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Interview with Stacy Angela Magallon – How To Get Started In Design & Creative Work – Episode #15

“Do things that you have no idea how to do because that is what’s going to make you into an asset in the future.”

Stacy is a creative director at First Tech Fund, a non-profit dedicated to supporting NYC students from low income and underserved backgrounds, to ensure they have access to technology that will empower them to close the rampant digital divide gap. She also worked at VaynerMedia and M Booth, serving clients like Google, NIVEA, Lime-A-Rita, Johnson & Johnson’s, and more. If you’re looking to learn more about marketing, graphic design, and what it means to be a high-performance creative, this episode is for you!

We talked about how she got started in marketing, with her first professional gig being at VaynerMedia, the best practices for working in an agency-setting, how she keeps her creative design skills in tip-top shape, and more.

Full Episode Transcript:


Kenny Soto  0:01  

All right, and we are going to start the podcast and 543. Hello everyone and welcome to Kenny Soto Digital Marketing podcast. I’m very excited for today’s episode because I have a close friend from college here on the podcast. Her name is Stacy. 


And Stacy is a creative director at the first tech fund a nonprofit dedicated to supporting New York City students from low income and underserved undeserved backgrounds to ensure they have access to technology that will empower them to close the rapid Digital Divide gap, which is a thing and it’s very important. She always worked. 


She also works us me at VaynerMedia and M booth, serving clients like google, nivia, Lima Rita, Johnson, and Johnson’s and more. If you’re looking to learn more about marketing, graphic design and what it means to be a high performance creative, this episode is for you. Welcome, Stacy. 


Stacy Magallon  1:01  

Hi. Hi, Kenny.


Kenny Soto  1:04  

Stacy. So before we jump into the podcast, can you pronounce your last name?


Stacy Magallon  1:11  

That’s a great question. I’m so excited that you started off with this. So in the Philippines, you pronounce it my yawn. If you’re no Hispanic or Latino, you say my gyaan. But in the western world here in America, I go by Magallon, like a gallon of milk. 


Kenny Soto  1:27  

Stacy Magallon. That’s it, guys. Alright, so Stacey, I wanted to begin today’s podcast with getting a general understanding of your professional background. So can you tell the audience what got you into marketing? And what is it that you do?


Stacy Magallon  1:49  

Great. So basically tell you everything I did after college. Okay, so I met Kenny through the campus magazine, which was a publication that we did at school. And after that, I decided that I kind of wanted to delve into the creative side of advertising I went to, I was like in an advertising and PR program at City College, they weren’t exactly teaching us the, what we needed for the digital age of like, 2016, I was learning social media marketing on the side. 


The program itself was very archaic, which is why I got started with the campus to learn like more about the creative side. And after I graduated, it became very clear that my portfolio was so saturated in the arts and not so much the account side, the strategy side. The I don’t even remember what they taught us, honestly. So I was like, okay, I can only really do the creative route. So I started applying for internships, as like designers at agencies.


 I even tried being a copywriter for a quick second because I took one copywriting class and I was like, yeah, that’s enough, you know. And I actually planned on taking the year after college off just to reset figured out what I was going to do, but I hadn’t been to internships, the internship application anyway. 


And I didn’t apply to VaynerMedia as an intern, they reached out to me. So I was like, Whoa, baby baby,like, it just landed in my lap, dude. So I was going back and forth, whether or not I want to accept the internship. I did because I was broke as hell. And that’s kind of started my journey into advertising. I was working as a design designer and in design intern rather sorry, working on brands like Budweiser, Stella Artois, Natty light. 


And from there, I grew up to enjoy it more and more, because that was something I felt like I was doing at the canvas magazine, and not so much, you know, in the curriculum we had at school. So I decided to stick with it. Eventually, I got hired as a creative, creative resident. Eventually, that became an I became a junior art director. And then I became an art director, like about three years into my time at VaynerMedia. And since then, I’ve I’ve been working in the advertising industry, strictly on the creative side. And yeah, now , Adam booth.


Kenny Soto  4:15  

That’s really good. And, yeah, this is just a personal question that I have that I’ve always wondered, right. What does the creative side do in an agency setting? Like, what is it that someone would expect? In the terms of like, I’m going to be an art director, what would my day to day work look like?


Stacy Magallon  4:38  

It really depends on the agency you’re at. I would so Vayner was historically very much advertising and booth is very much PR. So the, the relationship I have with other teams on within the office is has been very different between M booth and VaynerMedia as convener our day to day was, for example, the strategy team would come asked us to brief us on this new problem that needed to be solved from a creative POV. 


So we’d get briefed by the strategist and be like, we need to get this by doing this and etc, etc, etc. But how do we do that from a creative perspective? So then creatives like the CD, the art director, the copywriter, etc, would get into a room and brainstorm how to sell product x by meeting these three strategy points. So a lot of the work is brainstorming.

And a lot of the work is brainstorming. And once you’ve got these creative ideas, it is the art director and copywriters job to discuss how that comes to life visually and through messaging. So it’s a lot of back and forth between the art director and the copywriter. 

And when they feel like these ideas are finessed well enough, they pitch it back to the creative director. And the creative director is in charge of making sure this makes sense from a branded visual perspective, from a messaging perspective, and from a strategy perspective, that’s basically that for like three weeks until you hit the deadline, and then we present to the strategy team. And then if strategy team likes, it, presents a client, if the strategy team hates it back to the creatives to like, finesse it a little bit. And it goes on and on and on. Hopefully, it doesn’t go on and on and on. But it goes on and on and on until you have to deliver it to client. And when the client likes it, you get sign off or you get more feedback, you go back and do your dance, song and dance again.


But until they booked sorry, when they get to be, you know, the approved idea, that’s when you go into the production aspect. And then you go film the thing, you go make the thing, whatever the idea is. And then for two or three weeks, you edit it, you design it, you make it come to life, then it goes back to client, they sign off on it or they give you feedback. And hopefully, that’s where it ends. And then the process starts over with another brief. I hope that makes sense. It’s a lot of back and forth I know.


Kenny Soto  7:02  

 It seems like it’s broken down into three parts. And what comes to mind when you provide that process, the thing that I’m thinking about is what are the best practices to make it so that that process is seamless? You know, like, I start from the starting point that you mentioned all the way up to the content being created and the client approving what would from your experience, what would you say is like the best, or the set of best practices for going through that process as fast as possible?


Stacy Magallon  7:34  

 So my best practice is to be really strict on yourself when it comes to time management, and to have really good project managers that help micromanage in the case that you are working with someone who kind of like you know, fucks around doesn’t really the deadlines. 


I think that knowing how you work and knowing what work needs to be done is really valuable otherwise you’re kind of wasting your day away you’re working eight hours you don’t meet the Meet the deliverables. And you know, it kind of works like a conveyor belt if you don’t do your piece the next piece doesn’t get done and it just prolongs the process and it makes everything really inefficient and in the long run makes everyone unhappy with you. 


So I think you need to know yourself know how you work and know how to manage your time in a way that’s best suited for the project you’re on the team you’re working with and you know just to look like a like a stable good, competent creative. 


Kenny Soto  8:32  

And what mediums/content types do you usually work with? Is it audio, video, etc?


Stacy Magallon  8:42  

So for me right now I’m I’m really deep in the social media content aspect of advertising. I’ve dipped my toes into print for a hot minute video for a hot minute I haven’t worked with audio which will be cool to do in the future. But I think the attention span of most people is like on their phone. So I think knowing how the consumer mind works and also being consumer myself I think it’s really I’m really blessed to be working in the social media asked just because like what I’m good at. That’s what everyone uses. It’s the fastest way to reach a consumer.


Kenny Soto  9:16  

 What platforms do you work with? I’m assuming one of them is Instagram but do you have any other ones?


Stacy Magallon  9:23  

I predominantly work with Instagram posts sometimes Twitter well Instagram and Facebook on you know their own books owned by certain subscribers. So x and the design are the same if I make an Instagram post it performs on Facebook too. I have done Pinterest and and I’ve done some like banners for YouTube. But yeah, predominantly Instagram. 


Kenny Soto  9:47  

Why do you think that is like a something where like the client is saying we want mainly instagram and facebook or do you see that, The clients customers mainly use Instagram and Facebook, and that’s why you’re doing that work.


Stacy Magallon  10:03  

 I think that I think a combination of both like, the brands that I’ve worked on the, the audience, they use Instagram more than let’s say Twitter or TikTok like I market a lot of product to millennials, and not so much, you know, like Gen Z.


Kenny Soto  10:21  

Got it. And let’s, let’s get more granular and in depth here, what what have you seen? Because of COVID-19? What what changes? Have you seen to your marketing strategy, the way you’re working this year? And in particular, your work with Instagram? How do you have how have you seen that change this year, because of COVID. And everything that’s going on?


Stacy Magallon  10:48  

I think that my work, and I’ve noticed a lot of other brands have halted a lot of their messaging, because it’s not appropriate for the times that we’re living in. And that on top of, you know, the Black Lives Matter movement I’ve seen, you know, I’ve seen brands kind of just like, Oh, what do we say? Do we say anything at all? Like, is that? Is that within our messaging scope? Well, yes, maybe they don’t really know, I think, I think, God, as a creative, a lot of my work relies on what the strategy people think, and whether or not it’s going to perform well. 


Or if it hits the right messaging comes in, in a pandemic, like, I don’t know, advertising has changed so much, because we can just throw shit at the wall and hope that it sticks like everyone is being really I guess, PC. And I think it’s really nice to see people have, you know, use their user, like moral compass and be like, Is that appropriate right now? Is that gonna make us look not woke, etc, etc.  You know? the new perspective.


Kenny Soto  11:59  

 Basically, the culture and the landscape has changed so much that now you’ve seen through your own work that brands are more hesitant. They’re taking their time before they deploy any campaign or marketing stuff. 


Stacy Magallon  12:13  

Right. Right.  


Kenny Soto  12:14  

Got it.


Stacy Magallon  12:14  

And, and I think like a lot of my friends who are also in the field, they work with brands who have been like stumbling to formulate a messaging strategy that is like, yeah, we support black people, but we haven’t hired any, etc, etc. Like, it’s time to show up. And a lot of brands are afraid of doing that, because historically, they aren’t diverse or inclusive.


Kenny Soto  12:42  

Yeah, yeah, certainly. And segwaying back to your career, you definitely had a very impressive portfolio, I looked at your LinkedIn, I looked at your website. And one thing that I definitely wanted to ask you, and I’ve been making a note of an effort of asking more of my guests this question, if you can go back in time, right? And give yourself advice, to speed up the process of where you began to where you are now? What would that advice, be?


Stacy Magallon  13:19  

…it till you make it baby. And then there’s another piece that I’ll speak to you in a second. So I am Filipino American. So I was raised to be a model minority and most educational or professional institutions. And that means, you know, being submissive, not asking questions, almost you have to don’t speak unless you’re spoken to. 

And I didn’t realize how much that mindset had set me back, even as an intern, because like, in comparison to my white counterparts, they were they were more disruptive, which is not surprising, because these spaces cater to them. But eventually, I realized I wasn’t going to make it very far unless I also emulated that disruptiveness that they had the confidence that they had. So eventually, I started to really, you know, dig into this fake until you make it, concept. 

What does it mean to be, you know, there’s to exude the confidence of a straight white creative director, you know, because they’re the loudest person in the room always. And I’m not, which is a whole other conversation because like, Kenny, I think you would know that I’m not a meek person. But like, in replays, I really, really am. 

And it’s not I’ve decided it’s not so much a reflection on me, but a reflection on these environments, not being you know, inclusive for people of color, black, indigenous, you know, us bipoc We’re not meant to thrive in these institutions, because they were created without us in mind. And it’s like, it’s still something that I’m working on, but eventually, I got I’m getting a little more confident now. Well, it’s a work in progress, but one fake it till you make it and then to really, really advocate for yourself because Unless you’re a white person, people just kind of pass you by.


Kenny Soto  15:07  

So So what does that look like when you do advocate for yourself? Because I’ve gotten similar advice from my mentors, and I’ve implemented it. And it’s definitely helped me. But I want to know, from your perspective, like, how would you define advocating for yourself in your career?


Stacy Magallon  15:24  

So there was this one time at Vayner, where I asked around to see what the what the medium income was for an art director. And I was making so much less than my white counterparts. And, and for, in all fairness, like they had more experience than me, that had been an industry longer. And I was like, Okay, fine, I get it. 


But in one instance, there was like a $40,000 gap between me and some other art director. And I was like, Yo, that’s wild. Like 10,000 15,000. I get it, but 40? I was so shook. So I was lucky enough that Gary Vaynerchuk, who was Kenny work with me for a hot minute, so he was our CEO for a little bit. He preaches this open door policy. 


So I shot him an email, and I was like, I want to talk to you about something that’s bothering me. And he was very gracious enough to give me five minutes of his time. And in those five minutes, I like I talked my ass off, I was like, I am doing mid-level work. I have been doing this, this and this and this, why am I still getting Junior pay? like this is unfair, considering that other mid levels are making this much. 


And that’s such a huge discrepancy. And it doesn’t help that these people are also white. And he heard me, and he himself got my salary bumped up. Because I had the same conversation with HR. And they were just like, Yeah, I got Yeah. Um, so that was one instance where I was I was really fed up. And I knew that if the CEO was going to preach his open door policy, then it was my responsibility to take it my responsibility to advocate for myself because no one else was going to, you know.


Kenny Soto  17:08  

Wow, that’s, that’s definitely something to think about it just thinking. It’s not just about honing your craft. It’s also about making sure that you speak up whenever you’re in any room to provide your usefulness and to showcase how useful you are. 

Because if you’re not, then you might be in a similar situation where you’re not even aware that you’re getting paid less than your equal counterparts. And yeah, in most cases, that’s not okay. Okay, got it. So, speaking on your craft, I know from speaking to like people who are in SEO and paid media and website development, that there are like courses and different ways of honing your craft and becoming better over time. Is that the same with creative work?


Stacy Magallon  17:59  

A little bit. I said, fake it till you make it because I have like severe impostor syndrome because like I said, I wasn’t in school for graphic design or anything creative. I was in school to be a PR person or an account person. So a lot of my time is spent on YouTube. 

To this day, I’m, I’m honestly, I’m honestly so thankful that we’ve, we’re working remotely, because do you know how embarrassing it is to have like a tutorial on your YouTube screen? Like when you’re at the office, and people walk by like, oh, what does she like? She doesn’t have to do that. But yes, free courses, tutorials, challenge yourself on the weekends. That’s, that’s what I had to do in order to, you know, keep up with me.


Kenny Soto  18:42  

How did you? How did you challenge yourself on the weekends? What does that look like for you?


Stacy Magallon  18:50  

So when I was when I was starting out, I knew how to do a lot of I guess, static design, which is, which means like, not moving. On the weekends, I was teaching myself premiere and After Effects, and I’ve gotten really good at it now. 

Like, I would consider myself a pretty decent animator. And I taught myself to do the opposite of what I knew. So for me, it was like, I know how to do all these static images. Okay, now we got to make them dance, you know. 

Same with, I love photography, and I’ve been taking pictures since I was 14. Now I’m like, Hey, let’s dabble in the video, work and do things that you have no idea how to do, because that’s gonna make you a stronger acid in the future to yourself and like to whatever agency you end up working out.


Kenny Soto  19:33  

And why,  So what I’m getting from what you just said, Is that you, for the most part, believe that there’s always something new to learn, correct? 


Stacy Magallon  19:47  



Kenny Soto  19:48  

Okay. So with that being said, How do you know what to search for? And what do you search for when you’re trying to learn a new skill, whether that’s in animation or video, etc?


Stacy Magallon  20:01  

Oh, most of the times you don’t know what to search for. And it isn’t to like, a lot of what I’ve had to learn on the weekends has come through in client breaks where they’re like, We want an animation. And in my head, I’m like, fuck, I don’t know how to animate, but I’m the opposite. I’m like, got this, we got this, it’s gonna be chef’s kiss. 

Um, so a lot of what I’ve had to learn have come from client expectations and expectations that creative directors had for me, because in order to, you know, get promoted, your skill set needed to be bigger than it was before. 

So whenever I was going through my self evaluations and listening to the evaluations my peers had, for me, it had, I would love to see Stacey dabble in this, I would love to see Stacey learn illustration or animation, etc. So having those insights in mind helped influence what it was I learned on the weekends.


Kenny Soto  20:55  

And have you done any work outside of the agency environment?


Stacy Magallon  21:01  

Yes, you already know. 


Kenny Soto  21:03  

So can you tell the audience can you give examples of work that you did outside of your agency environment and how you got that work? 


Stacy Magallon  21:12  

Hell yeah. So I got laid off from Vayner in 2019. And I was devastated. But I ended up taking a couple months off to soul search. And I ended up falling in love with, I guess, the political side of design. And I was I found this tweet for this district attorney candidate in Queens, her name is Tiffany Gabon. 

And she was looking for volunteer designers. And I was like, sitting on my ass feeling sorry for myself. I was like, why not? She’s She lives in Astoria. I’m pretty much aligned with her beliefs. I can volunteer a few hours. And I ended up doing a lot of social and print collateral for her campaign. She unfortunately didn’t win the campaign, the district attorney more I don’t know what I’m saying. But I am working for her again. 

Now. She’s running for office now City Council for district 22. And that moment in my life, like just saying yes to this volunteer opportunity. It fostered a relationship with someone I now consider a really close friend. And, and I love giving back to the community and raising awareness about important issues that are affecting our city, and the people of color in our city and marginalized communities. 

And I think so much of my heart is there. And I would love to explore opportunities in that space. And then on top of that, I’m also the Creative Director at first tech Fund, which you said, and I think, both of the both the Gabon campaign and first tech fund are like, they’re different, but they’re for a greater social good. And I found those opportunities when they weren’t even when I wasn’t even looking. So I think having an open mind to anything that might enrich your life or enrich your experience as a creative is like, it’s really, really valid and validating if you’ve got passion for it. 


Kenny Soto  23:01  

And would you give the same advice to anyone in marketing? Where if they have free time on their hands? Would you recommend they do some kind of volunteer work, even if it’s just to like, expand their skill set or their network? 


Stacy Magallon  23:14  

Absolutely, I think it’s really easy to get jaded in marketing. And it’s really easy to become jaded as a creative because like, like I told you, there’s there can be so much feedback between strategy and client, where you’re like, why am I doing this? What’s the point? Why am I why am I exhausted myself being creative, when they don’t like my ideas, and it’s really, really quick to get burned out. 

So I think finding things that bring you joy, and finding things, things to learn is a way to like reset your mind and reset your perspective on on the world and in the industry in your life. Because like I don’t know, man, like, do other things other than your job be, be multifaceted, like you contain multitudes, you’re more than just work. 

And for me, giving back to to kids who are underserved in need tech to learn and to explore their professional and personal growth and to give to this campaign, like, there’s so much we’re so creative, they’re just so talented. And there’s more that we can do to help the world achieve a greater good. 


Kenny Soto  24:21  

And I’m assuming that when you’re working on one project, even if it’s not like a paid gig, what you’re doing there sometimes translates to your agency work, correct?


Stacy Magallon  24:32  

Yeah, I’m doing a lot of animation work for first tech fund, and I’m not really doing animation work at my day job. So I think flexing those muscles keeps it top of mind. So when I do have an animation to do at work, I’m like, Oh, I know how to do this. Like, I’m not an imposter. It also just keeps me really nimble when it comes to like creative tasks like Oh, I know how to do this. I did this yesterday, even if it wasn’t for work, work. It just brings me joy, joy and happiness. 


Kenny Soto  25:02  

I can’t remember who said this. But essentially luck is when opportunity meets preparation. And essentially, if you want to prepare more than your competition, giving yourself opportunities where you’re working for free, can definitely help you, especially if it’s for a good cause, like, helping your community. 


Stacy Magallon  25:20  

Yeah. And, and this is, I’m not saying that you should work 24/7 But I am someone who is self esteem is like, directly correlated to my personal success. So I do take on projects.


Kenny Soto  25:33  



Stacy Magallon  25:33  

Even though I do feel like shit. I’m like, No, I have to I have to give back. I have to help. And I think it’s especially important because like, we’re all at home. What else are we doing? We’re quarantining. You have you have a few hours to get back to a nonprofit, or a progressive campaign, you know?


Kenny Soto  25:50  

 At least four to five hours a week, like.


Stacy Magallon  25:52  

 Legit Yeah, facts. 


Kenny Soto  25:54  

So my last question for you, and thank you so much for everything that you’ve answered so far. My last question is, what’s one thing news wise, either in marketing or in business, that has you excited or worried?


Stacy Magallon  26:11  

Um, so news wise. So 2020, Black Lives Matter movement. I’m, I’m really excited to see how advertising and marketing agencies make that cultural shift in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion. I hope recruiters continue or start to use resources that spotlight BIPOC talent. 

And I want to see more brands take this news, and use it as an opportunity to, like, amplify your beliefs, unless you’re racist, in which case, don’t do that. Like, I want to see more brands take a stance like Ben and Jerry’s, or at the very least, like ship their storytelling, because at the end of the day, consumers are going to buy product if a brand beliefs are in alignment with theirs. 

And like I want to see ads that are authentic, I don’t want shit to feel performative. Because like we know what it is. I just want to see more authenticity in the industry because of this news. And I want to see more people who look like me and my peers. I’m just looking forward to a more diverse, equitable, inclusive industry because like, historically, has never been that way. 


Kenny Soto  27:24  

Yeah. And it’s not something that can be ignored anymore, especially moving into the next year. Got it. And if anyone wanted to discover more about your work and connect with you online, where could they find you?


Stacy Magallon  27:37  

They can find me on Instagram at magallonofmilk. They can find me on Twitter at Stacey Magallon. If you want to learn me on LinkedIn, I’m Stacy Angela Magallon on there. And if you want to check out my portfolio,


Kenny Soto  27:53  

Ladies and gentlemen, I will make sure to add her Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and website in the show notes. Thank you so much for listening. Thank you so much, Stacy for your time and attention today. I really appreciate this podcast episode that you did with me. And we are going to sign off, everyone enjoy your week.


Stacy Magallon  28:14  


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