Originally from just outside Utica, NY, Roxanne Hicks, founder and owner of Sunfest Media, relocated to Orlando in 1988 while working for U.S. Airways. After serving in a variety of roles including HR with U.S. Airways for 18 years, she spent several more years as an HR Manager for a different company. Hicks moved again, this time to New Smyrna Beach in 2006, to be closer to family and the water. From 2006 through 2014, she worked as a Senior Executive Recruiter before a long-time friend, and owner of Off The Hook at Inlet Harbor, a seafood restaurant located in nearby Ponce Inlet, reached out with a unique opportunity.
"I wrote a blog in New Smyrna Beach for a long time about events and different things happening in the community," she said. "The owner of Off The Hook knew that and asked if I'd do him a favor and help with his social media. I agreed and within a short period of time, other business owners found out and started calling me for help with their social media and websites. Before I knew it, I had several clients. That's when I decided to make it a real company."
Hicks shared that, at the time, she was in a good position to make the leap from full-time day job to full-time entrepreneur. Her dad, no longer able to live on his own, moved in and helped to provide some of the financial support needed to launch and grow her new business. Transitioning from a recruiter with an HR background to a social media manager, marketer and web designer required Hicks to pick up some new skills. Fortunately, as she explained, the process was easier than you might expect.
"I watched a lot of YouTube videos," she laughed. "I pretty much taught myself everything I know. When I first started, I had a guy do the websites. Now I do it all. You can Google just about anything. I even taught myself to do SEO. I do, however, have a contractor I work with who helps with the functionality side of eCommerce sites and some of the advanced SEO stuff. I'm more on the marketing and design side."
Sunfest Media is best described as a social media management company. They create and manage top-performing social media campaigns for small to large businesses. Hick's company manages social media networks including Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn and Instagram for a variety of businesses. They use tested social media marketing strategies to help businesses grow and exceed their goals. In addition to social media, they also offer full-service digital marketing solutions including website design & development, copy-writing & blogging, photography, graphic design and search engine optimization.
Despite operating in a crowded market of social media marketers and web designers all competing for business, Hicks' approach is unique. "I work with restaurants, a small pest control company, a chiropractor, a doggy day care kennel in Orlando, a home health aide company, a realtor, a gym and many more different businesses. I don't work with a certain type and I also don't do competing businesses. For example, I won't work with two seafood restaurants in the same city. I think my clients appreciate this. I also think they appreciate my focus on customer service, which is second to none. I work with a lot of restaurants who need service on the weekends, holidays and odd hours. I give them that service and respond to calls and messages whether it is 9:00 am on Monday morning or 10:00 pm on Friday night."
Hicks has developed friendships with many of her clients. She loves learning new things and helping new businesses create their brand. Looking ahead, she would like to continue to grow in the local market and continue to provide superior and fast, reasonably priced service to local businesses.
What advice does Hicks have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "Have a plan," she said. "I have seen too many people who have great ideas for a business, without a plan. They throw up a mediocre website and a Facebook page and think that people will come. You also have to stay on top of what's in right now because it will change in six months."
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