In 2014, my heart skipped a beat when Albuquerque Business First published this headline, alongside with my headshot: “Albuquerque’s Siarza leaves Garrity Group to launch own firm.”

Terrified about the amount of negative feedback, four clients and zero dollars in my business bank account, I had every intention of jumping in my 2014 Chevy Camaro and logging hundreds of miles for sales calls after the Business First article. I had my cell phone, laptop, a small desk at my parent’s house and a heart full of courage to pursue my dream: open up my first business as a digital advertising agency.

Now, five years later, SiarzaSD’s story is no longer about me. It’s about the team, community of Albuquerque, and the gracious clients that have brought us to this important milestone that many young businesses don’t get the opportunity to celebrate. Gratitude is an unspoken core value of SiarzaSD, and over time we’ve developed a family of digital millennials creating award-winning content for more than 100 clients across the world.

Here are some of the great milestones the team and I achieved together within our agency walls:

  • SiarzaSD earned the top title of “Best of Show” twice. In 2018 and 2019, the New Mexico Public Relations Society of America awarded the “Carrie Tingley Hospital Foundation – 2019 Mudd Volleyball Tournament” as the best tactic and best campaign.
  • The team has grown internationally to fourteen people. With subcontractors across New Mexico and the Philippines, SiarzaSD has expanded its reach, giving the opportunity for individuals to grow their careers and provide for their families as a fair employee. SiarzaSD received a silver designation at the 2019 Family Friendly Awards, recognizing companies who practice family friendly policies.
  • Meaningful organizations and recognized brands have and continue to hire SiarzaSD. From Nusenda Credit Union to the United States Navy, we’ve been fortunate to work with exciting clients doing important work with compelling stories to tell. We’re grateful to carry out website, social media, public relations and interactive content for more than 40 clients in our roster today.

The greatest compliment I received is not about the success I personally have achieved. It’s when a prospective client calls the office and says, “Your team has been highly recommended by several people in the community.”

However, through the celebration means areas of opportunity for growth. Consider these lessons I’ve learned to help any future business owner:

  • Say sorry with sincerity, forgive with compassion. There have been difficult times to remove people that were, metaphorically speaking, not the right people on the bus. We’ve definitely had our challenges and heartbreaks working with clients and past team members. My father, as candid as he is with his cat, taught me two important things that have made its way through our agency culture: Say sorry with true intent and meaning, but forgive when others may hurt or turn their back on you.

As a new business, you have to accept that mistakes will be made and see them as opportunities for growth and improvement. We’ve found ourselves in difficult situations with both clients and past team members who were not a good match, found errors in our work or were taken advantage of in our inexperience. Each of these experiences has made our team wiser, stronger and motivated to do our best each and every single day on the job. My father, as candid as he is with his cat, taught me two important things that have made its way into our agency culture: apologize with true sincerity and forgive and grow when others hurt or turn their back on you.

  • Quality is a core value. When I first opened our doors, there was no clear vision of what quality control looked like. During the first few months of reaching almost exponential growth (sometimes 200% increase in the workload), clients found us falling short of expectations. We learned that quality customer service paired with quality production is the key to successfully keeping and attracting new clients.
  • Work on the business. Many times, operations, human relations and finance became back burners to the work produced within the agency. I take fault for major hiccups that led to personal sacrifices that the team had to make, and I promised to the team to constantly work on the business to help SiarzaSD achieve its fullest potential.

Before we go off and continue working on behalf of our awesome clients, I wanted to say thank you to several people that have made significant impacts upon our history:

  • The past and present family members of SiarzaSD – They’re the real MVPs! Whether it’s picking up the kids from school so their wife can work an event later in the evening, to the mom and dad supporting their college graduate through an internship at the agency, their support has been unwavering throughout the years. A shout out also goes to the four legged friends of the agency, who provide lots of cuddles when working from home. 🙂
  • Our clients – Whether you let us go because we weren’t a fit for your culture, or if we have been a part of your marketing team since the beginning of SiarzaSD, thank you for trusting us with your voice and visuals. You motivate the team and I to do great things for our community and to serve selflessly every day. The team and I genuinely love how our client family has become a beautiful cohort of great businesses making an impact.
  • The team- You’ve heard the good, the bad and the ugly. You’ve let me cry during my most difficult times. You’ve celebrated wins with me. Donyelle, Simon, Sante, River, Julia and Marisa motivate me to wake up in the morning and put 110% in, and they continually challenge me to be a better boss every day. To our past team members, like Robert, Cristina, Analicia, Dani, our amazing groups of interns and others who have spent time within our walls, we’re so thrilled to see you move on to bigger, brighter opportunities that cherish your talent even more than we did.
  • The Siarza’s – Angeles and Nick Siarza. They are the namesake for SiarzaSD! From rolling lumpias for our client’s Christmas gifts to cooking the food for the parties at Siarza, they have adopted our entire team as their children. Granted, they only had me, but the team and I have felt their impact, support and love throughout the years. I knew my family was supportive of my dream when my mother said, “I knew you’d always be a business owner.”
  • Spencer and Johnathan. These two, who aren’t on payroll, have helped in every aspect of the company. Johnathan often poses for us for content over the years, and Spencer has become the quiet “voluntold” person who has helped the team with anything we need at a moment’s notice. They have made large sacrifices of time and energy to let me lead the company.

I wanted to quietly dedicate this blog post to Dely Alcañtara, the other person who encouraged me to open the agency. She died on November 2, 2019, and her loss has affected many in various communities. I lost my second mother, my other cheerleader to start the business and my mentor. May she rest in peace and in power.

With my heart full and my mind motivated, I am excited to transition my story and begin telling more of the team’s journey. We can’t wait to share our next chapter full of positive news recognizing our quality work. Cheers to five years!

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