Enjoy this Q&A with Visual Country’s CEO & Co-founder, Amber Lee as she discusses running a women-owned production company in NYC, being a working mom and her favorite guilty pleasure TV shows
Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be CEO.
Hello my name is Amber Lee and I am a CEO and one of the Co-founders of Visual Country. We started the company 7 years ago this year. And I founded it with Meagan Cignoli.
As a Canadian what made you want to make the move to NYC?
I moved to New York because it’s New York! Ever since I was 16 I wanted to move here.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be too many things, probably a million different things. I always had a new business that I wanted to start, but at the end of the day it always came down to being with art and commerce and the bridging of those two.
What does a typical day look like for you?
It definitely varies, but I focus a lot on the sales side and the strategies side of the business, so i’m usually focused mostly on that. As well as, organizing the team and what everyone is working on, but I also like to dedicate some time to investigating new technologies and new ways of doing things.
What has been the hardest part about owning a small business?
I would say the hardest part of having your own business is one of the best parts too, is not having a boss. But the hard part of it is that there is no one above you to seek counsel or advisement, so you have to look externally for mentorship and counsel.
What has been your proudest moment as a business owner over the years?
The proudest moment for me since owning this business is opening up our current studio because it was such a labor of love. Picking out every outlet and every wall and fixture throughout it and every time I walk into it I just feel very proud of what we’ve put together.
What advice would you give on how to keep a business relevant and current?
I think the best way to stay relevant is to constantly be exploring new techniques and styles and always be learning for sure. Investing in your creative, both in the branded work that you’re doing and exploring new mediums and styles and also investing in your own creative.
What advice would you give to any young entrepreneurs?
Don’t quit your job until you’re making money. It’s my best advice, it’s my only advice.
If you weren’t in business what would your dream job be?
My dream job would be being a lawyer. I always wanted to be a lawyer. I love watching law shows. And then my second would be in TV, maybe writing law shows.
As a single mom and business owner, what is the biggest struggle you face?
For me the hardest part would be balance. Balancing your ambitions at work with wanting to spend time at home and just wearing a lot of hats. I think any parent will tell you that one of the hardest parts of having a kid is that it just doesn’t stop, it’s none stop of balancing it all.
Whose career did you look up to growing up?
One of the people that I looked up to most growing up was Colin Hopper. He was one of the business owners of the sports store that I worked at. I sold hockey equipment for a long time in high school and college. I just always admired how he created a very family community feeling organization that people got really excited to come to work at every day.
What are you watching on TV?
On TV? Anything, I’ll watch anything. Drop dead diva, I watched it. The whole thing. It’s bad. It’s really bad…but kind of awesome.
Whose career continues to inspire you today?
Someone’s career that inspires me today, there’s many, but one of my friends, Betsy, is the CEO and co-founder of a company called Tiny Organics. She is also a mother and CEO and I’m inspired by what they’re doing and all the growth and attraction they have made in the last couple years. It’s a very inspiring career and I’m excited to see what she does next.
What strategies do you take to beat out the competition?
Honestly, I don’t think about the competition as much as one probably should. We’re really focused internally on growing and I definitely look at other creators in the space for inspiration and what’s coming up and what people are working on. I don’t think about beating them out, I just think about creating great work.