As 2023 began, Amanda Liu’s days were full of brainstorming sessions with her work team. What topic were they debating? How to make sex more fun.
And no, she says. They were not sharing personal anecdotes about their own sex lives. (Although they could if they wanted to: “It’s a very open environment, so whatever people are comfortable with sharing, it’s OK,” she says.)
Amanda is the vice president of paid media at Hello Cake, a new, fast-growing, disrupter brand in the sexual wellness space. And when your job is marketing sex products, you get pretty comfortable discussing this stuff.
This year’s More Fun Sex Challenge was the company’s first major, pull-out-all-the-stops marketing campaign, and Amanda says it resulted in a “ton of content on our website around helping couples have more fun in the bedroom.” That included custom quizzes and advice from sex educators and sex therapists about how to improve your relationship and try new things together.
All in all, it’s not a bad way to make a living, and as Amanda comes up on two years with the company, she is clearly loving it. What set her on this path to achieving her career goals as a marketer? How did she get to this…climactic moment in her career?
How she got here
“Honestly, I kind of fell into it,” she says. While studying business at New York University, she says her marketing classes were the most interesting. “After I graduated, I took the first job that gave me an offer, so I could stay in the city, have a job, and become an adult.”
But that first job turned out to be a great one: She landed at Ogilvy working on the IBM account.
“It was a nice way to move from being in college to the real world,” she says. “It was a big team of 50 people who were across all ages. I loved working with them, so culturally it was fun. And being a big company, everything was well-structured. I knew who my managers were and what my responsibilities were.”
After that initial dive into the corporate world of marketing, she “hopped around to a lot of agencies, big and small.” And in those intervening years, she learned that there were some big differences between the two.
Seeking autonomy in freelance work
“Eventually I realized I didn’t really like being part of a big agency,” Amanda says. While she’d learned a great deal from their established processes and structures, she began to question the way things were done. She noticed that at smaller, newer agencies, she wasn’t restricted by rigid norms that seemed to only slow her down.
Amanda moved from a big agency to a medium-sized one to a small one. And then, in 2020, she took the big leap and went freelance.
“I was looking for a better life-work balance,” she says. She began researching how she might go about getting into the freelancing world, and she found We Are Rosie through an online search.
“I didn’t even know that this kind of network and resource existed,” she says. She applied to be a Rosie, submitted her expertise, and was soon contracted to work with a major dating app.
Though this company was “definitely a large-sized enterprise,” her role as a contractor afforded her a measure of autonomy she wouldn’t have had if she was working in-house.
“I was working with a specific team, and there were specific things I was contractually set to help them with,” she says. “A lot of it was ‘make sure you complete these tasks and share the update.’” In other words: Because she had her own, specific project, she got to move at a fast pace and get things done.
Hello, Hello Cake
Then Amanda began freelancing for Hello Cake, which is based in Los Angeles. “I found myself dedicating more and more time to them,” she says. “They kept asking if I wanted to work for them full-time, and after three months I was already kind of full-time without actually being full-time.” So, in September of 2021, she accepted their offer to work in-house.
Amanda’s period as a freelancer informed her decision to join Hello Cake. “It helped me craft what I was looking for in a full-time job,” she says. Plus, the company ticked many boxes for her.
“The environment was something I wanted to be a part of,” she said. “It was a fast-growing startup, I could be working directly with the founders, and I would be trying to grow something. I would be an integral part of making decisions and testing new ideas and shaping the company.”
And the company’s hybrid working model (one day in the office and remote the rest of the week) allowed her to keep the work-life balance she’d grown to love during her time of freelancing.
While she admits there have been some tradeoffs—”As a freelancer, I could choose to have a four day week, or to work from a different location,” she says—the benefits of being full time have made the switch worth it.
“As the world is opening back up, and there’s so much economic uncertainty, I have a level of security,” she says. “And I like going deep with one brand.”
She also likes the positive message that the brand is projecting.
“Historically, talking about sex has been taboo, and sex products have been the same for decades,” she says. “We want to be a super approachable, fun, affordable brand so that people who are curious about these products can have a branded resource. These are shame-free products for everyone, and I think that mission is super cool. We’re spreading positivity.”
Ever since the early stages of her marketing career, Amanda has been curious and eager to learn. “I am someone who always asks questions, and I take a lot of notes,” she says. “When I join a new job, I try to learn as much as I can from the people around me.”
She explains that in the world of media and visual marketing, things are always changing, whether it’s trends on social media or new developments in technology. She believes she’s grown quickly in her career, because she’s always been willing to take calls from different companies to hear what they have to say.
“I’ve also been fortunate to have strong managers early on who served as mentors,” she says. “They gave me confidence to become a freelancer and now as a leader of a department.”
Amanda’s immediate goals are to “keep growing and keep getting Hello Cake in front of as many people as possible,” she says. She also hopes to grow her team in the next few years. More people. More ideas. More fun sex!