The Riveter: The Story Behind We Are Rosie – The Freelance Marketplace
Are you looking for new freelance opportunities, but not sure where to start? We Are Rosie is a female-founded flexible career platform with a community of over 12,000+ independent marketing experts that was created to more efficiently connect freelancers with brands, agencies and consultancies (including 25+ Fortune 500 companies!). With project offerings spanning a wide variety of industries and roles, you’re bound to find work that’s just the right fit for you. Founded only a few years ago, the startup has seen tremendous growth during the pandemic. We were delighted to speak with Founder & CEO, Stephanie Nadi Olson, to learn more about the origins of We Are Rosie, details behind running her business, as well as future visions for the company. Enjoy!
How did you come up with the idea for We Are Rosie, and where does the name come from?
We Are Rosie sits at the intersection of my personal and professional lived experience. Personally, I am first-gen American, first-gen college grad, and grew up in a multi-racial, multi-religious household. I’ve always had a drive to support people who are marginalized by our society as I’ve seen the impact racism, sexism, and nationalism have had within my own family. Professionally, I’ve been in the marketing and advertising industry for 15 years—and 4 years ago, it dawned on me that if we want to truly create a more inclusive workforce, we need to change the system, which was built on very exclusionary principles like 40-60 hour weeks, living in major markets, year-round work, and awful bereavement, birth/adoption, and sick leave policies. I realized that there is incredible promise in remote, independent careers and set out to build a platform to make that possible for thousands of marketers.
I named the company after my youngest daughter, Margot Rosie, as a constant reminder of the fact that if we do our jobs right at We Are Rosie, my children will have an opportunity to work in a way that gives them the life they deserve and the career they desire. This company exists to leave a brighter future for the next generation.
Can anyone become a “rosie”? And what can they expect once they join your community?
Yes! Our community, The Garden, is open to all marketers in any season of their career. Once you’re there you can engage with other Rosie’s, learn about and apply for opportunities with our clients, join our Slack channel, sign up for events, and more!
How many freelancers are currently within your network? How much has it grown since founding?
Well, we started out with about 20 folks that I personally asked to join our tiny community 4 years ago and we’ve just passed 11,000 brilliant Rosies in our community.
What advice would you give to women who are new to the freelance world?
We decided to crowdsource this question from various We Are Rosie core team members!
- Get clear on what you want out of freelance work and get really honest about what lights you up. Look back at the times in your career where work didn’t feel so much like work and cater your profile on platforms like ours to call that out.
- Don’t sell yourself short. Before you worry about a logo, really think through your pricing structure. Don’t base it on your current wage, as more than likely; you’re being underpaid.
- Set your boundaries; upfront. Be clear with the services you do and don’t offer.
- Throw your hat in the ring even if you aren’t a perfect fit! I see more women turn down opportunities they aren’t a 100% match for while the men who are less qualified than the women who passed are saying YASSS.
- Speak up (& plainly). Women are programmed to think direct communication is aggressive, so they avoid it.
- Normalizing disrespect = encouraging disrespect
- Don’t feel obligated to “help out” family, friends, friends of friends with anything that costs you money, time or peace of mind. This is YOUR business.
- Do not do work for free! Show a portfolio, creative samples, writing samples, etc. However, do not provide work they could use without paying you!
- Everything from hours to rate is negotiable, so set yourself up for success and to feel really good about the projects you sign on for! And don’t be afraid to stack or overlap projects or take time off between projects when you need to!
- Hire someone to do your taxes!
What are some aspects of the business that you are most proud of?
Oh-so many things give me great pride! I am proud of this team, who have left big, fancy jobs to join this little startup-that-could. They have built this business one brick at a time, so compassionately and thoughtfully. We’ve grown so fast, and it’s not always been easy, but our collective care for our mission has pushed us forward in an incredible way. I am so proud of the talent we get to represent in our community. We keep a “Rosies-Are-Rad” slack channel where we gush over all the absolutely brilliant freelance talent we get to know on this journey. And I am so proud of the clients who have bravely come on this ride with us. I call them our “strategic rebels” and they have knocked down walls for us at 25 F500 brands to create opportunity for our Rosies and show the world that there is a better way to get work done.
When it comes to normalizing marketers working with freelancers, in what ways has the pandemic helped you with this mission?
Well, before the pandemic, I was presenting my thesis on remote, flexible, independent work being inclusive to the biggest brands in the world. And it was a slog to get people to expand their minds in that way. Since the pandemic, I am definitely not having that conversation anymore, as we all know it’s true. In a time where it can feel like nothing is certain, we’ve seen both talent and clients flock to our platform to embrace flexible marketing work. It’s innovative, efficient, and inclusive. I like to think Covid accelerated the inevitable on this front. It was always inevitable as there was incredible pent-up demand from people in corporate America desperate to work in a more humane, flexible way. We’re just going to make that a reality for so many people much faster now.
What are some examples of brands you partner with that best showcase the range of industries and project types that freelancers may be able to work with?
We work with all kinds of brands, agencies, and consultancies including 25+ Fortune 500s and all six agency holding companies. Our clients include Meta, Bumble, Microsoft, IBM, IHG and more!
How have your company goals changed between when it was founded and now?
I love this question. When I started the company, outside of surviving (bootstrapped life!), my goals were largely to connect current freelance talent to opportunity. As we’ve evolved and signed on huge blue-chip clients with massive demand for people to work in this way, we’re now looking to be the place where marketing moves. Where all marketers, regardless of what type of work they are interested in, can come to We Are Rosie and be greeted with incredible opportunity, community, and camaraderie. We’re able to do this because we have remote, flexible projects on our platform ranging in duration from 2 months to 2 years!
What’s in store for We Are Rosie for the rest of 2022?
We’re going to double the number of Rosies we put to work (again) this year. We will continue to scale our Teams offering, where we connect 2 to 20 Rosies together to tackle a project as a unit. And all of this work will be underpinned by a significant investment in human-centered tech that will allow us to match people to opportunity better, faster, stronger. But we will never lose the human touch that makes this place magic.
What’s the first thing you do every morning:
Definitely not looking at my phone! I keep it in the bathroom, charging, at night to avoid temptation. My morning routine most often consists of me laying in bed, mentally getting my prios organized for the day, while I wait for my 6-year-old daughter to climb in bed with me for snuggles. I know I won’t have much longer of her doing this, so soaking it all up.
What’s the last thing you do every night:
Usually read or watch totally embarrassing trash TV, my guilty pleasure. We all need a distraction from this craziness we’re living in!
What app can’t you live without:
Twitter! I am relatively new to Twitter, but have found it the most helpful social network for expanding my worldview, learning from others, and connecting with other like-minded leaders.
What book do we need to read:
The Four Agreements. It’s such an easy and impactful read.
What business or person should we have our eye on:
So many amazing people I am tracking right now (mostly on Twitter!)… Omid Farhang at Majority Agency here in ATL, and Diamond Hawkins who is building Pothos Beauty, a beauty marketplace in service of people with melanated skin, are both top of mind for me right now.