Welcome to Chicago North Shore Moms Meet a Mom series where we feature local moms, what they are up to professionally and personally! This week’s Meet a Mom feature is the uber creative local influencer from Glenview, mom of two wee ones and Owner of Oak Street Social, Johanna Grange. Her personal handle @jogrange and business handle @oakstsocial boasts a combined following of over 100k followers and thus that makes her a social media guru. She’s dishing out great advice to beginning entrepreneurs and what makes her tick. Welcome, Johanna!
Please introduce yourself. Where are you from originally? What city do you live in now? What brought you here?
Hi! My name is Johanna Grange. I was born in Arlington Heights. My family then moved to Barrington Hills and after college I planted roots in Chicago. Upon learning that I was pregnant with my second daughter, my husband and I bought a home in Glenview. It was the perfect distance between both sets of grandparents. Ultimately we needed space and great schooling and Glenview checked the box for both priorities.
You’re a mama! How many kiddos do you have and how old are they?
I have two daughters. A 9 + 8 year old. We were busy there for a hot minute!
What’s your favorite thing about being a mom?
I love seeing my girls connect the dots. You can almost see their brains working. Every stage has its amazing moments but I am really enjoying these ages because of the conversations we are having. They are so much more aware and cultured than I was at these ages and I love their sense of empathy for the human race. Makes me feel like we’ve done something right. And of course the best is that they have a pretty wicked sense of humor. We are always laughing!
Any relevant mom tips you can share?
Be spontaneous. For us that means a random Wednesday picnic with Chipotle or making healthy ice cream after school. The activities may not last for hours on end but it breaks up the day and forces us to disconnect from work and social media. I also believe that when you or your kids are having a moment that it’s important to stop what you’re doing, check yourself and take a break until you can calm down and diffuse the situation. I flew off the handle a lot in the Spring and then everyone feels crummy after.
Lastly, know that you are doing a great job. There is a ton of pressure riding on parents and we are all doing the best we can.
If you have any podcasts or apps that help inspire you, calm you, help you run your business or organize your life, what are your faves?
Oh yes! Headspace, my Google calendar, Monday.com for project management and Over for content creation. Also, designing and creating “calm me.”
What is “calm me?”
Yes, I create content for client stories or my own. I like to play around with graphics and editing. It has a calming effect on me.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you…
I am one of the only women on earth who does not care for Lululemon anything and I suffer from IBS/IBD and it’s a huge struggle. I also really despise kale.
Favorite local takeout restaurants?
I have a few faves:
- Blufish Sushi
- Wild Pita
- Meatheads when I want to splurge
Please introduce your business or endeavor.
I own a digital + social media marketing agency called Oak Street Social. We just celebrated eight years in business. We specialize in digital strategy and all aspects of social media marketing ranging from photography to video to social listening to social advertising to influencer work. We are a one stop shop for all things social.
How does your personal IG handle (@jogrange) help Oak Street Social?
I think it lends street credibility to what I do full time. Prospects and clients look and follow my personal brand frequently. They want to know this isn’t my first rodeo. I have to be an early adopter of every single social media trend or tool.
Can you share with us who some of your clients are?
Sure! All of our clients are extremely important to us; like family. A couple of examples are Lysí out of Iceland, Barritts Ginger Beer out of Bermuda, Annabella Creamery out of Columbia, Civant Skincare and Back to the Roots.
When did you establish your IG handles?
I created my personal brand handle 10 years ago and my agency handle eight years ago.
On that note, growth is hinged on authenticity. Without it, you will never sell your audience on what you’re putting out into the universe.
How did you grow so fast?
I don’t think I have! It’s never enough!
How do you come up with fresh content for both handles?
For my agency, we have an entire creative department that are way more savvy and cool than I. My team is tremendously talented and I am grateful for them everyday. Katie, Halle and Carolyn…you ladies rock!
For my personal brand, inspiration comes from music, food, travel, fashion and my family. I’m really working to create meaningful content that matters vs pretty content. I want community vs a million likes. I want people to feel like they are part of a special tribe.
Super interesting! Why two handles?
I don’t mix business with pleasure. My partner and I don’t feel the need to be all over our brand feed. Our feed is dedicated to collaborative work and sharing how incredible our clients are and the problems they are solving. It all starts with strategy and an amazing creative team.
My feed is my space to share everything that I love and the imperfect parts of my personal life. Some are not client appropriate. I like to show what real life looks like as an entrepreneur, mom, wife and influencer.
Who are your influencers and/or mentors that have helped you get to where you are today and/or continue to inspire you.
My husband has been our biggest cheerleader since day one.
My partner, Carolyn Jones, for sure because we have been working for almost 20 years together.
I also had two amazing bosses/leaders at the previous company I worked at, Chow Now. Eric Jaffe + Chris Webb are the two founders.
Ally Love from Peleton. I know this is crazy but I saw her speak at a retreat in NYC this year before Covid hit and she is so much more than a fitness instructor. She is incredibly inspiring and motivating and has amazing business sense.
What advice can you give other mamas out there who are looking to start a new business in the current climate?
Make sure your business is set up digitally. Make it easy for people to purchase your products or services from your website…and then make double sure that your social feeds are cohesive and consistent. Find your WHY and tell that story over and over again on your social media channels. Solve a problem for the end user and tap into that emotional connection.
What’s on the horizon for your business? Future aspirations, plans….
Oh gosh, always more clients. Some really exciting pro bono work with the BIPOC community as part of our diversity initiatives. New hires. And hopefully one day soon, a resurgence of public speaking be it panels, workshops, round tables or retreats. It’s one aspect of my job that I really thrive on.
Beyond that, I truly want to approach our growth mindfully and deliberately. I want our work to impact all communities for the positive and I want to clink champagne glasses at the next eight year mark!