HIGHLIGHTING Brenda Torres
Orlando, Fla. - When Brenda Torres found out that her furlough from her corporate marketing job was being extended yet again, it became the sign she needed to dive headfirst into her dream opportunity. It wasn't long before she found the business model that spoke to her heart, and would become the blank canvas for her new creative venture.
It can be easy to get caught up in the day-to-day rhythm and flow of working tirelessly to carry out the vision of someone else's business model. However sometimes, life throws us curveballs, or a higher power seems to shine down on us and present clarity about who we are, what we're made of, and what we're capable of. For those that look at life with a glass-half-full perspective, the pandemic has created an opportunity for developing a fresh start and carving out new visions.
One of the most difficult aspects of seeing the hospitality world suffer the way it has this past year has been grasping how such a stable industry could be dismantled so quickly. Because of this, many have now either changed industries altogether or have started their own business, to keep their portfolios or resumes diverse and feel the security that they call the shots.
So when Brenda found herself in this same predicament of planning out "what's next," she decided she wouldn't just write her next chapter, she'd publish it!
Turning to her seasoned expertise in the areas of marketing, storytelling, business development, content creation, and a colorful passion and zest for creativity and LIFE, South Orlando Lifestyle magazine was born. In fact, this month celebrates the highly anticipated launch issue which is officially circulating to mailboxes as we speak!
We spent time with Brenda to learn more about how she transitioned into her new role as a franchise owner, publisher, and Chief Content Creator for the hottest new hyper-local magazine in Orlando.
H&F: Please describe your career/education prior to this venture.
Brenda: Prior to this venture, I was in the Corporate Marketing space in Hospitality for the better part of the last 25 years. I hold two bachelor's degrees. Business Administration from U of FL and Hospitality & Tourism Management from American Military University.
H&F: How has your career/education prepared you for what is next?
Brenda: I honed my skills in storytelling. Corporate Marketing embraces getting to know the story “behind the story”, in order to propose the best and fitting solutions for clients. When you learn to listen and then respond, inevitably you are prepared to build relationships - not just sell a product.
H&F: Tell us about how you have redefined yourself. Describe your project, business, brand and/or platform.
Brenda: South Orlando Lifestyle provided three things that I needed to have comfort in, now that my corporate career had been placed “on hold” in 2020.
To continue to listen to the story “behind the story” - Now I get to share it with my community in a beautiful and colorful publication and online platform!
To have control of my audience - as LP targets a very specific audience, I know who will read our content monthly, therefore, fine-tune interests accordingly
Have FUN with structured creative freedom - with LP, I get to put my hand on all content and change themes monthly - How fun! Yet - I am not printing out of my garage, as I have complete corporate support in graphics design, billing, editorial build, and distribution.
With these three things in place, I pivoted quickly to put my lifelong experience into a platform I quickly fell in love with and poured passion into very quickly replacing my corporate income in less than a year, while having fun.
H&F: When/how did you get that light bulb moment to start this brand?
Brenda: July 2020. Furloughed extended until “further notice.” I knew better than to “sit and wait.” A business mentor and personal friend, said, “we need to own something.” She said, “I am buying a franchise!”. I knew it could be me too. Why not? Started my research and found Lifestyle Publications. After vetting and interviews - by September, I had bought my own Lifestyle Publications Franchise!
H&F: Tell us something unique about your brand.
Brenda: We are more than a print ad. We replicate our efforts online. We do not add advertisers. We add partners. We are not a rack or blanket magazine.
We only go to a targeted luxury homeowner - direct to the mailbox. We tell the STORY, with 50% or better in editorial every month.
H&F: Where do you find inspiration for your articles?
Brenda: Our community and heroes in it. We organize it in themes to better focus on a great new win every month. For example, October is Food & Wine, while February is Arts & Makers. This keeps the magazine from being expected every month and gives different heroes a unique opportunity. South Orlando Lifestyle embraces diversity in all we do.
H&F: What role do each of you play in the business?
Brenda: I am not just the owner. I am the publisher and Chief Content Creator. My editorial coordinator, Anzli Medina is my chocolate to my peanut butter!
H&F: What has been the hardest part about starting this business, and maintaining it?
Brenda: Hardest part - Unexpected losses and pessimism from my closest circle. I lost three members of my family, including my dad. Maintaining it - FAITH & passion, as well as a very strong Vision.
H&F: What is your vision for your brand?
Brenda: Ha! Vision. I’ve always had one. A strong believer in vision statements and my prior corporate one used to be “Firm, Fair, Friendly.” Uufff - even looking at it today, feels so stuffy. How things change.
Ok - to answer your question, my vision has evolved into:
1. Collaboration -
I want my community and partners to feel I care about our relationship, and will serve them with their best interest in mind
2. Entertainment -
Every time. In every project. And every encounter.
3. Contribution -
Best and relative information, where our community can count on us!
H&F: What encouraging advice would you offer someone unsure about starting their own venture?
Brenda: Build a strong enough vision that you stick with, so that when the results are not what you want or like, you simply change the process, not your vision.
H&F: Anything else you want to share?
Brenda: I could not have done it alone. I have unwavering support from both my husband and 22-year-old son. I am pretty sure they are my biggest fans.
"When you learn to listen and then respond, inevitably you are prepared to build relationships - not just sell a product." - Brenda
To check out the digital version of the issues, visit South Orlando Lifestyle (citylifestyle.com), while you are there you can check "The Redefined Way to Design Your Day," featuring an H&F Redefined Innovator, The Florida Comeback.
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For more inspiring Innovator stories by H&F Redefined, visit our blog, and learn how furloughed and laid off professionals from around the world are redefining themselves. We also offer Lifestyle content, Seasonal Solutions, and Industry Insights.