In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re shining a light on women-owned businesses in our community and the value that they bring to our culture, society and economy. As we spend the month reflecting on the courage and tenacity of the women that paved the way before us, we also celebrate the women of today, working to influence and inspire the next generation of leaders. Recently, we reached out to Marica Mackenroth Brewster, CEO of Von Mack Agency, to ask her a few questions about starting a business, the most influential women in her life, advice to other women looking to start a business and more.
Tell us about your business and how long you’ve been operating.
I’ve always liked to say I “sell the fun,” because that’s how I see it. In actuality, that means running a tourism marketing agency filled with campy geniuses and uber creatives called Von Mack! We give brands attitude, personality and a voice.
Because we’re full service, our day to day runs the gamut. You can find the team doing things like developing brands, driving social media campaigns, making websites, teaching master classes, and being on-site for big event launches.
Our official founding was in 2017, but in that time we’ve grown our client family nationally and into the Caribbean.
Has operating a woman-owned business presented you with any unique challenges or triumphs?
In the beginning, I was largely blind to the gender-based challenges that came along with pursuing a career. Your early 20’s can sometimes lend a confidence that’ll blind you from obstacles, you know?
Now that I’m older and into the business owner space, I see the need for representation, as well as the growing role of opportunities giving rise to it.
In the past, if someone would have offered me speaking space or room at the table due to being a woman, I would never have accepted it out of sheer ego.
Since I’ve founded Von Mack, however, I appreciate when others are cognizant of their own bias and make time to invite more varied groups of people into larger conversation. Once you can pull up a seat to those talks it’s easy to illustrate why you should have been there all along.
Most influential woman in your life and why?
I am very lucky to have met a dear friend and mentor early on.
I remember it clearly…. I was attending my first FQBA meeting and was super early. I didn’t know a soul there! Kathleen Wilkin took notice and showed me the ropes. She was gracious, kind, and was a business owner who knew the ropes.
Since that day, I think I’ve hounded her for advice on everything from founding a company to being a boy mom. She even threw me a baby shower for my little one.
It’s taught me a lot about how kindness correlates directly with leadership.
Advice to other women interested in starting a business.
Do not be afraid to reach out for help or direction! There are a number of woman business owner resources in New Orleans and there are groups and associations you can join.
Mid South Women In Tourism is a great one to be a part of, especially if you are in the travel space. I’m also a part of POW (Power of Women) which has been a huge source of knowledge and inspiration.
Exciting business developments or offerings you’d like the community to know about?
Oh man, it’s been a whirlwind!!
We’ve just moved our office to a bigger space on Oak Street, so we’re excited to welcome clients in for meetings as the vaccine rolls out and the environment gets a bit safer.
We’re also launching a new animated social cast this month called “The Tourism Tea.” It’s a completely new concept that spans an up-to-the-minute dialogue across all social platforms – including Clubhouse. We’re looking forward to continuing the conversation about this industry we serve and love.
For folks who like to self-teach, we’re continuing to develop our resource library of tourism recovery workbooks, which can be found on our website at www.vonmackagency.com/workbooks.