While busy working, Simone Smalls continues to live by her personal mantra, “lead with excellence, lead by example,” which means there’s definitely more good stuff to come.
Lisa Sorensen’s client list is nothing to sneeze at. She works with Venus Williams, Beverly Bond, Malinda Williams, Hill Harper, American Black Film Festival and many more but her success didn’t come without faith and sacrifice. The public relations vet left a paying job in advertising for a major company after realizing that it wasn’t for her, took an unpaid internship wit PR powerhouse BWR in Los Angeles, and the rest is history.
Today, Sorensen is the owner of her own eponymous PR boutique and currently working on a variety of projects in film, TV, fashion and events. For anyone wondering how they work toward entrepreneurial success, Sorensen says this: “It’s fun for sure, but you pay for the fun. There are no formal hours to this job. Sometimes I work twice as long, twice as hard, on two computers with two phones ringing! If you sign up to be an independent publicist, be prepared to play hard and work even harder.”
Shante Bacon and Saptosa Foster took different paths in media on their way to success but the end collaborative result is the 135th Street Agency, a highly successful strategic marketing, public relations and event design firm that boasts clients like Paramount, Essence, Interscope Records, TNT and More.
Bacon, who is the company’s communications strategist and Founder started out in the sales department at Def Jam. It was a position that Kevin Liles, who was so impressed with Bacon as an intern, held for seven months so that she cold take the reigns after she graduated college. One of her biggest milestones at Def Jam was working as the product manager for Kanye West’s College Drop Out.
Foster began her career in print media and has contributed to magazines like Seventeen, XXL and more. Eventually, the ladies got acquainted since they worked in similar industries and their friendship-turned-partnership was formed.
“A few years into my role at Def Jam, I kept getting calls from people who wanted me to create advertising and marketing plans for them. These opportunities were creating an entirely new revenue stream for me,” says Bacon. “Those very early clients knew that I had the skills and connections needed to put their brands in the forefront and they helped build my confidence. That’s when I decided to start the 135th Street Agency.”
Bacon’s company was born as a side hustle in 2002 but eventually her workload got so overwhelming that she realized she needed help, which is how Foster came on as managing partner. In 2005, the 135th street agency became a full-fledged LLC and in 2010 it won an American Advertising Federation Mosaic Award. The ladies are still putting in work eight years later, with additional clients like OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network (Tyler Perry’s new shows), The Weinstein Company, BET and Jermaine Dupri.
According to Foster, one key ingredient has helped them get this far, “Our success has been and it’s very simple: out-working the competition and having an unmatched standard of excellence is what has helped us survive and thrive!”