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Meet Trailblazer Johanna Grange

Today we’d like to introduce you to Johanna Grange.

Johanna, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’ve held several marketing positions since graduating from college. I quickly learned that it was not as glamorous as it seemed, so I decided to take matters into my hands. While I’ve always held traditional 9-5 positions, nine years ago, I decided to start a blog on a whim. It was aptly named 101 things I love and let me tell you, I exhausted that pretty quickly. Owning my little corner of the internet in which I could write about fashion, food, music, decor and travel was a welcome escape from everyday life and it allowed me to return to my Journalism roots. The best part, by far, was all of the wonderful people I’ve met alone the way who, to this day, remain some of my closet friends. And I learned a lot!

Fast forward to several start ups later and lots of freelance social media work, a longtime friend and I decided to rewrite what agency life should look like. We pooled our talents together and created a uniquely, specialized social media marketing agency right here in Chicago. That was 4.5 years ago. Now, 25 staffers deep, and we have more out of state, Oak Street Social works with some of the best lifestyle brands around. Every day is different and we truly love our clients. I’m proud of our company culture and the women I work with. I also get to parlay my blogging/influencer knowledge into my professional life. We execute quite a bit of influencer marketing. I feel lucky to do what I love. It’s a “pinch me” moment for sure.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Heck, no! And as they say, if you’re not uncomfortable at least once every day… you’re doing it wrong. I am actually #winning in this category.

I have had my fair share of unpaid invoices after a tremendous amount of hard work, I’ve been rejected, I’ve lost deals + clients, sometimes, I’ve even had high hopes for staff and things took a turn for the worse. I’ve seen a lot but not all and I think the most important thing is to walk away from the computer in moments of frustration. Take a break. Don’t react immediately – think. Wake up with a clear mind and tackle the day.

We lose opportunities and people in our lives because they are not the right fit for us, our brand, our company, our personality. Everything happens for a reason and thank god for that.

My partner shared with me just last week that if you don’t look at your past work, think year one or two, and physically cringe than something is wrong. Not verbatim here but you get the gist. You should see an evolution in your work. A journey and I am all about embracing the journey because without hard lessons comes no triumph, no learning.

We’d love to hear more about Johanna Grange & Oak Street Social.
I don’t think I am a traditional blogger and it was never my FT gig BUT the last few years have been truly amazing. I am so grateful for the opportunities, the relationships cultivated and the experiences I’ve had. I specialize in authenticity and relate-ability. I am not the best dressed or the most popular but I think I am really good at showcasing real life. Parenting, launching a business, style, friendship and most recently, a little more about that amazing husband that quietly supports all that I do. I don’t pretend every day is sunshine and rainbows but I try to keep it positive and uplifting with a giant dose of sarcasm.

When it comes to career, Oak Street Social is my baby and my FT hustle. We are known for our customer service, our attentiveness and we only specialize in social media and influencer marketing. My partner and I never set out to be everything to everyone. We really wanted to hone our craft and do one thing really really well. I’m proud of our story. I was proud when we hired our first employee who is still with us to this day and I continue to be proud of the amazing team we’ve built. They are a sharp group of women who work extraordinarily hard. What a dream to align talent with your vision and see the enthusiasm behind it all. And to be honest, they create fantastic content and believe me, it takes a village!

Do you recommend any apps, books or podcasts that have been helpful to you?
I so wish I could read more but truthfully when I take a break from work, I put on my wife/mom hat. And when my children go to bed, I am back online. I enjoy podcasts. I just listened to my friend kill it an eBay conference in Vegas and I was really struck with emotion. The women I surround myself with really inspire me. They are my resource, my learning, my sunshine on a cloudy day.

And yes, I read about 1-2 industry articles a day as it pertains to my work. Let’s be truthful.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Sami Lyn Photo, Helen Berkun

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