Boss Talk with Once Upon Founder Tricia Chen
Introducing Tricia Chen, the founder and managing director of Once Upon. Once Upon is a New York City-based social media and influencer marketing agency where Tricia brings a personable approach to influencer marketing.
What sparked the idea of The Once Upon?
Once Upon came to life when I noticed a lack of marketing services and support offered to small brands and independent designers.
I used to work in PR & marketing for big corporate offices, and a friend of mine who launched her own brand approached me once to ask for advice when it comes to approaching the press, reaching her audience via digital marketing efforts, and establishing a presence on social media. Because PR and marketing agencies tend to be very expensive, most of the time, new companies cannot afford their services unless they have backing from investors or funding. The conversation made me realize the gap in the market.
So when I moved to New York with my husband, I decided to look into how I can help small businesses, and especially those based outside of the U.S. with hopes to enter the U.S. market, grow. I soon learned that the best way for them to enter a market with a limited budget is by focusing their efforts on social media and influencer marketing, which are the two areas that Once Upon focuses on.
We love the name The Once Upon! How did you come up with the name?
When I set my mind to start a boutique agency that focuses on offering social media and influencer marketing services, I wasn’t sure how and where to start. So I took a step back and decided to start a blog, become a content creator, and delve into the world of influencing to understand how everything works firsthand.
My blog is called Happily Ever Style. And since I see my blog as a place where I hope my clients end up, I named the agency Once Upon. Because it would be where the brand story starts.
Every client has a “Once Upon a time” moment and bringing their story to life allows them to connect their brands with the target audience!
What do you want The Once Upon to accomplish in the new few years?
My goal for Once Upon is to become that agency that small business owners trust, rely on, and adore. The agency that one client would recommend to another because they had a great experience working with us. The agency remains relatable and approachable. The aim is to grow in depth and network and not necessarily in size.
Do you believe in work-life balance? Do you feel like you achieve this in your everyday life?
I believe in balance, as a whole, and not just work-life balance.
A few years ago, when I was told that I need to find a work-life balance, I remember the process of understanding that wasn’t easy. Because not everyone defines “work” and “non-work” the same way. While cooking may be a calming activity to one person, for example, it could be seen as something stressful to another. Me writing a blog post is also another great example because, for the longest time, I’ve put that in the “I’m living” category while my husband has always seen it as “she’s working.” But really, it was something I enjoyed doing and was doing for myself.
Today, I believe my simple recipe of how to achieve balance is making sure that I work hard to complete what I need to do and really enjoy what I want to do. And to me, that’s a work-life balance.
I also make a conscious effort of making Sunday a “family day.” That itself is really helpful when it comes to making sure what quality time is regularly spent with loved ones.
What is a typical day in your life?
My day-to-day routine is almost never the same. But you may sometimes find me waking up at 6:30 am to hop on a 7 am call with a client in Europe before starting my day of replying to emails, writing marketing proposals and campaigns, creating various types of content, scheduling social media posts, etc. Sometimes, I would also get a call at 8 pm to hop on a call with a client in Asia.
Pre-COVID, I used to always schedule at least one coffee meeting a week with a content creator in NYC. It was a great way to get to know more people and expand my network of influencers. Right now, I’ve been replacing coffee meetings with virtual ones a few times a month, as well!
What is your definition of success?
In my opinion, a successful person is someone who knows who they are, embraces their many roles to play in their daily lives, knows what they want in life, and is truly happy with a heart filled with gratitude. Success is also measured by how many times someone has climbed up from a fall - it’s having the ability to learn, grow, and bounce back that empowers a person.
What has been the most rewarding moment in business?
Every single time when I receive a thank you note or a written card from a client, or when a former client has referred someone else to me has all been rewarding moments. The most memorable was when a client told me they wish they had me working for them in-house! To me, it was such a wonderful compliment.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs who just don't know where to start?
Trying and failing is always better than not trying and not knowing. You don’t need to know it all before you start because no one really ever knows it all! And never be afraid of reaching out and asking for advice or help, because more often than not, people are willing to share their experiences and knowledge with you!