By Emily Merrell
When I think of a marketing agency, I think of a huge agency on Madison Avenue in NYC. I picture lots of money with little return, along with overwhelming to-do’s and overhauls. It’s also something that is needed when you have hundreds of employees and seven figures in the bank. When I met Lara Schmoisman from The Darl, she seemed different. She really wants to be a part of your team, an extension of your brand and make your life easier. As a solopreneur I was convinced that I had to do it all myself to be successful and that delegating on this level wasn’t possible. However, I took a chance and decided it was time to invest in my business and give it the facelift it deserved. Learn more about Lara, how she manages a remote team and why marketing is her first language.
SDS: From Buenos Aires to LA, tell us about your journey to start The Darl.
LARA SCHMOISMAN: I was born and raised in Buenos Aires, spending much of my time listening to the radio and watching TV as a little girl. Even then, I knew that the world had many possibilities, and I was the type to make things happen. At just 14 years old, I started working at a radio station, learning the ropes. I went to college and earned a BA in radio and TV production.
Life and circumstances took me to the United States for six weeks to learn English — I ended up making a life here. With hard work and grit, I moved up the ladder working in the entertainment industry, digital marketing and advertising. In all of these industries, I picked up different skill sets and tricks.
I felt fated to create my own agency. Armed with the communication and marketing abilities that I learned along the way, I founded The Darl in 2017. I truly believe in authenticity, so I designed an environment I call an “ecosystem”. Everything is balanced by teamwork, kindness, creativity, collaboration and authenticity – while staying true to the brand’s unique story.
SDS: The Darl is a full-service marketing agency where you manage your entire team remotely. Can you share your tips on managing a remote team and keeping everyone on the same page?
LS: There are 30 of us scattered around the world. The key is being constant and having everyone understand the process and logistics. The team also has to share the company’s philosophy and values – that way they feel like they are part of something they believe in.
You also have to trust your team. We all understand what is expected of us –– I don’t have to be on top of them micromanaging every little detail. Everyone knows what they have to do and they do it.
I work really hard on “designing” a work culture that they can feel proud of. For me, it’s important that they know I am not afraid to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty. We work hard and just like any other company we also need our kitchen time. We have virtual happy hours at the end of the week as well as monthly #agencychallenges. It’s a special moment that allows us to form bonds with our coworkers and spend quality time with each other.
SDS: What advice do you have for those embarking on their own entrepreneurial journey? What comes first: the branding or the idea?
LS: You need to have an idea before you can start. However, without branding it will never truly come together. Start-ups and entrepreneurs have to be ready to make mistakes because they will make a few along the way. But that’s ok – the only way to learn is through trial and error. Don’t be afraid to test the waters and venture out to try new things. It is also ok to ask for help –– you don’t have all the answers when you are starting out, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice or find yourself a mentor.
SDS: You work with clients all over the world. What is your favorite part about being involved in so many different industries?
LS: The challenge. I am thrilled by the idea of coming up with creative solutions for our clients. I love being busy and lucky for me, there is never a boring day at the office. There is always something to do, a call to hop on or things that need approval. Also, because we have clients from different industries, we have to constantly think outside the box which keeps me and my team sharp. I think that if we would specialize in one specific area, it could get a bit robotic for us.
SDS: Not only are you and your team responsible for our entire brand revamp, you pushed me to launch my podcast. You’ve been called a “pusher” by your clients to get things done— how do you see yourself playing a role in their businesses?
LS: Because The Darl is a boutique agency, I have the privilege of choosing our clients. I work with people that I like and who inspire me. I want to believe that I connect with each of my clients on a personal level and that’s why they trust me with their brands. As a business strategist I can see the big picture for them, so I push them because I am certain in their potential and what they can accomplish. Like you said, I pushed you to have your own podcast because I knew you had it in you to be great at it.
It is really important to focus on staying true to the client’s brand while still innovating and pushing boundaries – all motivated and based on our desire for excellence and core values, as well as the ability to constantly adapt to the ever-changing world of digital marketing.
SDS: How can we learn more about you, The Darl and marketing?
LS: You can check out The Darl’s website and follow me on Instagram. You can also join our Facebook group Marketing Small Talk. Also, we just started doing something very close to my heart that my team and I believe in. Along the way I’ve come across so many entrepreneurs and small business owners whose marketing efforts failed because they were not given the right advice, or they didn’t know how to properly use the tools available to them. So, my team and I felt the need to help them. We’ve started a brand where we will be working on online training.