Heart to Heart with: Natasha Smith & Morgan Pederson of Connectors and Creators
Posted on 28 March 2018
I studied Sports Medicine at the University of San Francisco and had always wanted to be a professional sports trainer. After a stint with the Golden State Warriors doing exactly what I had studied for, I moved into their marketing team and handled everything from acquiring new corporate accounts to digital marketing. These were the days way before social media too off mind you. I had always had 'Sex and the City' dreams of living in New York and working in fashion and at 24 I decided to buy a one way ticket and make it happen. Lets just say my parents weren't too pleased with me picking up and leaving without certainty of the future, but heck, thats what life is about. Taking chances on something you believe in. So I did and I landed at Marie Claire. After a few years in the publication industry, I decided it was not for me and that I needed a bit more freedom. I worked in Fashion PR for about 12 fashion weeks, 6 years, and got completely burned out. Long story short, I started a boutique PR company that primarily represented emerging fashion designers and word spread fast. I took all of my relationships and began working 24/7 on my business and continuing to build on those relationships. Quite honestly, I learned a LOT as I went along and grew. Nobody know it all and nobody can teach it all, but I guarantee you too will learn during the growth process. Morgan and I met at an industry event at the CANDY table and immediately hit it off, bonding over our love of sweets and I was probably obsessing over her sequin pants. Over the years we remained in touch and continued to support each other at industry events we were each hosting. My respect for Morgan only continued to grow the more we worked on projects together at our respective jobs and finally we decided that we make an excellent team and it was all C+C after that.
I graduated from Utah State University with a bachelor degree in Interior Design! I came to NYC after my junior year of college to do an internship with a very well known interior designer. After college I came back to NYC without a job (after the recession) and hustled (best NYC memories I could have asked for) I ended up getting a job with an amazing interior designer whom I still stay in contact with today. At one point her daughter ended up being my intern years later :) I started my New York journey in the interior design world and transferred over into the fashion industry...which my role included PR / Visual Director which meant I got a lot of experience in content creation and marketing. I quickly learned the importance of collaborations in order to market your product! At that time a lot of bloggers were just starting out and I started my relationships with them at their early stages...now some of those girls have surpassed the 1 million follower mark!
I met Natasha almost 8 years ago when I first moved to NYC...we met at event randomly and connected right away!! I believe our bonding moment was over our love for sugar, and is still something we bond over to this day!! Since then (before becoming besties and business partners) we remained close acquaintances and friends within’ our industries. I’d invite her to my work events and she would do the same with me. We tried to collab in any way possible! Since day 1 I have always respected her work ethic which was a big reason why I was very open to starting a business with her!!
What is Connectors and Creators? What inspired you to start it?
N & M :
Connectors and Creators is a digital strategy focused on content creation and strategic intimate influencer activations. We specialize in creating content and producing intimate influencer activations for brands. We aim to put together a select group of influencers that work best for the client, we also curate the group with girls who don't know one another to make the activation extra special to create strong intimate relationships and long lasting bonds! It's important for us to do things that are unique and FOMO worthy :) we love to create BUZZ!!
We were inspired by the change we saw in our industries...PR/ social media / content creation. We both wanted to create something that we felt we would enjoy creating along the way and what we envisioned truly being a success for the brands while building relationships and connecting the dots from brands to brands, influencers to influencers, and brands to influencers etc! We wanted to have the freedom to execute any idea we had without a higher up having a rigid plan and the ability to shut down our ideas. Also, we wanted the ability to make our own schedules and be our own bosses.
Walk us through a day in the life!
Everyday is different and thats the beauty of being in business for yourself. You don't check in with anyone, you don't have an alarm clock (unless you want it!) and can make your schedule that best first your life. Some days we start work early some days we don't start work until 11am. It really depends what projects we are working on and what timelines and deadlines we are dealing with. No day is ever the same as the last. Some days we don't ever leave our computers because we are on a project deadline lockdown and have back to back conference calls with days that don't end until late and there are some days we can brainstorm and drink rose at 1 in the afternoon.
Phone calls...if we are not meeting in person we start our day with a call! We love working in google docs and we work off our TO-DO lists religiously!! We balance out upcoming projects, activations and photoshoots etc. Lots of brainstorm for upcoming projects and activations. We are very good at splitting up the workload to make sure everything feels balanced and that nothing gets lost and slips through the cracks.
Favorite places to shop, eat, drink, be inspired in NYC?
It may sound cheesy, but taking a walk down 5th avenue always inspires me. There is something about the energy of the people, the buildings and the vibe that make me walk just a little bit faster and with purpose, giving me inspiration and energy to why I had moved here in the first place. I love rooftop bars because they all have different views of the city that always take my breath away. Some of my favorite places to eat and drink are: While We Were Young, Chumleys, Ides at the Wythe Hotel, Ophelia, and so many more bars! Some of my favorite places to shop are: Glossier, Reformation, and getting a mani from Paintbox.
I love to find places that have a good visual vibe! Having a background in interior design I always prefer a fab vibe/decorated space even if the food/drinks aren’t always the best! I’m all about the setting..could be a new restaurant, hotel lobby, or hidden unknown gem that you randomly stumble upon. One of my favorite italian places to eat lately has been Malatesta Trattoria, it’s such a cute and cozy authentic italian spot in the west village with candle lit dinners and the perfect setting for a relaxed intimate low-key dinner!
I love shopping in vintage shops: beacon's closet, buffalo exchange etc, especially in NYC vintage shops you can find incredible gems that not everyone will have!! Summers are for rooftops and cocktails...any place that has a great view works it’s way to the top of my list. I love to walk the floors at Bergdorf Goodman for inspiration, I get SO inspired seeing their displays and looking at all the different designer collections. It’s my favorite place to go for eye candy!
What do you love most about what you do? What’s the hardest part?
Hardest part: Can't please everyone! Just worry most about pleasing your client because at the end of the day, they are the one investing in your services/ ideas/ concepts. What I love the most is being trusted with conceptualizing ideas all the way through execution through to final assets. When clients see the final asset, their happiness and satisfaction is pure joy. The hardest part is telling clients to let go of the reigns a little to let us do our jobs. Another hard part is not staying comfortable and always hustling!
I love most that there is so much freedom to do what we want and that we truly can say we love our job!!! We have so much creative freedom from choosing who we work with and what we do with them. We literally always dream big for our projects and I love watching them come to life!! The hardest part is that it’s hard to turn off work, working for yourself it’s a complete 24/7 type of thing, if there is an issue you’ve got to be the one to solve it!
What has been one of your biggest milestones to date? Biggest challenges?Natasha:
Leaving a very comfortable salary and job to start my own PR company before C+C and literally learning as I went. Its terrifying to leave your comfort zone, but once you do it and realize you can succeed, you realize you can take on anything.Morgan:
It’s hard to say because I feel like everytime we accomplish a project we keep thinking it’s our best one yet and that we truly outdid ourselves! We have done some epic, epic, EPIC things for only being in business for a year or so. The content/activations we have created along with the memories is beyond anything I could have expected. We’ve had our share of challenges and setbacks but we are extremely good at creative problem solving and doing so fast!! It’s one of our strengths!
What are your professional / personal mantras to live by?
HAVE FUN AND BE NICE TO PEOPLE is our company motto and my personal is to live in the moment and don’t compare yourself to others, they aren’t you! Oh and don't let the world tell you who you are, be YOU and tell the WORLD!
Work Hard and Be Nice To People!!! I have lived by that motto forever, ALWAYS be kind to others and work hard! Always, it will always pay off.
What changes do you see happening in the social media realm? What advice do you have for both brands and influencers to be successful with their platforms?
Its changing daily so we need to continually be evolving with it. Brands need to truly understand who their customers are and know who they are trying to attract. We find the influencers that are successful are the ones who have consistent feeds, know their personal brand and know what their purpose/ aesthetic is for their posts.
Going back to my motto I really think it’s important to be kind, there are so many influencers today to select for projects/activations and when it comes down to it you really don’t want to work with unkind people. If we are to select and suggest someone for a brand and they’re not a kind/hard working person it will reflect badly on Connectors & Creators. So we take our relationships really serious. I also think for influencers it’s really important for them to build relationships. I see a lot of people hand off those relationships to other people to just do it for them...but at the end of the day it really is all about who YOU know. I also see changes in how brands are building awareness and marketing themselves, they’re also spending their money in such different ways!
What are some of the biggest lessons you learned in your 20s?
My late 20’s were probably my biggest years of growth and when I made most of my largest life changes to date; I moved to NYC, changed careers, met a man, started a company, got married and started C+C. Biggest lesson: Don't feel you need to stick to life's "timelines", you can get married whenever you feel its right or have kids when you're ready. I personally fell into this pressure and wish I hadn't. Don't feel like you need to follow in anyones path. Also, your friend group will evolve drastically. You will realize why you were originally friends with someone may not still bring the same value to your life as you get older and thats ok. Keep the most special and supportive people around you, because in the end, its those friends that will be there during your darkest hour. Also, be nice to everyone. You never know who someone knows or who THEY are and people talk. Reputation is everything.
Don’t let yourself get caught up with people who won’t matter later on in life. Don’t stress things that aren’t important, it won’t be worth the wrinkles it will cause. Determine what it is that you want to do with your life and work hard towards it!! I knew I wanted to have a family and still be able to control my work life, that was a huge reasoning for me to start up Connectors & Creators. I am currently one week away from having my first baby and feel so good about the potential work/life balance I have created for myself.
What does “following your bliss” mean to you?
It means believing in yourself enough to be happy in your own skin and having the drive to pursue whatever your passions are.
Following your bliss means to me: You do YOU!
You do the things that you care about, the things that make you happy. Not caring or worrying about what others will think about your choices along the way.
Connect with Natasha & Mogan!