Last fall, Celestine Maddy left her full-time gig as director of digital strategy at the ad agency Strawberry Frog to launch Wilder, a media business that produces a quarterly gardening publication aimed at people like her: young, diverse, urban green thumbs. To do so, she had to preserve some things from her adland experience and ditch others.
"See the audience, segment them, quantify them, figure out what they need that's missing. I could do all those things for Wilder, from having done it for brands like Sony Ericsson and Jim Beam."
"In advertising, because you're talking about vague things—concepts, insights—a lot of your job is arguing. It's made me intellectually fearless."
"It's like the visualization of a business plan without the numbers."
"Advertising's greatest failure is not letting the creative idea come from anywhere. At Wilder, everyone pitches ideas because everyone comes from different places."
"I can't count how many times I or my team had presented some amazing, creative strategy, only to get 10% of it approved."
"I got tired of explaining to clients why putting R&B music in an ad won't speak to the diverse landscape of blacks in America. I've made sure there are black people at Wilder, because I'm black, and garden magazines never feature black people."
Drops out of college
Moves to New York City
Becomes the Circulation Director for PAPER magazine
Launches the infamous ad blog, Agency Spy
Works with Dare on a Cannes Lion winning global advertising campaign
Fails at two other poorly conceived small businesses over the past ten years (one in 2002, the other in 2008); meets her husband who also has an entrepreneurial spirit
Starts a speaking series about ethnicity and video games; gets a backyard and learns how to garden