Our story is no different from most other small businesses in the United States. We began with an idea, compassion. We developed a system to deliver our ideas, authentic stories. And we decided the end result of our process would be equity. What is different from most other small businesses is that we also wanted to model these three values internally as a company, and not just within the products that we conceived or the campaigns that we created. So, we embarked on a remarkable journey of building a creative agency that is worker owned, with no investors, no debt and can never be sold.
As the six co-founders, Jamila El Sahili, Daniel Leon-Davis, Paola Mendoza, Michelle Minguez, Michael Skolnik and Daveen Trentman, began to build The Soze Agency in its early days, they all agreed that we would do this differently.
We believe in triple bottom lines: people, planet and profit. Yes, in that order. We don’t chase money, we chase happiness. We believe that the exits are as important as the entrances. We celebrate those who no longer work with us and appreciate the ways they helped us get to where we are today. We believe in celebrating the work and there is joy in what we do together. We know what it means to go the extra mile, our work is driven by personal connections to the issues. We believe that everyone’s voice should be heard, from the person who just started at the company today to the person who has been here the longest. We believe in decision making by consensus. We believe that at least once a week we need an emotional check in with the entire company. We believe in feeding creativity, so everyone gets a day off each month to do something that will keep them inspired. We believe in unlimited vacations. We are unapologetic about our view that inclusiveness and diversity are the keys to success, and we heavily recruit women and people of color to work with us. We know that artists have the ability to tap into the heart and bring light to some of our darkest truths. We only work on projects that we believe in, this is a very important point to who we are. If we don’t believe in it, we’re not working on it.
Everyday, our team, consisting of artists, strategists, filmmakers, activists, storytellers, immigrants, refugees, organizers, formerly undocumented, digital wizards, masters of design, writers, LGBTQ people, parents, allies and accomplices, go to work to create campaigns, projects and strategies for the greatest clients and partners we could have ever dreamed of.
While we are extraordinarily proud of what we do, we wake up and go to work everyday for those who are directly impacted by the issues, knowing that our work is not complete until we achieve real equity for all people in our country and around the world.
Lastly, our name. Soze meaning “never again” in Zulu, is the birth name of a college professor of one of our co-founders, who passed away suddenly in 2000. We hope that George Soze Vilakati is smiling upon us all as we continue this wild journey together.