Where did you grow up?
I was born in Memphis, but I grew up in the Midwest, specifically Indiana and Ohio. I went to college at Kent State University, where I studied Public Relations. I moved to NYC my junior year to complete a Fashion Media minor at Kent’s NYC campus. My first internship was at a boutique fashion PR agency. The summer after junior year, I interned at Complex in the Marketing and Promotions department. That changed everything for me. I loved producing events, which set the tone for my career.
My senior year I interned at General Electric, while working for the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Browns. After graduation, I was hired at Complex as a Sales Assistant in their Chicago office. I loved Chicago and working for Complex, but after a year, I knew I wanted a role that was events focused. Eventually, I quit my job and moved back to New York City to pursue event production. While freelancing at an experiential marketing agency, I was hired at Conde Nast as an Assistant Digital Marketing Manager. After almost a year of marketing magazine subscriptions, I wanted to do something innovative and more hands on.
I landed a freelance gig at Refinery29, thanks to the woman who hired me for my first internship at Complex. During my time at R29, I co-produced client rooms for 29Rooms NY. Now, I am at Facebook. I love it and I don’t see myself leaving anytime soon.
What exactly is experiential marketing and why is it so important today?
It is how brands form an emotional connection with consumers. There is so much power in a brand and its positioning. For example, we call all tissues Kleenex, even if they’re Puffs, because the brand is a household name. Experiential is all about finding a way for the consumers to like you beyond the product, they need to connect to the brand and its mission. Brands can achieve this by finding a voice, taking a position, being charitable, selecting people who represent diverse groups to promote the brand. In a time where everyone is so vocal about their beliefs, people want to spend their money with brands who align with them.
Where did your interest in marketing start?
At the start of middle school, I wanted to be a pediatrician. This was before I suffered through biology. My mom is an English teacher, so I’ve always had a love for reading and writing. I took a career test my freshman year of high school that told me I would be good at PR. I knew I would write, love talking to people and the idea of working with cool brands.
Why did you switch jobs multiple times? Did it benefit you?
I switched jobs to continue to find my niche in the industry. I’m still learning. Switching around comes with a lot of pros. I have been exposed to a lot of clients, brands and people. I also have learned what I like and what I am good at. The only negative is that it can be hard to continue to start over and sometimes I feel like I have previously missed the experience of growing with one company. I would say overall having multiple jobs has benefited me.
What was the most challenging part of figuring out your career?
Quitting my job in Chicago and moving to NYC without a job, hands down. In Chicago, rent wasn’t that expensive, so New York City rent was a big transition. I lived on my friend’s couch for a month, that was humbling. After I landed a job, I moved to Brooklyn. The overall transition was hard, but it taught me a lot of resilience.
What does it mean to be powerful?
Having options makes me feel powerful. From an early age, I honed my skills and learned how to speak to them. Power is the ability to show people what you can bring to the table and how you will become an asset to them. It makes me feel powerful to say, “If I quit my job tomorrow, I am going to be ok.” The ability to have control of my life and my career is empowering.
Tell us about a day at Facebook.
No day is the same. I usually get to the office around 8:30 am. I immediately grab breakfast and chat with co-workers. After breakfast, I look at my calendar and figure out what meetings I have, so I can plan my day. I usually eat lunch around 12:30. I make it a point to get away from my desk for a least 30 minutes every day to have lunch with a coworker. I love that our office is so social. Everyone works really hard, but we also prioritize connections. After lunch, I head to more meetings or spend time at my desk planning for upcoming events that I’m hosting in the Partner Center.
Do you have any hobbies?
Does Drake count as a hobby? I’ve seen him in concert at least five times. I’m convinced that he has yet to make a bad song.
Anyway, in my free time, I am usually obsessing over new music, going to concerts and trying new happy hour spots with friends.
Check Shelbi’s Instagram