This article originally appeared in AdNews September/October magazine. Subscribe here to make sure you get your copy.
Joe Carter has turned a passion into a career parachute.
The now former director of communications at Colenso BBDO has turned his side job into a full-time role.
Carter, along with Kate Slavin, formed Ironclad Pan Companycast iron cookware — with a “three-generation warranty,” or about 100 years.
They make sure the pans will last. Each is made by hand, from casting the metal to the finished product. It is the only cast iron cookware made in Aotearoa, New Zealand.
It was an unusual move for a few creatives. They formed the company at the end of 2019 and then started in 2020. No outside capital. Just their own entrepreneurial spirit.
AdNews caught up with Joe Carter to find out more about life after commercial.
Why did you leave the industry, and is it scary there?
“I fell into the industry, but I don’t think you’ll ever ‘leave’ – the amazing people and mentors who have supported and worked with me over the past decade will always be part of my thinking, of my values and my life. They, and therefore the industry, will never leave my inner psyche.
“I left because the opportunity presented itself to apply everything I learned to our own business. It was unmanageable as working every night and every weekend, so after overthinking and intellectualizing everything, the business got to a point where I had to commit full time.
“The biggest risk was not taking any risk at all. As an entrepreneur, no two days are alike, which causes excitement and a lot of nerves. But I’m surrounded by people who know way more than me, so it’s more difficult than scary.
What skills did you learn in the industry that help you now?
“Besides learning how to build a meaningful brand and a profitable business, the biggest learning I’ve learned is resilience. Every week there’s a new issue that requires me to work both in and on the company.
“There are so many lessons to be learned from mistakes, and I think the marketing industry has taught me that it’s okay to make mistakes and accept responsibility for them. When it’s is your skin in the game, there is no hiding from both success and failure.
“With no outside shareholders or capital investment, you have to be honest with yourself (rather than a customer) about what works and what doesn’t.
“It took me a few months to realize that making sure there’s enough money in the bank to keep doing what we love is an achievement in itself – that’s the real trophy.”
Any advice for those going out alone?
“Ask for help and start simple. If we go it alone, we will only ever see our product, our customers, and our culture through our perspective on the world.
“If we ask for help in areas where we don’t have superpowers, people will tell you everything you need to know.
“There are so many ideas that never go beyond a conference room or our inner monologue, and I think we just need to do more of those ideas. Beautifully crafted and simply delivered.
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