With the exception of GenZ (or the iGen), we are the largest, tech-savviest, content-dense generation the world has ever seen. While some of us primarily use social media for crown filters and live tweeting the Bachelorette, others are taking advantage of the massive growth in social media marketing by forging careers in the practice.
Ten years ago, a career in social media would have made someone scoff. But in 2016 93% of marketers are on Facebook, and 73% of Twitter users expect a response from the brands they reach out to. Since the primary object of this marketing are millennials, who better to develop these approaches than well, millennials?
This is where Britney Quiroga and Crystal Poenisch of Rein Consulting come in. Both under the age of 25, they started a full-service consulting firm that specializes in helping businesses navigate their web and social media presence. On top of owning their own business, Brittney is still a student at the University of Texas at San Antonio, and Crystal has an 8-year-old daughter Marli. Learn more about these girl bosses and how they balance work life with home life, their biggest obstacle when starting their own business, and where they see the future of social media.
Name: Crystal Poenisch (C)
B: San Antonio, TX
C: San Antonio, TX
B: San Antonio, TX
C: San Antonio, TX
B: 1994, 22 years old
C: 1992, 24 years old
Alma Mater: The University of Texas at San Antonio
Firm: Rein Consulting
Awards & Recognition:
B: American Marketing Association President
B: Playing my guitar with my dad, drinking wine with the girls, abusing Snapchat filters.
C: Yoga, painting, hanging out with my daughter, running, podcasts, and listening to musical soundtracks (Hamilton!).
What social media platform did you have your first profile? How has your web presence changed since then?
B: My first ever social media platform was the iconic MySpace. Woah was that embarrassing. I did the classic, above the head profile picture, the top 10 detrimental picks, and even those gaudy profile layouts. The worst part is I couldn’t remember my login, and I’m sure those epic snapshots are floating around somewhere.
Fast forward to present day and my Facebook profile is straightforward and minimal. I hardly post status updates, mainly because I’m so preoccupied running other social accounts for clients. I’ll post a photo here and there to remind my family and friends what I look like. I try to leave my Instagram consistent and up to my theme. I’m active on Snapchat because it’s such a fun avenue to share with my friends.
C: My very first profile was on MySpace. However, I consider my very first social media interactions to be the days of AOL IM. I remember the thrill of being able to connect with people from all over the world for the first time. A/S/L was the rudimentary phases of the “Bio.” I also remember when I had a MySpace. I was probably 12 or 13. I can’t remember. I was trying so hard to be cool. The “Top 8” was such a big deal among my friends. I would say that since then, my social media has become much more integrated into my daily life. I also try to keep my social media presence as professional as possible while still being honest about who I am and what I believe. It’s so much less about the personal validation of my looks etc.
What social media platform do you think best describes you as a person and why?
B: Instagram by far. I’m not an incredibly wordy person in the sense that I’d rather put my words in photos. I think my personality is better suited for it; I love the artistic and intimate approach. The hashtags are also fun and unique.
C: I love Instagram. It has adapted so well, yet its roots are still in our basic desire to see what other people are doing, connect & appreciate beauty.
How did you both meet? What about the other made you think you would be good business partners?
B: I met Crystal at Einstein’s (on campus) for a job interview for a marketing intern position. I remember meeting her, and we vibed right away about new trend topics. We worked together for the next six months on an in-house marketing team, and we had the same vision and direction for the projects we were working on. We also grew each other artistically as well as intellectually on different aspects of marketing and photography. She has a powerful women presence that is awesome to be around!
C: I hired Britney as my intern at a local business I was doing marketing & graphic design for. It had somehow morphed into my running the department, and I knew that I needed someone younger (at least in style) than me, someone who was more connected but also responsible and highly competent. I knew as soon as we started talking that I wanted to work with her. She’s often deceptively quiet and understated but has some deep currents. Once we started working together, it flowed. She understands me super well, my strengths and weaknesses. I would like to believe I am the same way about her. From the beginning, she shared a lot of my creative vision and started manifesting her own early on. I would often have a general idea of how I wanted a photo to feel, and she knew how to make it happen physically. We compliment each other well that way.
How did you come up with your business name?
B: We were talking about what we wanted to be represented as collectively. We knew that people had been taken advantage of for social media consulting as well as websites and we wanted to be different. Rein translates to “pure” in Dutch. We have the best intentions for our clients and believe that we can help rather than try to squeeze every penny out. Rein represents an honest approach to a digital whirlwind.
C: We came up with a bunch of branding terms that we wanted to define us and our aesthetic and then googled those words in different languages until we found one we both liked. I remember being at Starbucks and just listing off names until Britney-approved of one.
What woman would you say has been an influential figure to you and why?
B: Besides my beautiful mother, I would have to say, Selena Quintanilla. I say this because she had goals when she was younger which I relate to and broke barriers in a male-dominated genre, which I admire. But more than this because she’s a Latina who I could look up to because of her honesty, her goodwill personality, and the ambition. Being a Hispanic woman, I see that I’m already at a disadvantage because I’m being categorized. I’m Americanized, but I still get those “Oh you don’t speak Spanish, that’s weird.” or the “You’re the whitest Mexican I know.” I feel as though I have to either prove I’m American or Mexican which confused me for a long time. I loved that Selena didn’t know Spanish, but she sang in Spanish and English. Selena was a strong woman who didn’t let stereotypes halt her drive. She has inspired me as much as any other strong independent women.
C: I have a very long list of women, both fictional and nonfictional. I admire Maya Angelou, Leslie Knopf, Olivia Pope, Gloria Anzaldua, bell hooks, my first Women’s Studies Professor, Rosie Hurtado. I feel I am always inspired by the women I encounter every day, including the women in my family. Women are so strong & complex. We work so hard and love so fiercely. We are the structure upon which the people in our lives lean on. I have a step-grandmother who was a stay at home wife and mother. I also have a grandma who was so beautiful and deeply conflicted, who still battles with depression and left my mom early on. I am influenced by them both equally. My mom was a single mother with two daughters who worked non-stop. 6 am – 7 pm as a nurse, sometimes seven days a week. That work ethic set a precedent for me. Amy Cuddy (and her incredible research on body language) is the one who influenced me to stop crossing my arms and biting my nails, though.
According to the US Census Bureau, only 28.7% of businesses are owned by women nationwide. As a female business owner, what would you say is the reason for this? What do you think is the largest barrier women face when trying to open their businesses if you believe there are any?
B: I believe that growing up, young girls do not have an emphasis put on them to be a leader. You are thrown to the idea that you should be cute, shy, smart but not too smart. Young boys are told every day to be a “man” and to be strong and to take the initiative. This is great but what about those girls who are natural born leaders? What about the girls who want to be scientists or astronauts? I don’t think it has to do with that women aren’t capable or that there aren’t many female entrepreneurs, I believe it’s because they weren’t taught to be risk takers or pushed to take control as much as boys are.
I think women face the barrier of being heard. Communication can be interpreted in so many ways, and your personality overall defines that. Because a woman is soft-spoken, she’s considered “weak” or you’re “not assertive.” But if a male is soft spoken he’s probably “enlightened.”
C: Starting a business is intimidating. It requires a lot of willingness to take a risk. I think that often women are discouraged from taking a risk. We are not raised to be loud mouthed, strong willed and risky (at least historically). Which is what it takes to survive as a business owner.
What could be done to accelerate gender equality in the executive ranks?
B: For one, I think more males need to be educated on how inequalities are in fact happening. I have had conversations with guys who say “that doesn’t even happen anymore” or “the glass ceiling doesn’t exist.” Well it does, I know from experience. I went for an internship the same time a guy was. We were both offered the positions, but he was offered more money. Why is that? Because he was older? That wouldn’t make sense if were both considered interns. So yeah that grinds my gears. Men don’t understand what it feels like and I think if it’s demonstrated to them, they would have a better understanding.
I also believe that women should encourage one another. I find it disheartening when women tear each other down competitively. We all have strengths, and one another shouldn’t threaten us.
C: I think we have to eliminate traditional workplace norms and regulations. We have to implement a mindset of respect for a variety of inputs and different types of work requirements. A lot of high-ranking women are mothers and are discouraged from pushing to the upper ranks because of demands in the workplace that maybe are a little bit easier for men to meet, and harder for mothers to meet. I also think there’s just a ton of blatant sexism that needs to start being called out for what it is.
What advice would you offer to young female entrepreneurs who are just starting their journey in owning their own business? Any “do’s” or “dont’s”?
B: It’s now or never. I tell myself this often. Because when will there ever be a better time? I always respond to people who ask “Well what if it doesn’t work out, and what about security?” I believe that failure is just a metric, because if I don’t fail, I’m not growing.
I know the fear of struggling and the unknown are a turnoff, especially being a woman. Because I find that if a male jumps into an entrepreneurial position then he is considered brave and people look up to him for being his boss and going against the norm. For women, the stigma of being your boss is perceived as too hard to work with, or too demanding. You should never let anyone define you, and at Rein, I think we let our work speak for ourselves more than anything.
I would say it’s also important to do your research for your market. Find a mentor that not only believes in you but can grow you with constructive criticism. Don’t let doubt scare you off because it will be there, I promise. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, and you should network!
And have fun!! Working for yourself should be the most rewarding aspect because you’re doing what you love.
C: You can start a business. Success is just not quitting. Be confident in your abilities and don’t be afraid to share that. Stay focused. Believe in yourself more than anyone else believes in you. Surround yourself with people who support you and share your vision. Always prioritize your mission and your team. Understand your limits and say no when you need to. Don’t work for free.
Do you know a woman between the ages of 18-36 that is making a difference in the world, shaking up their industry, or is an overall badass that you think you should be featured? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.