We are so pleased to present our second installment of Women in Detroit Business with Jill Giacomino! Last week we met up with Jill, owner of Social Gathering Co. & Grey Ghost (soon to be Second Best) to chat about her business, raising a son, being married to a chef and so much more! Read the interview below <3
Tell us about your come up/ Who are you?
I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and moved here to Detroit two years ago. My father's a lifelong restaurant man so I've always been drawn to the hospitality industry. After graduating, I spent six fantastic years at Lettuce Entertain You (Chicago's biggest, baddest restaurant group, operating 75+ locations throughout the country). At Lettuce, I managed the marketing strategy for six unique restaurants. This was about the time that social media became important for brands so social was something I jumped on right away. I also spent some time at a boutique PR firm and winery before heading to the D in 2016 to open Grey Ghost with my husband and our business partners.
What is Social Gathering Co.?
SGC is a one-woman shop (ME!) assisting restaurant clients with all things marketing, media relations, social media, e-mail marketing and more. When I moved here, I started looking for in-house restaurant marketing positions similar to what I did in Chicago - it didn't exist. I've secretly always wanted to go my own way, so instead of moving to another industry, I began consulting. My first two clients were Axle Brewing Co. and Gold Cash Gold in Corktown and my operation quickly grew from there. I feel so lucky.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Everyday is different - which I love. On a good day, I wake up early and head to a 6am neighborhood bootcamp class. It's the best way to start the day. Around 8am, I help my husband get our baby up and settled, arm myself with coffee and head to my office for emails and client projects. The time between 8-10am is my favorite and most productive hours to knock things out. In the afternoon, I'm usually headed to client meetings or photoshoots for social content.
Let’s get this question out of the way - How is it being married to a Chef of one of the best restaurants in Detroit?
It's a mix of many things. First of all, I'm so incredibly proud of Joe and our 'family' at Grey Ghost. Joe and I have been together since we were 23 and I've seen Joe go from line cook to sous chef to exec chef to co-owner. He's way talented and the hardest worker I know. But true talk: being married to a chef is hard. His hours are insane and completely opposite from mine. We manage to make things work - Mondays are the new date night :) Also, I have pretty easy access to the Grey Ghost burger almost anytime I'm craving it, so that's a plus.
What's the best part of being a mom to #itsalwayssonnyindetroit?
All of it. Parenthood is one wild ride of pure joy, hilarity, exhaustion, frustration, confusion, terror and lots of fun. He's now 18 months and talking - we basically loose it every time he says a new word. He also knows exactly where to find his dad when we go to Grey Ghost. As soon as his feet hit the floor, he b-lines it for the kitchen and hugs the first tall guy he sees. It's pretty adorable.
What's your favorite part of owning your own business?
I love the flexibility and the 'being your own boss' situation but more importantly I love spreading the news of my clients. I'm working with some of the most talented chefs in the Midwest who are on their feet for 15+ hours a day, using unique and local ingredients and creating these incredible dishes. They don't always have time to snap a photo and share the 'perfect caption' so I feel honored to help them spread their news and be part of their team.
When you need to think, where do you work?
New Order Coffee in Midtown is definitely one of my favorites. It's bright, open, airy and gives off major positivity vibes. Their wifi is always lightning fast and their specialty lattes are divine. They're also a client of mine, so sometimes I get lucky and gain access to their 'cupping room' aka private conference room.
Care to share your fave editing apps/camera setup/social media hacks?
I've experimented with a lot of different camera apps (Foodie, VSCO, etc. etc) but definitely upped my game when I upgraded to the iPhone 8 Plus with portrait mode. Solid photos always require the use of natural light. My next move is to purchase a "big kid" camera so send me your recommendations! When it comes to social media "hacks" - my biggest suggestion to those who are handling social media for brands is to engage. engage. engage. I spend a chunk of time each day interacting with people who check into my client's restaurants, ask about their experience and thank them. You can also search by locations and relevant hashtags. It can be a chore but is definitely worth it.
What’s your biggest motivator?
My clients, hands down. I'm working with small business owners, entrepreneurs and some some of the most talented chefs in the city. When I hear that one of my clients had a record-breaking month or service, that's my motivator to keep working hard.
Biggest accomplishment to date?
I like to say that the year between 2016-2017 was my biggest accomplishment - I moved to Detroit and began navigating a city that I'd only been to once, we opened a restaurant, started a consulting business, had a baby and bought a house - all in a year. I'm using 2018 to hone my skills and maybe relax a bit, but probably not.
Who’s been your greatest influence in business?
I'd say both of my parents, but for different reasons. As I mentioned above, my father is a lifelong restaurant operator and definitely instilled my passion for the hospitality industry. He's a workhorse but also a very kind person. I remember when I interned for his restaurant group when I was 18, my dad not only knew the name of each and every person down to the dishwashers but also their children's names. That sort of care in leadership has always stuck with me. My mother brought us up in a household filled with love, positivity and lots of funky dancing. She's my biggest cheerleader and has always motivated me to "go for it." To her, anything is possible.
After all of this success, what is your biggest struggle right now?
Between owning a restaurant and operating a small business, we struggle to find quality family time but we do our very best to make it work. Since the majority of my work is online or on my phone, I also find myself way too often glued to my device, e-mail or social media.
If you could give one piece of advice to every woman in Detroit, what would it be?
Introduce yourself to as many people as possible! Networking and getting to know different people around the city has been the best source of referrals for my business. Also when you're first getting started, find someone who's doing what you dream of doing (or similar) and take them out to lunch to pick their brain. Once you get your feet on the ground, do the same for someone looking for guidance. Karma is real.
What are you most excited about in 2018?
From a personal side, decorating our home, planting our backyard garden and seeing our little guy continue to grow! We're also opening Second Best in Midtown - it's going to be party central and a well-needed avenue for the Midtown neighborhood.
Top 3 favorite restaurants right now?
My current go-to's are Axle Brewing (love walking the line between healthy and not-to-healthy with their hefty kale salad and cheese curds, with a Jolene of course). Also, Gold Cash Gold (weekend brunch, duh) and can't go wrong with a burger from Red Coat Tavern.
Name a restaurant that flies under the radar that you love that everyone needs to visit ASAP.
We had one of the most memorable experiences at the old-school mob-style Italian restaurant Giovannis in Dearborn in an attempt to induce labor with eggplant parmesan (spoiler: it doesn't work). Either way, we had top-notch food and hospitality and spent two hours talking about family and owning a restaurant with the owner, Fran.
Where can people find you to connect?
Candice Simons, j'adore Detroit