Episode 22: Aleni Mackarey, Agency Marketing and Project Manager at Base Beauty Creative Agency

Meet the Base Beauty Team! They are the original WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY™ since this has been our agency tag line long before we conceived of the podcast series. Learn about their talents and career journey that lead them to BBCA.

Dan Hodgdon
AnnouncerWelcome to Where Brains Meet Beauty, hosted by Jodi Katz, founder and creative director of Base Beauty Creative Agency.
Jodi KatzI am so excited that we are joined by Aleni Mackarey who is now our project manager. Before that she was our project coordinator, before that she was our intern. Pretty awesome lady, thanks for being here.
Aleni MackareyThanks for having me.
Jodi KatzI met Aleni through one of our former team members, who I met through my alma mater, Lafayette College. Jackie used to work at Base Beauty, she was one of my externs, and then she became an intern, and then she became a project coordinator and a project manager just like Aleni.
Then when she was ready to move on to her next job I said, "Okay, that's fine. Just give me another person as amazing as you." She introduced me to Aleni and that was I guess two years ago, right?
Aleni MackareyYeah.
Jodi KatzI love thinking about Aleni because she/you have changed and evolved so much in a short amount of time. For sure in the beginning of working with us, you probably had a deer in the headlights look pretty often trying to find your way. We are a very nimble staff and a very incredibly efficient team. We often work virtually, so you don't get the benefit from someone standing over your shoulder if you need that support.
Can you talk to us a little bit and share with our listeners a little bit about what it was like to enter Base Beauty, it's a nimble, high energy environment.
Aleni MackareyYeah. I didn't have any idea really that the beauty industry was even a thing. I just sort of loved the products from afar but I never even knew that there were jobs here. Once I took this job it was like this whole new world and there was so much to learn. It is a virtual agency, so that is a different way to learn. I did have that intern experience where I was in the city, which was a good way to meet people and get to see a lot of things first hand.
It's unlike anything I've ever done, it's just really cool to be a part of something where everybody is very productive and self starters. I think you have to force yourself to challenge yourself and match what everybody else is doing, which is really great work all the time. It's been this huge learning experience for me and I'm still learning.
Jodi KatzI watched so much growth in you and I've seen such a beautiful confidence blooming. I think we noticed it, I guess after the year, after working together for a year. The whole team realized, "It's all making sense to Aleni now. We don't need to explain, you just get it." With that came title changes, which is really exciting for you.
I'd love to talk with you about, let's just say that you're young, you're in your 20's. You are a full on millennial, right?
Aleni MackareyYeah.
Jodi KatzI hear at these conferences that I go to, so much, "Ha ha, millennials in the workforce" and, "They're so complicated, and they're so needy, and they're so demanding." I really like no joke, I was in a conference in Florida and I'm looking around the room being like, "Wait, what? I don't have that experience." Jackie before you, and Lauren before her, and Katie at the same time, these are all people that are "millennials" and have always been phenomenally incredible at the agency and have created so much success for us.
I really had no idea what these people were talking about. Then more and more people were talking about it and they were all the club of working with those hard to deal with millennials. I don't see that at all in you. You're incredible to work with, and you're such a hard worker, and you're so devoted, and you have such great ideas. What is it that you like about doing what you're doing now?
Aleni MackareyI think recently and always, but especially recently, I've been really focused on female empowerment. I think that I love what we do because we're in the beauty industry, which as I've learned is so much more than long eyelashes and beautiful curls. It's like beauty is on the inside and the outside thing. I think that I love working inside our agency because we get to help with that goal of empowering women indirectly and directly. I just love this space and the people that we work with.
I think it's a way, in terms of being a millennial, it's a really amazing place for me to be able to be around people who are not millennials but they want to work with people of all different experiences and stuff like that. I think I'm lucky that I get to be with people who are willing to work with somebody my age and with my experience level and I can learn from them too.
Jodi KatzWhen I think about our age range, we have you. How old are you?
Aleni Mackarey22
Jodi KatzYou're 22 and we have all the way up in the 60's. Not by design, but at this moment everyone's a woman. I feel like it's so cool to watch that dynamic. We are the customer, whether you're like a young customer, a mature customer, a customer who likes long eyelashes, a customer who can't be bothered. A customer who's just really into face lotion and body lotion and doesn't want anything more than that to the customer who's completely obsessed with beauty or obsessed with natural. We're representatives of all those women, it's so fascinating to watch.
Aleni MackareyYeah, exactly.
Jodi KatzWe talk a lot about, we don't just talk about it, we live life-work balance. I think other companies talk about it, we actually do it. I think you're such an incredible example of it. Will you tell our listeners, in addition to working at Base Beauty, the other things that you do with your time?
Aleni MackareyLike other work or free time?
Jodi KatzYour work at a college, your music. Tell us about these other pursuits that you have.
Aleni MackareyI've always been a person who loved to be super involved and always running from one place to the next, or on a call for one job in an office of a different job, something like that. I like to be really involved, right now I'm working as a project manager and also I'm an adjunct professor at a college in Scranton where I live.
I get to teach effective speaking and college writing to the college students at Lackawanna College, which is so amazing. I love school and I love teaching and learning and working with students who are close to my age but they are still looking up to me for instruction. I just love that experience.
I do some freelance writing for a magazine. Then as far as my music goes, my sister and I have an Instagram, this is sort of a shameless plug, but it's @siisjams on Instagram with two Is. We post covers of songs. We just like to sing, she plays the guitar and ukulele, we both play piano. I guess whenever I can, I'm performing either with her or without her if she's at school. I can do different gigs here and there, so that's really fun.
A nice thing about having our hours at our virtual agency is that I can manage all these things. It's been a way for me to keep that indecisive nature that I have, which is I love so many things and I can never really pick what I love the best. I get to dip my toes into a lot of pools.
Jodi KatzWhat I love about your story is that it's really something for other employers to think about. I have a team member who's as effective and efficient and talented as you are, clever ideas, great client management, great project management, incredible rapport with the team, who works remotely in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Who early in the mornings is a professor at a college, shifts gears, owns her work for Base Beauty and then is her other free time is a performer and musician.
I just think it's such an incredible story, an example of how well a virtual business can work. You're so fulfilled, right? You're not working at a job 10 hours a day or 12 hours a day and not being able to follow your pursuits. Do you have any friends who have this type of job flexibility the way that you do?
Aleni MackareyI can't even think of anyone with a similar situation. Everybody who I graduated with works in an office and a lot of people like their jobs, some people don't. Nobody is able to balance all these different industries because they just don't have that option like we do.
Even sometimes if we have certain things that are happening at certain times of the day, I can go for a run in the middle of the day, whereas other people would have to balance that before or after work. It's really just crazy to hear about the other people's experiences compared to mine. I feel like I'm so incredibly lucky to be here.
Jodi KatzWe are so luck to have you. Shifting gears a little bit, our agency motto is "Where Brains Meet Beauty". It's also the name of this podcast series. What is "Where Brains Meets Beauty", what does it mean to you?
Aleni MackareyThat's a good question. I guess to me having brains and beauty is the ultimate combination, it's like you're a force to be reckoned with. To be part of an agency that uses this as our trademark slogan just sort of proves that we are that force. I guess we're creative thinkers, everything we do is really clever and thought out, and of course very beautiful.
Even in the slogan itself you can see that you're able to interpret it multiple ways, which is just showing that we are that thought process and the design process. We get to advise on both of those categories, which is really what makes the finished product so wonderful.
Jodi KatzYou've been the producer of the podcast from its inception. What are some of the things that you've learned in listening to the many episodes?
Aleni MackareyOh my gosh, I love getting to listen to the episodes, we've had so many cool guests on here. I think I learned that everybody's career story is so different, and that's something that everybody my age is really scared about. You think when you graduate college you need to pick your job right after you graduate, you need to be there for the rest of your life. You need to be successful as soon as you get out of school and stuff like that.
People have been sharing stories with us saying that they've switched so many jobs or they didn't have any idea what they were going to be doing. They majored in something totally different but you end up for the most part where you're supposed to be, at least the people that we've talked to. It's sort of taught me that it's okay to be a little bit unsure at this stage of our game and you'll get there.
Jodi KatzSuch an interesting observation because I felt the same pressure when I was at school 20 years ago. I felt like I was on a track and I don't even remember stepping on to the track. I guess I stepped on to it in high school or junior high school and it just kept moving me forward. It was not intentional, it was just like, "My friends, they're going to Duke, or Penn, or whatever. I'm on this track."
After the whole college acceptance thing it was, "So and so is getting a job at a bank, or an engineering firm, or a magazine." You keep getting pulled along, I kept feeling like I was getting pulled along in this competitive ego driven path without even truly participating in it.
I think one of the many goals of mine for the podcast series is to shine a light on the fact that you don't need to know where you are going, you don't need to know how you are getting there. Life is so much more than your job. There's so much more than your job out of college or how much money you earn at your first job or your last job.
That all these people who have all these really cool jobs in our industry are human, they're not robots. They go home, they take their shoes off, and they put their slippers on just like me and like you. I'm really into my slippers. They go to the food store and they have to buy yogurt just like me, just like you. I'm hoping that would help people your age see that they don't need to be so obsessed with this path towards this unknown success.
Aleni MackareyRight.
Jodi KatzDo you have a lot of friends, or do you sense that they're really caught up in that idea of the fantasy success?
Aleni MackareyYeah, definitely. I think the pressure was on during junior of college when a lot of people, maybe it was just my friends, but a lot of people at Lafayette I felt like were in finance and engineering. They had very clear cut paths, you knew what you were going to do at the junior year after college. You had your internship, and if things went well you'd get your offer from there.
A lot of people, that was then the pressure was really on. Now I think that we're a year out, people are starting to realize that they can maybe expand a little bit more. I think everybody still just wants to have that picture perfect happy life. Like you said, nobody really knows what it is, but it's something everybody wants.
Jodi KatzWhat is it that you would like to get out of your job at Base Beauty and any other job in the future? What are you looking for deep down inside or practically speaking?
Aleni MackareyOf course, I want to be successful to a level that I can be comfortable. I eventually want to have a family, stuff like that. I think right now I'm just looking for a place where I can find where I'm supposed to be and where I'm supposed to stay.
I really do just want to be in an environment where I can be the biggest help to my job. If I'm at a job then I want to be helpful to the career, to the industry, to other people who want to join the career, stuff like that, or people that want to get into the career. I just want to find that place where I can be giving back to the amazing role models and people that I've had in my life who have done that for me.
Jodi KatzWhen I think about working with you, I think about how much I want you to be taking on the role of being the voice of the agency. I also want you to do the client work too, but if I could organize the time so it would work out, I just feel like your story is another version of my story. You're so articulate, you're so smart, and you're so clear about communicating.
You know your passion and I think that people around your age, even younger, even older, would really get a lot out of listening to you speak about your goals, the way you live your life. It's been really impressive to work with you and watch you grow and see how you're able to fit other things into your day that are fulfilling, and how talented you are at doing all of them. It's been such a pleasure to watch you Aleni.
Aleni MackareyThank you, that was so nice. I don't want to make it too sappy, but I really feel like I've learned so much from you and from everyone here. Honestly, I couldn't have had better people to learn from about an industry that I knew nothing about and to still inspire to be really like you.
Jodi KatzThank you Aleni for your time. I'm sure you'll have lots of fan mail after people hear this podcast.
Aleni MackareyThank you.
AnnouncerThanks for listening to Where Brains Meet Beauty with Jodi Katz. Tune in again for more authentic conversations with beauty leaders.

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