When content creator Julia Suppa isn’t building her own brand, Suppa Media, she’s helping small businesses in her hometown elevate their marketing by showcasing their best asset – themselves.
In the spring of 2018, a bold idea began sprouting in Julia Suppa’s mind. The then 36-year-old mother of two little girls had found herself in the unenviable position of losing a job she loved. While considering whether to search for a similar role, she began to toy with an idea: what if she went into business for herself? She began working with local businesses to produce video and social media content and help with their brand development. Fast forward to the present day and the content creator has a thriving boutique agency, a dedicated social media following and a winning formula: let your personality shine. The award-winning entrepreneur sits down with us to share what she’s learned as she nears the fifth anniversary of Suppa Media.
Rogers Business: How did your company Suppa Media get started?
Julia: I had a career that I loved in television, but I found myself in a predicament where our station was closing. I was 36 years old. I had two young kids under the age of 6, and I needed to think about what it is that I wanted to do for the next phase of my working life. I loved working in the community. I loved meeting people. I loved sharing people's stories. And I had a blog and social presence that I had developed for years. The next step was to start my own company to help local businesses really present their brand and showcase their stories. 5 months later, I incorporated Suppa Media.
Rogers Business: What was it like starting your business from scratch?
Julia: It was exciting and nervewrecking all at once. I had the creative freedom to make my own choices and decisions. I used the time and researched, read, and learned. One day, I walked into a camera store and I bought myself a camera. That made the decision real. I practiced and practiced and slowly started to edit my own video features. My first year of business, I barely made any money, and it’s easy to want to throw in the towel. But I just kept going. I didn’t give up.
And then, two years into my business, almost to the day, we faced a lockdown. But again, I just kept going.
Rogers Business: In a blog you talk about being scared to fail. How did you overcome that?
Julia: I don't know if anyone actually ever overcomes that! I don't have a business background and starting a business was totally foreign to me. The fear of failure or the unknown is very much real. I just started working bit by bit and began receiving great feedback from clients. It’s easy to doubt yourself, but you have to believe in your talents and skills, and remember that there's a reason people want to work with you.
Rogers Business: Can you describe content creation? How do you explain your work to friends and family?
Julia: My business is all about storytelling and people. I like to say “I think in stories.” Suppa Media helps people and businesses tell their stories in various ways, through photography, video, social media, event production, and traditional writing.
Rogers Business: Why should a business care about storytelling?
Julia: Stories unite people. They are relatable and provide an opportunity for people to connect, regardless of the industry or the type of business. We are all full of stories, and sharing these stories makes us memorable. Businesses need to find ways to stand out from one another. And quite often, the reason why you support a business is not necessarily the business itself, but it's the people behind the business.
Rogers Business: For businesses, it can be easy to fixate on achieving a certain number of media followers. Why do you feel this isn’t truly important?
Julia: Building a strong community online is important. But it’s also important to treat every single follower as a real person and potential client. Instead of fixating on having “more followers”, take the time to nurture and engage the ones you have. I tell clients, ‘If you were to have 100 people in a room willing to hear about your business, would you refuse to speak because it’s only 100 people? I think you would talk to every single person!’ There’s value in those 100 people because they could become your people.
In my opinion, a smaller group of highly engaged, loyal followers is more valuable than more followers who don’t connect.
Rogers Business: When you conduct social media audits, what do you find is the most common mistake or misstep businesses make online?
Julia: Businesses tend to oversell. People don't generally like to be sold at every single day. There are different ways of selling your business, without only posting about sales. I would say it's the complete opposite that works. Educate your audience. Introduce your audience to the people behind the business. That's what's going to sell the business.
Rogers Business: What is one thing you wish you knew when you were first starting out?
Julia: Give yourself permission to try something new and believe in yourself. Every one of us has skills and talents, but sometimes they’re hidden or underneath the surface. Keep reaching deep and find it. Keep trying. Just do it. Don't think too much because the more you think, the more you may second guess yourself! If it doesn't work, that's ok. When I started my business, in my mind, I said, “I'll give myself a year and if it doesn't work, I'll try something new.’ I think we have to give ourselves permission to do that. We have our whole lives to work, and we have to love what we do.
Where can we find your business online?