Meet The Woman Behind SMAKK Studios, The Agency Making Socially Positive Brands Pop
In the last several years, we’ve seen a burst of new companies emerging in the broad world of social good: these are brands trying to improve health care services for women, destigmatize mental health and bodily challenges, make healthier foods and cleaner care products more accessible, and other socially positive causes. Of course, step one is creating a strong, effective solution to one of our many physical, social, and cultural challenges. Step two is getting that solution into the eyes and minds of the people. That’s where SMAKK Studios comes in.
As a creative and art director working in branding and advertising for some seven years, Katie Klencheski realized she wanted to focus her creative expertise specifically on socially responsible companies that are making a difference in the world. So in 2011, she founded SMAKK Studios, a Brooklyn-based creative agency that helps values-driven brands build their identity, design and develop websites and experiences, and grow their audiences and sales via ad campaigns, digital content, and marketing strategies.
Klencheski is exactly the kind of ultra-talented, entrepreneurial badass using her powers for good that our world needs more of right now — and the type of total female powerhouse we all aspire to be more like. We talked to Klencheski to learn more about how SMAKK Studios is helping positive brands stand out and change the world for the better.
Name: Katie Klencheski
Company: SMAKK Studios
Job Title: CEO
Current home base: Brooklyn
Originally from: The ‘burbs of Boston
Your superpower: Creative direction
A present-day woman you admire & why:
I admire women who aren’t afraid to speak truth to power and be honest versions of themselves. America Ferrera, Lindy West, and Amy Schumer are contemporaries I have a lot of respect for.
A quote or piece of advice that you live by: Leave it better than you found it.
What inspired you to start your current venture?
I just wanted to take the expertise I had built in branding and advertising and apply it to the types of companies that I believe in — consumer-focused companies that are better for people and planet.
How are you making an impact and generating positive change through your work?
At SMAKK Studios, we have been branding, building, and growing consumer-focused companies for the past eight years. We collaborate with world-changing brands that care about sustainability, social good, empowerment, and spreading joy. It’s my (our) mission to make sure values-led brands succeed.
What is one thing you have accomplished through your work that you are most proud of?
We’ve always eschewed the typical insider industry awards that a lot of agencies invest in. For me it’s a bigger end game — it’s about developing brands that can drive consumer change. We’re invested in helping consumers choose brands that are better for people and planet. The biggest wins are when I see one of our brands in a friend’s fridge or a beauty editor’s makeup bag — I know that we’ve helped sway a consumer’s purchasing towards a greener, cleaner product.
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I’m proud that we’ve driven brand development and growth for some of the most disruptive beauty brands of the last decade, and our clients have been featured in notable beauty publications like Vogue, O, and Goop… Brands and packaging we’ve developed can be found in every Target in North America, as well as Whole Foods, Sephora, Ulta, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, CAP Beauty, and more. It makes me proud to be a part of driving important change in consumer behavior towards inclusion, empowerment, sustainability, and health.
What is one of the greatest challenges you have personally faced at this job? (Or if you’re willing, share a story of a time you screwed up and how you recovered!)
Um? I literally screw up every second of every day! But I can usually put my screw-ups into one of two categories: not listening to my gut or not communicating well.
What is one major work milestone that you would like to accomplish in the next year?
I’m committed to launch 10 new brands next year that embody the values we care about. If you’re a founder with a great brand looking for a partner, I’d love to hear from you.
What is one new project SMAKK Studios is currently working on that you are most excited about?
Yikes — no way I can choose just one! We just launched an awesome healthy snack brand called Wild Babs; I’m super excited to help them grow in 2019. We also have really cool products just about to launch with an adaptogenic nutrition and beauty brand called STAMBA and are launching a whole slew of new herbal feminine care products and a new website with the Honeypot Company.
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What do you see as one of the biggest challenges facing your industry today?
The sheer volume of content that we all see in a day has completely changed marketing. It used to be that a brand could do a single seasonal campaign where they would invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in a dozen or so slickly produced images and a couple lines of copy — and even more in short commercial spots — and then just figure out where to run the ads. And of course many still do. But Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest have so completely changed the pace at which we digest images, video, and text. For brands, it’s hard to make enough content to run and to have it be meaningful and differentiated. I think there is a tension between quantity and quality — and for people in my role, understanding how to guide brands in connecting with audiences that are differentiated and channel appropriate, but also smart, is essential.
For more on Katie Klencheski of SMAKK Studios, connect with them here: