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September 28th, 2023

Industry Watch: Meet the people behind the brands

Have you ever wondered who shot your favorite ad campaign, who developed the product that changed your life, or who created that incredible brand collaboration you didn't know you needed? At Thingtesting, we think about this a lot, but we knew we couldn't find all the answers on our own.

So, we turned to you, our community, to ask, "Who are you watching behind the brands?" We received hundreds of nominations, learning about operators from around the globe.

In this first installment, we're highlighting five creatives who have played a distinct role in bringing brands to life.

Menu Growth Manager, Sweetgreen

Mitzi started her career in 2020 at Crown Affair, leading the brand's product development. In her 2.5 years at the haircare brand, she launched 10 products, contributing to everything from the formulation, packaging, and testing, to go-to market and tracking product lifecycle post-launch. Her brush-on dry shampoo won a trio of awards in 2021, including an Allure Beauty Award, Elle Magazine Green Beauty Star Award, and a Health Beauty Award, with her other formulas winning additional awards.

In November 2022, Mitzi moved from NYC to LA, joining sweetgreen as their Menu Growth Manager. Through her role, she works cross-functionally on menu strategy and end-to-end product development for entrees and CPG.

Most recently she executed on the launch the sweetgreen x Siete Green Goddess Ranch Potato Chip. Mitzi says, "From beginning to end it was such a special project and a privilege to work with incredibly talented people on both teams to bring it to life."

What has been a pivotal moment in your career?

"In October of 2021, I was in true startup mode: I had worked at Crown Affair for over a year, I talked about hair all the time, my dresser in my studio apartment was filled with product samples, and my shower was my lab.

Ever since I was little I’ve loved having side projects, doing things just for fun; I knew it was time to find that in New York. I ate an amazing dinner at Nami Nori, a sushi restaurant in the West Village—I loved it so much that afterwards I asked if I could join the team. For six months, I worked as a part-time temaki chef on Sundays.

It reminded me how much I love cooking and prompted my change from the beauty industry to food + bev."

Community Manager, Vacation

If you've ever scrolled the comment sections belonging to Vacation sunscreen's social channels, then you've seen Alissa's work. If you haven't, then you're missing out on a very entertaining experience. She writes the brand's social copy and responds to every comment, coining her internet personality as, "Refined sass and light concierge service for the international leisure community."

With her quick wit and ability to stay in character, it was no surprise to find out Alissa started her career in entertainment. She worked her way up through the industry from Assistant to the Senior Vice President at Island Def Jam, to later as a writer and in production at TV Land and MTV.

What has been a pivotal moment in your career?

"2008, working at Claire’s in the Maine Mall when the chips were down. I convinced myself that piercing ears was a very important job since there are so few rites of passage for girls in this day and age. Girls and youth pastors I should say. Quite a few youth pastors, but I digress. You really can find meaning in any sort of work - that’s carried me through some less-than-ideal situations."

Photographer, Wonderkind

Claire is the resident photographer at Wonderkind, an Austin-based brand and social media agency. Working primarily with food, beverage, and beauty brands, she has shot for clients including newly launched Dirty Shirley, Can-Tini, Sauz, Daybird, and Nood.

Leading up to those whimsical final shots, Claire meets with brands to understand their vision for the photoshoot, then works hand in hand with prop stylists to nail down a specific creative direction, and finally brings that to life on set through styling & lighting.

What has been a pivotal moment in your career?

"Joining Wonderkind! WK has allowed me to collaborate with amazing prop stylists, create work for dream brands, and explore and refine my voice as a photographer."

Founder and CEO, For Them

Kylo founded wellness brand, For Them, in January 2021 as a means of celebrating diversity and bringing something to the space that they felt other companies were promising to do, but ultimately lacking. Their products and services promote true inclusivity of the LGBTQIA+ community. For Them and Kylo's mission is rooted in supporting queer folks in all aspects of their life, whether that's through conversation or championing organizations doing good work in the space.

Kylo has seen the underrepresentation take foot across all industries, and as an actor and producer, the entertainment industry was no different. It's what led them to found their previous company, Boycott Entertainment, a production company that focused on diversity behind the camera.

What has been a pivotal moment in your career?

"The acquisition of Autostraddle by For Them. Being able to partner with a team and brand that I’ve loved my whole adult life, and that has been vital to the journey of so many queer folks, has been a dream come true."

VP, PR and Partnerships, Magnolia Bakery

Sara Gramling joined Magnolia Bakery in 2010– the same year the cupcake shop opened its first location in LA and NY Mag reported on a community board's crackdown on their sidewalk lines. Over the past 13 years, the brand has grown, as has Sara in her role leading PR and Partnerships. She manages the community through a range of channels and campaigns, including national and local partnerships, charitable initiatives, influencer engagement, and earned media coverage.

What has been a pivotal moment in your career?

"This past year brought a couple of unique opportunities to work with best-in-class partners and bring Magnolia Bakery to life in all new ways. Launching our first-ever candle with Boy Smells and a line of travel gear with Monos were standouts - not only were their teams fantastic to work with, but the response was overwhelmingly positive and allowed us to expand our reach in exciting, unique ways we had not explored."