It was a bold move.
In the summer of 2011, colleagues Joanna Leigh Simon, Vanessa Braxton-Veloski and Tara Gordon decided to quit their jobs at a small marketing firm in the suburbs. The women, barely a year or two out of college, wanted to embrace new media and felt like they couldn’t do that in their current positions. So they left and started their own marketing company: Skout Media. Their former employer has since shut down (the women declined to name the company).
But, less than two years later, Skout Media is still alive and kicking, and it’s profitable, Braxton-Veloski said. Based out of Old City coworking spot Indy Hall, the video and web production company’s clients include the Kimmel Center, Alex’s Lemonade Stand, Northern Liberties SEO shop SEER Interactive and the Navy Yard’s Energy Efficient Buildings (EEB) Hub. The team also recently hired its first (paid!) intern.
Skout Media’s cofounders said their first big break came in early 2012 with uwishunu‘s Philly101 campaign, a series of videos highlighting under-appreciated Philly attractions. After that, the clients kept rolling in. The team, which said it finds work almost completely through referrals, said that it didn’t think that being a crew of three young women has hurt the business — though people do notice.
When Skout filmed Mayor Michael Nutter for uwishunu, the cofounders said Nutter said to them, in his typical, deadpan humor fashion, “So, what, did you guys just graduate from high school?”
Simon said she thinks that Skout’s status as a women-led company is more of an advantage than anything.
“It’s another chance to break down stereotypes,” she said.
It’s also been a catalyst for memorable situations, the cofounders said, especially when the trio first entered the previously more male-dominated world of Indy Hall. On a whim, before they joined the coworking space, they decided to attend an Indy Hall summer barbecue based on a tweet they had read. It was up in Kensington, at the proposed site for an Indy Hall cohousing project.
When they got there, it was “about 10-15 dudes playing cornhole and drinking beer,” said Simon. Simon, Gordon and Braxton-Veloski, on the other hand, were holding two pies and wearing sundresses.
“We’re the girls from the Internet!” they remember saying, laughing at the memory.
For a second, it felt like they had made a strange mistake, they said. But then, something clicked and the rest is history. Skout Media has been at Indy Hall ever since.
The cofounders said that they’ve noticed that there seems to be a stronger female presence at Indy Hall since they’ve joined (see: Indy Hall’s literal binder full of women), though they’re quick to say that they were not the first female members of the space nor do they claim to be the reason Indy Hall’s female community has grown.
The team all roughly lives in South Philly, with Braxton-Veloski, 25, in East Passyunk Square, Gordon, 24, in Queen Village and Simon, 26, in what she calls “Angry Italy,” but what we’ll just say is north of the Neck stadium district, around Broad Street and Porter Street.