This week’s Meet a Mom interview is with Loretta Markevics, an advertising and PR vet with over 20 years of experience creating branding and campaigns for major companies. She’s also a Greenwich stepmom to two. Here’s a bit more about Loretta, her career (including launching Sēd Communications to work with startups) and her family life in Cos Cob.
Can you please tell us a bit about yourself, professionally?
I’ve been in the advertising and PR business for over 20 years, where I led strategy and creative teams around the world at agencies like McCann, Grey, Porter Novelli, and DeVries to create breakthrough marketing campaigns for iconic brands. I recently started my own agency, where I counsel startup brands in architecting their journey to becoming household names. My team creates the brand story and the campaigns to get them seen, admired, and desired.
What was it like going out on your own after being settled at Devries?
I’ve always been ambitious, and it’s been a dream of mine – since I was in my 20’s – to start my own company. I kept putting it off because I liked the security and camaraderie of a large company and wanted to sharpen my experience first. Growing up raised by a single mom without any financial cushion, financial stability and independence was also paramount.
When the pandemic hit, I had an awakening. I had already been counseling clients on how to pivot or reinvent their brands to stay relevant, and COVID-19 triggered me to think about my own evolution. Crisis indeed breeds innovation, and the more I saw companies, particularly brave startup brands, stepping-up to help consumers in new ways, the more I wanted to work with them. They were finding success in being nimble and smart – not overthinking, just doing. I took a page out of their book and decided to start my own agency with a focus on startups who were bold and brave (or who had the aspiration of being so). Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am gutsy and don’t fear much. When I started Sēd, I was nervous, but about six months in, I feel like this is my calling – I only wish I had decided to do it sooner.
Can you please share a bit about your life in Greenwich?
I am a stepmother to twins, one boy and one girl and being a stepmother has been the most rewarding experience of my life. I’ve known the twins since they were five, and it is hard to believe they are in their junior year of college. We moved to Cos Cob in 2013 when the kids moved in with my husband and I full-time. We were living in NYC and suddenly had to find a house and live the suburban life. Greenwich chose us because our kids were already in school here, but I’m glad it did. We absolutely love our neighborhood and all that Greenwich has to offer. It’s simply beautiful and has everything we could possibly want. I grew up in Westchester and attended Fairfield University, so I was familiar with the charm of Connecticut, but never truly understood why people who grew up here always seemed to come back, until I lived in Greenwich myself.
Who can benefit from your services?
We support startups of all sizes. We are currently working with clients who are independent thinkers – particularly those who have come up with an innovative idea and need help commercializing it. We also work with very well-funded startups who want help with everything from branding to social media strategy, content creation, public relations, and paid advertising. Our verticals of focus are in the areas seeing the most growth in the startup space right now, technology, wellness/beauty, and cannabis. Of course, we work with companies outside of those categories, but that is our sweet spot. There is not a category that exists where my team does not have experience.
What is the best advice you give to all your clients about marketing and branding their product?
So much advice to give, but particular to startups, there are a few key pieces of advice:
1) Don’t spend all of your money getting the logo, packaging and website right and not leave enough budget to be able to promote it. There is no doubt that brand identity is critically important, but if you make the most beautiful package/website/logo and no one sees it, it doesn’t matter.
2) PR support can put a brand on the map if you have a strategy. We receive calls from startups who just want to get some press, and sure, an agency can pitch media and maybe get you some coverage on the merits of your product. What is more effective, however, is having a brand story to tell that transcends your product and that can live on and be talked about in culture.
3) Be brave. Watered-down, safe, creative is wallpaper. Be provocative. Start a conversation with your brand that has not been started before. Just make sure it makes sense with your product or product benefit and is authentic to your brand values. Provocation for provocation’s sake may work but doesn’t have staying power. Ultimately, consumers still buy products for a reason – they serve a purpose – and you want to be the brand of choice for that purpose by connecting to the hearts and minds of consumers with your story and what you authentically stand for.
Anything else you’d like to share?
When all of the Manhattanites came to Greenwich in droves over the summer during the peak of the pandemic, my husband, son, dog, and I decided to hit the road for six months of nomadic life. We rented our house in Cos Cob to a lovely family, and because both my husband and I are now entrepreneurs, we decided to Airbnb our way across the country. And as this is when I started my company, I knew I would feel inspired creatively while taking in new sights and experiences from state to state. I basically invented and shaped my company’s brand and story from the front seat of a very packed SUV.
We’ve been traveling since June 24th and have lived in a dozen cities like Santa Fe, Miami, New Orleans, Austin, Telluride, Moab, Palm Springs, and La Jolla, to name a few. I’m currently answering these questions while staring out my window at the mountainous coastline of Santa Barbara. I’ve learned so much about myself on this journey. I’ve taken a full leap into adventure without a net. Starting a company and becoming a nomad at the same time. I’ve never loved life more. Just go out there and do what your heart tells you. Don’t make excuses. Bring the kids (and dog!) along. Be as unconventional as your soul allows you to be, but no matter what – do and try something new. Trust me, it is beyond worth it for your own personal evolution, but also for the opportunities that remain undiscovered by playing life safe.
Who has been a mentor to you over the years?
I’ve had the good fortune of fantastic female mentors in my career. They are all equally brilliant and have given me unrelenting support at every stage of my career. I am indebted to them forever. That said, my hero has always been my Grandfather. He is well-known and respected in the boxing world, and boy did he have fight in him. He started a non-profit in the sixties with Rocky Marciano to improve boxing and worked on sustaining the mission until he died at the age of 101, after a very full life. The organization lives on, as does his values system in my soul. He always taught me to look adversity in the face and knock it out. He always had incredible conviction and would not stop at something until he achieved his goal. His grit, determination, and “fight” are what have influenced my bravery, my love of creating marketing campaigns that challenge convention, and that has given me a proverbial net as I’ve jumped off this cliff of starting my own agency.
We love to support local businesses. Can you please share your favorite places in your local area to:
Go out to eat as a family: Lugano’s
Go for date night: L’Escale (we are still sad The National closed)
Get your hair cut/colored: Hopscotch
Get your nails done: Coco Nails
Go shopping for yourself: Richard’s
Go shopping for the girls: The last gift I bought was from Hermes
Have fun as a family: Ferry ride to Great Captain’s Island