Agency Partnership

INK Founders Talk Ceiling-Busting, Honest Communications, and the Death of Old-School Client Service

By INK Team

INK celebrated its 18th birthday this month. We asked our female founders – Starr Baker, Kari Hernandez, and Blair Poloskey – what they’re proudest of at INK, and where they see the company and industry headed next. They took a few detours but generally played along. Enjoy!

Starr: I’m proudest of the culture we’ve built and how people don’t just embrace it, but they live it, breathe it, and build upon it themselves. We set out to build the agency we wanted to work for but didn’t think was out there. I believe in our mission – good work with good people makes for a good life – because I want it for myself just as much as for all the people who work at and with INK. Selfish?

Kari: Not in the least. I’m proud of the career growth that’s possible at INK today. There was a time when we expected our senior talent to move on to in-house marketing positions – but as we’ve grown, so too have the leadership and creative opportunities for our people. We’re busting through our own ceiling!

Blair: And without a tradeoff in culture or quality. I’d say it’s also incredibly gratifying to see our alumni go out in the world and kick ass.

Starr: To what’s next, I’m seeing businesses finally realize the strength of the audience that is their employees. I’m excited to see more companies harness the power of employer branding and internal communication for recruiting and retaining top talent and growing their companies stronger. Business leaders have paid lip service to the idea that “employees are our best brand advocates” – it’s nice to see that idea truly come to life with the help of smart communicators.

Blair: To build on that – smart, honest communication and communicators are the future. ‘Spin’ is dead, y’all. Good comms is honest, transparent comms.

Kari: Agencies like ours have the ability, and frankly the responsibility, to work with companies who are honest and transparent and want to amplify that. Working in tech and renewable energy, with companies who are doing good work, INK can make an outsized impact. Exciting and keeping me up at night, how about that?

Starr: Less talk, more action. Less fighting, more people working together towards solutions. All the communication in the world doesn’t matter an ounce if we don’t get things done – like ensuring this planet is around for our kids to enjoy. What keeps me up at night is hiring great people who want that too.

Blair: We have high standards for both new clients and new INKers – all parties have high bars to reach for success. We’re not the company for everyone, and I think we’re all okay with that, I just want to hire the people that will move this company and our clients forward – and not borrow trouble along the way.

Kari: I see the future moving in a direction that blurs the lines between client and agency because they have shared goals and start acting like it. We use the term partnership, and that works for now. It is fundamentally a different relationship from the old-school client service model.

Starr: Client service in that traditional sense is dead. My biggest hope for INK is that we’re not an “agency.” But that’s a story for another day.

Blair: Whatever you’re thinking – I bet that shit will be fun. Count me in for another 18.