Tell us a bit about your story: what led you to start VitaminDaily?
In 1994 I was working as an editor at a national fashion magazine but was frustrated that I could never cover all the great local, independent businesses and designers because our lead times were so long. These are the types of businesses that didn’t have PR budgets, and coverage could make a huge impact for them both in terms of sales and brand awareness. When my now-business partner Tara Parker Tait approached me at a dinner party with the idea for VitaminDaily, I immediately said yes. Three years later it went from being my hobby to my jobby.
What is your proudest business moment to date?
In October 2010 I flew out to Toronto for the Canadian Online Publishing Awards not knowing quite what to expect. We ended up sweeping the awards for both content and design (beating out sites like CBC.ca) and my team kept having to jump up on the stage. Because we are West Coast-based, a lot of people didn’t know us, and they were like “who are these crazy girls?” A close second was being named one of the Top 9 “New Media Allstars” in Canada by Report on Business magazine this year.
What has been the most challenging aspect of entrepreneurship for you?
I am not a particularly good manager, I am a perfectionist and have extremely high standards. That probably makes me hard to work for and raises stress levels for everyone, but I think the product we produce is a testament to why it matters.
What’s the most important lesson you have learned while growing your company?
Everything takes twice as long and costs twice as much as you think it will.
How do you define, and practice, balance?
My days start early and end late, so I try to take 1/2 a day off on Fridays to do something with my kids one-on-one, do yoga or Pilates at the YMCA, or explore new shops and restaurants. Doing that reminds me why we started the site in the first place: our motto is “In pursuit of the good life.”
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the entrepreneurship world?
Have a marketing strategy. I see so many people with great ideas for products or services, but no way other than social media to create a path to purchase. We used guerrilla marketing tactics when we first started, sending street teams dressed as nurses out to the Film Festival lineups with jelly beans in pill bottles and “prescription pads” for VitaminDaily subscriptions. It only cost a few 100 dollars but it worked.
What is your fuel, when it seems impossible?
I read the fan mail tab on our site, where people write in to say how much our coverage of them has impacted their business or their lives personally. Have a look! http://vitamindaily.com/vancouver/love-letters
What are the tools your company couldn’t function without?
Does a wine sponsor count?
What are your fav blogs, authors, sources of inspiration & wisdom?
I read the paper version of the New York Times on Sundays which is a huge indulgence. Of course I read the posts and blogs of all of our 18 VitaminDaily editors and contributors. I have the Zite app on my iPad which creates a custom magazine for me every day based on my interests, which is very cool. I also read my horoscope daily on AstrologyZone’s iphone app which most people would not believe about me. Virgos are very loyal.
Sarah Bancroft, co-founder and Editor in Chief, VitaminDaily
Daily Dose Media Inc. co-founder Sarah Bancroft is one of Western Canada’s foremost trend experts on matters of style and shopping. She has appeared on TV programs such as “Canada’s Next Top Model,” “Fashion File” and Britain’s “Big Boutique,” MCs high profile fashion events and writes features for Canada’sNational Post. She holds a Masters Degree in Political Science from UBC and worked in Paris, New York and L.A. as a fashion buyer for the national chain Aritzia, managing seasonal budgets in excess of $10 million. Though she loved the clothing allowance, she left to pursue a career in journalism, first as Associate Editor at Vancouvermagazine, then for six years as the Western Editor of FASHION Magazine. She is fluent in English and French and all matters sartorial.