Charles Etoroma
Co-Founder of The Creative Exchange

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Charles Etoroma

Co-Founder of The Creative Exchange

Washington D.C./North Carolina

www.thecreativeexchange.co
instagram @hipsterchad
twitter @CharlesEtoroma
 

WHAT DO YOU DO?

I am a visual storytelling creative + social media strategist.

At it’s core this means that I masterfully create visuals and content that tells stories and cuts through the noise while being able to activate it within the digital space. Primarily photography, Plotographs/cinemagraphs, Social media strategy as well as writing are all tools within my arsenal. Now, couple that with a high understanding of how to get people to respond to it, and you’ve got me.

WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO GET TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?

Ha! I am a self starter. My background is actually in mechanical engineering and political science, but right before graduating college I realized that neither were what I wanted to do with my life, so I joined two startups and learned/taught myself the marketing skills necessary to promote each brand. It involved a lot of late night readings and constant refinement of my skills on side projects I had going on at the time (started a small t-shirt company at the end of college as well as a small media site where I interviewed young creatives around the world about creativity and refined a lot of my marketing/branding/visual understanding while running those). 
 

FOR OTHER PEOPLE IN YOUR FIELD, WHAT DO THEY USUALLY LACK?

I think they lack a respect for people sometimes. As a social media strategist and content creator I think we can get so wrapped up in the numbers game and focusing on how many “likes” we gained or how many conversions a specific campaign gained or even improving ad budgets, but at the end of the day it’s the people that matter. That is taken for granted far too often, especially in the social media world. People focus on the media first but it’s called “social” media for a reason. I respect these individual mediums as well as the people who utilize them and through that respect I am able to create content that authentically portrays that.
 

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?

I am currently working on growing my content and social media studio and establishing our small, yet driven team as a creative force that cannot be bound inside the boxes of of what is possible. Expanding outside of our current location is top of the list and improving myself as a creative director to make sure that all that I create is at the optimum level.
 

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WHAT'S YOUR STYLE/PERSPECTIVE/TASTE? DO YOU HAVE A PROJECT THAT REPRESENTS THIS? 

My style can be most eloquently displayed in my instagram account & side instagram project @latenight.dreams. I am most drawn to uber creative ways of seeing the world. What I love most about how I portray the world is that I am not classically trained, but self taught, so where others see boundaries, I can’t because I don’t know what is “not possible.” 

While I can’t pinpoint the exact nature of my style I am deeply influenced by minimalism, blends of unique colors, and the balance between light and dark. Another big part of my life is my agency and building quality content that I am proud of at The Creative Exchange.
 

WE ARE ALL SLASHIES WITH MULTIPLE SKILLS, WHICH ONE DO YOU WISH YOU COULD DO MORE OFTEN?

I wish I had more time to focus on dreaming up bigger content campaigns either for myself or for the clients that I work with. One of my favorite shows is "Mad Men" and I have a deep professional admiration for the main character Don Draper and I want to be something like a force of creative genius like he was. (Sidenote: Don's personal life sucked, so hopefully mine is much better than that!) Making sure that every piece of content created by me or others around me are at levels where we can really affect change. Being a startup founder, you’re pulled in so many different directions it’s hard to juggle them all at the same time.

WHAT IS FRUSTRATING YOU RIGHT NOW?

One really big thing is handling the location for where my agency was birthed. On the East coast, particularly, NC, content creation and social media aren’t valued at all. People here just don’t understand it and it has stalled growth which is why we are looking to expand to a new location. So it’s a matter of perspective from others. On a different note, my inability to juggle both the weights of staying uber original and creative, while handling logistical things like emails, meetings, and new business proposals.
 

IF YOU COULD HIRE SOMEONE FOR $20/HR, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE THEM DO TO MAKE YOUR DAY EASIER?

Ohh that is too easy, emails and the logistical stuff like going to meetings, and training new people or identifying specific brands to reach out to in order to grow our clientele. It would also be amazing to have someone around to help my cofounder and I create video content for a mini documentary series we have ideas on about being minority millennial founders.  
 

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LET'S BRING OUT THE TIME MACHINE. WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU COULD HAVE TOLD YOURSELF, WHEN, AND WHY?

I love answering this question. I think one of the main things is that learning doesn’t always happen through going to class and text books. You are much smarter than you realize, don’t waste time trying to fit in, it does no one any good.
 

IF YOU COULD TALK TO AN EXPERT TO GAIN MORE INSIGHT ON SOMETHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE ABOUT?

It would be about leadership. As I continue to grow, how do I adequately inspire people, and maximize their potential so they can reach newer heights than they thought possible? Another thing I am particularly interested in is how to find a balance. I am always working and my brain never shuts off, how do you find some sort of balance.
 

WHAT KIND OF OPPORTUNITIES/PROJECTS ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?

I love photography and creating content for individuals as well as brands. I would love to find  opportunities to utilize those skillsets, especially as my agency grows. I also want to connect with other creatives who are looking to create real works of value.
 

DESCRIBE YOUR IDEAL JOB/CLIENT/COLLABORATION.

I love working with passionate people. It is so infectious espcially when you are able to look in someone's eyes or talk with them and hear the love and desire to create meaningful work. It’s really important to me, the people, that I work with. If their values coincide with mine then, it doesn’t matter to me what they are pushing, because we can make magic with that alone.

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WHAT IS YOUR HOURLY RATE, RETAINER, OR SALARY RANGE? 

For photography, it is roughly $150-175/hr and project based things within social media/content creation is $185, These are rates specifically for my agency but we are flexible. We have a minimum retainer of a small minimum of $600 per month.
 

HOW SHOULD SOMEONE APPROACH YOU ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER?

My preferred communication is email, Instagram, or Phone. At first I am very much interested in getting to know about the person and their project brand. In addition to those things a budget as well as a funny icebreaker. 
 

HOW DO YOU STAY CREATIVE?

Pray, read, or wander.

 


This member profile was originally published in November 2017.