c21tv episode one – Twisted Paths – Frances Chang
Frances: So my journey to c21 was not a straight path. It was a very very windy and twisty path. So it was the recession of 2008 and I was in a transitional period. I was in my previous job for nine years and then the recession came and there were some layoffs so I was trying to figure out what to do with myself and then figured that I would lend my services to a company to just sort of keep my resume active, learn new skills. So I looked into internships and saw that the Center for Puppetry Arts had an internship available in their marketing department and I’d always been interested in theatre and art and puppets so I applied and acknowledged that it was unusual to be like a 35-year-old adult applying for an internship at the Center for Puppetry Arts but my favorite movies are The Labyrinth, Dark Crystal, The Neverending Story, so they were excited to have me.
So that’s how I got involved in puppets and I became involved in their adult programming, experimental puppetry theatre where artists submit proposals for a puppet show and then if they are accepted, they get a grant to produce it and so I applied as an individual contributor and then signed on to one of the productions which involved wrestlers puppeteering humans as puppets.
So that’s how I got to know some wrestlers and that sort of led down the road to wrestling because the women and the men that I was involved with were involved in the Pro Wrestling Federation and I had become good friends with them and they were doing this and I was like – I’m a joiner so I want to do this too. So I began training and became – well not exactly a pro wrester – but I trained with a pro wrestler. But I was one of the, I guess what you could call a support. So I was the ringside doctor. So I would support the wrestlers as they became injured and helped them out and occasionally we’d get in the ring and do some stunts as well.
Through wrestling I also got to know a lot of improvisors and so that led me down a whole other path of improvisation, sketch writing, film and stuff like that. So that’s how I got into pro wrestling but while I was at the Center for Puppetry Arts I transitioned my career from graphic design to marketing which led me to working for UniverSoul Circus so that’s how I went from puppets to the circus and I was their digital media manager which basically was the voice of the circus on social media.
And from there, just enhanced my marketing skills because I found that I was more of an idea person. I like creating ideas. I like telling stories. So I moved from graphics to marketing and then so through that I developed copywriting skills which when I went from the circus I became the director of marketing at a kitchen and bath renovation company and then there was a merger there so my position became redundant and then that led me to c21 and becoming a senior account manager here.
What I like about marketing is that it’s so broad and it’s not as limiting as graphic design is. Certainly with both you have to please the client, but with graphics you just deal with 2D or – basically just 2D media. And where I was when I was doing graphics there was no growth. It was not encouraged to learn more software or do more things and so when I wanted to move out to marketing there were so many opportunities. There was writing for newsletters, writing for blogs, writing press releases and so it was just – and then also I could incorporate my graphic skills when needed for these newsletters or social media graphics. And then I got into video editing so now we’re creating videos so marketing and PR has just broadened my horizons and enhanced my skills. It just makes me more creative, I think.
A day at c21…Well since our clients are so varied – we have nonprofits, we have government entities, we have real estate, retail – every day is different and so we could be drafting content for social media or sending out a press release or sending out a newsletter. So there is no day that is the same. Sometimes it’s research, sometimes it’s creating a story, sometimes it’s data entry, you know not every day is so exciting but it does break up the day so that’s a hard question to answer but every day is a good day.
My favorite item in my office would probably have to be my snack drawer because I’m very food motivated and I like snacks.
I went to college so long ago that computers were not really a big thing. We didn’t have the internet until my junior year so I actually went to school as a business major with an interest in graphics but I picked up graphics after I graduated because that was not a program in school. So what I know now that I wish I had known is that the possibilities are limitless with computer graphics, computer editing. I mean if I were in school now I don’t know that I would be doing what I do now. I might be in the film industry. I don’t know. It’s just – advice I would give myself would be just be true to yourself and whatever happens, happens for a reason and you might take a different path but that path might lead to what you were meant to do.