The demands of the corporate workplace felt marginalizing to Stephanie Nadi Olson. So she rethought–and rebuilt–the entire thing. There’s no office, but there is forced vacation, and overtime is a thing of the past.
Stephanie Nadi Olson was burned out. She adored her career in advertising, but 10 years in, the status quo was breaking her spirit. She’d been working 60-hour weeks, flying to New York and Silicon Valley for work, while her young daughters were at home in Atlanta. One was still breastfeeding.
“It’s just unsustainable! Especially when you are a caregiver for your children, or your parents, or anybody else,” Olson told Inc.’s What I Know podcast. “I felt marginalized by the way work happened.”
She feels privileged to have been able to leave her seven-figure job. But after doing so, she couldn’t shake the idea that the demands of the traditional workplace weren’t working for a significant portion of the population–for a wide variety of reasons. Perhaps they’d experienced discrimination, or trauma. Perhaps they had medical needs, or a caretaking role that made commuting difficult.
In 2018 Olson had an idea: She’d create a platform for remote work in marketing–and pair at-home marketing experts with jobs at the large firms whose advertising and marketing executives were already in her Rolodex.
She invested $10,000 of her family’s savings into giving the idea a six-month go. She named it We Are Rosie, after her young daughter, Margot Rosie, with her own and her family’s legacy in mind.
“There’s a component of my desire to honor the people that came before me, but also to leave a legacy for my kids, because I don’t ever want my daughters to be trapped in a job where they’re mistreated, or they have to sacrifice themselves or their family to participate in the workforce,” Olson says.
It worked. Less than five years into growing the company, We Are Rosie is valued at $110 million, and its 2,267 percent three-year growth rate landed it No. 232 on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing companies in the United States.
The We Are Rosie platform and community includes some 17,000 marketing contractors, whom the company places at firms for project-based work, capped at 40 hours per week. The company itself has 60 employees, all of whom are remote and enjoy a slate of family-friendly benefits, including mandatory vacation. It’s a perk Olson put in place to combat burnout during the pandemic, inspired by advice a mentor gave her: “People do what you pay them to do.”
“I thought: How can I pay people not to be burned out?” She tied it to quarterly bonuses: To earn their full bonus, an employee must take at least five vacation days every three months.