I first met Steven at a restaurant preview prior to its opening. We were both there to review the place for websites based here in Toronto. Although it was probably not the first time we had been at the same event, it was the first time we got to chat in a more private setting (most press events have a lot of people). Since meeting him, I have seen the growth of his business and the business of his partner groups that he works alongside. Their various blogs cover everything from food, fashion, lifestyle and sex.
I spoke with Steven recently to find out more about how they operate for our latest Homegrown Business feature.
What is your business called and what does it do?
Operating various entities, Stamina Group Inc. is at the centre of it all. Headquartered in the heart of Toronto, I run Stamina in close partnership with AH Media, JACS Communications Inc., View the VIBE and Swagger Publications Inc. With these strategic partnerships, Stamina drives all digital, editorial and other content needs for our brands and clients. The media brands we operate include Swagger Magazine, View the VIBE, Divine.ca, Ohlala.ca and our newest addition, Prepped Magazine, a Canadian food and travel magazine launching in mid-2020. In a nutshell, we’re passionate about creating beautiful content and sharing it with the world.
We also have a content and events studio called Urban Loft TO, that we make available to other creatives to shoot-in and foster community in the industry.
Lastly, we take those skills and experience and offer our clients digital and creative services like production, branding and design, social media strategy, digital ecosystem optimization and development, community management and content creation through our creative studio team, Stamina Labs.
What made you want to do this work?
Some would say that my career chose me. In my early days, I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do, but I always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Thankfully I sought out some amazing mentors, who really helped me cultivate that and point me in the right direction. With that, I love allowing myself to be creative, think outside the box, and not be constricted by “the norm.”
Being at the helm of editorial and creative, I’m so fortunate I ended up in this field. Storytelling through our editorial writing, photography, videography, wardrobe styling, events, and even set production. With virtually no limitations. Working with incredible brands, other industry leading creatives resources, and clients who trust my creative vision. I get to maintain my various creative skills by tapping into them regularly—after all, if you don’t use them you loose them, right?
What problem does this solve?
At Stamina Group, we aim to solve two problems. On the business side, we offload a crucial component of our clients’ digital content & social. Brands understand that they need to tell their story. Our aim is to create beautifully crafted content, that’s also strategically optimized based on the platform, and share it with the right audience. The digital space is continuously evolving, and we—who live and breathe it— have to push ourselves to keep up at times. So we can only imagine how hard it would be for a small or medium sized business.
On the media side, we fill a gap. Being digital focused, we speak with a purpose, and want to inspire and educate our audiences to be the best version of themselves. From answering their most sought out questions, they might be too embarrassed to ask family or friends, to what the latest trends are. Both in men’s and women’s fashion, lifestyle and travel.
Who are your clientele/demographics?
The short answer is that we have two types of clients. On the media side, it’s corporations, brands, retailers, PR and media agencies. Working with us to tell their client or brand’s story through our various brands and platforms.
On the creative/digital agency side with Stamina Labs, it varies. It can be your local restaurant that’s looking to up their “Insta-game,” or just to get more “butts-in-seats.” Many times it’s the same brands and agencies working with us on the media side that need creative content for their own platforms and omnichannel campaigns.
How does your business make money? How does it work?
On the media side we earn money through content collaborations, branded content, advertising, curated events, and brand partnerships.
On the agency side we make money through selling our creative and consulting services.
Where in Toronto can we find your profession?
Online. You can check us out on Instagram at @Stamina.Group or HaveStamina.com, but also AHMedia.co, our new loft studio at UrbanLoftTO.com, SwaggerMagazine.com, ViewtheVIBE.com, Divine.ca, Ohlala.ca, and my other work on my Instagram @Mr.StevenBranco, and LinkedIn.
What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services?
What makes you different, and why do you do what you do? I think these are great questions because, in order to truly be different, you have to love what you do, and live and breathe it. It’s the only way you will keep up in this industry. For example, for us it’s how we offer a suite of services, using the same quality standards that clients know and love, by an award winning creative team.
What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?
The best part, Creating content. Having the creative freedom to tell the story in the best format we see fit. With Swagger in particular, being the head of editorial, I truly have the freedom and support from my partners to allow me to do what I believe will work best. I take enormous pride in what we do, and put a lot of thought and effort into every piece of content that my team and I produce.
The worst part, I wouldn’t really call it “the worst” but more so my least favourite. I generally enjoy doing all aspects of my work. Although like most, I’m not crazy about some of the tedious administrative work in running a business. As an entrepreneur, I still touch nearly every aspect of our business and with the help of my business partners, we seem to manage quite well. Most of all, I think it keeps me grounded. Allowing me to appreciate what we do even more. Helping me be a better leader to my team, and understand exactly what they do to support the business.
What is your favourite joke about your own profession?
Hmm that’s a tricky one. Not quite sure if I would say it’s a “joke,” but most people would perceive media work as “bougie” or “getting paid to mix, mingle, eat and drink.” But it’s really not as easy as it may seem. It does take an enormous amount of energy, hard work and the proper mindset. It’s vital to have the right balance, and discipline, as in this industry you can easily get burnt out.
PAY IT FORWARD: What is another Toronto business that you love?
We actually don’t believe in competitors, as we prefer to collaborate. “Let’s just grow the sandbox, so we can all play in it,” is something I regularly say. it’s a win for our brand partners who we encourage to work with as many other brands, companies and agencies like ours. It would only make them value what we do even more, and diversify their ad spend. So in that case, I would have to say St Joseph’s Media. We love what they’re doing, and I personally look up to and respect their work in the Canadian media industry.