Founder Fridays: Emily Heyward

Founder Fridays is back! This time we’re featuring a good friend of mine, Emily Heyward, who co-founded Red Antler

I met Emily through Mike Karnjanakrapron a few years after she started Red Antler and it was a still a small company. She was jealous that my employer had unlimited office supplies, so I think I snuck a collection of pens, notebooks, highlighters, and sticky notes to one of their office parties. Now I’m envious of Red Antler’s collection of office supplies! Their company has grown so much because they are excellent at what they do - helping ambitious startups build their company and connect with customers. From the coolest in shoes to the coolest in mattresses to the coolest in vitamins, Red Antler’s touch is indelible.

Emily has also been incredibly supportive of Good Stock. She’s helped me think about branding, shared insights on real estate, and sent so many of her employees to visit our booth at Lunch Under the Archway (seriously - over half of our customers were Antlerists!). She’s an inspiring woman and I’m so happy that she’s sharing some of her magic with us.

Why did you start Red Antler?

I started my career in advertising working as a strategic planner, so I was responsible for helping to determine the key takeaway of a campaign - i.e. what message did we want to convey about any given brand. It was a lot of fun and I learned a tremendous amount, but eventually I grew frustrated trying to find new ways to talk about old things that weren’t necessarily what people wanted or needed. My partners and I saw an opportunity to take what we knew from traditional advertising about strategy and creative development, and apply that knowledge to launching new and better experiences. We created Red Antler to help startups take a brand-focused approach to growth. We’ve now been in business 9 years, and have helped launch and build countless businesses across many different categories. I love being a part of shaping brands from the very beginning, especially when the business is solving a real problem and making people’s lives better in some way. 

Tell me about your first “Oh shit!” moment.

I feel like I have “Oh shit!” moments every week, in good ways and bad! I can’t pinpoint the first, but it was definitely wild the first few times I ran into people outside my immediate circle who had heard of our company - it took me way too long to stop suspecting that people were just saying that to be polite.   

What do you love about your job?

Everything! I love working side by side with the most passionate and brilliant founders in the world, who all believe so deeply in what they’re doing. I also feel extremely proud every time our team is all together. I look around and am just astounded by the talent in the room, and how lucky I am to work with such an amazing group. And the work itself is extremely fun - I love the creative process. I don’t ever want to get to a point where I’m just showing up to meetings and not actually making stuff. 

What are you reading?

I absolutely love to read, and almost exclusively read fiction - I very rarely read business-related books because my leisure time is so precious and I actually find I learn more from novels. Right now I’m reading a fun summer thriller called “You Will Know Me” by Megan Abbott. Perfect for the beach! 

What is your favorite soup?

I really do love soup so much, it’s hard to choose just one! What mood am I in? What time of year is it? Where am I and who am I with? I’m just going to cheat and award a 3-way tie between New England Clam Chowder (on Cape Cod), my grandmother’s matzoh ball soup, and Good Stock’s vegan chili.