Running a company can be extremely difficult, but Hannah Schneider, the CEO, and founder of Hannah Schneider Creative and BRND House excels at it. With two businesses, a full-service agency, and a coffee shop, Schneider has learned to make the most out of every opportunity in her industry. From working in the restaurant industry when she was young, Schneider already knew what kind of job she wanted, and when she worked with a PR firm for a steakhouse, Schneider had her first client. This was the stepping stone to the business empire that Schneider has grown today.
Schneider, having experience in the world of PR, launched her first company, Hannah Schneider Creative. Schneider combined everything she loved – PR, marketing, social media management, photography, and more, becoming an expert in guiding digital media strategy. Schneider then went on to launch BRND House, which adds digital marketing capabilities to Schneider’s existing offerings. Hannah Schneider Creative and BRND House serve clients all over the country, where restaurants and hotels are more likely to market in today’s technology age. Schneider definitely still sees and grabs opportunities in the market, especially when she opened her very own coffee shop, Kettner Coffee Supply. Learning from her mistakes and ready to seize every opportunity, Schneider is a force to be reckoned with in her field. I had a chance to speak with Schneider about the process of getting into a business and what she’s learned along the way.
Tell us a little about yourself, Give us a rundown on the history behind your first business, Hannah Schneider Creative.
I grew up in San Diego and always loved working in restaurants, and I knew from a young age that I didn’t want to be older with a family and have to work late nights that come with working in restaurants. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work closely with a pr firm at a steakhouse that I worked in. I realized quickly that that was the perfect marriage between working and helping with restaurants, but having more of a 9-5 schedule. So I did a ton of internships while I was still working in restaurants. I started doing social media for the restaurant I was working at and they ended up being my first paying client.
What has your process been like getting your business started to where you are now?
Everything grew very organically, I don’t think I ever had a master plan creating a business or working for myself. It was just always in me to always have several side jobs or hustles. I was freelancing on the side while I was working in restaurants until one of my internships actually hired me at a PR firm and I knew I needed that agency experience if I ever did want to go off on my own. So when I moved to New York to help my sister open a restaurant called Egg Shop, again, I started freelancing with neighborhood restaurants and it sort of grew organically through word of mouth. I finally got so busy that I needed help, and that was my first hire, a part-time social media coordinator.
You also have two other businesses, a full-service agency, and a coffee shop. Two completely different sectors, what made you take a leap to launch both of these?
I think for me, I’m always trying to see where there are gaps in certain industries and both of them came from selfish wants and needs and me feeling like there was an absolute need to fill this void. The coffee shop was that I lived on the east side and I really really missed the camaraderie of having my local shop where I knew the staff, they knew my order, if I cared about the coffee, they could geek out and talk to me about it, and if I didn’t, I could grab a quick AFFORDABLE coffee and be on my way. With BRND house, it came really organically with my relationship with my partner, Lisa Field. She has a really strong design and SEO background and we were constantly referring to each other business back and forth and in a casual conversation, a lot of our clients had overlap where they were managing several different agencies and it made so much more sense to us to have one team that was working hand in hand next to each other, where your marketing team was sitting next to your creative time so that messages could be streamlined, and work could be done more efficiently and it could also cut down costs for the clients.
Is there anything people misunderstand about your career or something that might surprise others to learn about your work?
I think if you see on Instagram what we do, it seems very fun and glamorous, and while there are definite perks of it, and I do love it so much, I don’t think everyone quite understands all that goes into PR or even less of the client-facing work, but more of managing a team and learn all the HR and the finances and the legalities of owning and starting a business. I think people are really quick to think that they want to be entrepreneurs and I don’t think they realize how 24/7 it is, and that’s been a big learning curve for me is realizing that no one will care about the company the way I do and work as hard as I will and that really plays into how I treat my staff.
We all make them—what’s been one of your biggest professional mistakes so far? What did you learn from it?
I would say just managing staff better, and there have certainly been times where I’ve overreacted or not handled situations well. I was a really great publicist, but managing a team has been much more of a learning curve for me. It’s not something that comes naturally to me, and it’s definitely something that I have to work every day. There are certainly times I wish I would have been more empathetic or patient with certain team members and that’s a goal of mine this year, to be a better manager and be more transparent and honest with my staff.
Have you had any major setbacks along the way, or did you have a moment where you wish you’d done something differently?
I don’t think I could have done anything else differently. If you are debating whether or not you should start a business, if you cannot stop thinking about it and couldn’t live without it, then that’s when you should take that leap. If you don’t live, breathe, and eat everything about it, there’s no way you’ll have a business that is long-standing.
What’s your best piece of advice for women looking to work or build a business in your field?
Take every opportunity possible that’s given, or handed or earned. It’s a really small industry once you’re in it, and I think a lot of people are quick to burn bridges or not respect their elders in this industry. You never know what’s going to come around, I would say be open to every opportunity and be patient. I think a lot of people straight out of college come to me and think they’re hireable and they’re not. You need to have the experience, and that’s not to say they won’t be someday, but I think put in the work and be ready to hustle really hard, and that will always show.
What’s something you wish your younger self would have known when you were just starting out?
I honestly think I would have spent more time learning about how to budget and about taxes and finances of owning a business. That’s something that was really shocking to me and saving properly and making sure that you’re investing your money smart. It’s something now that I’m putting an emphasis on and not just being careless with budgets and money overall.
Social media can be both a blessing and a curse. How has your social media platforms helped and/or hurt your career?
I don’t think it’s hurt my career by any means, but I certainly think there have been times where I’ve had to think about what I’m posting and realize its a direct reflection of not just me, but my clients and all the editors I work with and my team. So being cautious of where you’re putting content and making sure it’s appropriate is really important. I’ve learned to become very open and honest about we are doing and trying to show what the day to day life is like, but I think the one place that it can hurt is personal relationships because I feel like I am tied to my phone at all times. But, making it a priority to learn how to unplug and realize it’s okay that if I don’t get to something right away is something that I’ve been hyper-aware of.
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?
Stuffing gift baskets, moving furniture around, late nights invoicing, sit-downs with the staff, really anything HR-related is not glamorous. Day to day tasks are also not glamorous at all and what people see online are the fun parties and events we do and that’s of course what is what highlighted on social media. But everything that goes into making, creating and conceptualizing those events, there’s nothing glamorous about it.