Emily Sandford went to the University of Kentucky to major in kinesiology — “for two seconds,” she said. She had thought she would like to be an exercise physiologist. Instead, she earned a B.A. in integrated strategic communication in 2003 and an MBA in 2007.
As the owner of Authentically Social, Sandford is a brand partner for a handful of companies, providing them with content management, blog posts and occasional website updates, along with social media posts for Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. Her goal is to “manage and grow those communities in an authentic way.” She maintains three blogs of her own and has a presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and YouTube.
Before and after her post-graduate studies, Sandford worked on the client side of corporate marketing at Alltech in Nicholasville, Ky., Bullard in Cynthiana, Ky., and Office Suites Plus in Lexington. She had been “side hustling” as a social media consultant for other companies, but burning the midnight oil took its toll earlier this year.
“One day, it got to where my whole body wanted to shut down,” Sandford said. Her doctor told her it would shut down if she didn’t make a choice: “Cut back on the hours of my side hustle, or jump from the safety of the corporate world and go at it on my own.”
She took the self-employment plunge in February 2012, even though one of her hesitation points about not wanting to leave corporate America was that she had worked so hard on getting an MBA. Then she told herself, “I’m working on this health journey, yet running my body into the ground with stress and insomnia.”
In an uncharacteristically quick decision (she’s a planner by nature), Sandford left Office Suites Plus — on good terms — to start her own business. To come up with a company name, she drew a mind map, playing with words and expressions relating to social media as she asked herself, “How can I bring that authentically social personality to brands?”
The words that kept coming up were “authenticity,” “connection” and “organic.” So she formed a limited liability company named Authentically Social.
Her biggest client is Enell, a sports bra manufacturer based in Montana.
“I use their product and blogged about it,” Sandford said. Her blog posts, in fact, became the No. 1 result for Google searches of “sports bra product review.”