Tell us about your journey!
My journey is a unique and non-traditional one, for sure. I grew up incredibly introverted in an academic family (both parents are professors), and in a small town in Western Maryland. I always felt a little different, and “on the outside.” To cope with feelings of isolation, I lost myself in books and stories, and fell in love with acting after my parents enrolled me in a drama camp hoping I’d get over my social anxiety. Long story short, I loved acting so much that I decided to pursue acting/modeling professionally after I graduated. I began taking a bus, and two trains (four - hour commute) to New York City to interview with agencies. Though a couple were interested, the one I was most interested in rejected me. That wasn’t a good feeling, but, I was determined to keep going. So, I moved to Los Angeles with less than $600, but lived outside of Los Angeles for a time. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out either. After four months, I had to travel cross country on a train back to Maryland to live with my parents. I was 18. There was no way I was giving up, however. I worked two jobs and saved nearly $20,000 to move back to Los Angeles nine months later - this time with a three-year modeling / acting contract. I worked professionally as an actor/model from 2006 to about 2012 where at that point I became tired of the industry. I stepped up into a COO role of a fashion startup for a short period, and began working as a freelance journalist while also working part time in a collections law office. Around this time, I also fell into social media consulting when two of my interviewees for articles said they wanted my support with social media. Social media consulting and freelance journalism soon became my focus. Fast forward four years later, I was asked to head a digital marketing agency startup. I am now the United States Director of Organizein Digital Marketing. Because I missed my entertainment and journalistic roots I decided to launch my own online TV show, Nadya’s Identity Files, which is an episodic TV show where I interview people about their many identities. I founded a new media company, Alter New Media, which handles the production of online projects based in social impact and digital marketing for social entrepreneurs. I am launching an online school, The Social Media Storytelling Academy, and a women’s empowerment community, Alpha2Alpha. My digital marketing clients include startups, nonprofits, entertainers, and law firms.
What made you take the leap into entrepreneurship?
In my case, I don’t even think it was a conscious choice. Entrepreneurship is something that’s always come naturally to me as I am go - getter and excited to create opportunities for myself and others. I am obsessed with innovation and growth. I never woke up one morning and said “Gee whiz, I’m going to become an entrepreneur!” …I don’t think true entrepreneurs do that.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
My biggest hurdles have been with dealing with a lot of broken promises from others, so it’s important not to rely on anyone but yourself. Be ready to pivot or at least take your business in a new direction. Never expect immediate success.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
My family has never quite understood me. Though progressive, my family is very traditional in terms of how they pursued their careers: job, college, graduate school, retirement - has been their general course. Even when I decided to go back to school to finish my Bachelors (still doing it) it was with a non-traditional school and in a non-traditional manner. All in all, however, they are supportive. They just don’t quite get it.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
What advice would you give to an upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?
It doesn’t matter where you are - just keep going. Keep making amazing products and content. But do it with a purpose. Remember that your vision needs to be bigger than yourself. Impact is what matters most. The impact you will leave on others, even if it’s just three people. Give them a product or service that can help them. Being purpose - driven and spiritually mindful are two core tenets of success.