OWNED is a global coalition of women-owned creator companies operating in the advertising production industry working together to help women thrive. We are an initiative of global inclusion, supporting, championing and mentoring women in commercial production. A platform where owners can come together to support, share, collaborate and promote each other, leading the way for the next generation of women owners.
We want a body of WOMEN who OWN a piece of this world to join our initiative.
In this interview series, we showcase companies in our coalition.
This week our feature is on Ana Laura Solis of Story. She was originally one of the founding partners of The Lift in Barcelona and then Mexico City. In life, partnerships constantly evolve and dissolve. Ana went on to open Story in 2013, which grew from Spain to Mexico City, and then Portugal. With the pandemic, Story has come beautifully full circle to where it all began, to her hometown in the heart of Mexico City. She strives to empower and develop women in the industry - female directors, producers and DPs. Equality and fairness being key values, she’s also grown and nurtured young talent, both men and women alike.
There is power in sharing our histories and how our paths have been forged. We thank Ana for generously sharing her story with us - pun intended.
LBB> As a creator company in our industry, what is the value of a female-owned perspective?
Ana> Honestly, I never thought: “I’m a woman, I’m going to do something special”. I knew I wanted to have my own company since I was around 23 years old. Mostly because I wanted to be my own boss, but was too naïve to realise that it was way more difficult than what I had imagined.
LBB> Part of OWNED's role is to shape a more equitable and balanced industry, how would you like to see this happening?
Ana> In this sense I am all for it! I grew up in this industry and the only women I ever saw were scripts and wardrobe stylists. I’ve always helped women grow in my company and for the industry: producers, directors, DPs, etc. The amazing role of OWNED is that most of us have known each other for a few decades and we want to help each other be stronger and more united in a mainly male-dominated world. It’s great to see more and more women in every department, I love to see DPs! And to see it as a more natural thing, as opposed to a rarity. In the future, I really hope there can be a balance of not only male/female crew members but also to allow much more diversity and no bullying on set just because someone is “different".
LBB> Are there learnings from your own journey that have bettered your leadership?
Ana> Wow, yes, MANY! I studied film in Paris, I didn’t study business, so the learning has been huge. I’ve had to do workshops, courses, readings, gatherings with other entrepreneurs, joined organisations, been on boards of associations, which have all open my eyes from other people’s experiences. Also, the 20 something years of OWNING A BUSINESS have given me many ups and downs to learn from! But I do feel very proud of myself, having built very solid producers and teams within the company throughout all its stages.
LBB> What obstacles have you experienced that inhibit your company's opportunities and visibility in the industry?
Ana> I believe that companies that are run/owned by men who are incredibly aggressive and competitive are still the ones growing the most. My style is more natural and organic in its growth, my goal is not to become the richest woman in advertising in one year. My goal is long term: to be better at what I do every day, to be a better leader every day, to be a better person, to have the perfect balance between my work and my family life, which I think I am close to having. And above all, to produce great films with great people while having fun. I care about processes, craft and creating real relationships that last.
LBB> Do you have any landmark moments as a female business owner that you'd like to share?
Ana> What I’m proud of is that I started a company with three other men (older than me), in a foreign country at 27 years of age. Creating the company was not the difficult part, it was getting new clients to trust us, because at the time, I barely knew anyone. I was a young, foreign, Latin American woman and it was not easy trying to open up doors. Once we started working, it began getting easier and I forgot about being a young woman in a mostly man’s world.
We were thriving and it felt great. It was constant learning and that is an amazing feeling! That company in Barcelona only lasted 20 years, unfortunately. The journey was not always easy but totally worth it! It went from four partners, to three, to two, to me, to losing the Mexico office, to gaining a Mexico office and a new partner, to gaining a Portugal office, to going back to one office in Mexico City. Now I am back in my country of origin with a company I started with my father in 2013.
LBB> What inspires you?
Ana> Watching and producing beautiful storytelling!
LBB> What advice do you wish you were given / best advice you could give?
Ana> I usually don’t like to give advice, I rather share an experience.
But if I must: Always treat people right, this is a people business after all!