Tracy Sandler truly brings the best of both worlds to her company, Fangirl Sports Network, a community of women who share the same passion and love for sports as well as the culture. Sandler has previously worked as the voice of Barbie for several years and held cabinet positions in the Executive Office of Mayor Fenty, but as the CEO and founder of Fangirl Sports Network, Sandler can share her passion of NFL and NBA with other women. Sandler made her own definition of the stereotypical fangirl – a woman who knows all of Tom Brady’s stats but isn’t afraid to embrace her inner Gisele. This definition speaks to Sandler’s journey as a die-hard 49ers fangirl.
With 32 NFL Fangirls and 30 NBA Fangirls, Sandler is committed to bringing content coverage of their favorite teams to female sports fans. Growing and learning from every opportunity and experience, Sandler has excelled in maintaining a great workplace for strong women to come and shine together, bringing out the best content and coverage of NFL and NBA sports teams. Sandler is ready to seize every opportunity and create an amazing community of women passionate about sports. I had a chance to chat with Sandler about her journey as an entrepreneur in the sports industry.
Tell us a little about yourself
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. I have two brothers, two nieces, two nephews, and two dogs. Working out is a passion, as is my work, my family and my friends. I was the voice of Barbie for several years on Barbie.com and worked in the Executive Office of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty in Washington, DC, where I held two cabinet positions.
Give us a rundown on the history behind your business
I grew up an avid sports fan, analyzing plays and memorizing stats, but I’m also a girl who loves the lifestyle aspect of the game (i.e. cute gameday gear and a fun themed cocktail). I created Fangirl Sports Network as a place for female fans to enjoy both types of content. We are creating an extensive community of female fans around sports.
What has your process been like getting your business started to where you are now?
I started FGSN in 2015 covering the San Francisco 49ers with 49ers Fangirl. In 2016, we added Rams Fangirl and now we have a Fangirl covering every NFL and NBA team. The network has gone through a variety of changes and growing pains, but I could not be more excited about where we are now and the upcoming NFL seasons.
Is there anything people misunderstand about your career or something that might surprise others to learn about your work?
People are always surprised that over 45% of NFL fans are women. It’s a huge number and it’s one of the many reasons I created FGSN.
We all make them—what’s been one of your biggest professional mistakes or missteps so far? What did you learn from it?
I can’t say there’s been one major mistake, but I am constantly learning how to be a better manager, both of people and time. Running FGSN, while also being 49ers Fangirl, requires careful time management, knowing when to delegate, and knowing when it’s not possible to do so. I am constantly tweaking my approach to time management and learning new things in this area of business.
Have you had any major setbacks along the way, or did you have a moment where you wish you’d done something differently?
While I’ve been fortunate enough to not have any major setbacks, I’ve definitely faced some challenges along the way. I think the biggest challenge was learning how to properly manage many different personalities. Not everyone is like you and that’s ok. I think the most important thing I have learned is to look at that as a business advantage, rather than a setback. It took me learning how to deal with mixed opinions and personalities to understand how important those skills are in the workplace.
How did you handle those setbacks?
With many different strong women working together, it’s inevitable that there will be small disagreements. I have learned that maintaining clear, open communication and dealing with issues head-on is the best way to settle the conflict in the workplace.
Learning from those around you, even if they have different opinions, is crucial to growing your brand and maintaining a healthy and open line of communication between you and your employees.
What’s your best piece of advice for women looking to work or build a career in your field?
Know your stuff and have the confidence in yourself and your knowledge. Take constructive criticism to heart and learn from it, but don’t let anyone’s opinion allow you to question your ability and your talent.
What’s something you wish your younger self had known when you were just starting out?
Don’t be so hard on yourself! You got this. Stay confident. Stay focused.
What one thing do you wish someone had told you before you started your business?
It’s going to be a lot of hard work, but it’s also going to be A LOT of fun. If someone told me I was going to be on the field at Lambeau Field before Monday Night Football, before sitting in the press box to cover the 49ers, I might not have believed them. But it was amazing and career highlight thus far.
Social media can be both a blessing and a curse. How has your social media platforms helped and/or hurt your career?
Social media is such a big part of FGSN, as that’s how we engage most frequently with fans. It’s just important to remember social media is not real life. Don’t compare. Do your thing and don’t worry about what everyone is doing.
Instagram is usually used to show a positive highlight reel of what’s going on in your career. What are some of the less glamorous things and tasks you don’t usually get to share with your audience?
What you don’t see on my social media account are the personnel decisions, and the countless hours I spend approving and editing content and transcribing interviews. Those are not the most exciting times, so I choose not to share them with my audience.
What are your go-to apps/resources for managing your home and work?
I’m a big list person and I still like to write my lists and check things off by hand! Nothing beats the classic pen and paper.
Walk us through what a typical workday looks like for you.
My days vary, but I’ll share what a typical NFL Sunday looks like for me.
It all begins with an early wake-up call for a flight to the Bay, but if it’s an away game, I head out early to grab breakfast and coffee. I get to the stadium about three hours before game time, where I head down to the field for pre-game warm-ups. Then I get back to the press box in time to eat, of course! I live-tweet the game. Once the game ends, it postgame press conferences, Facebook live and write my story. Then it’s time to fly home, back to LA!
Photos: Ashley Burns Photography