We had the good fortune of connecting with Ilse Gonzalez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ilse, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
While working in my previous job as an Assignment Editor at a local TV station, I had always been involved and active on my social media platforms creating empowering, entertaining or educational content for my followers. Although I didn’t have a big audience, I took my platform seriously and created content with purpose and my followers noticed it. One of my followers and friend who is a personal trainer randomly reached out to me and asked if I had ever considered running social media pages for other people – the same thing I was doing for myself but for other pages. Curious about the opportunity I decided to accept it and assisted him on a monthly basis to create a calendar, brainstorm topics, produce content, write captions and publish on his pages. What I thought was just a one month experiment turned into 3 months and then I realized that if I had multiple clients with this service I could make a salary out of this role. After much thought and consideration I decided I was ready to venture off into being a business owner specializing in social media management, content production and educating people about the digital world which I was so passionate about. I put my two weeks in at my corporate job and the rest is history! In April it will now be 2 years of having my own marketing business offering these services to local businesses and organizations. Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I am fully aware there are hundreds of people doing something similar to what I am doing, but no one had the unique journey I had and at such a young age to experience industries and meet experts that have propelled me into the digital world. My background as an actress and a journalist allowed me to develop the skills and talents such as storytelling, powerful on-camera presence, script writing, imagery consultation and media production. These experiences and the knowledge I gained from them are those I am able to use on a daily basis now to assist my clients in concept inception, production execution, talent coaching and post production polish. These are all services we offer to help brands have access to methods that showcase their products and services in the best light possible in person and online. Being a woman, Latina and in my early 20s was definitely was a huge disadvantage when starting my business. It wasn’t easy gaining the trust of clients but I knew that the only way I would succeed is if I stopped waiting for opportunities and instead created them. Starting off I had to offer a lot of free work to get my name known, I had to open up to my audience whether it was in person or online to share my personal journey, I networked, got involved with organizations and had to extend my hand and build partnerships that didn’t focus so much on selling a service but rather offering a genuine relationship where I wasn’t there to change their business, just enhance it. Starting my career in the media industry offered me a valuable insight into how to present things in a visually appealing way that makes people want to stop, look, see and hear. I did that everyday working in news covering community issues and historic events and now I am able to do just that but for my clients on a daily basis with their products and services. I consider myself and my business, Connect Media Firm, pioneers and risk takers. My passion is to encourage entrepreneurs to be the same. It’s time to break old habits and adapt to the ever-evolving digital world. It is time to seek the most innovative social media strategies and production technique methods as a means to foster business revenue, brand your product or service, increase your exposure and reach new consumers. I understand it’s not easy to make this jump – but my advantage is that I have the expertise, resources and services to guide entrepreneurs through this marketing metamorphosis and experience the results business owners deserve.If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
One of the things Houston is known for is its culinary scene, its art and of course our diverse population. To experience the culinary scene, these are the top places I would recommend: Burns BBQ, Ninfas on Navigation, Lucille’s, Theodore Rex, Xochi and Kimson. There’s nothing like taking photos while traveling, here are some of the most iconic photo opportunities in our city: Eleanor Tinsley Park with the skyline in the back, Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park, Houston graffiti building, Discovery Green and The Museum of Fine Arts. Everyone always talks about the beauty of southern hospitality but not only do we have hospitality, we also have a beautiful opportunity to experience the diversity in our city. Here are some of the places in our city where you can dive into the cultures and traditions of our Houstonians: Asiatown, Navigation Boulevard in East End, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Houston and Rodeo Houston when it’s in season.The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to give a shoutout to first of all, my parents. Being entrepreneurs themselves, they saw and understood my passion and potential through my marketing business. They supported me from the moment I mentioned to them that I was interested in pursuing a different career from journalism, walked me through the process of setting up my business, offered me my first opportunities with their business and even until this day lift me and my brand up. I definitely would have never considered being a business owner if I didn’t have their example to follow by.
Alejandro Olivares | Civic Photos