Anastasia Wright: Being a Boss Lady the I.M.G. Way
Young, intelligent, fearless, business savvy, witty, creative—no I’m not describing myself, I’m talking about Anastasia Wright. When we decided to do these Spotlight On… interviews, I immediately knew we had to feature her. As one of the founders and principal owner of Imperial Marketing Group (I.M.G.), a marketing & branding company specializing in lifestyle and entertainment marketing, Anastasia is always on top of her Boss Lady game. Highly allergic to BS, Anastasia walks the walk while others simply talk the talk. Incredibly focused and determined, she possesses an unyielding tenacity to follow her dreams and she’s doing it all on her own terms.
Before starting I.M.G., Anastasia paid her dues through numerous internships at marketing firms and major record labels in New York. Always working towards her goals, she viewed these internships as invaluable opportunities to learn and network. Now she is running her own business and has a clientele that includes some of today’s hottest emerging recording artists such as New York emcee Dremur and Chicago rapper The Boy Illinois. Through brand development, public relations management, and event planning, Anastasia and the I.M.G. team create unique consumer experiences that connect clients with their target audiences.
I was introduced to Anastasia through mutual friend and fellow Boss Lady feleciacruz. We quickly developed a friendship through Twitter based on our similar backgrounds and views on the music industry. Besides, how could I resist following someone with the username @BossLadyA? We tweeted about everything from our personal experiences as female business owners in the music industry to our thoughts on the latest music videos. I loved how frank and opinionated she was about the music business. As two female entrepreneurs dedicated to helping artists with marketing and branding, I felt like Anastasia and I were always on the same wavelength. It didn’t take long for me to gain a deep respect and admiration for her. When she came to Philly a few months ago (on business of course), we finally had the chance to meet up. Not only can I confirm that she is indeed a real person and not a sophisticated Twitter bot, but I can also say that she is one of the most genuine, passionate, and hardworking people I know. Her dedication to I.M.G. makes me want to become a better businesswoman.
I recently sat down with Anastasia to not only learn more about I.M.G. and her journey to becoming a Boss Lady, but to also find out what advice she has for both artists and female entrepreneurs.
Running such a fast-paced and creative company must be very hectic. What’s a typical day like at I.M.G.?
There really is no such thing a “typical day” but, I usually start my day checking emails and setting up promotional tweets for our clients. Other daily activities include conference calls or meetings, I talk to all of my clients at least once a day, venue walk throughs, updating client marketing materials and media lists, a lot of researching and brain storming sessions, and most likely have an event or two to attend in the evenings. I am also the one who handles I.M.G.’s finances so also add book keeping and taxes to my list of tasks!
Did you always want to work in the entertainment industry?
Yes and no. I’ve always loved music. Music was always in my home. But growing up my first love was writing. I got my first taste of the business while a senior in high school. We had to complete an internship to graduate and I ended up interning for It’s Done Promotions in Harlem. They handled street promotion for a lot of the labels and emerging urban brands at the time. I worked street team in Harlem for projects such as Usher’s Confessions and Lil’ Kim’s La Bella Mafia. I got to also go to shows for free and events I had no business being at, at my age (laughs). I saw N.E.R.D and the Black Eyed Peas live for the first time too. Good times man. In college I eventually went on to intern for Island Def Jam, and Capitol Records, and I also interned for Alloy Media & Marketing and Colgate Palmolive, but I always came back to music somehow.
Speaking of college, you founded I.M.G. while still an undergrad at Baruch College (much like how Suz and I founded IXiiV Records while attending Drexel University). How did it all start?
Ah the story of I.M.G. So I.M.G. was Imperial Entertainment at one point. I wanted to make some extra cash in college throwing parties. Yes I wanted to be a party promoter! However, while negotiating a deal with a club in Brooklyn, their promotions manager overheard me selling my experience (probably embellishing a little (laughs)) and ultimately ended up hiring me to do the college marketing campaign for Reggae Carifest, which at the time was a huge reggae concert they used to host on Randalls Island. So I had my first “client” technically and no real company (laughs). I literally went to school the next day and asked four friends if they want to make some money, and the rest is history. One of those friends is still my partner to this day, Karsten Venna. He’s like a brother to me. I honestly could not have gotten this far without him.
Wow you must have been thrilled to have your first client!
It’s better than sex I tell ya! I’ll never forget the day Karsten and I got our first check. We were in between classes and our client came to Baruch and signed it right in the lobby. You just can’t work for anyone else after that.
Between classes and clients was it difficult to balance school and work?
No. I was one of those kids who had a schedule on the fridge since the age of 6. Piano lessons at 2, swimming at 4, dedicated reading time 5-6. (Laughs). My mom always kept me busy. So naturally as I got older I always kept that development pace. Always looking for a new challenge, always wanting to do more.
Well you have clearly mastered the art of time management. Ok, let’s get into the nitty gritty. You’ve developed and executed marketing campaigns for a variety of recording artists. How important is it for artists, especially in today’s digital age, to have a solid marketing plan?
It’s imperative to their success not only as artists but also, also as business people. How can you market something without having a plan to market it? Talk about hustling backwards! Marketing is often overlooked and viewed as a task that “I can do on my own, why would I pay for it”. Reality is, it’s not something people typically can do on their own. It’s a skill. It’s a damn college major! Marketing is extremely important for an artist especially in this climate when the music isn’t really what sells the artist anymore; it’s his/her brand. And you will need a skilled professional to first build your brand and increase your brand equity, and then go out and broker your brand to others.
Yes! Suz and I are constantly stressing the importance of branding. Artists need to think beyond the music and view themselves as businesses. What do you think are the most important skills/qualities an artist needs to succeed in the music industry?
The most important piece of advice I always give to artists is “know thy industry”. Do not enter into this business ignorant of its inner workings. You’re setting yourself up for failure. It’s called the music “business” for a reason. Also, I find artists are very ignorant as to what exactly are the roles and responsibilities of the people in their camp. An artist should know what the role of a manager is, a publicist is, a producer is, a booking agent is, a lawyer is, etc, so they can assess what to expect and whether or not everyone is doing their job correctly.
Great advice. Just like the founders of IXiiV, you embrace the term “Boss Lady”. What does it mean to you to be a Boss Lady?
In all honesty it’s not fun being the boss all the time. The stress and amount of pressure can be overwhelming. When people entrust their careers to you it’s not something to be taken lightly. Of course I enjoy the autonomy and at the end of the day I owe no one. Success, as well as failure, is something that I control. No blame game. Also, I think the term Boss Lady sometimes transcends into personal life. A lot of people think my business persona is my personal, when in fact I’m completely different. I do not want to be the “boss” in my personal relationships; I prefer a more traditional role. But overall I enjoy the level of respect and what it represents.
How would you describe your Boss Lady style?
I’m half boss, half lady. (Laughs). As I said previously, in my personal life I am literally Susie homemaker. Business life is a different story. You have to be tough. Being a woman in business, much less a woman in the music business, you have to maintain a level of femininity while, also being quite comfortable to tell a male executive to go fuck himself. You have to know your shit because they automatically assume you don’t. I work extremely hard and I expect a lot from the people who work with me, reason being why I.M.G. is a small family. Our work ethic is crazy and will probably kill us one day. (Laughs). At the end of the day I try to keep it light, laugh, and always give 200%. Yes I’m a boss, but I’m still a lady. And as a woman I’m still naturally a nurturer and have that natural ability to be tough but still make people feel like I care.
Being the boss definitely comes with perks. What is the most fulfilling part of being a Boss Lady?
When people want to be apart of what you started. That is always the greatest compliment.
On the flipside, what is the most difficult part of being a Boss Lady?
A damn near nonexistent personal life.
What advice would you give other female entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses?
Be prepared and do your research. Do not walk into this entrepreneur life blindly. Know what you’re getting into; know the sacrifices that you’re going to have to make.
When things get stressful, what motivates you to keep going?
My partner and my clients. At some point it’s not about me anymore. I have so many people who depend on me. I have my OMGFUCKINGGODICANTTAKETHISSHITANYMORE moments, and then I just suck it up, pray and keep it moving. Shit has to get done at the end of the day regardless of how I’m feeling.
Tell us about your best “Damn the Man” experience.
Hm, well “the man” and I have never really been fully acquainted. I have never had a permanent full-time position. I.M.G. keeps me grounded and focused, so I never really absorb the workplace fuckery around me because I always have a greater goal in mind. At the end of the day the only person I really report to is me.
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
Married with kids. Living completely and solely off I.M.G. My clients on TV and radio everyday. (Laughs). That would be life.
So what is next for you and I.M.G.?
My next project is actually I.M.G. We’ve been so caught up with building our clients’ brands; I.M.G’s brand has kind of fallen to the wayside. So come 2012, major brand upgrades in store for the company; non-music clientele, new website, 30 sec ads, a full on ad campaign with our clients, and *knocks-on-wood* a physical address. (Smiles).
Finally, how can people get in touch with you?
Google me. Was that cocky? (Laughs)