Adam Levine of New York joined We Are Rosie over a year ago and hasn’t looked back. Courtesy of Ann D’Adamo.
Finding her life’s purpose
Olson realized it wasn’t enough to spend the rest of her life working for other people. She wanted more control over her destiny and the ability to make an even bigger impact on the world around her.
In 2017, she quit her job, marking the first time since age 14 that Olson was unemployed. She was 33 and had been the family’s main breadwinner. People thought she was having a mental health crisis.
She wasn’t, but she had no idea what she’d do next.
At her parents’ home alone one day, she sat down with a cup of ginger turmeric tea and made lists of all the times she’d felt the most alive, all the times work didn’t feel like work, all the things that gave her energy.
She thought about her work on the board of the Atlanta Birth Center, a nonprofit that provides prenatal and postpartum care and support to women. She thought about the Atlanta Refugee Supper Club she started to connect recently resettled families with American host families. She thought about her work with mothers who, like her, had struggled with postpartum depression.
“That work lit me up,” Olson recalled.
Could supporting people who were marginalized, overlooked and underestimated be her life’s purpose?
She started connecting with others who’d also left their jobs and, through “a series of dates,” got to know them and why they, too, had opted out of corporate America.
That’s when Olson had her lightbulb moment. The corporate lifestyle — working 60-hour weeks, taking frequent business trips, being tethered to an office year-round even when the kids were out of school — was creating a groundswell of people who felt marginalized by how work happened in corporate America.
“There were all these people who wanted or needed to work in a different way but couldn’t find a way to do so,” she said.
Olson decided she could fix that. The question was, how?
We Are Rosie is born
With her husband’s blessing, Olson took six months to work on a solution.
Although her skill set was primarily sales and marketing, Olson was convinced that, with her connections to some of the biggest corporate brands in the country, she could bring projects to the people she’d met so they could continue working but on their own terms.
In 2018, after convincing her former nanny to join the endeavor, Olson launched We Are Rosie, leveraging proprietary technology and algorithms to match people to flexible, project-based marketing work with Fortune 500 brands, consultancies and ad agencies.
Once “Rosies,” as its freelancers are called, are matched with a project, they are paid weekly and offered full benefits and access to all the other contractors in the community with whom they could 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 women, the majority are.
Nikki Coleman, who was promoted in February to We Are Rosie’s chief operating officer, is among them. The Canton resident came to the platform the year it was launched after working seven years in marketing for a medical firm.
“I didn’t feel challenged or fulfilled in the work that I was doing,” Coleman said. “Being a new mother, I was questioning how I was spending my time and how I was showing up.”
An executive coach challenged her to seek an employer that aligned with her values. She wanted a more flexible work environment and the space to be creative and share ideas.
“I found We Are Rosie and sent Stephanie a message,” she said.
Months later, they met, and Coleman joined We Are Rosie overseeing operations, human resources and legal.
It was a life-changing career decision, said Coleman.
“It’s allowed me to be more present for my family,” she said. “I’m less stressed. I get to make a difference in the future of work while working with an incredible, remote team.”
Two years ago, a colleague suggested Adam Levine, 58, check out the platform. He had left his corporate job to start his own company, The Lucy Collective, a New York City ad agency. But just as he was getting his footing, the COVID-19 epidemic hit. Advertising budgets shrank and jobs grew scarce.
“Business dried up,” he said.
Six months after entering the Rosie database, Levine heard back.
“Not only did they connect me with an agency, but they were also advocates for me, spearheading the interview process,” Levine said.
Levine got the client and is now in discussions for another role with one of the top five brands in the country.
“They’re not playing around,” Levine said. “By placing people who are out of a job because of ageism, racism or sexism or simply don’t want to work with companies that aren’t friendly to them, Stephanie is creating a more equitable and more diverse workforce.”
As We Are Rosie has grown and Olson has surrounded herself with a good team, she, too, is reaping the benefits of her dream.
“I am, for the first time in four years, getting back to my own balance,” she said. “I am so happy to have been able to pour my heart and soul into this mission. I can spend more time with my family, care for my own mind, body and spirit, and continue running the business I love.”
Still, as Olson constantly reminds her fellow Rosies, balance can be seasonal.
For now, she’s just happy to be in a good season.