2019 Women in Print and Promo: Kelly Stone, The IdeaBox Powered by Proforma
Owner and President, The IdeaBox Powered by Proforma, Coral Springs, Fla.
How she got her start: I was actually contacted by a headhunter. I was selling medical software, and it was during the dotcom bust, so the company was struggling, and the writing was on the wall. The print and promo industry seemed interesting, so I took the opportunity as a salesperson. After years of gaining experience, I decided to work for myself and started The IdeaBox Powered by Proforma.
What she does: My current role is president and owner of The IdeaBox Powered by Proforma. Aside from managing my awesome team of eight, I also go after large enterprise opportunities and help manage our current book of business.
What brings her joy professionally and personally: When [I] sit down with a client and get to understand what their marketing objectives and goals are and how we are able to match our products and services with their needs, and then seeing the project through the whole process and seeing the positive results at the end, that is exciting and that brings the joy. Overall, my family and the fact that they are happy and healthy is all I need. That brings me joy.
Her proudest career achievement: Being named the fastest-growing distributor last year—that was pretty huge!
On working in a traditionally male-dominated industry: I was in my mid-20s when I started, and it was, and still is, very male-dominated. As a woman, I feel we have a lot more to prove in business situations and not just in this industry, but in business overall; however, I feel we are making strides every day. I walk into meetings and it can be a room full of men, but by the end of the meeting, they are all shaking their heads going, “Wow, she really knows what she’s talking about.” That’s empowering. I welcome the challenge, I embrace the challenge and I really enjoy watching people’s reactions change based on my knowledge base. As a woman, you have to be comfortable speaking in front of people, you have to be knowledgeable and you have to be confident. You have to put in the effort to get the outcome you want.
Her job advice to women: [This business] is a lot of fun. You never know what each day is going to bring. It is something that will challenge you every single day. If you want something that is cookie-cutter, this is not the industry for you, but there are a lot of different dynamics that I still love after 19 years. I still get the same joy when a project comes together.
Who she turns to for career advice: I have an amazing mentor who I worked with at American Identity. This woman taught me most everything I know. She took me under her wing and shaped me into the businesswoman I am today. She’s amazing. Any time I have problems or issues, I can call her and we’ll talk through it. She’s a great soundboard. I’ve known her for 18 years, and she’s absolutely amazing and I owe a lot to her. When I met Carla, I was so green, but she saw my drive and my work ethic, and she saw that I would do what it takes to get it done, and she really brought that out in me and really used that to educate me in this industry. Thank you, Carla Honig!
Her upcoming goals: Professionally, we have experienced explosive growth over the last 18 months, which is amazing, but it really put a lot of stress on our company. So, I really want for us to step back and look at our client base and do a better job servicing our clients. I want us to make better decisions on the business that we do take. We need to be customer-centric and more creative and ahead of curve for our clients. Personally, I want to keep providing for my family and ensuring that my children have everything they need.
How she maintains a work/life balance: Is there such a thing? But, honestly, one thing that I do is I block out an hour every single day for myself, whether it is going to the gym or going to the beach or going for a walk to clear my head. I think it is very important to schedule time to decompress. I put it on my schedule because if I don’t, I won’t do it. And as an owner, I tell my employees the same thing. If you need to go to the gym or get your hair done, go do it as long as you get your work done.
Final thoughts: My family—my husband and my three kids—are very supportive. They’ve really inspired me to do a great job, to do the best I possibly can.
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.