My experience thus far as a Co-Founder of PufCreativ has been nothing short of interesting. Some days I can’t even believe we have come as far as we have in just a few months. When we first started, I would often find myself giving clients advice or rambling on about what I think their marketing operation should be like for the next 10 years. Surprisingly, all of my clients put trust in my opinions from the beginning. We’re going into our fifth month as a marketing company and we’re beginning to onboard fresh clients and begin new, exciting projects.
The amount of experience I’ve gained since starting my own business venture is remarkable. I’ve learned lessons that would make me an asset to any organization. At the same time, I enjoy pushing myself to see how far I can take a project on my own. Of course, I wouldn’t be able to do it without my business partners Katie Burrell and Shamus Lahman. They compliment my marketing style, strategy, and operation better than anyone I’ve ever met. As lucky as we are, the path to get here was a bumpy one.
It all started when I left my job as a Marketing and Operations Manager at a nightclub in South Florida. Although I was good at my job and enjoyed nightlife, I felt like I wasn’t working to my full potential. I had a revelation one night that the legalization of cannabis could have an enormous positive trickle down effect on the entire country. I was passionate about cannabis and highly educated on the medical benefits of the plant. I’ve decided one night to leave my managerial position, move home to New Jersey, and search for jobs in the cannabis industry out west. My now wife, but fiancé at the time, Allison, was on board with the move. She got an offer from a law firm in Denver and I received an offer for a digital marketing position with a cannabis startup from the San Francisco Bay Area. Fortunately, I could work from home, so we moved to Denver.
I started out getting paid a small retainer for my work. This is a financial sacrifice often necessary when getting any start-up business off the ground, especially in the cannabis industry. The president of the company that hired me, also hired Katie Burrell to work as an intern on some projects with me. At the same time, I reached out to my good friend from home, Shamus Lahman, who also lived in Colorado. He would later assist me with some design and consulting I needed to complete some projects for my position with the cannabis start up. I completed a ton of projects, attended a huge cannabis conference for the first time, and continued to try my best to move the company in a forward direction.
It was during this time I realized my marketing specialization was in creative content, strategy, and networking. I needed others to compliment my talent in order to bring the whole marketing platform together. It was also at this time that my intern Katie did not receive the financial reciprocation she was promised when taking on the role. Within a few weeks, I also didn’t receive the financial reciprocation I was promised.
Not only did I feel horrible for my intern, but I felt bad for myself and bad for my fiancé’/soon to be wife. The startup company continued to have its internal struggles and I decided I needed a change of direction, fast.
We should start our own digital marketing agency, Bruh
I was skateboarding with Shamus at the Denver Skatepark, and he brought up the idea of starting our own marketing agency. I immediately saw the opportunity because my mind began to race more than it ever had in my entire life. Knowing this was going to be the path I chose and it was going to be a ton of work, I reached out to the one person I knew that could be an asset to our team and get work done efficiently and effectively, Katie Burrell.
I introduced Katie to Shamus, and then the brain storm began. We originally wanted to name our company LIT Labs, but it was already taken. Katie sent an email one day with some alternatives and puff creative came up. I loved the idea, and Shamus took the ball and ran with it for the logo. If I can recall correctly, I think he made the name one word without the second “f” at the end of “puff” and the “e” at and the end of creative missing by accident. He sent us over a rough draft with our current cloud logo in multiple colors and puff creative spelled as “pufcreativ.” If my recollection is correct, I think he even apologized for the inadvertent spelling error. We all agreed that it was catchy and exactly what we we were all looking for.
Within a week, we built our social media and a few weeks later our website. A month later we were officially an LLC. It’s funny, I think about 5 minutes after I set-up our Facebook page and shared it to my personal wall, PufCreativ received a DM. I thought it had to be spam, but it was Al Cleary with Lucky Street Tavern and Grill. He wrote:
I already had a great relationship with Al. Not only through mutual professional contacts in NJ, but from Florida as well. I immediately responded and we kept in touch about his project for months. We just built Lucky Street’s social media and website splash page two weeks ago. Lucky Street Tavern & Grill plans to open in a month and a half in Hollywood, Florida.
Our first paying client was Dr. Robby Flannery. This doctor is literally one of a kind. He is the first cannabis grower with a PhD in the United States. Not only is his brand super fun to market, but he’s also a great guy. Everything he does is for a very specific purpose; to set a new standard in the cannabis industry by providing clean, safe, and effective cannabis. It’s an honor doing work with someone who has such a meaningful vision and mission.
We currently have 12 clients Pufcreativ does ongoing work for. We are on-boarding two very strong leads and negotiating a new contract with one of our ongoing clients.
The Future… The PufNetwork
When we first started PufCreativ, we all agreed that we wanted our content to be very different from other creative marketing agencies in the United States. We all had our own content to offer, but it wasn’t enough. Our vision was bigger than that.
I already had a Facebook group of friends all over the country who were artists, musicians, athletes, and creative thinkers. I utilized this group for the cannabis company I worked for to create a community of like minded individuals who would work together to create cannabis awareness. This was also a great opportunity for some of them to gain exposure to the cannabis community.
I realized I could utilize this group for PufCreativ, and now add more creative and gifted people to the group because it wasn’t cannabis specific anymore. One day I decided to switch the name of the group to the “PufNetwork,” and began to add Facebook friends who were involved with marketing, photography, music, art, extreme sports, etc.
We utilize the PufCreativ social media platform to not only expose our personal creative work and work we do for our clients, but we also utilize to expose the PufNetwork. We started to utilize members of the PufNetwork for services!
My major vision for PufCreativ and the PufNetwork is to bring everyone and everything together. I want each to be its own platform for positive and creative activity and progression. One cannot exist without the other. One major lesson this whole experience has taught me is that I’ve met people in my life for a reason. Whether that reason is large or small, I plan to surrender to the flow and utilize the platforms we’ve created. Please comment below with any thoughts, comments, or concerns!