Erin Sarofsky is the president, owner, and creative director of Sarofsky Corp. She is recognized internationally for brilliant design-driven production that is limited only by her own imagination. Sarofsky and her firm have forged longstanding relationships with proven leaders of the advertising and entertainment industries.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I grew up on Long Island. Most people think of NY as very liberal, but Levittown where I was raised was both very working-class and oddly conservative. We were also one of a few Jewish families in our school district. So, to say I didn’t fit, would be an understatement… And of course, as a child, one tends to parrot to the circumstances you are born into, so mostly I just felt like a round peg in a square hole. Either I was different, or I was trying hard to be something I wasn’t. I am grateful that my parents encouraged me to follow my path, leaving the Island – and really never looking back.
Of course, everyone has childhood memories that shape – both good and bad – but let me say, there is no memory stronger the walking through the aisles of Pearl Paint collecting art supplies for my latest project. My parents always provided me space and resources to explore my creativity. I remember the smell of those aisles. The paints, the pencils, the gadgets… All. The. Things.
So, in reflecting, I think my feeling out of place helped me find my place. In an art supply store!
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
- You teach people how to treat you. If you allow unacceptable behavior, then that’s what you get.
- Gossip is poison. People that engage are unhealthy. People that instigate are toxic.
- Kids are exhausting.
- Learn how to write!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
I think in general people look mostly at a person’s reel to decide if they are a good hire. However, I think the soft skills are equally, if not more important. Often, I will go for a better personality fit, if there are talent and potential, knowing I can help them to develop into being a better artist/designer.
So I would say, in addition to your work, make sure you develop those soft skills and be sure to know the appropriate ways to communicate.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
There was a moment a few years back where the phones stopped ringing and my clients were just super late paying bills. All of the things that could happen felt like they were happening. And for a moment I was like, ok this may be the end. Well, it was more like WTF is going on, expletive expletive expletive and such.
Also, at the same time, personally, I was coming out of a medical situation that left me drained and exhausted. I really felt like I was just carrying too big of a load and I started to not have the confidence in myself to be able to keep juggling… and also even questioned – Why am I juggling?
The lesson was simple. There will be short dry spells. There will be cash flow issues. There will be moments when I am just tired. But dry spells end with monsoons. Cash flow just requires thoughtful, proactive action. Being tired means asking for help, not expecting it to happing magically, but saying – hey I need you to cover me now.
All of that happening at once will no doubt shake your confidence. But just reaching out to some trusted friends/advisors in your industry – will immediately remedy that. They can simply say what you know – that you’re the best.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
I am mostly unaffected by failure (like not winning a pitch or award).
I most certainly never take it personally and I just move on to the next opportunity.
At the end of the day, I know there will be more opportunities… And in my experience, they are even better ones.
What is your morning routine?
Ugh. Since the kiddo came 3ish years ago that struggle is real. She just started sleeping through the night. So every morning is like winning the little lotto. But I still have a lot of catching up to do.
Ok my pandemic mode, WFH, morning routine. 7:00 am wake up. I put on CBS because I love Gayle King, brush shower, yadda yadda (but in like 10minutes). Kevin, my husband, makes me a coffee in the Keurig. Kevin wrangles the kiddo and I help pick up any slack if she is lallygagging. I put on the same yoga pants (I have like 6 pairs) and the same black sweater (more the 6 of them because they are dry clean only).
If she is chill, I get to keep on Gayle. If not we pop on Bluey till she goes to school. Then its laptop opens and going. It’s more like I live at work now. In the beginning, it was like I was working at home… but that has shifted.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
Letting people do their jobs and trusting them to ask me for help if they need it.
Go to sleep early whenever you can.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
- Make. A. List.
- Set goals and expectations every day for what you want to accomplish.
- Set long-term goals too – and hold yourself accountable.
- Look at your schedule a day ahead so you can see and predict better how to use your time.
- Find a way to keep your usernames and passwords very easily accessible. I bet most people waste half their days looking for u/p info.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
Well, I am a big Harry Potter fan. Those books and films came out right as I was in the early stages of my career – so it really was like watching magic seeing the books interpreted into films.
About a year ago I asked my Facebook friends… all 1000ish of them for book reccos and I bought and read all of them. It was a little experiment that opened my eyes to a lot of literature that I didn’t even know about, and also forced me to read some stuff I just wouldn’t have.
Of that group of books the best read, and most daunting, was The Overstory by Richard Powers.
I’ll never look at trees the same again… And it reminds me how there is still very little we know about how connected we all are.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
I love quotes. Actually, I love short quotes. We just started posting them on our social media channel because I think short quotes can spark a moment of realization. I also love when I stumble on a quote from an iconic artist or thinker and realize we have a similar nugget of truth.
“It took me a few seconds to draw it, but it took me 34 years to learn how to draw it in a few seconds.”
— Paula Scher
” Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt
“I believe great people do things before they are ready.”
― Amy Poehler
“Because remember, the talking about the thing isn’t the thing. The doing of the thing is the thing.”
― Amy Poehler
“Innovation! One cannot be forever innovating. I want to create classics”
― Coco Chanel
“When I find a colour darker than black, I’ll wear it. But until then, I’m wearing black!”
― Coco Chanel