By: Summer Lamson

Date: May 19, 2017

Hi everyone, Summer here.

I have some exciting news to share today, however, admittedly with a touch of sorrow.

After six amazing years of building Subtext with my partner, Tore, I have decided to step back from my ownership stake to pursue the next stage of my own professional growth.

As with any decision like this, it did not come easy for me. As a first-time entrepreneur, Subtext is akin to being my first child. It’s been a labor of love that I poured my entire heart and soul into. To say I love this company—and the people who have been involved in it—would be an understatement.

However, as difficult as it is, I feel my time as an agency owner has to close in order for a new chapter to open.

I am proud and humbled by my experience building Subtext. It was a very long, steep, emotional hill to get to where we are today, to which I’m still in genuine awe we were able to make it work. What started as an idealistic vision of a better agency, has become a case in point that a healthy work-life balance is both achievable and sustainable in an industry that has long rejected the notion. I couldn’t be prouder about this.

As they say, however: it took a village to get here. Subtext couldn’t be what it is today without our employees that believed in this vision as much as we did.

Our current team – Betsy, Neil, Katie, Kristin, Jeremy, Amanda, and Christine – there’s no way we could have done this without them. This unique group of people has been my comfort, hope, and strength in the most challenging of times. Their willingness to take responsibility for upholding our values and mission, while still doing excellent client work, is what has made this all possible.

As a final cherry on top before my exit, the team recently secured its B Corp certification, solidifying their commitment to using Subtext as a force for good in business.

This team is a bunch of altruistic badasses and a work family in the truest form. While I’ll miss working with each of them every day, I couldn’t feel more at peace with leaving the company in their hands.


What Does The Future Hold?

To start, I’ve relocated to Maui, HI to be closer to my husband’s family (terrible, right?) So currently, I am spending a lot of time acquainting myself with this beautiful island, and reflecting and planning for my next work adventure. Thankfully the work fam at Subtext allows me to chime in on Slack messages when I occasionally get island fever. 🙂

While I don’t know exactly what the future holds, I do know that there is more work to be done to progress the Subtext vision.

For me, Subtext has never been just about an agency. It’s about transforming an industry to be better for its people. It’s about making work-life balance, positive client relationships, great benefits and equal pay the norm, not the exception.

Recently Ad Week put out an article called ‘Has Agency Work-Life Balance Reached a Crisis Point?’ speaking to challenges that many employees are still having within agency life. I remember those times well, prior to Subtext. Time away from family, stress-filled evenings and weekends, and mass burnout is still rampant in our industry. It’s unacceptable and it has to change.

“Agencies need to make work/life balance a priority.”

Thankfully, others like us have been working to make a positive change as well. For example, Mike Arnesen of UpBuild and Shawn Busse of Kinesis, have developed their own agency models that have are proving that an employee first, values-based culture is not mutually exclusive from doing great client work and building a profitable company.

I hope their stories and ours will inspire others to do the same.  

So while I’m stepping back from Subtext, I won’t be stepping far away. Now more than ever I am driven to continue forward with this vision of building a better agency model.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart to the community that has supported me, this company, and our vision. We couldn’t have done it (or continue to do it) without you.

Lastly, a huge thank you to Tore, my business partner, and dear friend. You’re the kindest, most empathetic, and compassionate partner I could have ever asked for. It’s been such a pleasure to build this company with you.

Cheers to the bright future for us all!


*Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you are interested in talking more about what we’ve done at Subtext and ideas for building a culture-first agency model. You can chat ideas with Tore at [email protected], or contact me at my personal address at [email protected].