When two of Chicago’s it girls join forces to create a business around generating buzz, you can’t help but pay attention.
Samantha Berngard (above left) is best known for her swift climb through the ranks in the marketing department at CS magazine and heading up events for the Sun-Times’ Splash!, as well as being named one of Refinery 29’s “30 Under 30,” and serving as a brand ambassador in Chicago for BCBG Max Azria and LOFT.
Carolyn Pelissero (above right) is the one-time director of marketing for Phil Stefani restaurants, where she oversaw 20 restaurants and event spaces, as well as a former Chicago Magazine staffer, who founded the aptly named Boldface Communications Group in 2008. A couple of months ago, Carolyn took Sam on as a partner to help expand the marketing firm…and we have a feeling this is going to be the start of something big.
So, we had to find out more. We got a chance to talk to the duo about entrepreneurship, pinch-me career moments, the secrets to their success, and their hopes for their business. They also shared some of their favorite (super-fun!) personal photos from a day in the life at Boldface Co.
HOW DID YOU TWO MEET?
Carolyn: We met years ago when I worked for Phil Stefani Restaurants and Sam was at Chicago Social….we became closer when Sam began dating my friend Jason–her now husband!
Sam: Since meeting, we have done so many events together through our various different roles in the Chicago media. I always loved working on fun projects and events together!
CAROLYN, YOU STARTED BOLDFACE IN 2008. WHY DID YOU DECIDE SAM WOULD MAKE A GOOD BUSINESS PARTNER?
Carolyn: Sam is just an all around great person–everyone loves her and she knows EVERYONE. She’s also such a hard worker-I knew she would bring her network and work ethic which would inspire me to work harder too.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO BE ENTREPRENEURS? WHAT’S A DAY AT WORK LIKE?
Carolyn: It’s hard work–no one else is going to get things done–but it’s also a great way to have life/work balance. Typical day is waking up and going right to the computer to work, followed by a few meetings and a visit to Shred or Core Power :). Always great to get in an hour for yourself when you can!
Sam: I love that everyday is so different and exciting. People ask me all of the time – do you get bored and unmotivated working from home? Maybe I would if I ever actually worked from home! I am always always on the go – meeting with clients, meeting with media, meeting with potential partners for my clients, pitching new business, hosting events – it never really stops and that is why I love it!
YOU BOTH GOT YOUR START IN MAGAZINES. HOW DO YOU THINK THAT’S IMPACTED YOUR CAREERS?
Carolyn: It’s great to know the inner workings of a magazine-it allows us to be better “pitchers” when doing media relations for clients and to know what types of added value a media partner can bring.
Sam: Working in magazines builds the best possible foundation for anyone starting their career. It allows you to dabble in every single industry: cars, fashion, interior design, music, food, media, advertising, events, philanthropy – the magazines we have worked at have allowed us to build contacts all over the city. It has taught us a little bit about everything. All of my mentors are in the media industry. I never regret any career move I have made – I wouldn’t be where I am right now.
YOU’VE BOTH BEEN INCREDIBLY SUCCESSFUL AND HAVE HELD SOME PRETTY ENVIOUS JOBS, CAROLYN AT CHICAGO MAGAZINE, AND SAM AT CS AND SPLASH!. WHAT HAS BEEN THE SECRET TO EACH OF YOUR CAREER SUCCESS THUS FAR?
Carolyn: I have been lucky to be introduced to amazing people early on in my career–Boldface’s clients have been all referrals and word of mouth–and that’s because we worked hard at all of our previous jobs. And I secured those positions by going after them and proving myself at a young age.
Sam: I think the secret is to work hard and take risks. If you don’t care passionately about what you do – then don’t do it. Hard work and dedication is transparent.
UP TO THIS POINT, WHAT’S BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREERS? ANY “PINCH ME” MOMENTS?
Carolyn: Maybe doubling my clients within a couple months of starting Boldface it’s when I realized I can do this-I will make this work, and it was with really big clients from Bar Louie and Grossinger to Conlon Real Estate.
Sam: I pinch myself everyday! Carolyn and I just got started together and we have eight clients who we absolutely love. I feel so fortunate to love what I do so much and love who I work with. I look forward to my work week, because there is always something exciting going on. Helping clients launch their business provides me with so much joy – I cannot believe I am paid to do it!
My pinch me moments are when other people take notice of what we do and are thankful for the results we provide. The PR & events industry can be very thankless – I feel blessed everytime someone thanks me or recognizes the hard work we do.
WHAT KEEPS YOU MOTIVATED?
Carolyn: We really like our clients–We feel like part of their team….and they’re all such hard workers and great people it motivates us to do our best for them.
Sam: The crazy drive for success. I don’t want our business to fail. I don’t want our clients to fail. I want everyone to succeed around us, and that keeps me going every single day!
IN YOUR WILDEST DREAMS, WHAT’S YOUR HOPE FOR BOLDFACE?
Sam: I hope we can continue to grow and learn. I want to build our brand so we have as many contacts in Chicago as we do in New York, LA and some of the other major cities. I want to take on bigger clients and hopefully build a team. For now, Carolyn and I are super happy with the way things are going.