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Exploring Life & Business with Jess Norton of Norto&Co

Hi Jess, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?I started working in advertising at the age of 19 for a local agency in my hometown in Australia. Call it luck, call it delusion; I always knew I wanted to “run a creative agency,” and now here I am! I had such a privilege to learn from an agency founder and owner at such a young age so I was able to try out the different disciplines in my industry to see what best suited my skill-set and passion. This included campaign development, media production, creative direction, strategy, content creation, social media, project managing, client service and more! I loved the entire process of creative marketing and advertising from a young age. It’s always been in my nature to solve problems with creativity so naturally marketing has been a great fit. After working in Australia for 5+ years at a couple of agencies in strategy and account management, I wanted more of a challenge. And by more, I meant New York City.

As a young woman obsessed with the show Mad Men and all things advertising, I applied to the global program at Miami Ad School NYC and was accepted into their Strategy course for strategic planning. My thinking was that in order to be among the best, I had to learn from the best.

It was from my connections and experiences at this program, along with some kind introductions from my mentor, that I started my journey in New York City in Creative Strategy. I was so incredibly lucky to work on such an array of projects, from outdoor media to creative concept development, account planning, fully integrated campaigns, and brand workshopping for clients in all sorts of industries, namely in entertainment, property, education, fashion, health, and wellness. It was definitely a pinch me moment seeing my work plastered all over New York City subways in 2017!

My time in NYC grew my expertise in a way that only being in New York can. Some other highlights included lecturing students at NYU for Integrated Marketing and volunteering as a coach to help startups and entrepreneurs for the not-for-profit Rising Tide Capital. I’ve always been excited about creating and telling stories to the world, so I am lucky that my passion and my profession intertwine.

Since moving to Los Angeles in 2020, I have continued to work with clients and agencies in brand strategy, content planning, creative marketing, and media. I work with a lot of startups, creators in music, entrepreneurs and sophisticated brands that are looking to do things differently. After the lockdowns in 2020, I am still riding the wave of ‘working from wherever’ and enjoying that remote work allows for good views from rooftops, poolside, or at a cozy cafe. While this is maybe not the most ergonomic setup, it’s a good trade to say that the world is my office, and I’m able to see my clients all over the globe with this flexibility.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?I think that any good story has a struggle. It’s a tension that propels us, right? When I moved to NYC from Australia, even though I had 5+ years of experience at the best agency for my state, I had to pretty much start from scratch. NYC standards are in a league of their own, so I had to really swallow my pride to take my first opportunity lower than my pay grade so that I could start my career on a much higher level for a long-term path of growth. New York is so competitive, so it was humbling, to say the least.

However, I think my biggest struggle was, and still is, balance. I’m a driven professional, and sometimes that can impact my personal life. I’ve been called a work-a-holic, but I’m not sure if I agree with that as I see my work as something I love. It’s a passion. And I definitely don’t work strict 9-5 hours anymore. Sometimes I’ll be taking a call with my clients at 6am or 8pm or over weekends because of time differences! Striking balance is difficult when you demand excellence in your work…

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?Ultimately, I am a “Creative Strategist”. However, this means I also do brand management, creative direction, media planning, digital and social media marketing. Plus, I advise startups on all avenues of brand and marketing from the ground up. I create the look and feel, the language, and ultimately the positioning of brands to help them market to the right audience on the right channel with the right message. What I love the most is seeing the actual impact of any creative strategies I have led.

I think I’m probably known for my optimistic attitude and ability to adapt and persist. As an immigrant in America, it hasn’t been easy to come here, let alone thrive here; however, I haven’t given up no matter what challenges have come my way personally or professionally. I think this mindset translates to how I manage my clients because I can see the roadmap required to make something work and work well regardless of circumstances.

Particularly in the startup space, when there is a lot of uncertainty and change, I never give up on finding solutions for my clients and team. I have worked with large global brands with big budgets, but what’s even more gratifying is working with entrepreneurs and startups on how we can get the most bang for our buck. What I’m most proud of is mentoring and growing people on my team. I love to lead others and grow their skills to their full potential. I really take pride in being a good leader and seeing others thrive! I lead with equal parts hustle, humor, and heart.

What’s next?I want to keep helping creators and companies bring their art and ideas to the world! I’ve been doing this for 15+ years, and I don’t foresee myself stopping! I look forward to continuing to grow my team and my client portfolio. I think brands have the opportunity to change the world, so I love working with people and products that have a positive impact. I am working with some major players in the music and entertainment industry, so I hope to continue working in this space specifically, as music has always been a love of mine, so I am grateful to work on art that I admire. Read the full article here:


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