Sara Koonar; Toronto;
Let’s say we’ve just met at a cocktail party. How would you describe, in a nutshell, what you do?
I own , a company that represents social media influencers—people who have large social media followings. But I like to call them creative storytellers because they share their lives via beautiful photography and well-written and thoughtful blogs. It’s then our job to build their business by connecting them with brands for paid partnerships that are authentic, and best suit the story they are telling, so they can keep sharing their unique lives with their followers.
Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I went to journalism school at Centennial College and I think my editorial background helps when it comes to developing concepts with creative storytellers and brands.
What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)
I was unlucky and graduated the year the economy went down the drain, so I didn’t get that big editor position like I wanted right out of school. Instead, I worked as a freelance writer and took a full-time job in marketing and sales to pay the bills.
What was your BIG break? How did you land it?
What started it all was my internship at Fashion Television. I was 19 and at a Much Music Video Awards after-party when I was introduced to an FT producer who called me in for an interview a week later. I had never prepared for anything more in my entire life. Everyone I met during that internship is still a close friend of mine and many are the reason I landed gigs afterwards.
Describe the moment in which you first realized, I think this is actually going to work out?
When I am completely calm about a decision, I know it will work out; anytime I get anxious or have a stomachache, I know it isn’t the right move. I’ve always just listened to that gut feeling.
What would you say has been your biggest failure or shortcoming, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?
I don’t really like to look at things as failures but instead, as opportunities for growth. If I wasn’t prepared for a meeting or messed up a deadline, I would tell myself that I need to pull my socks up and get to work.
Name one piece of career advice you always give.
Never bring your boss a problem; always come ready with a solution.
What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?
Fake it until you make it.
Did you deal with barriers in your field because you are a woman? If so, what were they?
Yes—most often it came in the form of male co-workers or managers taking credit for my ideas or accomplishments. I remember landing a huge meeting with a client and my superior telling me, “When we meet with the client, I’ll do all the talking and you be my cheerleader.” My jaw dropped. Cheerleader? Really?! (Side note: I was actually a competitive cheerleader in high school and it is a gruelling sport.)
Are you making a fair income for your work? Why or why not?
I pay myself; that’s the key to ensuring you make what you deserve.
What’s the worst stereotype you’ve heard about millennials at work?
That they don’t work hard. I don’t think you can narrow that down to an age since there are hard workers and lazy people at every age; it isn’t generational.