Today we’d like to introduce you to Brigette Young.
Brigette, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’m one of those people that just can’t seem to do things the way everyone else does them.
My parents have told me that I was “opinionated” from the get-go. I never wanted to go to bed (and I’m still a night owl). I was a horrifically picky eater (I especially hated meat – I’ve been a vegetarian for close to 20 years now). I would do ANYTHING to get out of Sunday school (I’m an atheist).
We still laugh about the fight I put up regarding my communion dress as a little kid. The church wanted the girls in white – preferably eyelet – and to wear a veil. I refused. And I refused to the point that my mom threw her hands in the air and told my dad to take me shopping. We settled on a pale blue dress with LOTS of tulle and fresh flowers in my hair instead of a veil. To be fair, I still don’t wear much white and I still hate eyelet. The communion dress I chose reminded me of something Betsey Johnson might have designed. In the 90s, when I started wearing her clothes, I showed my mom her line and she said, “Well, you always knew what you liked.” I mean, I’m a Scorpio. Read into that what you will – but I am a very FLEXIBLE Scorpio if such a thing exists.
I’m also what my dear friend Baily Hancock would call a “multi-passionate.” One of my favorite quotes from Dorothy Parker (and there are many) goes, “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” I think this sums up my existence fairly well. I always have a few irons in the fire – always a few big ideas brewing in the back of my head. One of my greatest joys in life is to skip around a party having conversations about everything from physics to the Rolling Stones, all in one evening. I’m not saying I can always hold my ground, but I’ll do my best to contribute on just about any topic. So many things interest me. Time is the only real enemy.
I’m a strong believer in the power of connecting to other humans, and this is a common thread in everything I do. I ask a LOT of questions, especially if my intuition kicks in. I think it creeps people out sometimes. But there’s always a reason. I’m reconnecting to people I knew ten or fifteen years ago as friends, who now have become amazing business colleagues as well. It often feels like my life is a big constellation, and I was creating stars in a way that seemed random – until now when it’s starting to feel like the big picture is emerging.
My work background has been extremely varied. My first job was working in the kitchen of a retirement home earning something like $4.15 an hour when I was 15 years old. I didn’t want the job. My mom made me take it. Even though the facility was very nice (and clean), it was just a really gross job. Especially for a vegetarian. I was in charge of prepping “special” meals – doing things like putting thickener in prune juice, making sure the pureed meat was the unsalted version… you get the idea. I smelled horrible every time I left work. The upside was that I got to eat ice cream every day. And of course, all of the people I worked with and for were very nice, as were the residents.
The next job I had was working retail at an upscale women’s clothing boutique, and I loved that job. I worked with a bunch of women in their 30s, 40s and 50s, and they were all like aunts to me. It was my safe space during a rough time in my life. They made me feel valued at a time when I didn’t feel very valuable. This was the first job I had where I was given responsibility and autonomy and was trusted to make good decisions. Looking back, it probably set the scene for my preference for small companies over big ones. I got to do everything from help customers to dress the mannequins in the window, I helped manage inventory, and on extra special occasions, I got to act as a fit model when reps were bringing in their lines. It was fun!
I kept that job on and off through college. I went to USC and got my BA in Communication. I screwed around more than I should have, but I still got decent grades. This was when I first realized that boredom is my nemesis and that sitting in a classroom for hours on end is not a good fit for my personality. I ditched the classes where teachers lectured from their own books (luckily there weren’t many). I did well in the classes where the teachers were demanding and made us really think about the material. One of my favorite classes was an intro to Russian literature. It sparked an interest in authors like Bulgakov and Dostoevsky, which I still love. Reading was always a good escape for me. It still is, when I find the time (ha!).
I worked at the student radio station while I was there, which was perfect for me because I’ve been a big music lover for a very long time. I was on a radio show or had my own for all four years, and I became the Music Director of the station in my senior year.
When I was close to college graduation, my dad wanted me to interview at health insurance companies, because that was the business he was in. I had no interest. I knew I’d wither and die in a job like that, and I also knew that since I was in L.A., I wanted to work in the music industry. My first job out of college was awful. Long hours, a boss who would praise you one minute and scream at you the next, and worst of all, AWFUL pay. So awful, in fact, that I had to take a second job working at Aron’s Records – which pre-dated Amoeba and no longer exists. The record store job made me happy because I was a huge fan of Nick Hornby’s “High Fidelity” (and of course the movie version, too), and I got to be around people who were even more obsessed with music than I was, and who knew a LOT more.
Even with two jobs, and working seven days a week, my parents still had to help me financially. They paid my cell phone and health insurance during that first year or so. I was very lucky they could help. From there, it was a hodgepodge of small marketing companies, a quick stint at Live Nation, and a four-year period of time managing a catering and event planning company. I also spent a little time working as a florist.
I spent six years as a part-time private flight attendant, traveling to Germany for weeks at a time to shuttle people to and from all parts of Africa. Through that job, I was lucky enough to visit Italy, Greece, Australia, India, Kuwait, Mauritania, Ghana, Cameroon, Djibouti, Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Gabon, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zanzibar and Seychelles. I’m sure I’m missing some. Those trips were some of the happiest moments of my life. I met some truly beautiful, incredible people. I was so touched by the interactions I had.
Some people think that side hustles or having multiple interests is a diversion. That if you “concentrate” your efforts into one area, that’s how you succeed. I understand that, but I don’t believe that’s the only way. I take from all aspects of my life and pour it into what I do. Things I learned arranging flowers are relevant when I help put on a marketing event now. Understanding food helps me work with restaurants. Travel made me that much more sensitive to other people’s needs, and how to relate when you can’t even speak the same language. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had because I think they inform everything about what I’m doing now.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I don’t think starting a business is ever a smooth road. It’s hard! When you start on your own, you become everything from the receptionist to the accountant. You sell, you execute projects, you network, you strategize, and there isn’t a moment of your life that you aren’t thinking about “what’s next.”
Your to-do list is never-ending. You don’t have enough time for friends or family. You don’t have enough time for yourself. But you get up every morning and you do it every day because you have such pride in what you’re building. You’re doing it because you know you can do it better, or differently than it’s been done before. Or maybe because you just love what you’re doing.
You realize (painfully) all of your inadequacies, and then they feel amplified because you’re exhausted. I’ve seen some memes that describe starting a business in ways that surpass my ability to explain, but one of them said something about having the highest highs and the lowest lows… all in one day. That’s how I’d describe it. You’re trudging through the proverbial mud one minute, fantasizing about working the register at Trader Joe’s (maybe that’s just me), then something clicks and you’re bursting with pride and hope and excitement. All in one day. It’s an emotional marathon.
Please tell us about The Modern Muse Company.
I started The Modern Muse Company in 2016, after much internal debate about whether I should search for a new job or go out on my own. I had always worked for companies that silo-ed their offerings, were limited in their scope and/or didn’t have much interest in evolving. I wanted to work with inspired people who I admired and respected, and who were interested in doing more than the bare minimum. I specifically had a vision of bringing some of my talented girlfriends into the mix, and how good that would feel. I wanted to work with other people who were passionate about what they were doing, who were cutting edge, who had high standards, and who would help make me better at what I do. 2016 was the year I took the plunge, and I’m so glad I did.
The Modern Muse Company is a full-service marketing agency, meaning we can help our clients with EVERYTHING marketing related. We say that if we don’t know, we know someone who does – and we’ll bring them into the fold. We handle all types of advertising (including the development of creative), media buying, digital marketing (including social), event marketing, sponsorships, PR, B2B, small business marketing, and my favorite of all – partnership marketing. Partnership marketing is our specialty.
Since our launch two years ago, we’ve worked with some truly fabulous clients and partners, all of whom I’m enormously proud of. Stone Newman, formerly of Genius Brands, currently of pocket.watch was one our first, and I owe him a huge debt of gratitude for being an early supporter.
In year two, we were lucky enough to execute third-party partnerships on behalf of Cirque du Soleil for LUZIA in L.A. and Orange County. We started working with the newly-remodeled Glendale Funeral Home, which I love because the people there are great and the marketing is so different from my other clients. I made my very first from-scratch commercial for them (in conjunction with Windsong Productions). It features places and faces from the Glendale community. It’s airing on Spectrum in the Glendale area now. Last year we also did a little work for Game Camp Nation, a summer camp for kids who want to learn how to make video games. We connected with a ton of fabulous partners. We’re doing a little more with them this year, too.
Recently, we helped a bit with Effervescence, a champagne and sparkling wine festival. It was the first year this year, and it was beautiful. We brought in Delectable (the wine app!) and their parent company, Vinous, as partners. We helped Cirque du Soleil with SEP7IMO DIA. We worked with numerous L.A. and O.C.-area restaurants, tourism boards, chambers of commerce, media outlets… you name it! And now we’re helping a few super interesting friends in the tech space with their projects, which is thrilling for me because I just love great ideas – and supporting great ideas. Any time I get to educate myself, I’m a happy woman.
I think what brings it all together, and what makes us different in what we do, is that we don’t say “no.” We find a way. We get creative. We turn things on their head, sideways, backward, forward…whatever it takes to relieve a pain point for our clients. We work with so many incredible people who are experts in their respective niches that the answer should never be a simple, “no.” We’re free of the shackles of bureaucracy, so we have the freedom to be nimble, quick, responsive, proactive, resourceful and all of those good things that alleviate stress when it comes to fast-paced business. And we’re fun, and we’re friendly. I think people like working with us, which is really important. Work is always better when you like who you’re working with.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Oddly enough, one of my favorite memories is about something really simple. When my younger brother and I were… well, young, our parents would occasionally take us out to dinner at this Mexican restaurant called Señor Pepe’s (in Silicon Valley where I grew up). Our whole family loved Mexican food, and as an added treat, once in a while, they’d take us to a big, beautiful park nearby. The park was HUGE. Rolling hills, ponds, playgrounds – the closest thing I can think of might be Pan Pacific Park off of Beverly.
Anyway, my mom (who has always been super thoughtful) would save old, stale loaves of bread and bring them along so that my brother and I could feed the ducks, geese and swans. It was my favorite thing in the whole wide world. Of course, now we know we shouldn’t have been giving the animals bread, but it was the 80s. The only thing that made me happier than feeding the animals was when they’d get a little aggressive and kind of chase my brother, who couldn’t have been more than about two at the time, and that naturally cracked me up.
A drunk-walking baby being chased by oversized birds is always funny. I think there’s still a video at my dad’s house where he’s toddling around at top speed and just kind of awkwardly falls over on one of the hills, and you can hear my dad yelling “DUCK POOP!” in the background. My brother’s a lobbyist of sorts now, so this should be nice and embarrassing for him. I still laugh thinking about it.
- Website: www.modernmuseco.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @themodernmuseco
- Facebook: facebook.com/themodernmuseco
Patrick Witz/Witz Visual Art