Melissa Orons, "Melo," is a creative consultant based in NJ/NY. She recently founded Melo Creative, a social strategy, and content production house. Melissa helps brands & small businesses articulate & execute their creative vision through thoughtful concept development, intimate understanding of the digital space, and a passion for connection. In 2018 she coined the term "undefined creative" in response to the never-ending inquiries about what she does for work. "I was never happy doing one thing, so I dipped my toes in all different creative spaces and honed in on what I loved the most - content creation, social media strategy, production, editing, and aesthetics."
Both! I founded a content house called Melo Creative and also operate as a freelance creative consultant.
You've had an incredible career so far – can you tell us how you got to where you are today?
I moved to New York in 2012 and wanted to get into the celebrity marketing scene. After 7-ish years of agency life, I decided to make a big change. I was desperate to do something creative and grew a love for producing content creation, and social media strategy.
I have zero chill. Even when I'm doing well, I'm constantly hustling for my next gig or for more clients. One of my goals is to find more sustainable work so I can take a breath here and there.
“I started using the term the undefined creative when I could no longer say I was one thing.” – Melissa Orons
I am a very visual person but I also have a long agency background, which means that I've always had to "sell" a vision via thoughtful and strategic documents and pitches. I'm super organized - everything is in one place. I mood board, I make (too many) lists, and I do extensive research to make sure I'm putting the best team together. I kind of just like to go big on everything I do. All or nothing.
I started using the term "undefined creative" when I could no longer say I was one thing. People didn't know whether I was a photographer, an influencer, a skincare guru, etc. I think society pushes us to declare ourselves. That's so old school to me. I am passionate about too many things to pigeonhole myself. I also admittedly never felt like I was great at anything, but good at a lot of things – a generalist, not a specialist. I used to think that was my flaw, but I've turned it into a business. I produce, I direct, sometimes I photograph and pose, I create videos, I edit, I strategize.
I'm still figuring it out. Everything is case by case — sometimes I charge hourly, sometimes I charge a flat project fee. As an undefined creative, every project is pretty different therefore requires its own scope, rates, etc. I think it's important to have a base — you learn how many hours go into specific tasks and can determine when it's worth it vs. not. I'm typically always open to negotiation, especially during a time like this when budgets are massively affected. Ultimately I want to help people make cool stuff and as long as I feel the partnership is fair, I'm ready to get to work.
It's not as tight as a traditional 9-5, which I love. When I worked in agency life it was more like 9-8! Sometimes later. I love that I get to structure my days the way I want. That doesn't go without a lot of early mornings and late nights, but it's my choice. I try to get up as early as possible. Early mornings are the most peaceful part of the day in my opinion. Where I'm at right now, I take an early walk down the beach. I usually follow that with a coffee but right now it's nitro cold brew or nothing. That stuff is incredible.
Aside from my work passions, I went freelance because I wanted a new lifestyle. The traditional office and work hours were crushing my soul. I desperately needed a new routine. I take breaks during the day, go on walks, workout, make food, etc. Sometimes I start work at 7 AM, sometimes at 4 PM. Every day is a little bit different.
I'm constantly talking to other creatives through different forms of social media — Instagram, Facebook Groups, YouTube. I also love meeting people IRL (pre-social distancing). I find those conversations to be insanely helpful, motivating, and borderline emotional (because I feel so lucky to be in this space, be recognized by my peers as a creative, and we pick each other's brains — it's really f*cking cute).
Prepare before you leave your full-time job — make a plan and save some money. I went through a long purposeless period where I didn't know which direction to go in or who to reach out and it wasn't fun. You don't have to have everything figured out, but it's important to have leads and be able to stand on your own two feet if things don't happen right away.
I'm both terrified and excited by this question. While the foundation of my business was content production, I'm making updates. Quarantine changed A LOT, both professionally and personally. Things are going to look a bit different moving forward. The core of my business will focus on social media strategy and management with content production as an additive. There are some other fun additions in the works as well.
Optimism only. I also just launched a YouTube channel. I'm so excited to explore that space and spread my little internet wings.