Hanging A Shingle Is Risky Business

Sally Hogshead shares a story about founding Robaire & Hogshead in 1998 that’s instructive for others considering an entrepreneurial venture.

My heart ka-boomed in my chest as we stood outside the building, preparing to sign the lease. I turned to my business partner, took a breath, and nervously said I couldn’t go through with it. Not because the building’s recent remodel from a mechanic’s garage left much to be desired, or even because the office sat smack dab in the hotbed of Venice Beach gang activity. No, it was because in that summer of 1998, the $2,000/month lease was literally higher than my salary had been only three of years earlier.
Jean Robaire, my then-partner, had a decade more experience and an extraordinary business track record. He turned, looked me in the eye, and told me something I’ll never forget: “I know how you’re feeling. But if you want to be successful, you’ll have to get used to this feeling. This is risk. And if you ever want to take big steps in your career, you’ll have to get used to risk.”

In July of 2000, I dropped off some creative samples at R&H in Venice Beach and was struck by the open air office and artsy photo of Johnny Winter at the reception desk. I thought to myself, damn, these people have it going on.

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am now head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.