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Hi, I’m Mel.

I’m sharing little ways that I find comfort and balance with a fast-paced, digital career. In a more, more, more society I hope you find retreat and inspiration to strike the balance, too.

How SMAL Started

How SMAL Started

A total accident.

A series of events led to me to establish SMAL - and but while it was all unraveling it was the last thing I ever expected to come about. You could call the events unlucky, but I sure am excited about the way it all turned out.

It was the day I arrived back at my job from my lush honeymoon in Mexico, toward the end of 2014. I was at a hip agency in downtown St. Louis working as a social media manager for the #4 selling beer in the country at the time. If you tried to guess the brand, you would never guess this one was #4. It was a stressful job, I was paid an okay salary, and it was the dream job I always wanted with the cool office and the flashy parties. Every Facebook ad we placed was for more than my life was worth.

I got a call from my husband saying he was moving teams at work. Business as usual, this happens all the time in commercial aerospace engineering. But, this was a little different because he was calling to see what I thought about putting his name in the hat to move to a team with opportunities for temporary relocation. Sure, why not? I doubt it’d actually happen and plus, I was in a post-vacation daze - any place but work sounded lovely.

I’ll keep this brief but in any event, we ended up packing our bags for a 9-month stint in Seattle and I was lucky enough to get an ok from my boss to work remotely during that time. I was expecting to quit my job and rely on our housing stipend in Seattle, but keeping the job sounded pretty ideal.

About 6 weeks in, I flew home to be here in time for the birth of our best friend’s first baby and work in the office for a few days. This was going swimmingly, and nobody even really noticed I’d been gone.

Cut to the most hectic hour of my life. It was a Friday afternoon and I’d be flying back to Seattle on Sunday with Kyle, who was in the air at the time to join me in St. Louis to visit the baby for the weekend with me. I was leaving the office really soon to be at home to sign the papers on my car shipment to Seattle so I could have it the rest of the time there. My boss called a meeting with me - I assumed to touch base before I left again. Wrong.

My job was gone. Our client was gone.

…but I could still work part-time, she explained. That sure was nice, but where the heck does that leave me when I get back? And the truck is at my house waiting to load up my car. Should I still go? I should really be staying here to look for a new job. I could consult with Kyle, but he's in the air for the next 3 hours. So I went home, loaded my car to Seattle, and decided to just wing it.

The following months were rough to say the least. Working part-time (which was barely even that), remote, in a city without any friends, and husband working his tail off on his new team wasn’t exactly the ideal situation. It was also extremely mortifying to go from a full-time busy bee with a flashy dream job to a part-time nobody in search of work. Hey, but I had my car. So, I spent a lot of time at barre3.

Enter freelancing.

I joined several creative temp agencies and started spreading the word that I was looking for freelance social media work to stack on top of my part-time job. I hated this. I was so embarrassed and it felt horrible to go to these interviews. I didn’t get a single project. There was a lot of time spent at barre3, a lot of cooking, a ton of Planet Earth, and plenty of rainy day naps followed by a walk to Starbucks at our little apartment in Ballard.

When we got back to St. Louis, I was still part-time at the agency - but I knew my time was ticking. I was basically just sitting in chair for 20 hours each week because they were maintaining a record of not firing anyone. I interviewed for dozens of new jobs, but none of them seemed right.

A couple months after being back… ding dong - a freelance project! I was so excited. After I booked one client and had a satisfactory review, another one came through. And another. By the new year, I was working full-time again, half at the agency and half freelancing.

Fast forward a few months later, and I had a steady part-time book of clients all of which told me they wished I had more time for them. I took on more and more with them until I was working way more than full-time, and then pulled the plug on my agency job. When I quit, I immediately regretted it and wanted to ask for my job back. Pulling away the security of that pretty job was terrifying. But freelancing was satisfying and my clients were happy, and I felt like they needed me. I was sick of sitting at my desk filling 20 hours of time doing nothing. I decided to keep going with it until I found another new job.

I went on freelancing for another year, and began teaching barre classes to stay active. My clients started referring me to more clients, and I kept getting asked for business cards and a website. After many discussions with my longtime pal Maggie at Hello Gypsy Design, I took her up on her strong recommendation to make myself official. She thoughtfully designed my branding, helped me choose a name, and ordered my first official business cards. I was offered a few jobs, and continued on more interviews, but none of them were as good as working for myself.

Meet SMAL Marketing - a big thing that came together from a lot of little things along the way. I’m so glad to be here trucking along with it after all these years.

Weekend Retreat in Scottsdale

Weekend Retreat in Scottsdale

Resetting in Sedona

Resetting in Sedona