Four years ago, Stephanie Nadi Olson started We Are Rosie, a marketing and advertising network with a focus on flexibility and inclusivity. No gimmicks, no performative diversity. Just honest practices and approaches aimed at fostering a better, more productive work culture.
“I realized at the time that so many people were being made to feel like they didn’t belong in corporate America,” says Olson, who, with her husband, put up $10,000 to start the company. “My hypothesis was that I could create a new system of work that would allow people to work in a flexible way, so that they could have the life and career that they desire.”
Today, We Are Rosie is valued at $110 million, making it one of the largest female-led valuations in Atlanta. Its network includes 12,000 “Rosies” (freelancers) who work with the company’s major clients like IBM, Microsoft, and Walmart. Building a company with an innovative approach to ensure legitimate diversity required bold vision and patience, but Olson knew it was necessary.
“If your marketing organization is very homogenous, how can you expect to thoughtfully speak to the wide variety of customers that you’re serving?” she questions. Born, raised, and educated in Atlanta, Olson is the daughter of a refugee, and she grew up in a diverse family. “I’ve always had an eye out for how people are treated differently because of who they are or where they’re from, and that was really happening a lot in corporate America,” she says.
She says growth has been fast, and with more than 50 percent of the U.S. workforce expected to be working in a flexible or freelance capacity in the next five to seven years, she doesn’t expect it to slow down. “We’ve done an incredible job of creating a place where markets feel comfortable trying something new,” she says. “Our Rosies have done such a good job of normalizing this way of work.”