Originally printed in Atlanta Magazine’s GaBiz Magazine, April 2022.
Employees Without Borders
A properly trained workforce is a capable one, but even talented would-be employees can be overlooked. That’s where Stephanie Nadi Olson comes in.
Olson is the founder and CEO of We Are Rosie or WRR, a fully flexible career platform that provides continuing education and a sense of belonging to a community of some 10,000 independent marketing and advertising professionals.
We Are Rosie leverages proprietary technology and algorithms to match that talent to project-based work with Fortune 500 brands, consultancies, and ad agencies. Once Rosies, as its freelancers are affectionately called, are matched with a project, they get to work with the support of the platform behind them. They are paid weekly and offered full benefits and access to all the other contractors in the community to collaborate on projects.
Projects range from 20 hours per week for a few months to 40 hours per week for two years. And, while it’s not a requirement for Rosies to be female, the overwhelming majority are.
Founded in 2018, the company, which recently received a growth investment from Align Capital Partners in at $110 million, tripled its revenue in the past year and now works with more than 25 Fortune 500 brands and all six major advertising holding companies. In 2021 alone, more than 1,200 flexible project opportunities came to contractors through We Are Rosie.
Olson knows firsthand that finding talent to build a thriving workforce is possible in Georgia. Indeed, approximately 40 percent of the first 500 Rosies in the community reside in the Peach State.
“It was Georgia talent that really got us off the ground,” Olson says. “Because of that start, our population in Georgia continues to be a larger percentage proportionately to the talent on our platform than traditional advertising markets like New York, Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles.”
It didn’t hurt that Olson was born and raised in Atlanta, educated at Georgia Tech, and has spent the last decade matching talent to companies in need of it.
“When I started my marketing career over a decade ago, so many major brands were going to New York for talent,” Olson says, “I always had a chip on my shoulder about that.” Since launching We Are Rosie, Olson has seen a big shift. Big brands like Coca-Cola, Home Depot, and Delta have started to recognize they have talent right in their backyards. They don’t need to go to Madison Avenue for top-quality partners.
Brands such as IBM, Facebook, Microsoft, Bumble, and IHG Hotels & Resorts have also relied on Olson’s diverse team to execute projects over the past several years. “They’ll come to us because they want an agile and inclusive approach to talent that We Are Rosie can deliver,” she says.
And her Rosies don’t have to give up their lives to attract business, showcase their talent, and enjoy the career of their dreams, as Altimese Curry of College Park knows firsthand. She was introduced to We Are Rosie early in 2019, three years after founding the Ezer Agency and while still working as the leader of a social media team for a national creative agency.
When she was laid off, Curry threw all her energy into Ezer, specializing in public relations, digital marketing, and paid social media advertising. She also reached out to Olson to help further her agency business. “I thought that what she was building was brilliant,” Curry says. “When you are being paired or connected with potential clients, it doesn’t feel like an interview.
“In corporate America, I felt like I had to put on a face, to fit a mold. With We Are Rosie, it feels natural, rather than you having to be perfect or fit a facade. It’s kind of like matchmaking. [The client says,] ‘We have this opportunity. Are you interested?’” Curry explains.
Though working full-time in a corporate job felt safe because of the guaranteed paycheck, Curry sees a tremendous upside in working with high-powered clients like Facebook through We Are Rosie. In June 2020, her company hit six figures. In the first quarter of 2021, she surpassed her corporate salary.
Although most Rosies are based in the U.S., the community stretches across the globe to 60 countries, as marketers come on board for a sense of camaraderie, skill-sharing, and access to blue chip brands they otherwise might not encounter.
“While we have a geographically agnostic approach to hiring, a large percentage of our full-time employees are here in Georgia,” Olson says. “We have found incredible talent here and it’s been fun to grow our team with Georgia natives and people who have migrated to Georgia.”