the mission statement at soona is “quality content for all.”
it’s a straightforward idea for us: make professional photo and video affordable and accessible to every brand.
but there’s another personal mission statement for myself and my cofounder Hayley Anderson that sits right next to this bold vision. we want to create the best jobs in the world for creatives.
let’s put the facts out there about how soona is creating the best jobs for creatives in the industry:
soona pays our creatives a salary. those salaries start at $50,000 with the ability for total pay to reach $90,000 with performance incentives.
that’s not where it ends. we also provide:
our creative roles at soona include full health and dental benefits
an employer matching 401K
a free immersive training program to expand technical skills
a coaching and leadership development program
a student loan forgiveness reimbursement package
free mental health counseling services
and 20 weeks of paid parental leave
because of this commitment to our crew: our business looks different than the industry too. we have a 50/50 gender diverse team. a third of our creatives are non-white. Hollywood’s biases don’t have a place here and the things we create are better for it.
we do everything we can to take care of the people who take your pictures. and that’s because we believe that creativity is the foundation of everything we do here.
it’s easy to assume that because our services are affordable that we somehow achieved that by exploiting creatives. nothing could be further from the truth. rather: we have embraced a belief that technology could offset the time consuming and laborious tasks that take time away from creatives doing what they do best: create. and we pass that financial savings back to our customers WHILE supporting our people.
why are we doing this? because we know what it’s like to be underpaid and undervalued as creatives.
I still remember my first day as a Production Assistant on set for a major television studio. my call time was 4:30 AM and we wrapped at 7:30 PM that night. 15 hour days at $10 an hour was completely normal.
if you have ever worked in production: the early days of your career might sound a lot like mine. and if you were a woman or a black or brown person — or even just an underestimated person from a variety of backgrounds — you may have spent YEARS of your life working like this and watching from the sidelines as others got to make all the creative decisions.
there are many struggles in a world of day rates and gig wages. I remember struggling to keep health insurance going. I never had money for vacation. my average take home income in those first few years was $25,000. barely enough to pay rent.
BUT: I loved being creative. I didn’t want to do anything else with my life. and I know there are countless others who feel the same way but had a medical emergency or a child or a family that forced them out of the field.
making these choices:
- health care or creativity
- a home or creativity
- a living wage or creativity
- a sustainable career or creativity
- a family or creativity
these are impossible choices.
and we don’t ask those who studied finance or engineering or medicine to make these choices. this is why women overwhelmingly leave creative careers – because we never rise to the top despite our hard work. the choice is made for us.
this question has nagged me for more than a decade now: how is it that we can travel the globe to see the Mona Lisa and spend millions for a Banksy — but we can’t find the financial creativity to provide for the types of humans who generate this kind of beauty in our daily lives? be it the apps we touch or the content we watch on social media or the packaging on our favorite snack.
it’s my belief that the next wave in modern leadership will be confronting this question: how does a business create sustainable profit while providing for all workers at all levels of the organization?
“innovation” in many startups for the better part of the last decade has meant pinching the gig worker or delivery driver or dog walker to create a compelling business model. this is not innovation. it’s exploitation.
and worse: we have developed a cultural idea that workplaces don’t care about people. that capitalism can’t possibly serve every stakeholder. this kind of thinking cuts ourselves short. creativity means getting smarter about how you design the very economics of your business so that everyone can win.
soona is one such example. after all: choosing creativity was what I always believed was possible.
if this sounds compelling to you: check out our careers page.