Exclusive interview with Ernest Sturm, the Founder of Runway Influence
Please share with us how you started Runway Influence.
About 5 years ago, I started Runway Influence after noticing how models were transitioning out of making their money through runway and editorials to making money with social media campaigns. Instagram became a marketing tool that is in everyone’s pockets and so it was truly a no-brainer!
Friends of mine in the apparel industry were no longer just coming to me for event production and staffing but were reaching out to find model influencers that would post photos of their clothing to Instagram. Our models are on social media all day anyway posting content, so it was a perfect transition for everyone.
What is the most important lesson you have learnt thus far?
With every new journey, comes a great deal of doubt and adversity. When I originally started, I ran all of my business myself and was constantly being told “no” – I worked hard to get a “yes” and learned to not take rejection personally- Just move forward and continuously grow from the no’s.
Then with more success, I had to learn how people use others to get ahead in their careers. I was young and hopeful, so I had been taken advantage of a lot by people I had trusted, so I’ve had to learn to set boundaries and to have a team of people that I feel confident working with that has one another’s back.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I wasn’t born in the United States, so coming here and being integrated into a culture with endless opportunities made me feel like I could accomplish anything! Moving to Los Angeles and meeting other creative entrepreneurs through networking has given me the tools to be confident in knowing that what I am doing is worth something – It’s so important to turn your dreams into goals and work hard towards conquering them. It’s even more important to do all that with a great team that works well together and continues to move onward and upward together.
So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
To be honest, things are going really well with our social media and influencer clientele. The pandemic has forced a mindset shift and we’ve worked hard to be flexible and creative during these trying times. I think that’s the key to success – Being flexible and pivoting rather than throwing in the towel when times get tough. If you can turn a problematic situation into an opportunity for yourself and others to grow, then success will surely follow.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Runway Influence stands out because at our core, we don’t just have agency-signed models and high-end influencers, we have a group of people that we love to collaborate with. We hire people that we also love to work with because we want to ensure that everyone has a great experience when partnering with us, whether it be our clientele or our influencers. We personally curate every piece for every single campaign/ project as we know marketing isn’t just a “one size fits all” for any entity. We are creative collaborators with an incredibly special team that you won’t find anywhere else.