Not many would ditch the LA Entertainment industry to start their own business. Christina did! Here's a bit of her story.
Who is Christina Elmen?
Christina Elmen is the founder and agency director of The Mae Agency, who saw the chance to make a difference by helping others with their business and goals. Christina has worked with startups and established national and international brands, focusing on public relations and social media enhancements with cutting edge initiatives and platforms.
Christina discovered her passion for event planning and communications while working at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for over five years. She has vast experience from the entertainment side of the business, working on VH1’s Snoop and Martha’s Potluck Dinner Party and going on to Universal Pictures for two years where she worked in their marketing department. She worked on campaigns for award-winning films, such as Green Book, Girls Trip, First Man, and Jurassic World. Even though she loved working for such an influential company, Christina had big plans for herself.
In 2018, The Mae Agency was born. From her personal and professional experience, she brings a passionate approach and valuable skill set for client advantage. In addition to raising brand awareness for her clients, Christina has actively developed her personal social media platform, working with multiple brands and building strong relationships within her community. Christina’s dedication to the growth of her own platform benefits her clients and partners; she and her team apply these strategies to clients’ brand development and marketing, giving them the exposure and growth they deserve. With wanting to share her passion for the industry, as of 2019 Christina has joined the Faculty at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles where she is an instructor in the Social Media and Digital Marketing Department.
How did you start your career in public relations and digital marketing?
I will make a long story short! When I graduated high school years ago, I thought I wanted to be a teacher. Turns out I was wrong and ended up really confused by my sophomore year of college. I transferred from a small private college to a state university for my junior year, hoping this could help me figure out what I wanted to do. Halfway through, I decided to focus on a new career path, something I had always had a passion for, cosmetology. I then transferred again to a cosmetology school and I loved it! Every day I was learning something new, studying the beauty industry and getting hands-on experience. Next, we moved from the classroom to the floor to take clients. That step made me realize this is not what I wanted to do at all. I realized at that point I was so lost and confused. I tried to figure out what I could do with my passion for the beauty industry, while also being directly involved with brand development and awareness. That is when I realized that I wanted to do PR and marketing.
Once again, I transferred schools. This time I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I went back to my state university, worked non-stop around my classes, took classes year-round, and volunteered anyway that I could to get experience with events and marketing. Also, a note, this was before Instagram even existed, and Facebook had just launched.
During my senior year of college, I knew that Michigan was not the place for me and I had to be in Los Angeles. I was on such a roll with my decision and my work that I pushed through my senior year, saving up as much as possible, and a week after I graduated, took my road trip to LA. I never looked back.
Once I was in LA, I worked, volunteered, had horrible jobs, was unemployed at one point, drove for Uber, networked, and years later I am exactly where I knew I belonged back when I made my decision junior year of college.
How was the experience of working in the entertainment industry in LA?
Working in the entertainment industry can be stressful, enjoyable, and something you dread. Honestly, it depends on the people you work with. The job will always stay the same, but the people that you work with make it that much better. Overall, I loved having an opportunity to learn how things worked behind the scenes. From the writing stage to being on set during production, to working on the marketing side. It is a long drawn out process, but seeing the pay off is so rewarding. As an assistant and department coordinator, I learned that you are still very much a part of the process. Never look down on yourself for that. It is always a team effort no matter what your title is. That was one of the biggest things that I learned from entertainment compared to 9-5s that I worked. Also, entertainment is never a 9-5 situation, I think that is what makes it exciting, you never know what the next day will bring.
What made you decide to transition from a 9-5 job to founding your own agency? How was the experience?
One of the biggest factors that I credit in having the chance to start my own business was that I actually loved my job, my co-workers, the company, everything. Because of that, I went home happy rather than stressed and miserable. Once I had finally found joy in what I was doing, I thought, why not do that on my own and start helping other people with their businesses. I first started helping friends, which turned into referrals, and then I realized this was something I loved doing. As the pay started coming in, it finally clicked, I think I just replaced my full-time income working for myself. As I started to grow with clients around my job, I hired my first employee to help me part-time. She was such a big help to me, doing little things I couldn’t manage while working at a job (she still works with me!)
I finally hit a point where I realized that it wasn’t fair to my clients or the team at my full-time job to continue doing both, and I had a decision to make. I think that was one of the hardest decisions ever. I had finally landed a dream job with a dream team and company, and I had to leave. I put in my two weeks, after tearing up telling my team, and ended up staying for two more months. Part of me didn’t want to leave, and I also didn’t want to leave without helping transition the perfect person to replace me.
Overall, it was an exciting, scary, and sad experience that turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.
What's the biggest challenge you face as a female business owner?
I think the biggest challenge is fear of failure and imposter syndrome. In the beginning, I felt like I had no clue what to do to start a business, and always thought, why would someone hire me when there are so many other PR and Marketing agencies out there. I think there is still a little fear there, mostly of the unknown, but once you learn from it, it makes it a little easier.
What advice would you give to the younger Christina that started pursuing her dream career?
The biggest piece of advice I would give myself is to take advantage of opportunities at a younger age. Always offer to volunteer, network, and do an internship that you actually want, not just for the credit. Once you start doing that and learning to love what you do, the money will come. Don’t chase the paycheck, chase your passion. (I feel like that could be the next RawlyBold shirt :) ).
Which one of our tops you think tells your personal story? Why?
I think that the “Dare to Dream” tells my personal story. Why? Well, where do I begin? As you have already read above, once I realized that I had a dream, I went with it. It wasn’t easy, it was scary and extremely hard, but I am still here and standing. I can’t wait to see where I am in the next few weeks, months, and even years. The dream never stops. I have new ones constantly. And every time I just focus on how I am going to achieve that dream, and I just keep going.
Connect with Christina Here
Check out The Mae Agency Here