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Exploring Life and Business with Sandy Pham of Social Medusa

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sandy Pham.

Hi Sandy, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I grew up in a very traditional Asian household, and my Vietnamese immigrant parents, like many others, sacrificed everything and moved to the U.S. so that I could have the American Dream of being a successful doctor or lawyer. Instead, what I saw on TV and in movies were confident businesswomen in their suits shaking hands, making multimillion-dollar deals, and changing the world. THAT was what I dreamed of.

Throughout college, I hustled for that. I was always involved in something and at one point was even commuting from Orange County to LA three times a week for a marketing internship with NBCUniversal working on marketing the latest films like Fast and Furious 6. My family of doctors, pharmacists and lawyers never understood what exactly I was doing at any one of my jobs, though. One uncle thought I was a telemarketer. Another aunt suggested I look into accounting instead. And another aunt would nudge me and say, “What about becoming a nun, eh?” My family could never wrap their heads around my pursuit in the business world. As a result, I grew up trying to get their validation.

A few years later, I got an offer to join Apple’s social media marketing team and I was thrilled. I felt like I had made it and could finally prove to my family and the world that I was successful, even if I wasn’t a neurosurgeon or a criminal defense lawyer! It was great in the beginning. Almost everything you’ve heard about when working for one of the big tech companies: free breakfast buffet, free food from vendors, free swag, consistent paycheck, 401K, and discounts off the latest Apple products. But as time went on, I found myself bored during quarterly business reviews scrutinizing minute details.

“WHY IS THE FONT SIZE NOT CONSISTENT ACROSS THE LAST 2 SLIDES?!” a key stakeholder would shout at my team even though we had exceeded benchmarks. Key stakeholders always wanted more and more profits. And the neverending spreadsheets of conversions and transactions… I remember sitting at my desk, face resting on my palm, looking longingly out the window and dreaming of doing great things. “Is it too late to become a lawyer?” I thought to myself.

I brushed those thoughts away and returned to crunching sales data and putting together a pivot table. I found myself less and less excited about what the future had in store. I realized that this corporate lifestyle I was hustling for wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. I wanted to be creative. I wanted to help others and I wanted to make a direct impact. Most of all, I wanted to build meaningful relationships. Instead, I was destined to work my way up the ladder with a set of predetermined goals and office politics.

One day, I started a fried chicken blog on Instagram called @Mothercluckerrr. I began connecting with other food bloggers, creators, influencers, and local businesses. That’s when I saw that tons of businesses needed help with their social media. While everyone knows how to post a photo or video to Instagram, a lot of businesses, to my surprise didn’t understand how to fully take advantage of everything that social media had to offer.

At that point, I didn’t have anything lined up except for fried chicken, but I knew that something had to change. So what did I do? I did what any normal and rational person without a safety net would do- I quit my stable job and ventured into the unknown, betting on myself because it was either now or never.

I started Social Medusa with no experience ever running a business unless you can count walking a couple of dogs a week as one. In February 2020, I got my first real client (who is still with us today) and went on to win six additional new businesses. I hired my first employee and brought on an intern. All during the pandemic. Along the way, I’ve grown so much personally and professionally. And most of all, I learned to do things for myself and believe in myself even when nobody understood what I was doing.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
One of the first things any entrepreneur will tell you is that it’s never a smooth road and it never does become one. I quickly learned firsthand that the problems never go away and that there will always be new problems to solve. When I first started, I was also doing everything myself. I had to keep clients happy. I had to do the actual work (hiring staff, accounting, etc.), all while dealing with the pandemic too.

I got to a point where I had more work than I could handle, and I made my first hire, who was everything I was looking for. One week later, she quit because she couldn’t turn down an offer from a large company with benefits. After that, I scrambled and hired my second person, who nailed the interview but would later make tons and tons of mistakes which created more work for me.

On top of running the business itself, there are a lot of lonely times. Long days and nights, and nobody in your family or friends really get why you couldn’t just get a stable job that would allow you to party every weekend. I remember the time I won one of my bigger clients and telling my friends what I had just accomplished after nights spent on putting together a pitch deck, business proposal, and negotiating the contract. “OMG, congrats, Sandy! That’s great!” And then the conversation quickly moved onto what guy Julie was dating this week.

Over time, I’ve learned to accept that it’s a lifestyle that only other entrepreneurs will understand, and that’s okay. The feeling of seeing happiness from our partners who once struggled with getting their name out there to seeing celebrities trying our partners’ products- the direct impact of our work makes it all worth it. Whether it’s executing a successful grand opening event with a 3-hour line out the door in the middle of the pandemic or that moment when it clicks and our intern finally realizes how to make an awesome Instagram Reel.

Despite the rollercoaster of challenges, it’s all been an incredible journey that not only made me mentally tougher but also appreciates the little things in life a lot more too. It’s about learning to be okay with uncertainty, knowing that there will be exceptional days and bad days because that’s really what the ride is all about.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
At Social Medusa, we’re a team of passionate problem solvers. We love food, we love telling stories, and we love using social media to empower our community. To break down what we do, let’s say you just opened up a new restaurant with an amazing menu but you don’t have time to take photos, come up with promotions, or post consistently because you’re too busy running your business. Hiring staff, ordering ingredients, keeping up with the latest COVID-19 restrictions, the list of responsibilities for our typical partners goes on and on.

That’s where we come in to help. Need thumb-stopping content that converts on social media? We got you. Need to get more people in the door but don’t know how to run dark ads? We got you. Do you want to build a brand and differentiate your delicious fried chicken from the rest? We got you. In a nutshell, we help busy entrepreneurs and businesses grow, make an impact, and reach their goals using social media and more.

Despite the uncertainty and challenges that COVID-19 brought, we’ve maintained a 100% retention rate during the pandemic. Not only were we able to accomplish that, but we’ve also increased their sales too. Ultimately this is what sets us apart from other marketing agencies. While we are a business, our partners aren’t just another number to us. Because of this, we’re very cognizant about scaling too quickly as we value the relationship with our partners and the quality of our work.

We always keep our community top of mind too and have executed successful campaigns to raise funds for the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community when they experienced a rise in hate crimes, as well as the nightlife industry, took a massive hit during the pandemic. As we continue to grow, we want to help our community grow too. We’re currently offering complimentary services to any business that needs them during this time. If you need help getting started or want to elevate your existing strategy, send an email to SocialMedusa.LA@Gmail.com for your free consultation.

Can you share something surprising about yourself?
Outside of trying new fried chicken shops, I’m a die-hard Kobe and Lakers fan for life. In my free time, I enjoy breaking ankles on the basketball courts. I love love love music and love exploring new artists at musical festivals. I have two tortoises, love animals and hope to one day have an animal sanctuary of some sort. Lastly, I want to contribute more to climate change initiatives and combat plastic pollution.

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