Small businesses are on the rise in this country, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the booming economy of Washington, D.C., where nearly 60,000 small businesses can be found in under 70 square miles. With all that entrepreneurial spirit in such a small space, you need passion to stand out – something small business owner Molly Ruland has no shortage of.
We were excited to talk with Molly recently about her success, and we wanted to share her inspiring entrepreneur’s story with our readers. Below you’ll find her thoughts on small business goals and challenges, an inside look at the D.C. music scene, and her tips for small business success on social media and beyond.
Tell us a little about yourself, and the story behind your small business.
My name is Molly Ruland I am the owner/operator of One Love Massive, a booking agency and production company with an emphasis on nightlife and supporting the creative community; DC as FCK, a clothing line for proud Washington, D.C. residents; and Spokes for the City, a non-profit geared toward getting more people on bikes here in the nation’s capital.
I was born in Bethesda, Maryland, was raised in Falls Church, Virginia, then lived all over the United States before coming back to the District 13 years ago. All of my childhood memories involve D.C. and my relationship with it. From performing at the White House as a child to my cousin who played for the Bullets, this city has always been a part of who I am. I started One Love Massive in 2001 when I booked Soldiers of Jah Army, but it wasn’t until 2009 that I decided to make it my only job.
Give us some background on your businesses, and what you do there.
One Love Massive is comprised of just a couple of us behind the scenes and over 100 members in the talent collective. From DJs and bands to belly dancers and fire breathers, we have it all. It all started with a few reggae shows and after parties and is now a full-blown production company; a force to contend with both locally and on the web.
We are a booking agency, a production company, a marketing firm and a lifestyle blog in Washington, D.C. with really great organic traffic. We work with countless venues around the city to market their events and fill their DJ booths and stages. Our goal is to connect the creative community with small businesses so that good, local products and people can survive and the people living here are being entertained and actually love living in this city. The idea is a happy ecosystem where everyone is taken care of. So far, so good.
Where did the idea for One Love Massive come from?
I spent a lot of years making unscrupulous people way too much money. I’ve been on my own since I was 17 and I’ve had every job out there, but I did the best in real estate finance. I loved the challenge and the hustle but once I started to understand it, I didn’t want to be a part of the problem anymore.
I had two surgeries due to spinal issues that I was born with and I just decided I didn’t want to live a life full of lies anymore. I wanted a life filled with love, music, art and amazing people. I had thrown some events but I wanted to do more, I wanted to help more, I wanted to create more and I had some talented friends who I could start with. Six years later, here we are and I am very pleased with our progress.
Tell us your favorite thing about running your own business.
For me the best part about running my own business is getting to decide what I want to put my heart and soul into, and having the ability to say no. Working for others always left me with little time for myself and zero reward. I would rather work 12 hour days every day than wake up and drive to a job I hate. Once you see things for what they really are there is no turning back.
Has anything surprised you about owning your own company?
One of the biggest surprises about being a female business owner is how much support I receive here in D.C. I am fortunate to work with really amazing people all the time. Although I am in a male-dominated industry I am never at a loss for words, rewards, and clients. This is an amazing city that has shown me so much love. Washington is the most diverse, progressive and intelligent city in the country and my ability to succeed here is proof of all of those things.
What are some of your biggest challenges as a small business owner?
Managing relationships. Whether professional or personal it is very difficult to keep the right people around you. Just when you have hired a great staff you realize your personal life has taken a nosedive. When things are too good at home, the office starts to slip. For me, time management and expectations are the hardest things to keep in line with those relationships. Seems like people need something from me day and night, but it’s the life I have chosen and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Share some of your current goals for your business.
My goal for One Love Massive this year is to make it the number one resource for all things creative, community and nightlife for Washington D.C. I want that blog to get so much traffic it makes my server hate me. I want more artists to have jobs. I want more small businesses to succeed and to have great resources because of One Love Massive. I want the creative community here in D.C. to be sustained in the most beautiful of ways. I want my business to provide for this city the way this city has provided for me. This area is a hotbed for music, art and culture and we want to tell the world what’s happening while also providing a resource for those who live here as well. It’s all about the city and the people in it; always has been.
How big of a role does social media play in growing One Love Massive? What advice do you have for other business owners getting started with social media marketing?
Huge. If it wasn’t for social media I don’t think OLM would be nearly as successful. For a long time I kept all of my accounts super vanilla. I never had an opinion on anything especially on the business pages, but lately that has changed. I have used the power of social media for many things outside of promoting my business. In this age where this world seems deft of humanity and love it is even more important to have a voice and to use it for good. I was so afraid people wouldn’t like my company if I spoke out on important issues, but I was wrong.
By expressing myself I have really defined what my business is really all about which has garnered me an amazing fan base. Everyone is different, but I think if more people with clout or an audience used that reach for good maybe the world wouldn’t be on fire and maybe we could all find some peace. One Love Massive is all about the music and the community but we also have strong feelings about racism and sexism, among other things, and I think that’s ok. The message might not be for everyone but I feel like I represent the average person, and we need a voice too, don’t we?
We often hear from entrepreneurs about a single moment when they knew their business was going to succeed. Have you ever had that experience?
I am grateful to be constantly rewarded with indications of progress throughout my journey with OLM. I feel like the business is on the right track, mistakes and all. Recently I inked an exclusive partnership with The Embassy Row Hotel here in Washington. I showed up on my bike wearing one of my own t-shirt designs and I was 100% myself. They brought me in because of the work I have been doing in the city and they wanted my help. It’s a proud partnership for me because it’s proof that as a woman I don’t need to wear the right dress, or act a certain way to be recognized professionally or personally.
Do you want me at the mall shopping, or do you want an industry expert? If you want the first I am not the one, never have been. To be acknowledged by such a high-end operation for my work and not my wardrobe is a huge step for all people, not just women, in my opinion. I say just be the best you and don’t apologize for it. All anyone ever wants is quality work; deliver it.
How do you use Pagemodo to support your goals?
I started using Pagemodo to save time. I was looking for something that could schedule posts and move across platforms easily and Pagemodo is it for me. Once I discovered the design features I really dug in. While I have a go-to professional designer, I really enjoy making event flyers and Instagram images on Pagemodo.
I really get a kick out of the creative process and I really like that I don’t have to wait on anyone to get my events up. I produce 4-6 events a week so it takes longer to ask someone else to make the flyer than it does to just do it myself and this is a lot more fun. Pagemodo makes it super simple to do what I need to do. I am looking forward to learning more about the other features that I am not using as well, I have a feeling they are just as helpful.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone who is thinking about striking out on their own, or has recently started a business?
My advice to anyone who is thinking about starting a business is to be passionate about it or you won’t last past the first hurdle. You gotta really want it and be willing to work for it. You have to be willing to fail a whole lot of times and be able to get back up every single time with insight on the next attempt. If you aren’t all the way invested in it, it’s just not going to happen.
Let go of your ego and give the market what it wants and needs while using what you already have. Sometimes great ideas are temporary, just like life, everything is constantly changing…change with it. Most importantly, never take yourself too seriously because another big lesson is just around the corner.
We’d like to thank Molly for her time and insights! You can learn more about One Love Massive, as well as Molly’s D.C.-centric clothing company, by visiting the One Love Massive website, or find them on Facebook and Twitter for the latest events.
Are you a Pagemodo user with a great story to tell? Let us know in the comments!
About the Author: Sarah Matista is the Marketing Communications Manager for Webs and Pagemodo. Loves marketing, small businesses, whales (not necessarily in that order). Get more from Sarah on the Webs Blog, Pagemodo blog, and Twitter.