What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
Amanda Knorr: The only typical part of my day is grinding coffee the second I wake up, putting it in a French Press and drinking it out of my mug (always the same one) before I get down to business. That routine provides the framework for my not-nearly-as-systematic day. After the last sip, I usually jump on email and update the current boutique sales as well as events on Spreedia. Since I create my own schedule, I like to stalk weather.com’s 5-Day Forecast. This way, I can see which days are best to hit up a bunch of stores at once (to scope out new store merchandise for the blog, pick up merchandise for photo shoots or visit new stores I plan on adding to the guide) versus which days are the best to spend indoors (to make phone calls, interact on social media and do some writing). Of course, this business is rain or shine and Boston [weather] isn’t easily pegged, so I still have to return bags full of borrowed items while tackling an inside-out umbrella.
What is the best part of your job?
AK: The freedom to make my own schedule and business decisions, followed closely by the freedom to never wear pantyhose.
What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?
AK: I was an intern at the Improper Bostonian as a senior in college before I was hired there in 2007 as an editor. I had a couple of internships before that, which served as important stepping stones. I remember very clearly how I physically got the Improper internship. I was actually running late the day of my interview. I was a few blocks down the street, had about two minutes to get there and was briskly walking in 3-inch heels. I can still remember the split second when I paused and said to myself, “Either you sprint to make this interview or turn around, because you’re not getting the job if you show up late.” Guess what I chose? Being a tad sweaty is far better than being a tad late.
What prompted you to make that switch from editorial to entrepreneurship?
AK: At the Improper, I worked closely with people who had been there since the magazine’s inception. I loved hearing stories about how it felt to secure their first major advertiser and how the magazine evolved from a concept in a family basement to one of the city’s most popular publications. I’ve always shared that yearning to start something on my own. Working at the Improper instilled confidence in me and allowed me to hone the skills [that are] necessary to take that leap.
What’s one thing that surprised you about creating a start-up?
AK: I can’t back this up with science, but I swear everyone else has more hours in a day than I do. I haven’t had the time to research that further.
Who is one person who changed your professional life for the better?
AK: If there were only one, I wouldn’t be where I am. There are many people who played (and play) an indispensable role: family, friends, bosses, store owners, peers and of course my fiancé, who also happens to be Spreedia’s programmer and designer. He’s the most supportive, insightful and talented person I could have by my side. I started Spreedia on my own without any business partners, which can be pretty tricky. With a startup, it’s critical to find people and/or team members who believe in your vision and help fill in the gaps. These team members are often not people you pay, they’re people who are plugging away with you at 2:30am, long before there’s a paycheck to show for it.
What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?
AK: There are a few I really enjoy that relate well to both business and life:
“If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”
“If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.”
“Perfect is the enemy of the good.”
What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?
AK: If you get caught up on mistakes then you can’t move on, and I believe any successful entrepreneur should have a forward-thinking mentality. In a field known for its steep learning curve, it’s important to see errors as learning experiences. It sounds silly, but it's usually small mistakes that bother me most... like typos. They’re the ones you know you could've avoided. I'll go back hours later to delete or repost a tweet if I notice I made a typo in it!
Where do you see Spreedia in 10 years?
AK: In every major city, on every smart phone and through some fancy Chanel-for-Google augmented reality glasses.
What do you look for when considering hiring someone?
AK: Drive, self-sufficiency, a positive attitude, a sense of humor and an appreciation for travel as well as discovering a city’s hidden gems.
What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?
AK: Network your butt off, be humble and never be afraid to reach out to someone. When it comes to writing: be yourself and use your own voice—it’s one thing that can never be duplicated.