Failure is never final

Do What You Love is a new series that showcases the entrepreneurs behind emerging companies. For this edition we sat down with Brittany Hodak, co-founder of ZinePak. Here’s what she shared:

A ZinePak is a collectible piece of memorabilia for superfans of an artist or a brand. It combines a custom magazine with media and collectible merchandise.

ZinePak was actually an idea I had when I was in college. I was a college rep for a company called WEA, and they do all of the distribution for about a third of the record industry’s titles. So as a college rep I was in these meetings every two weeks and everyone was talking about the decline in physical music sales. This was in 2003/2004 and everybody was really worried. I said why don’t you just make a physical configuration that people can’t download. If you can make something in a physical configuration that’s superior to what’s available online people will want to own it and they’ll want to connect with it.

I’ve been interested in music my entire life. My father was very musical and so from the youngest age I remember having music all around us all the time. When I got my first job at a radio station I was 16-years-old — that was the first time that I realized you could get paid for working in music. I said, ‘I could never not work in music. Whatever I do for the rest of my life has got to be related to music.’

At ZinePak, everybody on the team is a superfan of something. My cofounder Kim is a huge superfan of Jimmy Buffett and our creative director Abby is a huge superfan of college football. We have people who are so passionate about all of these different things and they bring that passion into all of the projects that we create.

The core team in New York is all female, which is fun and probably exactly how you would imagine it. We’re all going to leave the office for an hour because there’s a sample sale, or we’re all gossiping about the same types of stuff. I think when we do have our first male employee come in it’s going to change the dynamic of the office chatter.

I think something that I’ve learned is that there’s no harm in trying. Whether it’s something huge like starting a company or something small like a pitch to a new potential client, you’re never going to know the answer unless you try. That’s something that I’ve really applied to my entire life and I’ve encouraged my friends to do. Failure is never final and you aren’t going to discover new horizons unless you push the boundaries of where you are.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is something that my dad used to say to me when I was in junior high, and that is that it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission. That’s something that I live by everyday in my business life and my personal life. Sometimes you’ve just got to take a chance and most of the time things work out great and when they don’t it’s easier to get that forgiveness than it would have been to get permission to try it in the first place.

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