When it comes to Fortune 500 companies and CEOs of multimillion dollar media empires, there are not many media moguls like Mirror Digital CEO Sheila Marmon. The Harvard and Princeton grad is everything many of those are not: personable, likeable, relatable — and someone you want to see succeed.
Her firm, Mirror Digital, was born out of the need to create real and absolute change in the media landscape with a multicultural media company that understands the BIPOC market, to focus on not only the underrepresented but also because it is the fastest growing U.S. consumer base.
With over 550 digital campaigns in this space for numerous clients that include AT&T, Disney, General Motors, Netflix, Macy’s, and other world leading brands and advertising agencies, Ms. Marmon is breaking ground with each media campaign she launches. For anyone who knows her, they will rave about the manner in which she inspires, leads, and pioneers so others can see how building and growing a media company is done.
Brought up in a single-parent family, Ms. Marmon learned early on to be strong, and she had an incredible role model in her mother to see first-hand what an uplifting and positive impact a strong black woman can have in the world.
“Her childhood and upbringing are driving forces in my career as an entrepreneur,” she says.
For some, college would be a daunting prospect but not for Ms. Marmon. She was totally unfazed by her experiences as she became the first to graduate in her family, just one of the boundaries she was going to break building her career.
“Life has always been for the taking — I made it so there was no obstacle in my way,” she says. “At first, I could not find a way around it, yet I forced my through it with my education, hard work, ingenuity and a smile.”
With a B.A from Princeton University, cum laude and an MBA from Harvard Graduate School of Business, there was no stopping her. Warner Media was her first foray into a leadership role, and it led to bigger roles in strategy, operations, new ventures, and finance that solidified her diverse experience and made her a standout in business. She continued to work in this capacity with Morgan Stanley, Mercer Management Consulting, and Essence Communications.
“I loved the work I was privileged to do. I learned so much from the incredible women I was surrounded by in Corporate America,” she says. “They pushed me to learn, to try new things, to take on difficult roles and helped shape me into who I am today. The experience also allowed me to figure out my way and helped me work out how I want to do things.
“This really helped me when I started to launch my own business. We see ourselves operating at the intersection of the advertising technology and multicultural marketing industries. In the ad tech industry, there are very few people who look like me, and I was surprised by the lack of support I received when I first started my business, especially given my professional experience and educational credentials.”
Ms. Marmon has never let being the first to do something prevent her from rolling toward this powerful chapter of her intriguing life. If anything, forging her own path and paving the way for the next generation is what keeps her striving forward.
“I faced many challenges as a Black woman seeking to raise funds in 2012, something I was not prepared for,” she says. “My intention was to run the business as a venture-backed start-up. I was working on a variety of exciting product releases as a junior media executive at a large company. My thesis largely concentrated on digital technologies and multicultural markets. Mirror Digital evolved when I wanted to combine these two interests and concentrate on how media creativity could help leading brands reach people of color on digital media platforms.”
With a lack of support and representation, she only fought harder to break cultural barriers and glass ceilings. She knew her efforts would be a legacy and something to pass down to future generations to show what is possible.
When COVID-19 hit, “we saw an immediate pullback from some of our clients in the most severely impacted categories, such as theatrical films and retail,” she says. “My team banded together to help us survive 2020’s most difficult moments, and we emerged stronger than ever.”
Today, Mirror Digital operates as a digital publisher network, a social influencer network, and a programmatic marketplace, reaching over 30 million Asian, Black, and Latinx consumers each month.
Ms. Marmon has created a legacy for herself, one which future women from all backgrounds can look up to and admire. No matter what their culture is, they can see a pathway for them to succeed. If they still can’t quite see it, Ms. Marmon’s story shows all that if there is no path then create one.
“As a business, we have always had to be twice as innovative, due to always being under resourced,” she says. “There have been difficult times and many questions over my ability to lead through them. But this doubt only spurs me on. A positive attitude, being grateful for my health, family, and friends has always been the way I get through tough situations.” she says. “My team laughs because when people become overly stressed at work, I tell them, stop, and take a breath — everything will be fine.”
For people wanting to get into her field, Ms. Marmon encourages them to stay educated and bold. “Fortunately,” she concludes, “the market seems to be much more welcoming to diverse entrepreneurs, including women, people of color, and women of color. My advice: Never give up.”
Nickie Robinson received her B.A. in Economics from New York University and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver where her concentration was corporate, securities, and tax law. She worked in finance for four years before embarking on a 13-year career in public relations, establishing herself as a highly sought-after business and marketing consultant through her company, GoodGirlPR.