MaaS Appeal’s Julia Gardner prods her clients to take risks

When she was younger, Julia Gardner and her sister would record commercials on a Sony Boombox and reenact them for their parents. It was clear that she had caught the advertising bug early on.

Gardner pursued a career in marketing, working in client services for major companies in Canada. She eventually found her way to New York City, where a new opportunity landed in her lap. She joined forces with two partners to launch their own business.

Gardner and her co-founder Dave Mihalovic launched MaaS Appeal (a buzzworthy acronym for “marketing as a service”) in July 2014. Their agency creates simple and effective marketing for companies whose focus ranges from healthcare to education. This WeWork Fulton Center member encourages her clients to take risks and try things they’ve never done before.

WeWork: Did you have an “Aha!” moment when you knew that you wanted to start your own business? 

Gardner: Funny enough, my real “Aha!” moment for me was waking up one morning, brushing my teeth, and realizing I had zero passion for what I was working on. Aside from that moment though, I’ve always had that entrepreneurial intuition of wanting more, not being told what to do, and reaching a higher state of self-achievement. Most of the time, I’m hell-bent on monetizing ideas that most people don’t get.

WeWork: Would you consider yourself an entrepreneur and a creator? And what does being one mean to you?

Gardner: Absolutely. Am I passionate? Yes. Am I dedicated? Oh yeah. Being an entrepreneur to me is much more than just having your own business. It’s the ability to empower others to take a risk and to challenge others to do something they have never done before. We are “cut from a different cloth,” as many say, which is why community is crucial to startup success.

WeWork: What has been your biggest screw up so far and how did you recover?

Gardner: In the beginning, I cared about what people thought of me. I found it especially difficult to separate my emotions from business when receiving negative advice and feedback from others. After having a successful 2014, I got over that quickly.

WeWork: What is the most challenging part of your job, and how do you keep yourself from burning out?

Gardner: Being in a high-growth startup, you wear many hats to fill gaps in resourcing. Most of the time, I am running around the city juggling client services, strategy, project management, and finance. One of the biggest challenges for us was staffing for the influx of work. It wasn’t just about finding someone who could execute; it was finding talented employees who were emotionally invested in the business and took great pride in their work. We are very lucky to have such great people supporting us. Making sure that you have strong project management skills is essential to keeping your sanity.

WeWork: What has your experience been like at WeWork?  

Gardner: Maas Appeal has been at WeWork almost a year. I cannot express enough how much I have enjoyed working here. WeWork has been a huge contributor to developing my network of smart, driven, and loyal colleagues. The community that surrounds you is a huge enabler and support system to your startup success. You share wins and losses, provide business advice, and create meaningful relationships.

WeWork: What’s your favorite drink to start or end the day? 

Gardner: Coffee to start and an ice-cold glass of Chardonnay to end.

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