Emily Sandberg Gold is no stranger to work ethic. Beginning her modeling career at the ripe young age of 18, she rapidly catapulted from small-town Minnesota girl to internationally acclaimed model in no time. Recognizable as the face of prestigious campaigns for the likes of Versace, Fendi, Clinique and The Gap, she left behind a burgeoning career to nurture her mental health and hone her skills in the workforce. Segueing into technology, the astute businesswoman is the founder and CEO of Nashville- and New York-based digital marketing firm Twice Social, which she launched in 2015. Please welcome our newest FACE of Nashville, Emily Sandberg Gold.
Tell us about your trajectory as a model.
I started modeling when I was 18, became very successful within months, maintained that for five years, and burned out. I realized I was suffering from some mental health issues; I needed to take care of my mental and physical health because traveling and maintaining a size 2 when you’re almost 5-foot-10 is difficult. I had to take care of my business, and then I had to find the next step because I knew it was unsustainable. So, I took time off for mental health, which I always include in my story because I think it’s relevant and important for people to know that it exists in the world, and also that you can be successful while managing it. My stuff isn’t anything deep or heavy, but it affects my ability to do things like socializing. It’s very exhausting for me, and sometimes it takes me days to recover if I have a full day of in-person meetings or Zoom calls. That’s all to say that you can be successful regardless, and it’s possible to take time off, which I did. I did six months to a year off to deal with what had happened to me. It was sort of arrested development — clearly not a normal experience. I was unprepared, my family was unprepared, and frankly, my agents and everybody around me was unprepared for how quickly everything skyrocketed, so nobody knew what to do or what was going on.
What made you switch gears?
I got into acting and product development and started to work on a makeup and skincare line, bringing products over from Israel to the U.S. I also worked on the branding and marketing of those lines, but product development was a good chunk of what I did behind the scenes. Nobody really knew I was getting my hands dirty with it. I also started a blog that allowed me to tell my perspective. I interviewed people in the fashion industry and gave insider information, like when Marc Jacobs’ collection got “stolen “… I learned how to run a successful business.
What brought you to Nashville?
I had a kid, and, for various reasons, I was like, I’m not raising this child in Los Angeles or New York. We came to Nashville because my husband is a musician. When I got here, I needed to find something to do, so I worked with models. I did some workshops, helping girls who were hitting in the market here but had an interest in larger markets like New York, Paris and Milan. I helped them get prepared for what to expect, and that was rewarding. Then I needed to get a job-job because I like to make money and feel productive. I’m not a stay-at-home mom. I went to Nordstrom and got a job selling shoes and became one of the top sellers immediately. I’m very competitive! Then they took me over to the handbag section, where nobody had made more than $9 an hour. At that time, the only designers that people in Nashville knew were Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Chanel. Nobody knew Alexander Wang or Givenchy or Lanvin. I spent my entire time educating people, and eventually, those people started coming back and buying handbags. Not only did I learn how to sell a product that’s next to impossible to sell, I learned how important it is to educate people. That’s what makes them want to purchase — they want something they know about and understand, which is what I bring into the digital marketing that my company does today.
When did you launch Twice Social, and what’s your focus?
November 2015. My first client launched in June and my team built them from the ground up. They started with a Squarespace site, and they now have 18 facilities across the U.S.
We put a lot of time and energy into creating business plans, brand strategy and marketing plans so the pieces line up perfectly. You’re not just pushing ads out that sell products; you’re putting ads out that create conversations, build community, make a difference, and add value to someone’s life.
Twice Social was based on thinking, Wouldn’t it be cool if I could go out and do for other people what I did for myself, and wouldn’t it be fun if I could hire people and pay them a lot more than what I got paid when I took on a role as social media director at a local agency here in town? I looked around, and I was like, “I’m going to pay people three times what they’re making at that agency. I’ll charge the client less than if they went somewhere else and meet everybody in the middle, and the profit margins will be narrow, but everybody will share, and it’ll all work out in the end.” It’s been a wild ride.
What do you consider your greatest success?
Surviving without going to college. That’s the biggest one for me. When I started looking for a job, I thought there was no way I was going to get hired. So, that’s my main thing — succeeding without going to college, and succeeding while having a mental illness. I have depression and anxiety, so succeeding regardless of that.
What advice do you have for women looking to take the entrepreneurial leap in terms of maintaining a sense of balance?
Ask for help from anybody and everybody. It was scary making myself vulnerable, but I had to ask for help. I didn’t know anybody when I came from Minnesota. I knew one person when I moved to New York, and I had one contact at one agency. I knew one person when I moved to Nashville; I didn’t have any contacts or clients or a job or friends.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Your career is going to be over in four years, so invest in real estate.
Outside of faith, family and friends, what are three things you cannot live without?
A glass filled to the top with ice and water, mascara, and Animal Crossing on Nintendo Switch. It’s so chill and so much fun. I’m not a gamer, but we got my son a Switch for his birthday. If you don’t know what it is, check it out! Designers are now launching collections on it. Marc Jacobs did a collection on it, and so did Off-White. Brands are paying attention. It’s huge.
For more amazing local FACES in our archives, click HERE!