New Jersey is home to many ambitious and talented women who juggle family, career, and home. A select few of these women are also extremely busy building their own companies to help better manage the balance of work and family. At NJMOM, we want to highlight these extraordinary women building New Jersey businesses, and learn the secret to their success.
Founder of Brand Groupies & NJMOMpreneur:
Carey Balogh is the founder of Brand Groupies, a consulting group that launches brand identities and marketing campaigns for new businesses to create rock star reputations with fans. In addition to holding the title of “Head Groupie,” Carey is the marketing and brand development guru behind this Red Bank-based company – and she has the rock and roll background to back it up. Not only did she share a European tour bus with The Rolling Stones, but Carey plays the guitar in her own Asbury Park-based mom-only band called Mamadrama. Her professional experience ranges from producing hundreds of fashion shows as a fashion publicist in Milan, to embracing her entrepreneurial spirit by founding Frolic!, the rock-and-roll-style indoor playground in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. After finding herself consulting friends (and friends of friends!) who needed help developing business plans, launch strategies, and marketing tools, Carey realized that she should take her practice to the next level. Today, Carey and her trusted network of “groupies” use their pool of collective talent and expertise to help you, “Build Your Brand. Rock Your Brand.”
NJMOM got to chat with Carey about her work abroad, how her experiences paved the way to create her own consulting business, and her favorite things to do with her two boys in New Jersey. (We also made sure to get the scoop on that European tour with The Rolling Stones…)
NJMOM: What do you offer to your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?
At Brand Groupies we offer strategic brand consulting from the early stages through launch, and use our trusted network of groupies – from web designers to photographers and social media – to launch brands with fans. Build Your Brand. Rock Your Brand. And They Will Come.
I am truly passionate about the clients I work with and care deeply about their development and success. We celebrate each of our wins the same way we earn them – together, like a team. I like to say I bring big city strategy and experience to my local, value-driven clients, always delivering 100% with personality and precision.
The company I founded, Brand Groupies, is a great mix of my corporate experience in PR, marketing, and events, combined with my experience as an entrepreneur. I have a trusted network of “groupies” I match clients with, depending on their needs and budgets, developing creative strategies, launching big ideas, and ensuring ROI’s (return on investment) along the way. I’ve worked with budgets from $100 to multi-millions and know how to scale appropriately to make the right things priorities.
NJMOM: What inspired you to come up with the idea for your business?
The idea didn’t come overnight; it sort of grew organically. After working in fashion PR and marketing for several years in New York City and Milan, and then co-founding Frolic!, a rock ’n’ roll play space for kids under five in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, people were connecting me with their entrepreneur friends saying, “You should talk to Carey about launching your new business.” I would enjoy meeting with several entrepreneurs a week offering advice on how to become laser-focused on branding and marketing. I became enamored with helping entrepreneurs and their budding businesses and finally said, “Wow, I should start consulting full-time!”
NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?
I am a people person through and through. I get a lot of fulfillment out of being with my clients and “groupies,” connecting people and supporting local businesses.
I have a vision and my company allows me to see it through.
NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
I received my degree in journalism with a focus on public relations from the University of Maryland, and a master certificate in fashion promotion from the Marangoni Institute in Milan, Italy. In my early career I was a fashion publicist for several designers, producing hundreds of fashion shows and events between New York City and Milan. Working in the high-profile fashion industry was intense and really sharpened my attention to detail and overall brand awareness. I have represented brands including Calvin Klein Collection, Tommy Hilfiger, Juicy Couture, and Bloomingdale’s and overseen US communications for luxury watch brands Hublot, Gucci, and Geneva Watch Group (D&G, Kenneth Cole, BCBG). In each of these roles I’ve had to oversee very specific brand guidelines through all marketing initiatives and communication – making sure everything is uniform and “on-brand” at all times.
I always had an entrepreneurial spirit, having designed and sold t-shirts and spring break packages in college, plus starting my own line of baby apparel called Baby in Black which sold locally in Brooklyn. It was shortly after the birth of my first son when my neighbor (a fashion designer) and I decided to open a children’s indoor play space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The 5,000 sq ft play space called Frolic! Love, Children & Rock ’n’ Roll featured a rock ’n‘ roll-inspired indoor playground, music classes by our own band Little Rock-its, birthday parties, camp, cafe and kid rock concerts. Frolic! won Best Play Space in New York City by Time Out New York Kids and was licensed to the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. We had several celebrity fans including moms such as Kate Hudson and Katie Holmes.
NJMOM: What are you most proud of in your career?
When I think about my career, I’m still most proud of my time working in fashion in Italy. It became a dream of mine after I studied abroad in Florence and I was so consumed with drive to make life in Italy my reality that I moved there by myself, not knowing anyone. I remember boarding the plane and thinking to myself, well, if the plane crashes it’s okay because at least I finally did it. I made my dream come true. I worked three jobs while going to grad school in Milan to make ends meet, but if you want something bad enough you figure out how to make it happen.
NJMOM: What is something few people know about you?
I was lucky enough to tour Europe with the Rolling Stones while my now-husband was working for them. We slept in 12-bed tour buses and you can only go “number one” on the bus, plus it was mostly guys. Having the opportunity to watch the Rolling Stones perform up close in France, Spain, and Italy was a ride I’ll never forget, and that not everyone knows I went on. Seeing how the fans from different countries were affected by the Stones, the passion and cult-like dedication, -is how I approach my clients’ brands. I want the brands to have die-hard fans that ignite the same fire. (Okay, maybe not exactly the same fire as Mick Jagger, but close to it!) I often give the advice to, “be the Mick Jagger of your industry!”
NJMOM: What can we expect from you in 2017?
While 2016 was a transformation period, 2017 is all about putting down roots and taking things to the next level. Business has grown and I’ve added some amazing brand “groupies” to my core team. I’m excited about my current clients and branding projects in the areas of music, design, women’s health, wine, and real estate. Personally, we added a new addition to our family, a puppy named Blackie Rose. Her litter had a ‘70’s music theme so we chose Blackie after Blackie Lawless in the band W.A.S.P.
NJMOM: What is a charity or cause you are most passionate about?
I am devoted to the Rook Run, which supports The Valerie Fund to raise money for children with cancer. Last year alone the 5k run raised over $210,000, and as captain of the Rookstars team, every year I help to raise thousands of dollars to help kids and their families when they need it most. I’m honored to be affiliated with the event and really proud to contribute in whatever way I can.
NJMOM: Who is your role model?
I must give credit to my mom and dad, both of whom have instilled crazy integrity, values, and work ethic into us. The “us” includes me and my sister, Holly Migliaccio, who is the co-founder and owner of Rook Coffee and hands-down my biggest role model. Even though she is my younger sister, I have looked up to her since we were kids; she was always a leader and inspired me. We joke that everyone calls me “Holly’s sister” around here, so much so that I even got a t-shirt that says “Holly’s sister,” which I’m proud to wear! She is my confidant and counselor. We meet or talk on a daily basis about work questions, advice, or just life in general. She is a fantastic mom who always makes time for her family, friends, and kids, plus she’s always fully present in the moment. I admire the way she inspires others and leads her company with passion. She treats everyone with respect and pushes people to be the best version of themselves. She’s always been my number one role model and support.
NJMOM: What’s the best piece of advice your mom ever gave to you?
The best piece of advice I ever received was from my mom, who is the most reliable person I know. “Always be dependable and true to your word,” she said, and she always led by example. I’m thankful for that because today if I say I’m going to do something, I do it. I have high expectations for myself when it comes to being dependable and honest; I think it’s so simple to maintain and important to do.
NJMOM: Do you have a favorite quote you live by?
The only constant thing in life is change.
My mom still repeats this all the time. Keeping this in mind, I always view change as an open door or “meant to be” for a new road or experience. If something doesn’t work out, I know deep down it’s for a reason and change is a good thing, a natural part of life. Keeping such an open mind has helped me in my personal and professional lives.
NJMOM: What are your favorite things to do in New Jersey with your family?
We love to cruise the boardwalk at Asbury Park and hit the Silverball Pinball Museum. There is so much to do in Asbury Park! We also like to hike in Hartshorne Woods Park, and visit the Long Branch boardwalk and beach. Strollo’s Lighthouse is a favorite outing; fact: I worked there for five years when I was younger. Oh, and few things beat Halloween activities at Casola Farms. We make sure to go every year.
NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom for you?
My biggest achievement was becoming a mother. It is what fuels me on a daily basis. Watching my boys grow up (although, c’mon, we all miss the baby years) is so fulfilling. As they get older, I love being able to travel together. We just went to England for the weekend and brought them to experience the last-ever Black Sabbath concert. They’ve become so good at traveling and hopping on and off planes that things are pretty smooth now and we can all sort of kick back and enjoy things together in a new way. They’re my best buddies and love seeing them experience new adventures and get excited with each discovery. I also love watching them develop new skills and interests; this week they’re deep into their Rubik’s cube obsession.
NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?
Rook Coffee, of course! I can’t drink anything else. My sister has turned me into a coffee snob of the best kind. My family and I also love Lakehouse Music Academy in Asbury Park. My boys are in bands there and I play guitar in a mom band called Mamadrama. Boho Hair Salon is next door and it’s my go-to. Kitch Organic has everything I can eat and their branding is stellar. My kids also love Small Factory Productions and Fair Haven Martial Arts. For the new girl in our lives, little miss Blackie Rose, we go to Purr’n Pooch Pet Resorts.
NJMOM: Where do you reside and vacation in New Jersey?
We live in Red Bank, New Jersey, in the Middletown section close to horse farms and country-like roads. It’s great that we are five minutes from downtown Red Bank, 15 minutes from the beach, and less an hour from Manhattan by ferry. It has a vacation-type feeling all year long and after being away from the area for 20 years, it feels like a coming-home of sorts to be here. We regularly run off to the Sea Bright beaches and eat at Tommy’s Tavern & Tap or Woody’s Ocean Grille.
NJMOM: Anything else you’d like to tell moms in New Jersey?
Having grown up here and now being back raising my kids, New Jersey is an amazing place to have a family. From the parks and nature to the beach and city proximity, there is so much to do. There are also so many opportunities here to start businesses and moms can make it happen. NJMOMpreneurs are so inspiring!