Nine years ago, Carol Han Pyle took the leap from a successful career as a fashion editor (with stints at Lucky, Elle, Stylecaster, and the PR firm BPCM) to start CA Creative, a full-service digital agency for luxury brands in hospitality, fashion, beauty, real estate, and lifestyle, where she and her team have done campaigns for brands as diverse as Bumble & Bumble, Dean and Deluca, Faena Hotels, and Smartwater. We spoke to Carol about how she prioritizes her time, the importance of celebrating small victories, and the uncertainty of starting her own business in the middle of a recession.
Before you started CA Creative, you were at Stylecaster in its early stages. Did working for a small startup inform your decision to start your own business at all?
We built the site from the ground up—when I started, there was no office, a bare bones team, and no website, so I really got a lot of insight into what it meant to be an entrepreneur and build a company. After that, I was hooked! Two years later, I left to launch CA Creative.
What was the most challenging part of starting your own business?
The uncertainty of it all! It was during the recession and I had a really stable job that I enjoyed. My family thought it was nuts for me to leave to start a social media agency—there weren’t many around in those days, it was still a really new concept.
What does a typical work day look like?
I get in an early morning Tracy Anderson class before getting into the office between 9:30 and 10 A.M. I’ll touch base with my team first thing to make sure we’re all on the same page about what needs to get done for each client, and then my days are usually a big mix of editing and approving content, client meetings, new business meetings, overseeing campaigns, and brainstorms.
What's the most rewarding part of being a founder?
I love getting to pick the people I work with. I have an amazing team and I truly look forward to seeing them every day.
How do you maintain a good work-life balance?
I try to leave the office by 5:30 or 6 pm every day so that I get enough time at home with my dog and my husband. We just got married this fall, and I think it’s important to carve out that family time! I love getting home in time to cook dinner for us and then settle in for a Friends marathon or some time to read. I take long bubble baths when I can. And I try to end every night by reading the latest novel on my nightstand in bed.
What does your work space look like?
My work space is really clean. I’m one of those people who can’t focus with any sort of clutter around me, which means I’m constantly tidying! I have a big Apple desktop, a couple of energy clearing crystals, my phone, a green juice, and a Kinto tumbler full of matcha on my desk at all times. I also just ordered a blue sea urchin from Land of Belle, so that may be joining the desk collection soon!
What clothes make you feel like your best professional self?
My coworkers have told me that I really try to make a black tie look work for the office a lot! I love great dresses, and tend to gravitate towards designers who do them the best—Emilia Wickstead, Carolina Herrera, and Alessandra Rich are current favorites.
What advice would you give people who want to start out in your industry?
I would say to slow down as much as you can and celebrate your victories. I tend to move really quickly through life in general, checking things off and moving on right away. Social media, as an industry, is very fast-moving, so it doesn’t exactly help that I’m immersed in it daily. Take the time to come up with truly great ideas for your clients, incorporate an element of giving back to make those ideas meaningful, and when you have a victory, whether that be signing a new client you’re really excited about, or executing a successful campaign for a current client, take the time to revel in it a little. My preferred method: pop open a bottle of bubbly.
Alarm goes off at: 5:15 A.M. or 6:15 A.M., depending on the day.
Work starts at: 9:30 A.M.—I get in a Tracy Anderson class before work about 5 days a week
Work ends at: 6 P.M.
Typical bedtime: 9:30 or 10 P.M.
Coffee/Tea Order: Matcha with almond milk by NotMilk—I get their fresh, homemade almond milk delivered to my home every week. It’s the best!
Highlight of your day: Waking up to a new day! I’m such a morning person, and I truly love the feeling of waking up next to my husband with my dog snoring close by.
Most annoying or challenging part of your day: Fitting it all in! It can feel like a big crush to work out, get everything done at work, leave on time, run errands, cook dinner, carve out quality time for friends and family, and on and on. I have to remind myself that it’s okay if not every single thing on my list gets checked off every day.
Working from home, love or hate? Love!
The skill that doesn't come naturally to you that you wish did: Public speaking!
If you weren't doing what you do now, what would you want to do? I’d want to be a novelist.
One quality that make you good at what you do: Positivity.