Navigating life through one of the most historically devastating events of our time can seem impossible. Still, this sharp-witted social media maven has held the world in her palms (literally) and made a pandemic work in her favor. Danielle Paulo is the owner of Creative Haus LLC, a multi-million dollar all-female digital marketing agency, at just 28 years old.
As the closing of businesses struck panic into those around her, Paulo knew that this was the confirmation she needed to turn her passion for social media and digital marketing into a profit. With community being an important aspect of her life, aiding businesses in converting their online presence into sales are what created the spark into Creative Haus — making it a home of creativity, comradeship, and compassion.
Paulo’s deep connection and ties with service and fellowship within her life have contributed to the work she does daily for those around her. 20% of her personal earnings towards community service. So far Creative Haus has been able to feed over 500 homeless veterans on Christmas and New Years’, providing meals including soup, coffee, water, and hygienic essentials using company finances. They have also been able to pay for rent assistance for families in the church who were struggling during COVID, and have provided over 100 PPE items to a small hospital in Los Angeles.
While the Arabica beans at local coffee shops sit brewing under hot water, Danielle has been up and moving since 5 am, bringing the steam as she meets with clients so she can end her busy workdays around 6 pm. Her drive is her alarm clock, and her purpose is her strength to get through each day. Although she may make a load of building a successful company from the ground seem easy to carry on the timeline, she’s here to tell you how she gracefully handles her struggles and successes behind the scenes.
“Taking that leap of faith was definitely terrifying at first, especially in the middle of a pandemic. But I knew that a 9-5 job wasn’t for me and I have always told myself life is too short to be stuck in a job you hate.”
Danielle admits that her biggest fear in starting something new was not being able to expand, dreading that she would feel stagnant taking on her own agency. While social media and digital marketing had been under her belt for about 10 years, she’d never done freelance. She took a leap from security from her stable, high-paying job to a decision made solely on the faith she had in herself and the love she had for her craft.
Although through that leap, she secured a team of women who are always there to advocate for her when things seem to get dark. Paulo says that to keep herself from falling into her own doubts, she made sure to not think too far ahead, and take things one step at a time. Her tip to staying afloat amid the hustle and bustle is to allow yourself space and time to unplug.
“I wanted to start a business because at my last job I didn’t get a break at all. I needed time to focus on my own mental and physical health. It’s actually funny that I say that, because now that I have my own business I actually work MORE hours. But because it is for me, I am more passionate and the work is more rewarding.”
Paulo emphasizes that self-care is an essential task in any work-place, whether self-employed or not. In order to put 100% into your own work, you have to make sure that you are recharging yourself. She also makes sure to pour the same love, care, and patience that she has for herself into her team. Ensuring that all her employees exercise their creative freedom through projects that feel like their own has contributed to the success of Creative Haus in such a short amount of time.
“My goal was to never be a “boss”, I just want to be able to build a space where other creatives can be in charge of their own projects and basically be their own boss. It was never my dream to be a business owner, I just knew I never wanted anyone to tell me what to do. I trust my team to do good work. And because of their good work, I know our clients will always be happy and there will be revenue to fall back on.”
Her goal of fostering a space where creatives are allowed to do the things that they love has been wavering within her mind since she was younger. She was a playground for innovation, falling head over heels for the arts and the things that influenced culture the most. She knew that she would be the one to break traditions in her family, becoming a trailblazer for her own lineage.
“ I grew up in an immigrant household, they came from the Philippines for me to have a better future. There is this stereotype that Filipinos have to be a nurse or a doctor, but since my parents were so young, I told them early on that I didn’t want to go the traditional route.
I applied to fashion school when I was a senior in high school. I was interning in the fashion industry when I was only 18-19 years old. My parents never expected me to follow the traditional account, but they always told me that if I did not have a stable job after two years, I would have to go back to school to do nursing.”
Now, Danielle has the luxury of doing what makes her happy. Though she appreciates basking in her success, she does not want to overlook the things she had to sacrifice to be where she is today. As she recounts the countless hours spent building her brand, Paulo also remembers missing out on quality time with her loved ones and sacrificing many job offers. She’s had quite a journey to the top and is always keen on being transparent about her day to day struggles.
“I’ve failed multiple times. One of the biggest hardships was within the first 3 months, I was sued. I didn’t file the business name/license correctly so it actually affected my taxes. It was difficult for me to inquire about a business loan during a pandemic. When I was seeking sponsorships and investors, no one trusted an unknown agency. Considering that I also do not have a partner, I’ve had to do this all myself. Going through the trials and errors and learning from my mistakes has helped me grow. I knew failure was not an option because there was no way in hell I was going to go back to my previous job.
I wish more business owners would be more honest about their day to day stresses and worries. Along with the times, we do fail day today.”
Even though she does not want to glamorize overworking, she wants aspiring business owners to know that it is not an easy task to build your own company.
“I want to clarify that there is a difference between hard-working and being efficient. Especially during the pandemic, everyone was pressuring people to start a business and make money in other ways. This stigma is something I always hated growing up and still do. Just because you are not a business owner does not mean you are not successful in your own way.”
Along with advocating for any working woman, Danielle created the Creative Haus Agency with the intent to motivate the women who do dream to start businesses of their own. She knows that being part of an industry that is male-dominated can be quite intimidating at times, but doesn’t want that intimidation or the fear of failure to hold any woman back. As a company, Creative Haus brands itself as all-female and with a mission to support other women. Paulo states that until women get paid the same and there is no pay discrepancy between a man and a woman, she will always hire a woman over a man. With this experience, she wants to steer women away from feeling discouraged from pursuing their goals simply because there aren’t too many of us doing it.
Reflecting on her past and present has taught Danielle to appreciate all she has been through. And as she highlights that the road to becoming (SHE)EO was never easy, she wants others that plan to walk in the footsteps of many great, hard-working women to know that “taking risks comes with its challenges, but it also comes with its rewards.”