Fearless Friday: Samantha Berngard
I've known Sam for a year now. That's not to say we weren't in the same room or events previously, but in terms of really knowing her...for sure the last year. And the more I get to know her, the more awestruck I am with her real, genuine character. She's not just a pretty girl with brains...she's one of the girls everyone wants to be friends with because she makes eye contact with you and is ACTUALLY listening to what you're saying. Novel, I know. She's warm, funny and laid back. The formula for just an awesome person.
Both Sam and her partner, Carolyn are shaking up the Chicago scene working with some of the raddest lifestyle brands out there without even breaking a sweat. And through it all, you will always see a smile on their faces. I think that's what makes Sam so darn approachable. What makes Sam enviable is the fact that she can birth a child today and wear a crop top tomorrow which is all sorts of ridiculous but that's a topic for another day.
You guys should meet Sam and find out what a PR/marketing maven really does all day...so let's!
Tell us a little about Boldface Communications and the mission of your company. How did you join forces with Carolyn and create the concept? How hard was it to get started?
Boldface Co. is a boutique marketing firm, creating memorable marketing campaigns and events for clients in the fashion, start up, hospitality, retail and real estate industries. We pride ourselves on delivering personal attention to every client and project we take on. When you hire us, you hire two senior level marketing executives who become an extension of your brand fulfilling all of your marketing, public relations, event management, social media and strategic partnership needs.
Carolyn actually started the company 7 years ago, and we were really close friends. I was always envious of her job and knew (somewhere in the back of my head) that is what I eventually wanted. She had a different partner at the time, so I was not exactly sure how to get there, and I loved my jobs working at CS Magazine and SPLASH so I was in no rush.
When her partner left to start a family, and as I started to think about starting my own family and the need for more flexibility in my work schedule, I began conversations with her about joining forces. In my mind, I wanted a slower pace and more free time. Boy was I in for a surprise when together we became a real force of nature! It has not let up for three years. Our job is total and utter chaos, but I love every second of it!
1. What was the moment you knew you wanted to be an entrepreneur let alone in the PR industry?
Marketing and PR is really not the path I thought I would go down. I was an aspiring journalist / editor since I was 18 and went to GW in DC specifically for a career in journalism. I interned at Conde Nast in the summers and dreamed about taking Ana Wintour’s job. It’s funny how life happens when I ended up in Chicago interviewing for the assistant to the Publisher at CS Magazine just to get a foot in the door. There was really no events/marketing department at that time, so I basically did everything from booking flights to the latest hotel and restaurant openings, and I loved it! With events and marketing, you really know right away if you love it or hate it. I thrived when I was out and about meeting new people. I never even considered taking that leap over to editorial after I got a taste of it and soon became the head of the marketing department. From then on, I never questioned my industry choice. PR also comes naturally from working in media for so long. Carolyn and I both have a good understanding of what writers are looking for and the best approach. Carolyn has been doing It much longer and Is absolutely our PR maven, but because we both have such great relationships in the industry – it has been fun to pitch as well!
2. What one Boldface event/project/moment are you the most proud of and why?
Children’s clothing line Monica and Andy (monicaandandy.com) was one of our first clients and perhaps our biggest success story to date. What started as a small company dreamed up while Founder Monica Royer was on maternity leave soon became one of the country’s leading companies for children’s clothing. We started with them when they were very young three years ago and have worked hard to get them national and local notoriety through press, pop ups, a huge New York launch and a number of other collaborations. We are part of their team and vice versa. To me, having that connection and successful working relationship with your client is everything. I am so proud to say we have been with them since the beginning!
2. How would you describe a typical day? What's your morning to evening routine?
There is no typical day in my work life. The only consistency is that I am with my son every morning for breakfast and on most nights (except during heavy event season) am home to put him in bed at night. There are days when I am everywhere from the West Loop for meetings at Soho House to the South Loop doing a venue walkthrough all the way to Lakeview for a meeting in a client’s home. It’s crazy! Everyday is different, and I love it!
3. How do you describe your personal aesthetic?
Eclectic. I can be a bit of everything as far as the way I dress – boho one day, romantic and girly the next. I always love to dress with a little edge and love to stay on top of all of the current trends. I love vintage and things that are a little outside of the box for my home and wardrobe. I really dig the California/ Baja vibe for inspiration.
4. What individuals, tastemakers, celebrities, entrepreneurs, public figures inspire you?
Jessica Alba is the single most inspiring celebrity. She is a mom of two, founder of a multi billion dollar company and is always flawless everytime she leaves the house. She is wonder woman! I also love her products and use Honest for everything in our house. I’m not sure what I would have done if her company hadn’t launched before my son was born. All of the other stuff has so many chemicals!
5. If you weren't in the PR industry...and could be anything else...what would it be?
I have to admit, sometimes I always wonder “what if?” and lately (because of my passion/addiction to the Today Show) I have found myself wondering why I never pursued a career as a broadcast journalist / anchor. I have the biggest girl crush on Savannah Gunthrie! Despite getting up at the crack of dawn everyday, they all look like they have so much fun and love going to work. Kathy and Hoda drink wine every single day on air. Could that have been me? Ha!
6. It's creative time...what's on your music playlist? What inspires you?
Overall, we listen to a lot of jam music in our household. My husband is a Phish and Grateful Dead fanatic. After years of trying to reject it, I have finally accepted it and hate to admit – really love it! We have a blast singing and dancing to all old music. We also play a lot of records from the collection my parents gave me – everything from Fleetwood Mac to Cat Stevens. We also listen to a lot of reggae when we want to chill out. If I am stressed at work, I love to pump the Bob Marley for sure.
7. Favorite restaurant on a Friday night + why?
It depends on the evening . . . family Fridays – Summer House or Antique Taco. They are great spots for kids, casual, laid back and super relaxing spots to enjoy some wine and fresh food. Date night – Le Colonial (my all time Chicago favorite – also a really fun lunch spot). It never gets old! We also really love the Chop Shop. It’s where all of our friends hang out and it always feels like family there.
8. Wine or classic cocktail?
WINE – I haven’t had a cocktail in three years.
9. Favorite weekend getaway destination?
I love New Buffalo Michigan / Union Pier area for a quick weekend getaway. Timothy's is my absolute favorite restaurant and sometimes it’s fun to hop in the car and go there. We also visit Lake Geneva when going to shows at Alpine, but I really love the beach!
10. Bonus question - 5 must-have apps that you need in your life to function?
Chime by SitterCity (it’s the uber for babysitters), trycaviar for take out and of course Snap Chat – I could never live without it now. It’s everything!
12. What's next for Boldface?
Ah, the most commonly asked yet commonly avoided question. Everyone asks us – when are you going to grow? Do you want to grow and expand?
For us, we love what we do and really enjoy where we are. Expanding and growth doesn’t necessarily mean hiring an army of twenty somethings to do the work for us. It means going into other markets, building better relationships nationally and continuing to grow our network to make ourselves more valuable to our clients. I am still learning everyday. We just hope to continue growing and expanding our portfolio. That is not to say there will never be another person at our company, but for now – things are great!