Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in marketing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Irina Barskiy, CEO of Pink Owl Media, located in Brooklyn, NY, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I launched Pink Owl Media 11 years ago. Pink Owl Media is a boutique growth & digital marketing agency located in the heart of Brooklyn, NY. Our mission is to fuel growth for the businesses we collaborate with. We work with a lot of consumer brands in the eCommerce space in numerous verticals, including fashion, beauty, home, food and beverages, and more. We have expertise with both D2C and eRetailer media. We also work with local-focused businesses in the healthcare and wellness space.

Tell us about yourself

I have always been entrepreneurial. I started my first eCommerce business at 19, it was the BirchBox model long before BirchBox was born. I loved marketing directly to consumers, and after working in the startup world for a few years, I earned a reputation for being ruthless with paid media, scrappy and strategic with every dollar – and eventually would get organic leads through word-of-mouth, which led to my launch of Pink Owl Media.

Ever since I was a kid, I have been obsessed time hacking and productivity. I figured out I could graduate high school one year earlier if I just stacked on more classes. I love seeing how much more I can do with less. Whether it’s more work with less time, more sales with fewer dollars, I take personal pride in efficiency, both personally and professionally, and I think that’s a big part of why I love paid media. My growth experience is pretty broad, but I focus on paid ad projects as there are no gray areas – the nature of real-time data removes any question of whether I’m doing right by my clients and delivering the picture of success we aligned on at the start of our relationship.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I’m most proud of creating something big out of nothing…building a business from the ground up to a 6 figure business as a solopreneur. I did all of this while having a full-time job, raising two small kids, and also maintaining my full-time body-building hobby.

I’m also super proud of the fact that in a space with such high turnover, I have insane retention of both clients and my team. Leading with integrity and compassion is key, and I think it speaks volumes that my team has been with me since the beginning, and proud to say I have been adding folks but haven’t removed any. The same goes for clients – I have many who I’ve been working with for years, and if I do lose a client, it’s typically for something out of my control.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

You have to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. You never know what tomorrow brings. I can have nothing in my pipeline, and then I suddenly get three new clients in one day. Unlike a constant corporate paycheck, there are cycles when you’re running your own business. You can have low months, and you can have extremely high months. Always be five steps ahead and plan for the slow months. Don’t get crushed by the hits – let the hits fuel your next win. An optimistic outlook allows you to keep crushing it and focusing on achieving, not getting bogged down on the losses of yesterday.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Start today. Most people I encounter who aren’t living their dream are those that are waiting for something to happen for them to start. They’re waiting for the perfect storm, the perfect conditions, the “right time.” Don’t wait, just do it! I have always had a bias towards action, with an in-depth personality test revealing my life’s motto is “DO IT NOW.” Getting a black belt in martial arts is MUCH harder to get vs. a white belt. But in reality, the white belt is the hardest because to get the white belt, you have to start, and many people don’t ever take that first baby step.
  2. Time is the most valuable asset – outsource anything and everything that is lower priced than your hourly cost. Don’t look at it as a cost but the opportunity that time opens for you.
  3. Integrity – this seems like a no-brainer, but having integrity with all those you work with will result in winning eventually. Don’t sacrifice long-term gains for short-term wins.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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