Your weekday mornings just got a whole lot better! By creators for creators, Ambition for Breakfast is the perfect start to any day. As we like to say, it is “food for thought and inspiration for your soul.” For a well-balanced morning, eat breakfast to fuel your body and listen to this podcast to fuel your brain. In today’s episode, hosts Breanna Armstrong, Editour Media’s founder, and Karen Wilhelmsen, its Director of Marketing, introduce themselves and talks about how they met and where the future of the podcast will take them. They also share how Ambition for Breakfast will help you become a #breadwinner, all-around boss, and your most authentic self. Eat up!
Listen to the podcast here:
Ambition For Breakfast: Your New Favorite Weekday Morning Podcast!
Meet Your Hosts, Karen & Breanna, In This Episode Introducing You To What AFB Is All About
Welcome to Ambition 4 Breakfast. This is our first episode and we are food for thoughts.
And an inspiration for your soul.
In this episode, it is Bre and me. This is our first episode, so we wanted to give everyone an introduction to how we met, why we’re doing this show and what’s to come in the future of it.
I am Bre and I’m with Karen. We are best friends who also have a business together that we run. It’s called Editour Media. This is where we manage influencers and also run social media for brands, mainly in the beauty space. We’ve known each other for forever. We have very similar backgrounds in the publishing industry. We went digital a few years ago and we have never looked back.
I know you have another show, but what was the inspiration to do another one and to start this one?
It makes so much sense with the connections and the relationships that we have in this industry. This is my home base. This is my heart and what we do every single day. I feel like we have been talking about doing something for such a long time. We always want to do YouTube, but we’re the busiest people in the world. I’m excited that we’re able to show a different side of our personalities and bring in some work elements too, for inspiration and some amazing big-name guests that haven’t told their stories yet.
I’m excited because people know us as Editour Media, but they don’t get to see us behind the scenes. I don’t feel like they know our true personalities. They might know our Zoom call etiquette personas. It’s going to be a super fun way for people, not only to learn about who we are but an exciting opportunity for us to learn about all the influencers that we manage and the different clients who we’re lucky to work with on a day-to-day basis. We want everyone to know them better too.
I’m excited. I know that you watch podcasts too. What are you most excited about with our show?
I love how laid back and unscripted podcasts are, even though you do have the opportunity to edit, it is such a raw conversation. We have nothing to hide and we don’t have dirt on each other or anything, and it’s not like we would even talk about those things. It’s a great opportunity for us to be our more candid selves. Editour Media is such a different company because we’re hardworking women and we’re working non-stop and we try to do the most in our always creative and bouncing ideas off of each other, but it’s also super unique in that everyone respects one another. We’re a tight-knit small group of creatives working together. You’re not the typical business owner in terms of age or background. We’re younger than most business executives would be. Our company has that edge in that there’s no ageism involved. We’re open to everyone in different walks of life, even with the influencer team that we manage. Everyone is unique and it’s amazing to have all these different perspectives.
It feels like such a family environment. I know that we were asked, “Who’s the boss of this company,” while we were on set. Here’s the thing is that I’ve never wanted to be only me or at the forefront of anything. I always want to be collaborative and we are so collaborative. We have that mutual respect, which is unique in this space because this space is a cutthroat space. Not to pass judgment, but I’ve been around this industry for long enough to know other managers and know how they operate. We’re not those typical personality types. We’re not the sharks all day, every single day. I can be a shark when I need to be, but I’m compassionate and I am relational. That’s a huge foundation of our company.
We have taken those personality tests where they assign you an animal. Was yours a shark?
No, mine was a teddy bear.
Mine is a teddy bear, too. Being a shark is necessary sometimes, if you need to cut straight to the point, you don’t have time to waste, you need an answer. For everyone, you have to be that sometimes. For women, it’s especially harder because you don’t want to be perceived as, “She’s a bossy bitch.” There’s always that double standard. We’re in an industry with many women. I can respect that when someone’s super authoritative and that’s something that I want to keep working on too.
You’re doing great at it.
I would not say meetings are my strong suit whatsoever. I do prefer to be more behind the scenes, but that being said, it’s a part of our job. You have to be pretty well-rounded in a lot of different areas.
I always make sure too, I have a very similar personality in every single meeting where I’m like, “I’m everybody’s friend, let’s all get along. Let’s make sure everything’s working.” Being as relatable and as genuine as possible. That is how I feel like I’ve built this network that I have and that our company has as well. I think that it translates in the workplace too, because it’s like, “I feel like I can trust her. I can text her.” It’s been like that for years.
In a lot of meetings, people have this agenda, but then at the end of the day, they want to catch up with you and know what’s going on. They want to call you and shoot the shit.
This goes back to Jerry Lovell on my second day at Creative Age, he told me, “You need to get to know these people, get to know who their kids are, get to know where they summer and make sure that when you’re seeing these people out, you go back to your last conversation and pick up right where you left off and it’s going to make a huge difference.” He told me that. It’s what I do, but I can hone in on that. I started practicing it more and it became natural.
At another publisher we both worked at as well, Engaged Media, Donna had the same strategy. She was one of our OG salespeople for all the different home decor magazines. Her sales strategy was getting to know people on a personal level, sending them cards when it was someone’s child’s birthday. Personal touches like that. You want to go back and have those conversations to sell ads, but you genuinely do care about the person.
There’s no limited amount of space at the top. We can all grow together.
Let’s take it back to when we first met. What year was that even?
It was in 2009.
We were both interns starting out at Engaged Media, which at the time it was called Beckett Media. It was in Anaheim. Bre and I both were interns, although we would come in on separate days. We had both been interning for quite a while and we didn’t even get the opportunity to meet one another.
I would see Karen’s name on the masthead and I’m like, “Who is Karen?” We were also working on the same book. We were working on Ultimate MMA magazine at the time. I thought that I was the only woman who was interested in reporting on this subject. When I saw that there was another female writer, I was excited. I would ask about Karen and Doug will tell me, “She’s nice. She’s the other intern.” We met two years later after I started working there. I know you started working there. When did you start working there full-time?
November of 2011. It was right when I had met Gabe too. Big life changes that month. You have been tapped into the MMA world before that point. That was my introduction to MMA, into the sports industry. Doug was an amazing editor to where he would give us a lot of responsibility and trusted us. For me, since it was a space that I was learning for the first time, I had a column like The Beginner’s Guide to MMA and he was supportive and eased me into it, which was amazing. Did you feel like Doug was a mentor? Did you have other mentors while you were a journalist?
I felt Doug was a mentor and he also helped me out tremendously. I’m still this way too. I like people to check my work. I like to make sure before I send things. I was much the same way starting out. He would always provide valuable feedback for me and take the time to talk to me. We would have almost therapy sessions sometimes. That means a lot. We’re in a male-dominated industry, especially because I was also working on other books like firearms publications. The fact that I’m getting some one-on-one with somebody, was amazing. I love him. I did learn so much, but I also think that when I got the beauty magazines, it was like, “Game on and game over. This is what I’m supposed to do because it was much more natural.”
We both worked there for almost 7, 8 years.
I started working the year after you did. I got my job in November 2012. I stopped working in 2015. In 2015, I also went to beauty services magazine. I was there for three years. You were there for how many years?
I thought it was 5 or 6 because I was the Editor of Flea Market Décor for five years. It must have been six, maybe close to seven. I was there for quite a while. I had started as an intern, moved up to managing editor then to editor, which at Engaged Media was like an Editor-in-Chief, was labeled as Editor. I got to work on many different home decor magazines. In addition to Doug, I also thought that Jicky and Gus were great mentors. It was such a unique publication. They gave everybody a lot of control and responsibility, which for being young and entry level was intimidating.
I don’t think people understand the weight of what was on our shoulders, because sometimes we would be in charge of Managing Editor for seven different publications in a month. These were nationally distributed titles that most were 132 pages. For the home decor ones it was limited ads too. On some months you were editing 1,000 pages worth of content. That’s not even an exaggeration. I look back on it and I’m like, “How did we do that?” I don’t know if I’d ever be able to go back to that.
It was crazy, because when we got to our other publisher, at Creative Age, we were working on one publication. I was like, “What do you people do?”
“What do you do with all this free time?”
“You’re only working on one magazine? Let’s go.”
It was significantly smaller, like 50 pages or so.
There’s a lot of ads.
We were thrown into this chaotic, fast-paced environment, which is super exciting. We both transitioned into the trade publication print world, which was significantly different. It was slower paced. We both had a lot less responsibility. That was one of the factors in me leaving. I can’t speak to why you left, but I felt like there’s so much more that I could be doing. I felt underutilized. That’s not a great feeling before you felt like, “I was in charge of so much.” I’m reporting to more people, which I don’t mind. I don’t need to be the face of something. If you’re twiddling your thumbs and bored in the office, that’s not a fulfilling place to be.
I feel like we had different experiences at Creative Age too, because I came into Creative Age, guns hot and loaded. As the editor at the time, he gave me a lot of responsibility and I was like, “We need to shrink this thing up.” We did. “We should pick it up.” I felt like the magazine became my baby, but still, it’s one magazine. A lot of it is stock photos. A lot of its photos are provided to us. It was different, but it was a blessing. I will speak to why I left Engaged Media. I was laid off. They were doing a couple of rounds of layoffs and I was in one of the rounds. At the time I thought, “This is the worst.” I was working on and getting attached to World of Fire Power Magazine.
We have moved in together, shy of maybe 3, 4 weeks.
I was shocked. I went straight to Hawaii for a month. I applied for jobs for a month. I got my job in August of that year and I never looked back. I wanted to make X amount of money and people were saying, “You’re never going to make that much money. You’re never going to land this job.” People who were doubting me from the old publisher and it was discouraging. When I got that job, I was like, “I can do this.” That’s a huge start of my campaign for continuing to be my number one cheerleader.
Have you had people throughout your career that doubted your capabilities or put you down like that before?
Yes. It’s mainly older women. Looking back at it, it would affect me back then. It’s every single position I’ve had. When you see somebody with my personality, I have a lot of joy. I do have humor in my life, it’s like the center of my life. I like to laugh and have high energy. When you see that you’re in an industry that’s a personality that’s a bit more muted, it’s hard. I see it almost like being an intimidation factor. My self-defense is going to be me treating this person poorly because I don’t understand them.
If someone’s saying, “You can’t do this,” that is not a reflection on you. It’s their insecurity coming to light. Which still, for a young woman or for an entry-level person in their career, it can be super discouraging and set people back. Women in this space in particular, need to be more supportive of one another. There’s no way around it. There’s no limited amount of spaces at the top. We can all grow together.
That’s my whole thing too. I truly want the best for everybody. I genuinely do it, do your thing. Even if it affects me, I’m like, “If this is going to make you feel better, then go and do what you need to do.”
It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around a different mentality that’s more toxic.
I don’t feel like the corporate world was ever for you. I feel like you’re more rebellious. If someone tells you, “You need to do this.” You’ll be like, “Do I?”
Especially too when I was having to go into the office every single day, it’s not my jam. I work best and I’ll get things done in the comfort of my own home. I was able to find my system before the world shut down. Years before that, I was working from home and making sure I was getting things done. It forces you to be your own boss where you’re like, “Maybe I can start my own company.”
I think that we’re both self-sufficient enough. If you’re working on something, I never doubt like, “Is she taking a few hours off to herself,” which is fine too. You need to do that sometimes, but I’ve never doubted like, “Is she working right now?” Especially if you work from home, it’s like you’re choosing your own hours. Maybe you wake up a little later one day, but you’re going to be working later into the night. It does take a certain amount of trust though.
With you, I haven’t doubted one second since we started working together of what you’re doing too. We’re workhorses. That’s why we’ve had so much success in our company is because that’s at the core of what we’re doing. We’re workhorses because we know we’re going to get to a point someday where we can vacation, we can take some time off and we’re going to have those rewards and we’re building exactly what we want to build. That’s what I always think too. I’m always like, “Karen and I can’t take any freaking time off.” I was able to take some time off in 2020, which I’m thankful for because it’s a lot. When one of us is down, it’s a lot of work. It’s the work of ten people X2.
We have seven people in total on our team. When one of us especially needs to take some time off, it’s significant for everybody on the team because they now need to pitch in on things that we’re doing. That being said, vacations are necessary, but not everything that we do as work feels like work. Yes, we’re creating and we’re in the studio doing photography or we’re talking with influencers to do takeovers for our pages. A lot of it is fun and I genuinely enjoy it. If I have to work for a few hours on the weekend, it doesn’t feel like a big deal because we’ve created this lifestyle that works for us and that we genuinely enjoy.
It does not feel like work. Also, I’ve gotten to a point too, where if I’m feeling cluttered in my head and I go sit down, if it’s 1:00 or if it’s 2:00, I’ll go sit down and make sure that I am unplugged and maybe I’ll watch a few minutes of one of my shows. That doesn’t happen often. Maybe it happens once a month, but if I need it, I know it’s there. Back in the day, when I used to work at TKG, The Kirschner Group remotely, I would start my mornings every single morning watching TV so I can de-stress before a stressful day of work.
Do you have a morning ritual?
I wake up and head downstairs and sometimes I’ll watch TV and start my breakfast. However, I wake up to, maybe on average, fifteen text messages a morning. I will start jumping right into work. That’s my morning routine. What’s yours?
I’ll chill in bed for a good, 15, 20 minutes, answering DMS on the different accounts, slowly checking my emails in the morning, which is probably not a great start to the day, going straight to your phone, but I will take a minute to wake up, make my coffee, brush my teeth and slowly get into the grind.
What time are you waking up?
It varies. I live with my fiancé and he has a lot of early morning meetings, some that start at 7:30, sometimes 8:00. Typically, I wake up around 8:00. I’m at my computer starting the day around 8:30. What about you?
It could be me waking up first thing and starting work at 7:00 sometimes or starting work at 9:30.
You are waking up to a call. You’re on the phone a lot.
I’m on the phone too much.
I feel bad because when I’m on the phone with somebody else, I’m thinking about the three other people I need to call after.
Sometimes things don’t work. That’s just a part of getting to know yourself and your work style.
Since people feel comfortable with you, they’ll text you and call you casually. How do you separate that work-life balance?
As of right now, I’m not doing that. Before quarantine, I was telling myself I was going to start putting boundaries up. During quarantine, I was like, “Maybe I’m going to shut off at 9:30 at night. It sounds like a good time for me.” I couldn’t, because then I started one of my projects, where I started an Instagram account in July of 2020. I was on my Instagram account late. I have my clients texting me at 11:00, 12:00, and these are our brand clients. The thing is that with our clients that we have our friendships with all be like, “Let me get back to them quickly.” Also, with my ADHD brain, I’m like, “I need to get back to them right away, or else I’ll feel something is missing and that I’m missing something.” We hate being the ones that people are waiting on. We don’t like that.
If someone asks you for something, you need to get it off your plate right away because you don’t want to be thinking about it and I’d much rather have someone else that I’m waiting on versus them waiting on me.
I also feel like something’s up. Now, I don’t have too much of a work-life balance. I have it for many years, but it is because I love what I do. I tried telling my girlfriends, “Don’t ever feel bad for me about the way I work because I love what I do.” It’s my number one passion. Also, I have had some work-life balance because I started getting healthy in my health journey. I feel like that page that I started and this journey that I’ve been on has been my balance.
We do have amazing members in our team who are more than willing to help, but I know it’s a different feeling when people are reaching out to you because they want to talk to you, and they want to catch up and they want your expertise. It’s not something you can easily pass off.
That’s the whole thing too. Even on some of our group meetings, I’m like, “Do I even need to be in this meeting anymore?” I ended up talking and I’m, “I should stop talking. What am I doing?” I ended up having these side conversations and now we’re all freaking chatting it up and probably wasting more time.
You always like being tapped in. You always want to know what everyone’s working on and what’s going on with every single brand.
Even if I’m CCed on it, I am seeing it, I am checking it out. Even if it’s on my phone and I’ll be like, “Let me check this out. Let me check out this content calendar. This is cute.” That’s the amazing thing about working with you, is that I can fully trust you with everything and anything. If you’re on it, it is getting done. It’s going to be amazing.
Likewise, that’s reciprocated.
Thank you. We worked well together. I feel like we complement each other well. I always tell people I’ve had probably 25 roommates and the only roommate that I cherish and was like we never had anything or any problems at all was Karen. You’re my favorite roommate of all time, ever. I feel like we had so much fun and we’re able to continue that with our company.
I feel like we’ve had little squabbles here and there, if you can even call it that, but not full-on fights.
Squabbles are okay because you know it’s your friend and you can trust it. I always know if we’re ever going to have any kind of anything, we’re going to be fine. That’s nice to have that confidence in a friendship, aside from all the work stuff too.
A lot of people would advise, “Don’t get into business with your friends.” In our case, which is a success story, what would you feel to say to that? What tips or advice would you have?
Communication on both sides of expectations and laying that out. It’s not any friend you can do that with, it’s a particular one. If you know and you trust what they’re bringing to the table, it’s night and day. That’s what gave me the push to start this company. If Karen is going to come on board, then we could do this company together because I was at a point where I was like, “I cannot do this anymore.” There are only two people who I would think that about, which I would be like, “If they come on board, we can rule the world.”
It’s not any friendship, but a friendship that you trust the work ethic and can have the respect of. You know when someone’s respectful and when someone’s professional. Separating the two is good. Also, it’s a bummer too, because we have been in quarantine, so we haven’t even been able to do any friend things or have you game over. It’s been so much on the work side. We talk all the time. When we’re venting, it’s like we’re having a friend session.
Us being friends beforehand and having lived together beforehand, we knew each other’s work style and what irritates one another. We were friends first before business partners.
What about you? What would you recommend to people who are thinking about getting into business as a friendship?
It’s hard, because with the business, you always need to put what’s best for the business first. If it’s your money that you’re investing, that’s what’s most important. Business decisions can be hard. If you hire on a family member or a friend, you need to know in the back of your mind that this could potentially not work out. Are you willing to cut ties with that person if you needed to let them go for any reason? How would that affect your dynamic and friendship moving forward?
If it’s a family member and you need to treat them an employee sometimes, it is tricky, but you have to have confidence that relationship is ultimately what’s most important. No matter what happens in the business, you need to be able to be on good terms with that person at the end of the day. Don’t get into it if you don’t feel like you would have the courage to say what needs to be said to that person face-to-face. It’s easier to give constructive criticism to somebody that you might not know as well, but if it’s someone who’s your friend and maybe they don’t react to this type of feedback that well, then don’t consider working with them in a work capacity.
What’s been neat too is we’ve figured out a lot of things on ourselves and on the way of creating this company. It doesn’t feel like one of us has rain over anybody. It’s collaborative. When you see Karen, that’s Editour, when you see me, that’s Editour. That’s what I was trying to, the first year especially, build up. I was like, “Karen, can you jump on every call that I have.” I want you to understand, if Karen wants you to stay and you can always talk to her about things. People respect that because I also talked about Karen and her team respectfully. It translates with our clients because then I’ll get people to think like, “Karen’s amazing.” People complimenting us all day long. If you have that mutual respect and you show other people that this is how you treat other people, I feel like it goes a long way in business.
I do also like looping in our team members, because not only does it give them a sense of ownership on what they’re working on, but it is nice for people to know there’s this growing team behind us who are all totally capable of handling what we’re doing too. It is nice to have more faces to the brand now.
We even have Zach and John and then we also have Elsa, who’s coming on as an intern. Our group is now at ten technically.
In 1.5 years.
I want to talk about when we first started, what year that was since we went over things and where we were both at. I know I mentioned before how I was wanting to start a business and I was nervous, but we had Gabe and Karen over. I think it was in January. It might’ve been in December, but January, December, we had them over. It was a 2019. I want to do my own thing. Karen was like, “I would come onboard and do this with you.” I’m like, “This would be amazing.” We were talking at a dinner about how awesome this could be.
I went to Vegas. I did a show in Vegas and I came back and I started obsessing. I went on LegalZoom. I got an LLC. I was like, “Karen, should it be called this?” You’re texting back and forth about things. We started it. At first, we had something hybrid with whether I couldn’t take you on full-time the beginning. We took you on full-time in April 2019 and it’s all she wrote since then.
I quit my job at Creative Age, February 14, 2019, that was my last day. It was Valentine’s day. It’s amazing how time has flown by quickly. I’m super proud of the ten people that we have in addition to us now, and this is steadily growing. I didn’t project that we would be at this point when we first started, not to say that I didn’t think we were capable at all. It’s I didn’t know how fast the growth would be.
Same here and that’s such a testament to us and our dynamics. How we’re able to make things work. I say it all the time, “Karen’s killing it.” Everybody knows I’m Karen’s biggest cheerleader. I would not be able to do any of this without her. If you were to go into business at all, it’s interesting because I used to do everything on my own. I’m talking about the photoshoots. I would break things up. It was nothing what we do now, but I would do everything by myself.
In the beginning, I was still doing everything and thinking that I was being helpful and thinking that this is what we do, but then Karen, she is able to come from an outside looking in and be like, “I can do this X, Y, Z.” We started getting protocols into place. These are all things that my brain couldn’t probably pinpoint at the time because I was used to being a one-woman show. This company has allowed me to be able to lean on other people, which I’ve never been able to do.
You’re a big picture. You can get an idea because you’re going to execute it. Once we had talked and one conversation of like, “We should go into business together and do our own thing,” then it was set in stone at that point. Yes, it’s going to happen.
I’m like, “I’ll send you an offer letter.”
You worked super quickly and you’re a mastermind of like, “These are all the things I want to do and I’m going to do them.” You’re probably the person in my life the most that succeed and does what you say you’re going to do.
I don’t know how. People are sleeping on us.
You also come from an entrepreneurial family. Have you always wanted to be a business owner?
Kindergarten back in the day, they went around the room and they asked us all what we wanted to be. When they got to me, I said, “I want to be a boss like my mom and dad.” It has been that mentality.
My childhood dream is to be a waitress, FYI.
You’ll be a good waitress at that time.
Which I also did.
At the OG.
At the Olive Garden in Irvine. Going back to kindergarten, you always knew.
When you are authoritative, people will take you seriously and want to listen when you speak.
I always knew. I was proud of my dad because he started his business. When I was in elementary school and I even made him his first business card. I have it on my refrigerator because he sent it to me. He always kept it in his little calculator pocket for several years. I remember taking so much pride in my dad who had his own business and being able to go to my dad’s company and hearing him on the phone. My mom, seeing her get all dressed up and all razzle-dazzle. We live in a beach and do whatever. The art community and the galleries that she was managing and seeing her get all glam and beautiful with her big shoulder pads. My parents are awesome. We had nannies growing up too because my parents were busy. They were a huge inspiration. To this day, I was talking to them because we saw a house on the market and it’s right over here. It’s beautiful. We want to go check it out, about what we would do financially because I do lean and depend on my parents a lot. Even though they’re over in Hawaii, my dad still has a business in California and is able to help me with things that maybe I don’t know. That’s my number one stressor. It’s that side of things for the business.
To clarify though, Editour Media was self-funded. You didn’t borrow money from anybody.
Yes. I was saving up for a long time and this is what I wanted to do. That first year, everything was for the company. I started paying myself in April 2020. Everything was for the company. That’s only one year, which is not bad.
We were pretty much profitable from the get-go.
Which was important because I was nervous but excited, it’s interesting, even in the beginning, you have those nervous feelings, but I knew we were going to boss up. I knew we were going to be next level.
I never had any doubts either. I knew this is going to work and we’re going to make it happen and we did it.
Who are your biggest inspirations?
My parents and my family, for sure. My parents made a lot of sacrifices for me and my sister. My mom was born in Japan. My dad met her when he was teaching English and he lived in Japan for eight years. While he was there, his mom ended up passing and I know that he got homesick after eight years. How different Japan is. If you haven’t been there, you don’t realize what a culture shock it is. As someone who’s not Japanese, it’s hard ever to assimilate there. If you’re a Caucasian and you don’t look Japanese, people treat you differently, not in a bad way either, it’s almost like you’re a celebrity, but you’re different. They celebrate that, but you can never be fully a Japanese citizen. Even when my sister was born, my sister was born in Japan, you don’t get citizenship unless the father is a Japanese resident.
Even though my mom was living there, me and my sister would have to apply to be citizens, so they thought at the time we would have a lot more opportunity if we were in America, which is true because even though it’s changing, a lot of women there are still housewives. They let the husband be the breadwinner and that’s acceptable. That’s fine too, if that’s a decision that you want to make. I respect that. Every woman has that choice, but for my mom, I know she always wanted to continue working.
She made the sacrifice to come to the States to raise me and my sister, not knowing English. She had to learn. She had to start off as a waitress and have those types of jobs where she was working in the day and my dad was doing the graveyard shift, but they totally made it work. What’s most important is family and making those sacrifices. You can make it work no matter what, but you have to put in the time and the effort.
Now my mom’s a boss. She moved up high into this insurance sales company that she worked at and then it got bought out by a bigger insurance firm. She likes what she does. My dad’s a computer geek. He’s a computer programmer and amazing coder. He used to create games for the old Apple computers. He used to work at this company called Beagle Brothers, where he would create games for them. That was cool. Some of them have even been turned into apps now.
It’s so OG.
My dad likes to be at the computer. He is introverted like me. My mom is more extroverted, wears the pants. My mom is the boss and I respect that too. I have had strong female role models.
What is it like seeing your parents’ still hustling and still working? My parents are in their 60s now and I’m like, “Aren’t you tired?”
They want to retire. They want to have the house and their mortgage paid off first, but they also have a strong work ethic. That shows in both me and you. We were raised to put our heads down and do the work.
A lot of it has to do with the way that people are raised. You’re learning how to do this through watching your parents. When you’re learning this at such a young age, you’re impressionable, you’re able to take that into your adulthood and you can see the difference. That’s why I always say to people, “If there’s ever something that’s odd or someone’s not feeling someone or there’s some drama, they’re raised differently than you.” Everybody’s raised differently.
We’re Millennials, but Millennials get so much shit for having helicopter parents that do everything for us. It’s such an incorrect stereotype.
It’s ridiculous. I hate even putting stereotypes on anything. Even when we’re talking about the astrology, Taurus are lazy people. I can be lazy, but I’m not your typical Taurus at all.
I was canceled in 2020.
You weren’t canceled many times. I get offended when people are like, “That’s a Karen type.”
This is crazy because all the Karen’s I know do not fit that stereotype, me included. A lot of the Karen’s that I know are my age and they are Korean too.
This is an outrage. I will never understand that.
Maybe on principle though, I need to name my daughter, Karen to show that there are good ones out there.
This has been a very interesting year. In the beginning of COVID, we had COVID pricing and we adjusted our business model a little bit. What are your thoughts about how we changed through quarantine, through the different phases? How do you feel about where we are now?
Strategy-wise for the brands, we had to change our marketing style so that we were now promoting products to use at home, assuming salons are closed right now, for the wax brands in particular. We geared more towards self-application for punky hair color. People do that at home anyway, but we weren’t focusing on salon use. From that perspective, yes, we did change our marketing and brand voices. For our clients, I feel like everyone wanted a lot more FaceTime. I feel like there’s no such thing as phone calls anymore. Every call is a Zoom call. It’s strange, but it’s good that people want to see and have that FaceTime with us. I feel like that’s what’s changed the most. People want to see us, they’re more tapped into everything that we’re working on and what we’re doing. They want a lot more FaceTime.
A lot of texting and communication.
Were you worried? COVID caused mass panic among everyone in the beginning and we didn’t know how long it was going to last. Did you ever have doubts about are we going to be able to stay afloat as a business?
I was worried in the beginning. Something that I would love to commend our business on is that we didn’t adjust anybody’s pay. We still paid everybody who worked with us the same amount. We probably even doubled up our efforts on a lot of different accounts. When the company took a hit, the people who work with us did not take a hit. It made it turn the switch on where I was like, “Everything’s going to be fine. Keep going. Let’s keep operating the way that we’ve been operating.” We didn’t get a grant. We didn’t qualify for any loans. The fact that we didn’t have to lean on anything like that is saying so much about our company in general. I was worried at first because we weren’t taking a financial hit, the company was, but as long as our team is okay and taken care of, I was okay. That’s where I am anyways, because I’m empathetic and I want everybody to be happy.
It was such a different year, 2020, because people now had more time than ever to be on their phones. For us, being managers of social media accounts, we had to not do what we were doing, but X5. We had to be that much more active. We always kept diversity at the forefront of our minds, and that’s something that’s still obviously priority. Being more sensitive to what was going on culturally and what is still going on. It is a difficult space to manage, because nowadays, everything is about cancel culture and people are looking for any excuse to diss a brand or take down somebody.
The beauty community has taken a turn and it’s not fun. The heavy hitters have been at the core of that, taking the fun out of things. I love that quote and I want to do this campaign around it. Remember when it was about the makeup. It’s been a bit refreshing with our roster, because we have very genuine people on our roster, some of the most genuine people in the social media industry that we represent. It’s so refreshing to be able to work with them every single day and not get the attitude and I get the air that has surrounded influencers since events started becoming a thing. I feel like there are other industries and now I’m seeing because I’m more into some other industries now, wellness and fitness where I’m like, “That’s not how influencers act over here.”
We do have people who want to be on our roster. They want to work with us, but sometimes if the personality is not a right fit. You’re not above being like, “I don’t think this is going to work for us.” It’s not about the money. It’s like, “Are you a valuable contributor to our team?”
It’s a hard thing to let people down with, but it’s a good position for us to be in because our entire business has been word of mouth. We haven’t done a cent or a day of marketing for our company. With the influencers who’ve come to us, we do have to make sure that we are going to be successful with you or else it’s not going to be a bit because you’re getting a little sister, a big sister, a friendship and a business partner working with me and the company. We got to make sure that it’s the right move.
I don’t think it’s bad to give it a try. Sometimes things don’t work. That’s a part of getting to know us and our work style. We’ve had clients who we only worked with for a bit and it wasn’t the right fit and that’s fine. Don’t press something and don’t lean into something if you know, “This probably won’t work.”
We’re easy to work with. We are a dream to work with. We do want the best for other people. If you want to be with us, go and do your thing.
We work with many different personality types too. A part of what we do is being chameleons and being able to wear a lot of different hats, work with a lot of different big personality types. How do you feel about that, managing so many influencers and dealing with many different personalities on a daily basis?
I’ve developed a language with working with everybody. I have this high-pitched voice via text. I come across like if we need things, especially deadlines coming up. I’m friendly about it and try not to stress people out because I know these are creatives and these are talented people who need to be spoken to a bit more gently. I feel like I have good inner training in general. I treat everyone like they’re my friend or I treat them the way that I would want to be treated in that position. It’s a lot of different personalities, but I’m always on that kindness level. It doesn’t falter unless I have to say, “This brand needs this now.”
You have a magnetic personality that a lot of different types of people are drawn to. You know how to articulate. In a meeting, you can be authoritative. People take you seriously. They want to listen when you speak. I feel like that’s not always the case with someone in charge.
It’s a balancing game. It’s not something that happened overnight for me at all. When you’re put in this position where you have to make these huge decisions and you’re making huge deals and you’re working with people like Carolyn Kirschner, you’re going to level up, you have to level up.
Where do you see things going the next few years? That’s a hard question because we didn’t expect all of the different things that happened in 2020. Who knows? 2021 could be as crazy of a year.
I’m missing my events. Before I even started the company, I was helping out with events. I feel like it’s an explosion of work in the beginning, an explosion of work during that weekend, but in between the two, it’s a nice steady flow. I feel like it’s a nice pocket of income for brands who are looking to dabble into creating another sector of their business. I do recommend events. I would love to get back to doing some more events. We’re already partnering with a company to do events like the health and wellness sector. I want to help others and I want to help more people. We’ve been talking about doing a nonprofit. We can talk with the nonprofit some other time, but I would love to do a nonprofit. Also, be a little bit of a bigger picture and a bit more off the details on things, especially if we’re going to starting other businesses. I think about this almost on a daily basis. I know that there’s something big that’s going to happen. I also got a little tip from our girl Jasmina. She is very in touch and she was able to be reading with me and stuff, which is interesting. I know that something big is going to happen for our company. I always want whatever it is to be attached to the business, to Editour. I want Editour to be the home base and then we branch off.
It’s not about being the best necessarily. What sets you apart is when you put in 10x more effort than the next person.
Like this show, it’s brought to you by Editour. It’s something that is tied into everything that we do and everything that we want to accomplish.
What about you? What do you think?
I want to fine tune everything that we’re doing now. There’s always room for improvement. We’ve been talking about this a lot, taking our product photos and our videos that much further and elevating everything that we’re doing. We’re great at juggling many things. We’re all working at such a fast-pace, but it would be nice to be able to devote that much more attention to detail on every single photo. Photoshop everything more. Learn all the ins and outs of everything that we can learn about photography and lighting. As much as I do want to grow and we want more clients and we love the ones that we have, I want to elevate everything that we’re doing.
That’s why we’re such a good balance because I’m like, “Let’s go.”
You’re super big picture and I’m super into the minutia and the details of everything. You need both.
I want to level up on things. Sometimes we need to bring some outside help in. We don’t always have to be the masters of everything. That’s what my whole life has been, “I’m the master of this. I’m a video editor. I can do this and that.” I got an iPad because I wanted to say that I’m an illustrator. I get these big ideas and I get excited. It’s nice to now be in a place where it’s okay if someone outside comes and helps us with this.
In one of my interviews, I can’t even remember who it was, it’s horrible to say, but somebody said, “I always hire people that are more knowledgeable and that are better than me and people that I couldn’t necessarily do what they do.” That’s important too. If we want to keep growing, we need people that are experts in areas that we are not. We don’t always need to pretend, “I’m the best at everything.” At the end of the day, it’s more important than your work speaks for itself. We take every employee and every opportunity as a learning opportunity. Social media is changing so much all the time too. We need to constantly be updated and be learning new skills and new things.
Things are big picture with me. I have all intentions and I think about it several times a week about, “Let’s do this.” I also want it to be, when you come to Editour, there’s going to be educational and learning moments and you’re going to leave here with a lot of knowledge like you are. I love school and I will definitely say to stay in school, but for me, my mind was already like, “I’m going to be a journalist, but I’m going to get through school so I can get the degree and make my parents happy.” I feel like it’s even more valuable being in your position, getting your experience than it is in university.
We also do a good job with the people that we hire in creating a position that suits them. At first, when we intern with somebody or we hire them straight on, we throw a whole bunch of things at them and see what sticks and see what they gravitate towards and see what they’re good at. That’s unusual for any company. What company can you say that you’ve worked at that did the same thing? Usually, people will throw miscellaneous tasks at you, but we found if someone gravitates towards filming, we want them on camera more. That’s rare. That’s something that’s unique about us.
I like that we’ve been able to come up with a system to make sure that we know what is best for everybody. It has helped our company at a time because we’re not wasting time over here. Now, we’re capitalizing on somebody’s skills over here. It’s nice. I do love how collaborative we are. I always say that word. We are such a group of creatives and we love collaborating together and no answer is wrong. We always say that you are the only person to put a cap on your position at Editour. You’re the only person to do that. We want to see you grow. We want to see your ideas. I love that too, because I’ve never had a position like that. I’ve always been so intimidated with anybody who I’ve ever worked with.
It’s all about being easy going. If someone wants to take the initiative and be like, “I want to work on this.” We never say no, which is special. In this show too, we’re talking a lot about ambition and we’re talking with entrepreneurs and creators who we are inspired by. Do you think that you’re successful? I want to know what you would even define as success.
I’m successful, because in my mind I tell myself I am. It’s also the thing you said too, with our age. We’re very young, but the things that I feel like I’m dealing with and you’re dealing with on a daily basis, they’re huge things, make or break things. We are helping companies.
Huge company decisions and so much money on the line.
Some of these are the largest brands in the entire industry. It goes beyond more than a social media and management agency. We are consultants and your business partners when we work with you. On the influencer side too, because there’s so much that we have to offer. I have felt successful for many years because of the mentality that I have. I tell myself, “You’re a successful, you’re going to be successful.”
Even before starting your own business.
Even in college, I would take my job as a part-time writer for The Press-Enterprise so seriously. I’d be on the phone. I’d always act busy. I would be dressed up in business professional clothes and I would play the part. It was ridiculous. Sometimes I would even practice this being on the phone with people. It’s insane, then now I’m on the phone with people all day long.
You have to go to Japan, first of all, because something amazing about Japan is everyone takes so much pride in what they’re doing. You could be working in a sushi restaurant and you have to be an apprentice to the head chef. You have to wash rice for years before you’re able to master it and move on to the next step. It’s crazy how much pride. It reflects everything in the culture, every place is beautiful. Everyone is in open arms and everyone wants to greet you and everyone is nice and amazing. People don’t have that mentality here. People talk down to you if you work at McDonald’s. There’s nothing wrong with that. You can be a master at anything you do.
That’s all I want for anybody that I work with. I never want anybody to feel other than or less than.
If you’re the intern, you can be the best intern out of everybody. It’s not even about being the best necessarily. I love how Ryan Seacrest’s said, “I’m not the best on-air host, but I’m going to put in ten times more research and ten times more effort than the next person. That’s what sets me apart.” I saw him on Oprah several years ago. That always stuck with me. He didn’t find himself particularly special, but he knew that he could work ten times harder than anybody else. He was juggling many shows, American Idol and radio shows. He’s working nonstop.
Do you think you’re successful?
I’ve been thinking about this lately, like with this show and everything. I’ve always thought, no, not because I don’t work hard or I’m not proud of where I’m at now, but I’ve always thought of success as the end goal. Once I hit this and I accomplish everything on this long list of things that I want to do, which is always changing too. Once I’m successful, then I can retire and I can know that I made a difference in the world somehow. I want to achieve that still. Success is not going to be until I get to that point. When you reach closer to it, it gets higher and higher every time. That’s the only reason I’m going to say no, it’s because it motivates me to do more and to keep trying and always to keep learning.
If you think about it too, as far as things go, owning a house is a big thing. I don’t own my house yet. There are things that I’m working towards too, but I know that’s going to happen. It’s this intuition and this feeling that I know it’s going to be there someday. I love a big picture goal too, to work towards.
Owning a house and having kids one day, those are on the list too. Even professionally, there are many things that we still want to do with Editour. It’s crazy because we keep hitting these milestones and it’s like, “This is amazing and it happened so fast.” You’re like, “Now, I need to think even higher and think of these even loftier goals,” which is exciting. There’s no cap and end point. We can keep going higher and higher.
I’m excited for this show. We have some amazing guests that are going to be on, some of our talent included. You’re going to be reading some of these amazing influencers’ stories for the first time on this show.
This is the perfect ending point too. Hopefully, you guys have gotten a little taste of our personalities. There’s so much more to come. We cannot wait for you to meet all of the clients that we have the pleasure of working with on a daily basis and all the influencers that are an extension of our team and our family.
We’re going to be sharing some tips along the way for best social media practices. If you’re an influencer, how to get work? It’s going to be so much fun. If you want to follow us, where can they follow up us, Karen?
Always head to @EditourMedia. That’s our Instagram, on Facebook and on LinkedIn. You can follow me personally @WrittenByKaren. You can follow Breanna @BreArmstrong, last but not least, you can also follow our show’s Instagram on, @Ambition4Breakfast. To check out our episodes too, you can also head to Editour.us, which is our website. In addition, they’ll also be on our YouTube channel at Editour Media.
We’re excited to spend more breakfasts with you guys in the future and if there’s ever anything you want to learn about, please DM us.
Tell us who you want to see, who you want to hear from or any topics that are of interest to you. We’ll be covering it all from work from home, burdens that we’re all bearing right now to climbing the corporate ladder to navigating cancel culture on social media. It’s going to be a deep dive with each guest and depending on their area of expertise. We will be picking their brain about how to be more successful, how to thrive and survive in any industry.
Thank you so much for reading. We’re excited to go on this journey with you.
Have a great day.
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About Karen Wilhelmsen
Karen Wilhelmsen is a highly experienced media and communications professional based in Los Angeles. An award-winning journalist and writer, she graduated from the University of California, Irvine, followed by an eight-year stint as an editor for nationally distributed magazines, including Flea Market Décor, Rustic Country and Beauty Store Business.
Today, she conceptualizes and produces specialized content for beauty professionals for social media platforms and websites. Karen is well-versed in proofreading, feature writing, digital publishing, blogging, video editing and more.
When she’s not at a beauty event, she’s working on her screenplay or binging the latest sci-fi series on Netflix.
About Breanna Armstrong
Breanna Armstrong is an award-winning journalist based in Orange County, CA. She has worked on hundreds of national and international publications with the goal to give talent the recognition they deserve.
Armstrong made her start covering mixed martial arts in the Inland Empire for The Press Enterprise Newspaper, her dream came true when she landed an editorial position at Ultimate MMA magazine, the longest-running publication in the sport. She was named MMA Journalist of the Year in 2014. From Ultimate MMA, Armstrong was the editor for many firearms, food, outdoors, decor, entertainment and sports publications.
In 2014, she launched two beauty publications New Hair Trends and Everyday Hair Extensions magazines. She was one of the first editors to give online talent print exposure. Armstrong found her niche in beauty, as this subject came naturally to her.
In 2015, she joined Creative Age Publications as the managing editor for Beauty Store Business magazine. She brought a fresh approach to the 20+-year-old publication as she brought in the biggest names in beauty for the covers like Kat Von D., Anastasia Soare, Linda and Chris Tawil, Jeffree Star, Manny MUA, Patrick Starrr, Larisa Love and more!
Having a niche for working with online talent and social media, Armstrong launched her digital editing agency Editour Media in March 2019. She manages some of the largest influencer talents in beauty and believes in supporting online talent through new activations and initiatives.