For Sonja Davies, necessity was the mother of professional (re)invention.
In 1995, most people weren’t even sure how 3D animation worked, but when Sonja discovered the industry, “There was immediately a passion and connection.”
Along with two partners, Bill Hutchinson and Jeff Bastedo, she instantly saw the business potential in the emerging animation landscape and they began a small company, Loopmedia, creating commercials and 3D characters. As the business grew, there were two clear paths to choose from, she says. “Either you did television children’s series work or became a design studio and specialized in broadcast design for networks.” They chose the latter.
In the years since, Sonja and her team have continued to pivot when required, ahead of the curve in the ever-evolving digital world (with a focus on brand design, animation and live action video). “We had a NYC presence until 2008, and worked throughout the US for nearly 2 decades. But then digital took another step and started outperforming traditional media, which is how we got into content marketing,” explains Sonja. Loopmedia, eventually pulled out of the US to stay nimble and invest even more deeply in branding and storytelling through short, but concise video products.
Sonja is proud of the legacy she’s built over the past two decades and credits her success to both hard work and agility. “If you don’t reinvent, you die,” she says plainly. “There are so many disruptive technologies that have changed the way we think, that affect the agency world…if you’re looking to build the agency of 2020, it doesn’t look the way the traditional legacy model.
Not all changes in Sonja’s industry are market or technology based though. When she and her male partners launched their business there were hardly any women in the field, and Sonja was by far the youngest woman to own a studio. “I don’t think we even had our first female employee in animation until the 2000s…I could walk into a room of 250 people and be the only woman at times,” she says. “Today though, my office has an equal male to female ratio.”
Women’s relationships with each other in the workplace have also dramatically changed for the better, says Sonja. “When I first started, women were in it alone. No one wanted to admit it was a struggle,” she says. “Now, push forward 20 years and we’re rising together, building women’s groups…working to mentor younger women…We’re no longer trying to tough it out, we can also be sisterly towards each other. I’m seeing this beautiful movement towards a global connection.”
These changes have shifted attitudes, allowing women to admit it’s challenging to be a wife, mother and entrepreneur without a support system, says Sonja. Though she epitomizes the ideal of a woman who does it all (well!), she’s also learned to invest in herself outside of her business in recent years.
“I’ve started on a journey of health and balance,” says Sonja. She’s enthusiastic about the benefits of trampolining – it’s a real thing, look it up – and also developed, along with her husband, a love of sailing. “You have to be in the moment,” she explains, “for me and a lot of entrepreneurs it’s hard to be in the moment, cause you’re constantly reinventing, thinking. But when you’re on a sailboat you better be all there!”
“It’s an exciting time to find balance,” Sonja concludes. We wholeheartedly agree.