Sisarina is a fun-loving, fast-paced, dog-friendly, Bethesda-based strategic marketing company that works with small businesses and non-profits to better their branding, marketing and websites. Instead of the usual approach to websites, they take a big picture approach and make sure everything your business needs to grow is in your hands when they’re done. We sat down to chat with Founder and CEO Melanie Spring, here’s what she had to share…
Share with us why you started this company/venture – your inspiration or passion?
Melanie: Coming from a huge family of all entrepreneurs (it’s in our blood on both sides), there was no question as to whether I was meant to be an entrepreneur or not. Before websites were the main marketing tool, I started a web venture in 2001, that would later be renamed Sisarina, helping rural entrepreneurs. In 2009, I easily found myself being a fulltime entrepreneur again and realized that, although I loved building websites and creating marketing plans, my real passion was watching small businesses and non-profits succeed. Their passion and mine mixed together is why I do this.
What’s been your greatest struggle?
Melanie: Hiring was my biggest struggle in the beginning. I was hiring for talent rather than passion and realized later that I needed people who were passionate about what Sisarina did and how we did it. Hard skills can be taught, passion has to be there already. As a start-up, we were dreamers who hired before we had the money or business. Now we work until we’ve hit 150% capacity and then hire to get us back down to 100%. It was a hard lesson to learn but we’re really happy we did.
What was your greatest triumph or achievement to date?
Melanie: In 2009, I was the Director of Marketing at a tech company and my boss asked me one day “What would you do if I couldn’t pay you anymore?” My immediate response: “Work for myself.” Taking my pink slip and empty bank account and turning it into a successful, profitable company has been my greatest triumph.
Did you have a mentor or another company/brand that inspired you?
Melanie: My mom is the one who inspired me to be an entrepreneur & continues to inspire me. She recently realized after selling her business that she couldn’t live without the title of entrepreneur so she started a new business. Her drive to help people without any recognition is like fresh air. So many struggle to be recognized for everything they do and I’ve seen her slip things into her customers’ bags without them realizing because she knows they’re in need.
If you could offer one piece of advice to other budding entrepreneurs…
Melanie: Be yourself in everything. Forget the corporate BS and run your company your way. Find clients & staff who believe in & stand by you. Make sure your office reflects you (even if it’s at your home). Do social media & marketing that fits you. In everything, be you.