#WFH Diaries: Mallory Blair of Small Girls PR
As quarantines continue in many parts of the globe, Muse is checking in with creative people to see how they're faring. Here, we catch up with Mallory Blair of Small Girls PR in New York.
Give us a one-line bio of yourself.
I'm the CEO and co-founder of Small Girls PR, a creative communications agency made up of talented, taller people.
Where are you living right now, and who's with you?
I'm quarantined with my boyfriend of six years and our cat named Bunny. He has asked that I use the qualifier "darling" to describe him (my boyfriend, not the cat). We're in Dumbo, Brooklyn. I live on the street that The New York Times dubbed "the most Instagrammed street in America." With tourism out of the question, it's been surreal just to walk out my front door—which I admittedly have not done all that much.
What's your work situation like at the moment?
Running a company during coronavirus is entrepreneurship turned up to the brightest setting. There are an almost laughable amount of high-stakes, quick-turnaround decisions to make with each new day. I've joked that it's what being a stockbroker must feel like, because of the extreme highs and lows often seconds apart. A large client tells you they have to hit pause one minute, and then by end-of-day, you win three more that you're not even sure you'll have the bandwidth to staff. For the first couple of weeks, we had clients putting in notice or inquiring about reducing scopes, but simultaneously signed more new business than we had in the past quarter altogether. Our team is doing some of our best work that I think will end up being the case studies we refer to most. I've felt incredibly inspired and in need of a nap at the same time.
Describe your socializing strategy.
Every Friday night, my best friend Julia Pott and her boyfriend Raviv Ullman host a virtual Shabbat. We light candles from our own Zoom windows, break bread, share poetry, laugh and cry together.
Last weekend, I had overcommitted to too many digital parties and had to both arrive late and leave early. If you toggle off your video and go on mute for a bit prior to departure, less people will notice when you exit.
My friend Sarah Ramos also introduced me to JackBox Games, which is now the remaining 90 percent of my social life. We just signed them as a client, so at least now I get to call this "work." Huzzah!
How are you dealing with childcare?
I don't have children, but many of my employees do. We started doing WFH earlier than the mandates. We anticipated that care facilities might close, or caregivers might not be able to make it for shifts, so we asked parents to determine daily "workable" hours and revise their schedules accordingly. Some hit pause in the afternoon and then log back on after putting the kids to bed, others have early-justified "office hours," etc. Everyone's been making it work. I've been incredibly impressed with the working parents juggling both. Emoji hats off.
What are you watching?
The first day of quarantine I restarted The Office from Season 1 Episode 1. I'm now on Season 6. (!!!)
What are you listening to?
I put on the podcast My Favorite Murder while I clean or shower.
What are you reading?
I read a study that those who suffer from anxiety often find comfort in horror stories, so while I don't have general anxiety, I do wonder if the current climate is quietly converting people to the genre.
How are you staying fit?
A couple of Small Girls PR employees are also certified in yoga, so they've been leading breath work and yoga instruction during the work week. Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m. ET, I tune into Ryan Heffington's dance party on Instagram Live. My friend Juliet Liu hosts a Zoom where our friends all dance together on one device while we try to follow along with Ryan's choreography in another. While I live in N.Y., they all live in L.A., so I'm spending more time with people I love than I would be otherwise. <3
Have you taken up a hobby?
I was about to say I am incredibly envious of everyone who has time for hobbies during this period, but I also recognize the other side of the coin: I am privileged to have a job that's keeping me busy right now, and the ability to do it from the safety of my own home.
Any tips for getting necessities?
One of our clients, Cabinet, has launched an amazing "Pay What You Can" policy for its medicine and hand sanitizer. It gets shipped in 2-3 days and you can order it at wearecabinet.com. Another client, Grove Collaborative, has eco-friendly essentials all in stock (and organic), from laundry detergent and toilet paper to lip balm and hand soap.
An awkward moment since all this started.
After a company-wide all hands, a colleague messaged in laughing hysterics that her husband had crossed the screen behind her while I was speaking—completely naked. No one actually saw it —so no harm, no foul, but a most beloved awkward moment regardless!
Best work email you got since all this started.
There are a couple of memorable emails from employees that have brought me to tears (of gratitude, love, solidarity).
An aha! moment since all this started.
A million aha! moments of how lucky, grateful, privileged I am (to have good health, comfortable shelter, a job where I can work from home, a partner to share this time with, an able body to carry back my full grocery load myself, etc.) I know to have all these things isn't necessarily common and I don't take any of it for granted. I don't complain.
What's your theory on how this is going to play out?
This too shall pass. People will eventually return to festivals and conferences. I'm more interested in the less-obvious bi-products. Gen-Z is going through their first recession. I predict that will improve workplace dynamics, because there will now be shared experiences and memories of job insecurity for every working-age generation.
Weddings will become less ornate (people may feel embarrassed appearing to be too lavish in the economic climate, even if their own livelihood wasn't as impacted) and less frequent. Millennials may choose to skip weddings altogether given the uncertainty of large gatherings in the next 1-2 years, and choose to start families first.
Millennials will increase the trend of buying second-homes first to provide safe escapes that double as summer homes when there's not a pandemic. (Rather than investing first and foremost in the cities where they work, as they'll continue to rent.)
I have so many more, just tweet me @yourpalmal.