Stuff Oui Love is a digital marketing agency in New York City specializing in Social Media and Content Creation. Founder, Ashley Lands has been featured in Vogue Magazine, appeared on MTV, and has been interviewed by dozens of other notable publications throughout her career. Now having more than 100,000 loyal Followers and Blog Subscribers, Lands has positioned her brand and network to be a premier resource for Luxury Brands.
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We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to Valiant CEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Ashley Lands: Thank you for having me! I started my company because I am absolutely in love with the art of storytelling. Stuff Oui Love is a company focused on helping brands put their best face forward! Essentially, we are the step you take before a PR firm. If a brand is ready to start landing those magazine articles, interviews, and public recognition, they need content and a strong social media presence first. We help them develop their voice through our expertise with Art Direction, Full-Production Photo Shoots and Video Shoots, Copywriting, and Creative Strategy. We provide them with the tools to drive traffic and make sales, as well as the funnel needed to increase PR contacts and land their brand deals!
Who has been the most influential person(s) in your life and how did they impact you? How did that lead to where you are today?
Ashley Lands: My Mom, hands down. Not only is she my mother, but she’s my business partner and lead Photographer for Stuff Oui Love. I have dealt with chronic illness for a fair portion of my life. My Mom has been there to encourage me every step of the way and be an incredible support system. She has also been there to remind me of how much I have overcome, even against formidable odds. While society is becoming much more open to the understanding of those with disabilities, chronic illness, and other ‘out of the norm’ life scenarios, it’s still unbelievably difficult and sometimes scary. I believe the right people in your life are directly correlated to your success. For some it’s friends along the way, in my life it’s been, my parents. Having that family support throughout my life, and now having my mother with her continued support in growing this business is honestly such a blessing. One that I would never take for granted.
2020 was a challenging year for all of us, particularly for businesses. How did the pandemic impact your business? Please list some of the problems that you faced, and how you handled them.
Ashley Lands: Creating content has an inherently ‘social’ aspect. Our normal process often includes photo shoots with dozens of people on set. We had to find a way to offer our e-commerce clients a solution! We ultimately found that solution by doing remote photo shoots for our clients. The products were shipped directly to us and we offered alternative options for the type of content being created. Clients were able to speak freely about the types of content they wanted (in a perfect world) and we offered solutions that would be both pandemic-friendly and remote!
The pandemic led to a myriad of cultural side effects, including one that was quite unexpected that is informally known as “The Great Resignation”. Did this widespread trend affect you in any way?
Ashley Lands: Not at all! One time, I was asked what my least favorite word was and my response was “corporate”. I always had a business structure in mind that would allow most of the creatives and professionals we work with to be remote, On-location services being the exception, but that was not something we could offer in 2020. People often say that employees don’t work as hard from home. I would argue that underpaid and unhappy employees will not work as hard from home. You can be sure if you give someone a chance at their dream job, they will show up and dazzle you.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021. How do you feel about this trend? Explain.
Ashley Lands: Americans are waking up and making some realizations. The 40-hour workweek (for example) thrived in the 1950s when one spouse would work, and one spouse would run the home. The fact of the matter was, they could afford that. One person’s salary (usually the husband) would cover an entire family. That is not the case anymore! Both spouses can often work full time and still not afford to buy a home or access daycare for their children. Sometimes catastrophe striking can show us ‘just how fast we can run when the house is on fire. People began to evolve. I like to think a lot of Americans took a deep breath and said “could I be showing up for myself more?”
Online and tech industries are rapidly evolving, including Bitcoin, NFTs, Content Creation, and Influencer Marketing. There is a commonality among all of these industries in that they can accommodate so many more people. 80% of our business revolves around (or incorporates) influencer marketing. The global influencer marketing market size has more than doubled since 2019. In 2021, the market was valued at a record 13.8 billion U.S. dollars. The industry is still in its infancy. This sector has only been around for about five years. Who knows what new industry will develop in the next five!
According to a study by Harvard Business Review, Employees between 30 and 45 years old have had the greatest increase in resignation rates, with an average increase of more than 20% between 2020 and 2021. That can be quite an alarming rate. What advice would you share to increase employee retention?
Ashley Lands: I think a prime example here is Macy’s. According to Macy’s most recent balance sheet as reported on September 3, 2021, total debt is at $4.84 billion, with $3.29 billion in long-term debt and $1.55 billion in current debt. Adjusting for $2.14 billion in cash equivalents, the company has a net debt of $2.70 billion. Nonetheless, Macy’s department stores announced a new minimum wage and other employee perks on Nov. 8 to attract workers during the ongoing labor shortage. The company’s new starting wage is $15 an hour.
In Manhattan, they have numerous positions in New York City offering $17 an hour starting. Would you like to guess what happened? The news started covering Macy’s new rollout, employee applications flooded through the roof, and Macy’s has shown improved performance this year, beating pre-COVID-19 2019 performances. The moral here is people will show up and support a brand that’s supporting its employees. Macy’s is receiving free advertising and publicity for their illustrious minimum wage offer, and people are spending their money with them just because everyone loves this comeback story! Now is the time to evolve or die.
According to a Nature Human behavior study, In 2020, 80% of US workers reported feeling that they have too many things to do and not enough time to do them – a phenomenon known as “time poverty”. What is your take on the work-life balance? Explain.
Ashley Lands: This is something that I have personally encountered in the past. Others close to me have experienced the same thing. Ultimately, each person is responsible for their own life. There may be times when you need to ask yourself basic questions like “Is my job not giving me any personal time or can I make my schedule more manageable?”. Some people may find that waking up an hour earlier, creating a new schedule, or watching less television may help to achieve a balance that feels more satisfying and fruitful. Some employees might find that their current job doesn’t align with their long-term goals. The goal is to ask yourself hard questions and take action on the answers.
A more recent survey by Joblist asked about 3,000 respondents if they’re actively thinking about leaving their job. That survey found that 73% of 2,099 respondents who answered this question on their employment plans are considering quitting. How are you preparing for the future to counter this potentially persistent problem?
Ashley Lands: Stuff Oui Love was created on what I like to call an ‘agency structure’. Similar to that of a talent agency. Our entire company is based on this principle. We have our ‘talent pool’ of hand-chosen Photographers, Editors, Models, Influencers, Food Stylists, Fashion Designers, and more that we can call on based on the requests of each client. The better they are, the more we recommend them to clients! This allows us to not only work with the best talent in each industry but also ensures we always have numerous sources for any job.
Thank you for all that, our readers are grateful for your insightful comments! Now, if the Great Resignation isn’t your greatest concern, what is the #1 most pressing challenge you’re trying to solve in your business right now?
Ashley Lands: Our most pressing challenge is finding innovative ways to support small businesses! We are fully committed to fair pay for all full-time and contracted employees. While that structure ensures top-notch quality for every client, it can sometimes be too expensive for the small (or struggling) business. We understand that which is why my business partner and I strive to come up with new ways we can make sure our services are available to as many people as possible.
Before we finish things off, we do have one last question. If you had 10 Million Dollars to spend in one day, what would you spend it on?
Ashley Lands: Since there is no asterisk below stating I’m not allowed to invest, that’s where I should start. If there was a hidden clause about investment, I would spend my day purchasing any other easily convertible commodity. I wouldn’t mind a big pile of gold!
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Ashley Lands for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Ashley Lands or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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