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the bench

Celebrating Two Years

History of the bench by Jennifer Houston and Sarah Musgrove

How it all began.

On a rainy morning in January of 2018, ex-coworkers Jennifer Houston and Sarah Musgrove met for coffee overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Hermosa Beach, California. Jenn and Sarah met four years earlier while both working for an experiential marketing agency in Los Angeles. Throughout this meeting, both Houston and Musgrove swapped war stories of how the eco-system between the agency | brand relationship was breaking down, they shared their experiences of burn out, layoff’s, low margins, the inability to never say no, missed vacations, loss of passion and zero work-life balance.

Six months prior to this is meeting, Houston had quit her full-time gig as an SVP for the largest independent Out of Home agency in the US. And Musgrove was 3 days out after quitting her full-time gig at the same agency where she and Houston met. ”

“Well-Behaved women seldom make history.” Ulrich.

Now, what you don’t know is that Houston and Musgrove are problem solvers, not women that sit by and hope for change, they go out and effect change. Anyone walking by that seaside bench, where our two founders were sitting could tell something extraordinary was happening.

“There has to be a better way to run an agency” Musgrove states, “Hell yes” replies Houston. “I have been thinking about this for a very long time. Brands are moving more and more to project-based work” states Houston. “tell me about it” chimes in Musgrove “the last two projects I was on, I worked 80 hours a week with an understaffed team, that were also working on 2 other projects. This is one of the main reasons I left”

“I guess we´re doing this.”

This back and forth went on for about 3 hours, project-based work, burning out high performers, brands wanting more for less were among the main topics or challenges that needed to be solved. Both Houston and Musgrove shared with each other that they had developed a deck/ideas that would help solve this problem…. Supplementing full-time agency staff with freelance talent. Both walked away from that 1st meeting agreeing to go home and send the other what they had written and meet back at this exact spot next week.

Over the next few weeks, Musgrove and Houston met 1-3 times a week to “keep the conversation going” but every time they met, they were just getting deeper and deeper into the planning process of how to launch this new type of agency. Supplementing full-time agency staff with freelance talent. Finally, when 3 agencies and one startup told them to reach out when they were up and running because they had projects for them, Musgrove and Houston looked at each other and blurted out “well, I guess we are doing this”

the bench officially launched in April of 2018.

the bench, Your Marketing Team for the Gig Economy, since then they have signed over 65 clients, completed over 350 projects, and currently has over 400 vetted freelancers on our bench. Today The Bench has 7 full-time people around the country.