15 Sep Advokate celebrates 5 years!
“Do what you love
and you won’t work a day in your life.”
With your loyalty and confidence, we’ve been “not working” for five years now. Five years ago today, Advokate was named, and so we are celebrating our 5th anniversary!
Folks say more than half of small businesses don’t last beyond five years, and so it’s with great pride and gratitude that we celebrate this milestone with you.
Since 2010, we’ve worked hard to help more than 150 nonprofits, artists, small businesses, startups and organizations with their marketing, PR, graphic design and website development.
Our Top 5 Clients
We want to take a moment to acknowledge our top five clients in that time period:
5. The Glens Falls Collaborative
The Collaborative, the grassroots collective of Glens Falls businesses and organizations best known for events like Take A Bite, Boo2You, Hometown Holidays and others, hired us for the first time just this year. Funny story: I started a Downtown Glens Falls Facebook Page back in February 2011, just thinking that one ought to exist, and tried to hand it off to downtown businesses unsuccessfully for a few months until the Collaborative formed and I gave it to them. Now it’s back under my jurisdiction, and I’ve also done a website, event promotion and coordination assistance, email marketing, a membership brochure, and some graphic design and layout work for the Collaborative. Theirs is a mission I really believe in, talking about how great Glens Falls is, putting on awesome events and promoting Glens Falls businesses and organizations, so it’s easy work to throw myself into. I’m appreciative that they put their trust in me and I so enjoy working on promoting Glens Falls. I love it here.
I was on the board of this organization (formerly called North Country Arts Center) for something like five years, and Co-President for two years, so when I finally had to step off the board due to too many obligations, NCA keeping me on as a consultant, PR person and designer felt like such a relief — I could focus on my business and continue to help out. Theirs was one of the first websites that Advokate designed, and I’ve kept them at a steeply discounted rate for as long as I’ve been in business. Even so, over the years we have done so much work together that they come in to the number four spot on my client list. We do PR work, occasional designs, marketing consultation and website updates together. I’m happy to have continued my relationship with this organization, and similarly to what I said about the Collaborative, it’s just so easy to get behind the great things that NCA is up to that it comes naturally to promote them.
3. The Sembrich
When Beth Barton-Navitsky, executive director of The Sembrich, first called me in 2013, I vividly remember being in the parking lot of Rite Aid answering my cell phone. We had an interview about what their needs were in a PR person, and I knew I was up for it. I had knowledge of The Sembrich from my time working at The Chronicle, and was wowed by the beauty of their location and the quality of their programming when I visited for the first time. Unlike most of my other PR clients to date, they needed a whole season’s worth of coverage, in an in-depth way. Advokate trains their interns in how to populate their events to online calendars, lines up pre-season speaking arrangements for artistic director Richard Wargo, and sends press releases out all summer long to a special list of media contacts we developed. We’re three years in and I am looking forward to more!
Batik artist Carol Law Conklin is a very special client, if ever there was one. We first met when she took a class on Etsy that I taught. I named Advokate’s Amity program after her business, since it is inspired by our regular in-person meetings that we’ve been having since December 2010. Early on, we’d sit at my dining room table on my crummy little laptop. Now we work on two big monitors in my home office! We meet just about every single week, and work together on everything: Updates to her Advokate-designed website, writing blog posts, e-newsletter marketing, formatting images for different applications whether it be her silk scarves, throw pillows, gallery applications or online articles, Facebook training, answering questions about Square or iPhone, ordering frames or display materials together, and looking for new ways to get her work out there — and even a little modeling! Carol has become a good friend over this time period, and my son Henry and I have gone to her home out in Washington County for batik demonstrations, berry picking and a friendly visit with her gentle cow Steppin and grouchy llama Vanilla.
Talk about full-circle, really. I worked for The Chronicle from 2008 to 2010, and when I sat with founder Mark Frost out on the Ridge Street bench where serious conversations happen (in the same place he offered me a job two years prior) and told him I wasn’t sure what would be next for me, but I knew it was time for me to go, he said that I should start a business. He said I had what it took: You had to be savvy and shrewd. Well, Mark, here I am! I’ve had the good fortune to keep a relationship with the paper, not just as an advertiser and PR professional who understands what they need and how they need it, but as a columnist. My biweekly column Family Time is about my son Henry (and Baby Two to come), and it’s been a very fulfilling experience to share my parenting journey with the Chronicle readership. Last year, when Vice President Sandy Hutchinson decided to initiate a website, she called on Advokate! There’s nothing like ink on your fingers and that essential Chronicle calendar on the kitchen table, but I have to say that it’s lovely to be able to lay in bed and read a Chronicle article on my phone. Here’s one of Advokate’s very first blog posts, inspired by the Chronicle’s 30th anniversary. Cory and I were privileged to be part of their 35th anniversary celebration just a few weeks ago, and I’m so grateful for the education they gave me during the time I worked there, and every one of the many nice things they’ve done for me since then.
Then there’s Adirondack Audio & Video, one of my first websites that has done a bunch of business with me since then, including a new, hip, redesigned website. There’s Aaron David Ward, whose Not Too Far From Home Comedy Tour website and posters I do, who is right up there with Carol as one of my most frequent fliers since the very start. I love working with the Arts District of Glens Falls which I co-founded, and find that one of my most fulfilling clients; a “job” that’s really a passion — cementing in that feeling of being exactly where I’m meant to be. There’s the City of Glens Falls and the Town of Lake George, who trusted Advokate with important tasks and with whom I grew by leaps and bounds as I strove to meet their expectations. You might be bored to read a longer list of everyone I’m grateful for (and for all I know you’re bored already), but trust me — the Advokate client list is a beautiful, ever-expanding bouquet of quality businesses and organizations with wonderful people in them who are doing great things.
From DBA to LLC in 5 years
Advokate started out with a couple of potential clients and an idea. I completed SUNY Adirondack’s Microenterprise Assistance Program, filed a DBA in October 2010, and met with SCORE regularly (I still do — I’ll be seeing them next week!) I can’t recommend the MAP program and SCORE highly enough. They made sure Advokate had the tools to survive.
I started off sticking $1,000 in a Glens Falls National bank account, and I figured that if I blew through that, I’d go wait tables or something. Me and my dinky old laptop and my seven clients, out to get things done.
I had a wish list, at the start of my business: A membership with the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce, a 27″ iMac, a new printer, Adobe Creative Suite software, and a good policy with O’Brien Insurance. I had most of those crossed off within my first year.
After a couple of years, I was asked to be a speaker at the MAP program on what it’s like to be successful in business. They even asked me back the next year to do it again, and then asked me to be their marketing presenter. I’ve given talks on branding for chambers of commerce, at events and at SUNY Adirondack. In 2013, the ARCC named me the Independent Business of the Year and gave me an award. That was pretty awesome. I didn’t know what to say and my acceptance speech was basically me just saying, “I don’t know what to say!”
I’ve been a panelist for the region’s Creative Economy, was hired by the Regional Alliance for a Creative Economy as Warren County’s Creative Advocate, and had an outside office with a boutique for a while. I quit my part-time job at the Shirt Factory just about exactly a year ago to jump in with both feet.
I’ve had interns and employees, and my husband Cory quit his full-time job to become Advokate’s Vice President earlier this year. That was a leap of faith — now most of our household’s income relies on Advokate’s continued success. Cory established us as an LLC over the summer.
Most years we’re up 40-50% from the year prior, which is in part due to quitting part-time jobs and throwing more eggs into the Advokate basket, but is still something worth bragging about. It’s not all rainbows and sunshine, of course; there’s a lot of hard work, a healthy dose of awkwardness as I try new things out, and hard-knock learning opportunities along the way. We aren’t millionaires or anything, we lean maybe too hard on my in-laws for babysitting and we have yet to figure out how two swing two kids in daycare in 2016, but it’s all in all been a beautiful journey.
Thank you to all of my wonderful clients. I have such warm feelings and good stories to share about each one of you. Each of you has challenged me to learn new things, to bring my work to new levels, and to do what I can to exceed your expectations. I am so very fortunate to have this relationship with you, and to be making my living doing just exactly what I love.
Here’s to five years, with a heart busting right the heck open with fulfillment and gratitude.
Quick note on Maternity Leave
This moment in time is also marked by the impending arrival of our second child, due November 8, and so it’s a good time to take this opportunity to mention that Advokate will keep ticking while Kate is on maternity leave in November and December. It’ll be business as usual right up until we have the baby, if pregnancy goes in a predictable way.
When baby comes, we’ll take a couple of weeks to get used to Baby Two, and then Vice President Cory will be stepping in to lead, with support from our trusted design and tech team. Kate’s right back in action on January 4.
What is a 5-year Celebration without Discounts?
As a small token of our appreciation, any contracts with EXISTING clients for projects to be done in 2016 that are signed with a deposit before the end of this year will be at a 10% discount.
And perhaps more appropriately in line with celebration of our 5-year anniversary, contracts with NEW clients for projects to be done in 2016 that are signed with a deposit before the end of this year will be at a 5% discount.
Thank you so much for your support and trust in Advokate. We are feeling so very, very lucky.