After ten years working in OOH industry in Chicago, Candice Simons was ready for change and ready to move home (she's a Michigan native). The impetus being a gap in outdoor advertising that sparked her decision to create Brooklyn Outdoor in 2013. On starting her own company, in Detroit, she emphatically drew plenty of skeptics. There were people who told her, "I couldn’t or advised me against it". But Candice proved the naysayers wrong, building a national company, which connects local artists with nationwide companies to build a unique relationship in the industry. Her goal? To provide a fresh perspective on the traditional options available in the out-of-home industry. "The best thing I did for myself was plan and invest in the future of my company before instant gratification", notes Simons. Today she capitalizes on her strength of doing things differently and stays ahead of the game by consistently scanning for opportunities to fuel growth.
"By looking at OOH through a diverse lens I was able to create relationships between local artists and national companies to bridge relationships where they would not have naturally occurred"
Brooklyn Outdoor’s core business is outdoor signage and displays, including billboards, buildings, wallscapes, digital billboards, branded buses and taxis, bus shelters, digital interactive, street furniture, posters, mobile billboards, experiential advertising, hand-painted murals, and storescapes/in- window displays. The company has emerged as a regional and national force. With satellite offices in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles; Brooklyn Outdoor is able to provide full national coverage. Access to unique outdoor inventory is an appealing asset for the vendors, advertising agencies, media buyers, and independent operators that Brooklyn Outdoor serves.
The company has carved out a reputation for going above and beyond: introducing eye-opening and attention-getting elements, groundbreaking displays, and unique special events and promotions. So when they were tasked to create the “Best Damn Billboard” for Anheuser-Busch. They did it again. Curating Detroit’s very first “Billbar” which was an interactive billboard designed out of a shipping container that people could drink and hang out in. Not only did it celebrated the local artists but also brought Detroiters together in the Corktown neighborhood and turned a regular Saturday into the Best Damn Saturday anyone could ask for. "By using creativity and innovative thinking we are able to create campaigns that create visual appeal and bring good to the community", says Simons. The company also frequently indulges in initiatives to give back to the community. One such occasion was sponsoring a festival that commissioned the work of local and national artists to create murals that increased visual appeal, safety and foot traffic in neighborhoods. "My greatest concern in doing so is having the ability to change the opinions of those who view OOH through a traditional scope (that advertising cannot be done through art) so they can understand ways to change the narrative", espouses Simons.
Candice Simons, Founder & CEO
Making it Real
But change is damn hard. And bringing the change is hardest. Naturally, Candice and her team do all the hard work. A typical day for Candice is to wake up to emails, checking the calendar and outlining the day’s routine. Later she can be found spending a majority of her day taking several meeting, phone calls and working on tasks that need her direct attention. Nevertheless, by prioritizing to make most out of the day and planning through the evenings, she makes a point to squeeze out time for not only her clients but also her employees. At the same time, Candice constantly thrives to learn more by maintaining a ‘student mentality’ and firmly believes in driving change through influence. “If you exhibit the type of behavior and ethics you want to be represented within your company, you are a lot more likely to see them mirrored”, says Simons. Consequently, she has cultivated one-of-a-kind company culture at Brooklyn Outdoor that encourages innovations, ease, and enjoyment in the workplace. An atmosphere that promotes inclusion and creativity. She has built a team that is fun, original and thoughtful. “Our ability and drive to think outside the box has given us the opportunity to move successful ideas into full fruition”, cheers Simons. She ensures giving employees the ability to work remote or work partially remote for the week to better balance work and family life. “This allows my employees to reduce family stressors from the workplaces—especially those that are common amongst working mothers”, shares Simons. She regularly checks in with the employees to understand where they are thriving and where they are struggling so that she can assist them with the right tools for achieving professional growth. Having bi-annual reviews with employees allows her and the employees to check on role responsibilities and goals. “Tracking progress and opportunities allows us to measure where individuals are ready for more responsibility and challenges”, explains Simons. All this whilst putting the company at the forefront of innovation in the industry. This is vital, she says, “The ways in which people are exposed to advertisements is constantly evolving, which means we must be constantly evolving too”. But one concern that is occurring in the OOH industry is the use of big data to create more targeted campaigns. To which she promptly replies, “This is data that is already being utilized in radio, television, and on the internet. The way our company will continue to ensure we use this in the best interests of our audiences and a client is to be certain to maintain a standard of ethics in the advertisements we create and brands we stand behind”.
As a business owner, she holds a lot of responsibility and her workday doesn’t typically end when everyone else’s does. Staying caught up in it is easy but eventually, she learned how to carve out time for herself. Winding down for Candice can be the need for laughs over wine with girlfriends, a quiet meditation session, or snuggling up to her latest read. Which she exclaimed was “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***.” “What I liked most about this book was how it reminds you to connect with what is truly important to you. It helped me to find the clarity I need to focus and remove the static of things that don’t really matter”, says Simons.
Simons’s advice for those who dare? Find mentors who can help by guiding the way and share their personal experiences that one can apply to overcome challenges coming along the way. "When I first started out there wasn’t a network for me to lean on", shares Simons. But she was courageous. Courageous but smart. And learned how to chase her dreams. She smiles and concludes, "I hope that I can be a model for women who dare to be something great in the face of people who tell them they can’t" because-- look at her--THEY CAN!