Member Spotlight: Erika Velazquez Alpern
I am the CEO & Founder of Tactile, an agency created to change the ratio. Before I dove headfirst into running an agency, I was the VP of Marketing & Communications for The New Republic and spent close to a decade in brand marketing and communications across media, tech, and the arts.
Tell us about your path to launching Tactile.
As I grew in my career, I came up against the challenges that so many women face in the workplace. I was typically the only woman and/or only Hispanic person in the room. I started hosting small dinners for women across industries, in an effort process these workplace experiences. I tried to become an ally for women in the companies I worked for as much as possible. But after hearing the same story over and over, I decided it was time to take action. I decided it was time to launch a company that would lead to more female run companies and more female CEOs. I wanted to help ambitious female leaders build ambitious brands, and enable female-centric projects to thrive.
With Tactile, we are building a new kind of agency model. One that supports female founders at ALL stages, with various levels of resources. We operate as a full-service brand marketing and communications agency for established female-led companies. But we also have a membership program for very early-stage / resource-strained founders. We have what we call "sessions" which provides agency-level services at an accessible price-point. We also host monthly workshops and free office hours.
Which female leaders have inspired you?
So many! I know it’s cliché to start by saying “my mom.” But…my mom. Before I was born, she ran a bootstrapped gallery in the East Village that showed some of my favorite artists today, like Nan Goldin and Zoe Leonard. She went on to have 6 (yes, I am the oldest of 6!) children, works for the Department of Education, curates shows, makes art, runs at least 5 miles a day, but usually 12 miles, and is a mega inspiration. I would definitely add Jennifer Lindenauer to the list. She was my boss at the Guardian (she is now the VP of Marketing at Upworthy) and she continues to be a mentor. She armed me with the confidence to do Tactile full time. Additionally, I am endlessly inspired by Zadie Smith, Sonia Sotomayor, Roxane Gay, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cindy Gallup, Ava Duvernay…this list could get really long. And of course, every female founder we work with as well as our entire Tactile team.
What has been your greatest success at Tactile so far?
The amazing clients we have had the honor of working with, especially the clients we have helped during the fundraising period. Additionally, I think launching cost-accessible programs to support women in the early stages of entrepreneurship has been a huge success.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start her own company?
Lean on your community, they want to be a part of what you are building and want to support you. Be open to feedback and ideas, but always trust your gut/intuition. And have a 1 year plan, a 5 year plan, and the ability to tear them all up if you need to.
What does a typical day look like for you?
It changes every day. I usually reserve the mornings for casual meetings with amazing women doing amazing things. After that, I will usually check-in with our team, knock out work, take client calls, etc. At the end of the day, I will either attend an event, grab a casual dinner with a friend of fellow founder, or spend time with my husband and puppy. That schedule is pretty loose and definitely gets thrown out the window on days we host events, which is almost once a week right now.
Why do you like using Croissant?
It has been a lifesaver. My days can get a little back-to-back. It is quite often that I have an in-person meeting somewhere at 9am and then calls from 10am-12pm and then a deadline at 2pm. There is always a Croissant co-working space near where I am so I can duck into work/take meetings without stress.