Our annual picks of the industry’s rising stars – a brave, bold group that’s trailblazing a unique path to success.
The brains behind Utah-based Brand+Aid (asi/145193), Renya Nelson is a dizzying display of energy, enthusiasm and imagination. “I’ve been obsessed with brands from when I was a kid,” she says. “Now I get to represent brands – they’re like my family.”
Nelson started her career as a digital marketing manager at Overstock before heading to California to work in the music industry. She was a talent liaison for big-name agents, artists and managers – making her, as she puts it, “part client-facing, part roadie.”
Nelson also has agency experience, giving her ties to brands including Pepsi, AMP Energy, Trident and RayBan. And as if all that’s not impressive enough, she’s run marketing programs at Sundance, New York Fashion Week, SXSW and the Grammys. But, like many restless business souls, Nelson wanted to be her own front-man – so she started her distributorship in 2012. Her dynamic personality and endless list of contacts has helped her firm win business from the likes of Tiffany, Chase, Levi’s, Red Bull and Kate Spade. “All my friendships from LA have turned into referral, referral, referral,” she says.
Nelson’s daily routine uncoils at a breakneck pace – one minute she’s hopping on a plane to California, the next she’s proposing a product campaign for PowerBar, and the next she’s on the phone with creatives from SpaceX talking through branded gift ideas for rocket launches.
Speaking of launches, there’s no better way to describe the rapid ascendency of her promo career. “I love this industry,” she says. “I want to be a standout who’s always trying to innovate.”
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