Laurel Link, Parabo Press
IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Laurel Link, CEO, Parabo Press.
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?
People are taking more photos than ever before thanks to our phones, yet so many memories get swept away in the digital stream. As an online photo printing service, we believe a photo needs a physical space where it’s seen, held, and passed on for others to enjoy. Helping people get their photos out of their phone and into their space is no small feat.
I’ve found it’s extra challenging when we have lots of ideas we want to try — new marketing channels, website improvements, product development — and not enough hours in the day to fit them all in. Our small(ish) team has to be very deliberate about prioritizing new experiments and ongoing projects, while staying focused on creating something with meaning and enduring value.
On the flip side, it’s very rewarding to bring our customers’ favorite photos to life with thoughtfully-designed prints that fill their space with joy. I’ve also found that being part of our small (and mighty!) team is very rewarding. We’re able to work closely together and collaborate when needed. When everyone has a sense of what their teammates are up to it creates a common purpose, and individual wins feel like wins for everyone.
Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?
Someone I look up to in business is Jess Ekstrom, founder of Headbands of Hope. She started her company from her dorm room, with a buy-one-give-one model to donate headbands to children’s hospitals. Headbands of Hope has become a huge success, but Jess didn’t stop there. She shares the lessons she’s learned in business through many channels online and off. She’s particularly focused on sharing how her positive attitude has propelled much of her success and is a big supporter of women in business. She inspires me to keep positivity at the forefront of all I do and to spread it around.
What has been the high point of your career so far?
Parabo Press started in San Francisco in 2015 with a few part-time employees working remotely around the country. In 2017, Parabo found its new home in Madison. I'm proud to have established a physical office space and home base for the business in Madison with a dedicated team that continues to grow.
We do some of our printing here in the Madison office, which is pretty special. Seeing the beautiful photo prints that come through is a daily reminder of why we're here. The team is really proud to bring inspiration and happiness to our customers’ homes.
Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
I’d tell 21-year-old me to keep working hard, and to trust both my creative mind and my analytical side.
Hard work really does pay off, both in the sense of accomplishment you get to feel and when it is noticed by those around you. Staying true to your creativity and trusting data are both key to running a business.
What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?
Living and working in Dane County is such a joy because it has the perfect blend of natural beauty and urban beauty, too. I especially love our lakes, trails, and dog parks (Capital Springs is my dog, Ursula’s, personal favorite). But it’s the community here in Madison and surrounding towns that make Dane County so special. I love the collaborative attitude I’ve found in so many colleagues and neighbors. It’s wonderful to be a part of a community all rooting for each other to succeed.
Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?
I spent half my childhood living in Spain, just long enough to pick up a decent Spanish accent and to develop a lifelong love for Spanish food. I unfortunately can’t eat at Estrellón every night, so I’ve honed my skills at cooking a Spanish tortilla for myself. I’m pretty proud of just how yummy mine are.
What are your guilty pleasures?
I love candy and every October I give myself a pass to remove the guilt from this pleasure. I bring a plastic pumpkin full of mini candy bars to the office and refill it all month long with the team’s favorites. Twix are really big around here, and the Twizzlers don’t stick around long either.
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