker 1:

But now, when you say tried to be cool, what do you mean?

Speaker 2:

as in like literally first interview, took a picture like a first day of school and like, posted it to my personal instagram. I'm like he doesn't follow me yet. It's fine like I'm still playing it cool. And then, of course, like later. That changed one week later it's like all right yeah it's like we spend probably.

Speaker 4:

You probably are the person I spend the most time with yeah, in my day-to-day it's work wife, work husband situation.

Speaker 1:

What was your original thought whenever she reached out to you?

Speaker 4:

Well, I reached out to her and I was like I am going to impress her so much and I was just so impressed with the because I was coming right out of hospitality. I mean, I had worked at an agency right before that and I knew that like that was kind of my only way in was coming right out of hospitality. I mean, I had worked at an agency right before that and I knew that like that was kind of my only way in, like that was going to be the only reason. She responded to my dm, um, but yeah, then the interview. I feel like we just we clicked in the moment and then there was a little proactive follow-up.

Speaker 2:

It went really well yes, we talked about bethany frankel oh, my favorite.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, she's having a moment, though I'm like a little I'm like, are we okay?

Speaker 4:

um I'm more of a person.

Speaker 1:

Uh, the countess yeah, okay, yes, I'm really.

Speaker 2:

Sonia just stayed at one of our clients properties, oh wow that was like a fun moment.

Speaker 3:

You're like a sonia?

Speaker 1:

oh for sure, yeah, you just saw her yeah, all of her on the oh more than I ever was she in her birthday suit.

Speaker 4:

Uh, yeah, like five minutes into the show.

Speaker 1:

Oh, I love it yeah, it was like two weeks ago. Yeah, it was crazy. So funny. So can you describe that story?

Speaker 2:

you have a you, your client has a property so we work with a lot of clients in hospitality, which includes hotels. So we work with a hotel downtown, um, we handle like all of their influencer inquiries and they basically someone from the astoria um reached out and was like hey, you know, sonia stayed with us, she's coming to pittsburgh for a show thought of you, can you know she stay here? And we basically work with them, negotiate the terms of the contract, the rooms, all of that and, um, yeah, I mean it's like that type of situation that we do for a lot of clients, mixed with pittsburgh web. That led to alex and I talking a lot more about like man, like this whole creator world, like it really packs a punch, like we are seeing it firsthand from a couple of different angles, and that's how we started talking about the cohort.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, I know that I feel like Kelly and me were just floored by it because we're not really from a creator influencer background. We just living in LA and New York. We're like, okay, you need to gain traction and followers to be able to do any type of industry truly.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that makes sense. It's both of those markets. And that's where, like all of the influencer support is right, because that's where, like, a lot of the big brands are headquartered, right, they're doing like the fancy brand dinners and they're having, like the picnics where they're all sitting on the ground on a pillow because it looks cute a pillow because it looks cute and like all those things are happening in those places but like nothing was happening here.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, and we, when we started exploring what the cohort could look like, we did a lot of interviews with local creators, especially people who had significant followings, who had representation, and we heard that exact thing, that exact complaint. Like I get forgotten about all the time because which is so sad yeah because I'm not in new york or los angeles so like my management doesn't send me things or they don't send me out for things, and even though I think, by any standard, they are incredible creators who perform?

Speaker 2:

really well, almost perform better, because they're not in this really oversaturated market yeah, I mean we literally did a full year of r&d before we launched the cohort in beta oh wow with like conversations, either formal, informal.

Speaker 2:

We sent out surveys, we were sliding into everyone's dms and their emails, like, honestly, it's just hard either way because they get inundated on both sides. And so it was like, okay, how can we get the most amount of people? And then, like Alex was mentioning, we have 10 founding members that we call the council, and they're all 100,000 followers plus, and a lot of them are represented by different talent management companies, and so we kind of called these like council meetings where we gave them lots and lots of alcohol and good food, and then we're like okay like actually tell us what's going on, like what is what keeps you up at night, what stresses you out?

Speaker 2:

And when they even realized like they had followed one another some of them and didn't even know they were both in the city of Pittsburgh and that was like such a cool moment, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 4:

And then I think we built out our database of local creators. I think we built out our database of local creators and for that our standard, or like, our threshold for calling someone a creator is much lower than for asking them to be on the council.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 4:

That's just. Are you using social media to further something?

Speaker 2:

Right.

Speaker 4:

So maybe you're in professional services and you own a bookstore and you're using social to help bring in clients or customers to your bookstore. Maybe you're a chiropractor or maybe you are a foodie. So we built out a database of now it's probably over 300. 350? Yeah, local creators. Oh wow, and just trying to get on their radar and see if does something like this exist elsewhere, because we don't want to duplicate work.

Speaker 4:

We don't want to steal the idea from anyone. But that wasn't. Wasn't what happened. We talked, we had all these conversations and people just said like this doesn't exist anywhere. And we were.

Speaker 1:

That's why we started it yeah, do you feel like there is any like misinterpretation whenever you describe what you do to people in pittsburgh? Like what do they like sometimes misunderstand about your business?

Speaker 2:

100%. I think everyone it's been. I think the humbling piece of it all and like the hurdle of us doing all this research and people saying, hey, I want this, this and this and I would participate in this, this and this, and then it's like, okay, but are you actually coming? Are you actually walking through the door? Are you doing it more than once, like we learned a lot of lessons that we did not like admitting.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, because it was hard.

Speaker 2:

I don't know if it's our inner Aries or just it was something that we would a lot of work into, and I feel like now we've kind of evolved what it originally was into something that we feel really good about. But I think it's going to be a lot of trial and error and it's just like the whole creator economy. It's like the wild, wild west, and so I feel like that's what the cohort is in a lot of ways.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, and Sarah, I mean you were so good at sitting down with people and having like a one-on-one conversation, and that's really where the needle moves. A lot is in those one-on-one interactions where a lot of like business owners, for example, I mean they have no idea why a creator or an influencer might be valuable to them, but sarah just sits down with them and talks them through it and asks about their business goals and what are you trying? What business are you trying to drive? Are you trying to rush sales?

Speaker 4:

yeah, you want people to know about you. Maybe you have a grand opening we can use. You can use a creator for that Right.

Speaker 1:

And on. Like a lower scale too, really for a small business.

Speaker 2:

And that's like it's funny. I was just reading something today that, like, small creators and large creators are both having a moment, but anyone who's like from 50K to like 250K, like, or even 50k to like 1 million, like they're really struggling right now because brands are getting smarter, they're getting more tools at their fingertips all of these like data and technology tools that are saying, hey, this is the effectiveness, this is what you can track, and so they either want to work with, like the niche creators that have, like a very highly engaged following there may be in like a super specific category or they want to work with the big guys. They're either trying to do conversion or awareness or a little bit of both, and, like we just started representing some talent and doing talent management and like we represent someone with like 100,000 followers and they're having the hardest time right now and it's a weird thing that's just going to keep evolving.

Speaker 3:

You both are really paving your own path right now. What is your background? What you're doing? It seems that you're very aware of what you're after right now and you know how to get there.

Speaker 2:

School of life, oh yeah.

Speaker 1:

Is it a bigot?

Speaker 4:

type of industry. Sarah went to Pitt.

Speaker 2:

Business School yeah Pitt, business Marketing. Professional Writing. I went to pit yeah pit, business marketing professional writing.

Speaker 4:

I went to gw in dc and I studied biology and physics.

Speaker 2:

Biology okay, yeah alex is an onion like. You could literally just peel layers away for hours with him yeah, and worked in culinary.

Speaker 4:

Oh yeah, my parents, I was originally going to go to medical school and I decided not to April of my senior year. My parents were thrilled.

Speaker 2:

And.

Speaker 4:

I decided to work in a restaurant because it was the one thing, one job I'd had that I knew I loved, and I think the thing that I loved about that is I got to experiment with my creativity but I also had to make something at the end of the day. So it was practical but it was also creative, and that's sort of been the through line that I found when I moved into marketing and I wanted a place to be creative, which Sweb offers and the cohort offers. But we also need to get things done, like we need to deliver, we need to talk to our clients, we need to deliver results, and so it's still that blend of creativity but also reality and logistics.

Speaker 2:

And he was on scholarship at GW for oh yeah.

Speaker 4:

I was a voice. I had a voice scholarship at GW. A voice I know.

Speaker 2:

Like a singer, med hospitality and this Okay.

Speaker 1:

so I had a voice scholarship at what like a singer hospitality and okay, so we got the voiceover actress and then the vocalist himself.

Speaker 4:

I had to. I, you basically were at the university's beck and call, though oh god be called being a presidential scholar of the arts and you basically had to do whatever they asked for. So they would call. They could call like at like six o'clock and say we need somebody to sing the national anthem for the basketball game tomorrow night. It could be like, well, that's cool, I have uh homework that I need, or like I have finals, and they'd say like yeah, you can date yeah they'd be like yeah but, you can do that after.

Speaker 4:

It'll only take you. The song's only two minutes and 37 seconds long so good, yeah, onion, uh-huh.

Speaker 3:

So I don't think the camera was rolling, though, when sarah told us about the voiceover gig that you did. Could, oh?

Speaker 1:

was this a gig or was this a regular thing?

Speaker 2:

First off, that is false, false news, fake news.

Speaker 1:

No, oh shit.

Speaker 2:

I was like are we close enough? Am I going to have to do this like ASMR situation?

Speaker 1:

Okay.

Speaker 2:

Because no one wants that. But I think what I was saying was that I did one reel on the Pittsburgh web like a come with me for you know, having friends in town and this is what we're doing tonight, and I just did voiceover of hey, we were here. We were here, we ate this, we drank this, and literally the comments were like we don't want to hear you talk. Oh my God, what I like your voice. Okay, cool, test and learn.

Speaker 1:

Oh no, I don't believe that we won't be doing that again. Oh my.

Speaker 2:

God, that's crazy. It's tough out there.

Speaker 1:

I just think of like watching all the videos of you like on like Pittsburgh Talk and I'm sorry, I don't know if that's the right. Pittsburgh Web, pittsburgh, what was?

Speaker 3:

the show Talk.

Speaker 1:

Pittsburgh. Oh we were on Talk Pittsburgh. Yeah, like you know, professional that I'm just like inspired and like want to be, like okay, can I go to one of her master classes for media training?

Speaker 2:

Thank you.

Speaker 4:

Sarah does media training for our clients.

Speaker 2:

Oh, okay, Fun fact, I my. What was it, my senior year at Pitt?

Speaker 1:

Did you guys have like FBLA or DECA in high school?

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah, I was part of FBLA, Okay so the collegiate versions, phi, beta, lambda or PBL.

Speaker 2:

They had a pit and they do, just like in FBLA, like these national, like you start state or local, and then these national competitions in the business world, and they had all these crazy topics and my good friend Sean and I were like we're going to be just literally point a finger and we're going to do that one, and we clicked on desktop publishing, which, like, still very unclear what that is. We ended up getting second place, though nationally, but the other one we did was business presentation.

Speaker 4:

Casual.

Speaker 2:

We ended up getting second place nationally, but we did business presentation and I will just never forget they threw some kind of curveball at us about like the art of ballroom, and I don't even remember the context, but what I do remember is that I played it off because I had no idea what to say and I had sean my friend sean dip me in front of the judges and we got first place and then he dipped me on stage now is this sean that was at the platform cohort event no this is my dear friend.

Speaker 2:

He's in Brooklyn just living his best life. This is the Sean who gave me like a full blown heart attack when he came out to me and I thought he was professing love for me because everyone was like you can't be best friends with a guy and like clearly you and Sean are in love with each other. Sean, I can't wait till you hear this.

Speaker 2:

I mean, this was like 15 years ago at this point, oh my god, um, but I literally was palpitating, had him go turn up the air conditioning like started sweating, because he was like I have something you know I really need to talk to you about and it's serious and the drama.

Speaker 1:

Were you shocked um?

Speaker 2:

no yes, no, I mean, I think it was like one of those things where it's like I never really thought of it and it was 15 years ago too, yeah yeah, but um, yeah, now he's been with the boyfriend that he came out to me with. They've been together ever since they just got married officially living in brooklyn but yeah 15 years something it flies by. Wow, just dated myself so hard oh my god.

Speaker 1:

I mean I was gonna say I don't. We were away from pittsburgh for 10 years and we're like we're dating ourselves because we're like we're this is the first time we're adults in the burg yes and we definitely love it.

Speaker 1:

I mean, I'm happy to be back, especially with like a team and like a business like yourselves, to really inspire us what we do, to really take it to the next level, because you know how important it is to work with influencers within the podcasting world. Be not about necessarily just the clout and the following they really have like products and represent some pretty large, you know, like organizations.

Speaker 2:

Like we want to personify local businesses on a different level, like you guys you know, a lot of the creators we talked to, even the large ones, so many of them they had like a viral moment during like 2020, 2021. And they're still kind of figuring out what to do with it. And they might even have these six or seven figure communities. But, like we've had conversations being like okay, like how are you going to turn yourself into a business, Like you can't just rely on these platforms and these people following you in these platforms, Like how can you take ownership of that, like how can you take ownership of that community?

Speaker 2:

And you know, when we start having these conversations with people, it's like like, okay, well, what do you think you could do when we like talk about their interests and we pitch them some ideas and like, okay, well, you've bought your domain name, right, like your url, and they're like what do you mean? And I'm like wwwyouknowyourhandlecom, and they don't have it or they haven't even claimed their handle on all like YouTube or all the other platforms.

Speaker 1:

And it's.

Speaker 2:

Those are the things where it's like you know, we always tell our clients like businesses need to think more like people, but in the creator world, it's like people need to think more like businesses and a lot of them just aren't doing that yet and in that case, like their URL was taken and some broker was selling it for like sixty five thousand dollars. Like their URL was taken and some broker was selling it for like $65,000. So it's like those are the things that, like we want in the cohort to be, like we see this from like an agency standpoint. Like we want to be a resource for you and help you actually like monetize what you're doing.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 4:

And I also think a lot of people talk about creators and influencers as if they're this newfangled thing. But I mean, really we all have people in our lives that we turn to for recommendations, and being a creator and influencer is just doing that at scale. I think, about a conversation I just had moments ago where somebody asked me like where should we go to dinner, where should I take my mom for dinner when she's in town and being able to offer a recommendation that people trust that breaks through all of the noise where?

Speaker 4:

think about how many incredible businesses there are in this city that are having a hard time because algorithms keep changing, advertising is expensive and they're having a hard time reaching those people, and a creator with 90,000 followers can, with one post, completely change a business's trajectory and just put them on the map for a bunch of people who want to support them, and those businesses want to interact with them, but they just can't get to each other because of the way that these algorithms are shaped and we just write a new romantic comedy like that's like serendipity frozen hot chocolate

Speaker 2:

like they just need to find one another trademark.

Speaker 1:

No one steal that idea, it's ours, so I think you might have to, yeah, or we're going to have to try to work together on that. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 4:

No one take that idea.

Speaker 2:

It is copyrighted and trademarked.

Speaker 1:

I know how fast are you guys whenever it comes down to like copywriting and trademarking. Do you have like, do you have a? Sarah, just did this.

Speaker 2:

I literally just got my first trademark and it took 14 months.

Speaker 1:

Okay, 14 months, okay, 14 months.

Speaker 2:

Okay yeah, it's a whole journey.

Speaker 1:

Yes, and it's expensive.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you know, it actually was not as expensive as I thought, which?

Speaker 3:

is strange.

Speaker 1:

It's not like a patent you know Right right.

Speaker 2:

But yeah, my attorney definitely like schooled me on the situation because I was like, hey, you know, if it's pending, can we do the little TM you know after the cohort. And he was like you can do that whenever you want. And I was like what? I was like well then, what's this trademark get me? And he's like that's when you actually use the little R Like registered, because it's a registered trademark.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 2:

So I'm like oh, these are the things, these are the moments that I'm like humbled, yes, humbled.

Speaker 1:

Well, you know, we didn't study law. This is why we.

Speaker 2:

We sure didn't, although both my parents are attorneys.

Speaker 4:

Oh my God, oh wow, one of my parents is an attorney.

Speaker 1:

What Is this? Where you get your drive?

Speaker 4:

I think we like sort of rev each other up, ran away from it well that too you ran away from it but you took the good.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, do you use your parents?

Speaker 3:

we rev each other up as your attorney, or do you have like a separate?

Speaker 2:

no, no okay, god, no, okay, although ironically, my mom's law firm is one of our clients oh amazing yes, okay. Yes, it was honestly the hardest business I got, because her partner was like you need to come through me. I don't want any kind of nepotism, I'm not going to just hire your daughter and he interrogated the, the crap out of the situation yeah, oh wow but we've kept our job for like five years now. So happy.

Speaker 1:

That's amazing. Yeah, I want to know, like, what the business model is like when you guys come up with fees I guess it's like you have your own like tier system and what kind of hours you're putting in. It's almost like 1099 freelance type of work.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean we, our clients ask us for W-9s. They send us you know those things as tax seasons, because we're vendors like we're partners for them which is crazy when you think about it, because of the size of checks that you're getting written, because we typically do 12 month retainers with our clients. So it's like we think of ourselves as like an extension of their team, like another full time staff member, and sometimes when they I get those documents like every tax season, I'm like oh this is kind of sad, like we're just another number.

Speaker 2:

Like we're just another number.

Speaker 1:

Like we're just another check. They're writing.

Speaker 2:

But yeah, the business side of it has been like the hardest part for me and Alex has dealt with me learning things and making mistakes and navigating all that. Navigating all that. And even when you got an accountant or an attorney or a payroll company, it's like, hey, we need this and you need this and you need unemployment and workers' comp.

Speaker 3:

And I'm like we're not getting on ladders?

Speaker 2:

Who's getting?

Speaker 1:

injured. We work from home.

Speaker 4:

And I think so much. I think this about marketing a lot, but it's so true about doing your own thing. Is that it's so much about doing your own thing? Is that it's all so much about learning, but also unlearning? Yes and what worked. We tell the story clients all the time like what worked three months ago may not work now and you? Have to be able to be flexible and be able to roll with the sometimes very hard bunches yes that, uh, these platforms deliver.

Speaker 2:

And.

Speaker 4:

I think that is. That's like a maxim of our lives. It's like we are always learning and unlearning.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean it's a blessing and curse of the industry. It changes so quickly and it's why we have jobs right, like if everything stayed stagnant, everyone would hire a full-time internal person or department and just be like this is what we do. We've proven it works. We're gonna copy paste every year and you know nice little, neat bow. But I mean the amount of times that I've been asked like what's the 10-year plan for swept? I'm like we don't even know what's gonna exist in 10 years, like we really don't. Like I can do a five-year and I just did that was an exercise, but you know 10 years out, like who knows what's going to be happening?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I'm sure your goal is to grow and grow.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean to an extent and I think trying to be like very intentional about that.

Speaker 3:

Lean.

Speaker 2:

And keep a good culture. I think that's like I don't want to speak for my team, but I think, like the culture of sweb and like the connection that the four of us have with each other and the support that we give one another, um, it's just like a good vibe check, honestly, and I want to make sure, from a growth standpoint, that, like, we keep that intact and that has to be done, I think, very intentionally who are the other?

Speaker 4:

fully endorsed fully endorsed.

Speaker 1:

Yes, you. Stamp of approval.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yes, um yeah, so brennan julia, they've been with us six months, eight months yes, you met them at the platform.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yeah, okay yeah the best and they dealt with our very grueling interview process and wow, and we definitely don't ask those like so, tell us about a time where you know, et cetera, et cetera. We're kind of like okay, like what are you scrolling on Instagram right now? Who are your favorite creators? Like, what's a brand that you like?

Speaker 2:

We like to use our time to just geek out because we really and I think that's why we have such a good culture is like we want to work with people who just geek out on the industry. Everything else can be taught, like the things that we are doing. As long as you actually like what you're doing and geek out in this world, you're gonna like crave the constant change and following you know what people are doing. But if you don't geek out in the world, it's all gonna get very monotonous and it's going to feel tactical and it's going to feel like you're writing an email blast or you're posting something to social media and like we wanted to feel like, oh my gosh, like I get to contribute to what this brand feels like to someone and how they sell without selling, and like that's who we want on our, in our corner and in our client corner.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, anything can be taught. I when I worked in restaurants for years, I did a lot of training of new cooks and I would hire people who were coming out of you know, coming out of culinary school, and some people who had never been to culinary school before, and they start at the same place.

Speaker 2:

I can teach you anything about working in a kitchen.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Speaker 4:

And it's so much more about the attitude that you bring.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 4:

And you know, in a kitchen you're standing next to each other for 10 or 12 hours a day. Like do I like you? Can I have a conversation? And not want to not have my eyes glazed over. Yeah, those are just, if not more, important.

Speaker 2:

Well, because, like you said earlier, like we spend more time together than we do with anyone else in our lives. Yes, like you have to actually tolerate the person. Yeah, more than tolerate, ideally.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, well, you got something going on. It seems that, as the bar is rising, you both are staying ahead of it, and your team and kind of a funny story. You know how things come full circle sometimes. Before I moved back to pittsburgh, I was looking on instagram for pages to follow so that I could like dive back in and like know what to do. And I did stumble upon the pittsburgh web and that's yeah, that's what I've been following. And then when I met you at the cohort, I had no idea that you were the face behind it, really, because I don't, you're not like putting your face out there, like look at me when I started the pittsburgh web.

Speaker 2:

I tried to not and then I was like shit people actually that's they want to connect and that's really that's really hard for me.

Speaker 1:

Um, that's like photographers, they don't really like to, you know, yeah our photographers.

Speaker 2:

Any photographer that works with me thinks that I'm being some type of way when I'm like, hey, I really don't like my picture taken. And then they've literally I've had multiple, including Jade being like yeah, your arm looks really awkward, like we need to fix that, like I am not just a natural in that setting.

Speaker 4:

There was one time where one of them just gave up and they like, all right, let's just move on. I was like. I was like I can try.

Speaker 2:

I can try and fix it group photos fine like I can do a group situation, but anything else, um no, I love hearing that and I my favorite part about the pittsburgh web is the dms that I get from people who are like you know, I just moved here, I felt like I didn't know anyone and like I feel like I know you or you know, I just moved here, I felt like I didn't know anyone and like I feel like I know you or you know. Hey, I want to do something really special for this person in my life's birthday, like do you have any recommendations? And it's definitely gotten harder to be able to respond to everyone and be intentional, and especially the businesses that reach out that want me to come in and do you turn?

Speaker 2:

down business, business. I've never turned down a business, but there are some that I just don't either respond to them because I get too many, or, um, they're not a right fit. Like I had an indian restaurant, reach out. Like I just do not enjoy indian food I'm like I wish you all the best.

Speaker 2:

I'm happy to share like a special that you have into my stories, but like, or, I have restaurants that'll reach out that are, you know, 45 minutes from me, on the other side of town and it's like I can't commit to this, but I'm adding you to my list and like when there's a time that I'm in your area, like absolutely, you're now on my radar and like that's the best I can do and that took me a while to like accept because I just felt so guilty yeah but also I have three identities and you know the Pittsburgh web I don't make money off of so, unfortunately, like something has to give in terms of me, like being a human and staying sane and well, we just appreciate you coming on the pod, I mean.

Speaker 2:

I love it so are you guys, both from pittsburgh originally.

Speaker 1:

We are originally okay yeah, I grew up in bloomfield but then moved to like fox chapel, then gibsonia I feel like that's the first time I've ever heard someone say they grew up in bloomfield. Yeah, I know it is kind of weird, like when you think about it. We're not even italian, my family. They just had a restaurant in bloomfield, the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern, and we actually both bartended there and we were a little culinary with our pierogies.

Speaker 4:

Love that.

Speaker 1:

Pierogies.

Speaker 2:

Yes.

Speaker 1:

Oh my God, they're the best. They have the best pierogies? I believe yes.

Speaker 2:

I'll tell you what, talking about Bloomfield. So everyone had DM me when I first started the account saying you need to go to Tesoro's, you need to get a burger at Tesoro's.

Speaker 2:

So one day I literally walked in. I'm like this is great, we're going to do it. I walked in and it was that situation like in a movie, where everyone stopped what they were doing and stared. Yes that is a Tesoro's thing. And I turned right back around. I felt so uncomfortable, I was like I cannot do this. And then everyone keeps saying to go to Pleasant Bar. Oh yeah, Pleasure Bar, Pleasure Bar yeah yeah, yeah, and that the Italian's amazing, and that's another situation where everyone's sitting outside.

Speaker 2:

I'm like I can't even walk in, like I need an escort.

Speaker 1:

Oh my God, I know, and for somebody that loves attention, it's great.

Speaker 2:

Meanwhile I'm like he's talking about himself alright, you can be my escort I did.

Speaker 1:

However, I owe you a dinner for coming on the pod I did however, meet and temporarily date aka.

Speaker 2:

I think I went on like one or two dates with the bar manager at lot 17 oh, fancy, I love lot 17.

Speaker 1:

I love lot 17's probably like a hot spot for the younger crowd in Bloomfield. So I'm the younger crowd in Bloomfield.

Speaker 2:

The younger crowd. I'm too old to go there. I don't know. You guys are young enough. You guys are young, I will say. The one night we were doing a crawl in Bloomfield and we went from Lot 17 to is it Froggy's?

Speaker 1:

Oh yeah, froggy's, that was a journey. That is, it's like about what, like 10 blocks and I think we started.

Speaker 2:

Rest in Peace at Station.

Speaker 1:

Oh, wow, so we did Station then.

Speaker 2:

Lot and Froggies and I was like the night just got very ratchet.

Speaker 1:

I gotta take her on that tour.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, you do.

Speaker 1:

I'll be doing the mocktail version, but she'll be doing the messy and you know that's kind of where we started our brand. It's like we wanted to create this normalization of drinking but also having the non-drinkers be included in the partying yeah, you know and you know how it is in pittsburgh and in any big city. It is really hard to navigate because socializing is happy hour, yes, yeah, not coffee or dinner's a little too intimate at first.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and it's. I will say like whenever I've done like a mocktail list on Pittsburgh Web it's one of my top performing ones, because a lot of people and I'm glad that it is becoming more common and more just socially accepted for people to be like I just don't enjoy drinking.

Speaker 1:

I just don't enjoy drinking Like it's not that I'm pregnant.

Speaker 2:

It's not that I've, you know, struggled with alcoholism.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 2:

I don't like how I feel the next day. It's that I just don't like who I am, or you know, it makes me more anxious, or you?

Speaker 3:

know whatever.

Speaker 2:

And I'm really glad that that's kind of been normalized. And I think in 2020, like, a lot of people really struggled because that's how they were coping and so I think more and more people, you know, kind of went on their own personal journey, and I'm glad that that's happened.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I was so impressed with, like your mocktail list and then even like I've acquired all these other people that have followed you, like just from those videos showcasing the places in Lawrenceville and even like in East Liberty, shadyside Well, and I think it's something that people ask for.

Speaker 4:

Yes, and so businesses, if they're smart they're listening. Yeah, right, and again it goes back to the power of social. I mean social is a two-way street and it's a two-way conversation. Every other advertising marketing avenue before social was unidirectional. It was just the business speaking to people. And then we got google reviews and yelp and for the first time people could speak back. And now social is a two-way street where people can ask for something special and a business can deliver it because they see the demand and sometimes.

Speaker 2:

Sometimes I want to get off the street, but most times it's great Sometimes it's a dead-end road.

Speaker 3:

You both do so much for the Pittsburgh community. Do you ever get out of here? You ever travel.

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah, I travel a lot. Alex is going on a big journey this year, oh yeah.

Speaker 4:

Sarah usually does two big trips a year. Oh yeah, ooh yeah, so you do. Sarah usually does like two big trips a year.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, nice, I try to do an international, then a big domestic, and then I do at least like three or four long weekends.

Speaker 3:

Is this leisure or work?

Speaker 2:

Leisure.

Speaker 1:

Okay, oh, perfect, yeah, okay, are you working remote?

Speaker 2:

No.

Speaker 4:

Well, for two weeks each year, I completely unplug. That's amazing. I think that's important, yeah, and that's well for and we do our very best to maintain and respect that. Right Last year, when she was in Switzerland, I was like day one and I was like I'm so sorry to do this, but somebody just ruined their computer. I'm going to need you to authorize me to do whatever. Like, do I need to?

Speaker 2:

Literally. It was our brand new team member and it was her second week or first week on the job and she spilled coffee all over her new laptop.

Speaker 4:

And I was like do we buy a new computer? What do we do? I need you to tell me what to do.

Speaker 2:

And I'm in Switzerland and I'm like he's like. I'm so sorry to bother you.

Speaker 1:

I'm like it's okay, I'm jumping off a mountain tomorrow. You got me at the right time. There was, thankfully, a parachute. Oh my God, that sounds exciting. Was that in Zermatt?

Speaker 2:

That was in Interlaken.

Speaker 1:

Oh, beautiful. Yeah, it was gorgeous.

Speaker 2:

However, my mom broke her leg a couple days into that trip, so she just literally had to watch from the hotel room window.

Speaker 1:

Oh my.

Speaker 2:

God, your poor mother. It was had to watch from the hotel room window. Oh my god, it was in two weeks. I think you were gone, it was it was a long one.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, he was like I was clocking the time, oh yeah and then the summer.

Speaker 4:

I'm going on a scandi summer, so I'm going to scandinavia for the end of august.

Speaker 1:

Oh wow all by myself. You guys do it right. Yeah, oh, and it's an all by yourself trip.

Speaker 2:

That's my dream yeah, it's my favorite thing to do I've never done it we both like can play well with others, but also love when you don't have to yeah, that's a good way to say it solitude.

Speaker 1:

I'm learning this new word, solitude. She's an introverted extrovert or extroverted introvert, introverted, extrovert Okay yes, I would say, I'm an extroverted introvert. Okay, I'm the opposite. I'm actually, like you, extroverted introvert. Only because I stopped drinking. I was an extroverted extrovert when I was drinking Because you know, when you're like, okay, I'm really tired and exhausted after work, but if you're going to give me martinis, then I'll be extra.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, exactly, mine was not that, mine was just me getting old.

Speaker 1:

Now I'm like really curious, you don't look old. But now I'm like what year did you graduate?

Speaker 3:

You never ask a woman her age.

Speaker 1:

We both just have birthdays. Yeah, that's right.

Speaker 2:

Happy birthday.

Speaker 3:

Thanks.

Speaker 2:

Thanks, it is Aries season, yes what did you guys do for your birthdays?

Speaker 4:

Well, you were in Palm Springs. Oh yeah, I had a conference in Palm Springs and I stayed and did San Diego, so I was at a winery in Temecula, beautiful On my birthday did a day of total solitude and like only for me things, so I turned off my phone. I enjoyed the pure bliss of Do Not Disturb. I didn't answer a single text all day. It was great and I just did the things that I wanted to do like. I got a breakfast sandwich it's like so small.

Speaker 3:

I went to an antique store.

Speaker 4:

I went to a museum.

Speaker 1:

You're so sophisticated that's great, he is very sophisticated, yeah, like mr dc. No, no, no. What exactly would you recommend to a niche brand that wants to be broad, wants a big audience but wants to really be known for that niche?

Speaker 2:

so I have two answers, and I think one you probably won't want to hear and then one I can maybe stretch for I think niche brands should embrace staying niche I um, I think there's also a difference between being very focused in what you do and what you talk about versus being niche in who you're targeting.

Speaker 2:

So I think, there's a distinction there. Um, I think if you're being very niche in what you're talking about, then there is potential to grow and expand and there's power in community management, and I think that's what a lot of brands sleep on is like actually the proactive commenting on other accounts and people kind of in the world that you're trying to create. And I think the other thing is owning being niche. More than ever, I think a lot of people get fearful of not growing as fast as they want and getting too broad and, um, you just need to like commit to it and people will be along for the ride.

Speaker 4:

yeah, I think if you try to appeal to everybody, you end up appealing to nobody. No, I mean, people can smell. What is the word?

Speaker 2:

Fear, yes, but like they can smell.

Speaker 4:

When something is generic, it like it reeks. You can tell it from a mile away, and that happens when people are inauthentic and they're trying to appeal to everyone. They're like afraid of making a mistake or making someone mad, but people don't want to purchase from brands. They want to purchase from people, and I think Sarah mentioned the thing about how creators of like midsize are the ones who are struggling the most. People who are very specific and very focused are succeeding, as are the people who are really big and really successful, and you can make that jump, but you have to focus.

Speaker 2:

I'll leave you with my number one tip.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Speaker 2:

That can apply to that situation or any situation the three E's and I feel like this sounds like a salesy digital guide that I'm trying to put out into the universe. Every piece of content should either entertain, engage or educate, and I think a lot of people forget to have that gut check.

Speaker 1:

Entertain, engage and educate.

Speaker 2:

Yep, people either want to laugh, they want you to save them time and tell them something they didn't know and they don't want to have to learn it themselves or they want you to pull them in and have a conversation and if it's not fitting into one of those three buckets, you're not going to get the visibility that you want, and that's where the problem lies.

Speaker 1:

Genius. Thank you, alex Reed and Sarah Weber from the cohort the platform. Thank you so much. You guys are amazing. Thank you so much.

Speaker 3:

Thank you for having us.

Speaker 1:

I think we need to fill our glasses up. I know, the party begins right now.

Speaker 3:

Right. Thank you for listening to Mocktails or Messy.

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