Meet Samantha Gutstadt, hostess of our most recent Whiteboard + Wine, one of the funniest moms on IG, and so much more. She told us the story of how she’s taken her dreams into her own hands over and over again to create a career and life she loves. Then, Samantha shared how coming together with other women helps her thrive in every area of her life and how she celebrates that connection through hosting thoughtful gatherings.
Where did your passion for acting begin? Who supported you in pursuing your dreams from a young age?
Samantha: I literally came home from camp one day at the age of 5 and apparently told my mom I wanted to do commercials. As a teacher and lawyer, my parents were like…what?! They put me in some acting classes and thus it began. Throughout school I always took drama and appeared in shows, then I starting working professionally around age 14. My parents definitely supported my dream along the way. They still do. They watch all my videos, they get excited for all my big and little accomplishments and always told me I could do whatever I set my mind to!
How did film school deepen your appreciation for what goes into telling a story?
Samantha: Going to film school was the best decision. I remember debating theatre school, film school, or journalism. I had already been working professionally as an actress and film school was a place to be creative with a group of like minded students. It also opened up my eyes to ALL the pieces and parts that go into creating a film or show. By nature of being there I learned how to be an editor, writer, producer, director and everything in between. I also learned what goes into creating and storytelling: teamwork! Every film, TV show and digital piece we see takes an amazing team who each brings something unique to the table. That was my takeaway from film school. Oh ya, I guess I also learned how to properly structure story and actually produce stuff 🙂
When did you move to LA? What happened in your career after the move?
Samantha: When I was in my third year at film school, a film I made got into a festival in Los Angeles! I was so excited and flew down with my friend and I came back telling anyone who would listen that after graduation, I would move there. A few months later I met my future husband and that delayed the move by a few years. I got married at 25 and moved to LA a few months later with my husband. LA totally changed my career. It’s like bootcamp for my industry. I arrived bushy tailed and bright eyed and the hard reality of a city filled with talented and beautiful people trying to do exactly what I was doing was a reality check. I didn’t know my point of entry and I already had a head start with a great resume, training and an agent. A year in I got cast as the lead in a movie and things just sort of snowballed from there. I stepped into the digital space shortly after and found my place.
And then you became a mom. How did that change things?
Samantha: Oh, it changed EVERYTHING! I became a mom in the summer of 2012. The industry was shifting, YouTube was huge, Instagram was JUST beginning and the whole digital space was blossoming. I also had a few years under my belt in LA. I’d done 5 films, a few webseries, several commercials, a voiceover campaign and theatre and I was tired of “waiting for permission to be creative” as they say. I also was so in love with this tiny human we’d created and I needed a really good reason for anything to pull me away from him. I had to LOVE my work. I also think motherhood opened up a new part of me creatively. I saw the humor in everyday observations I’d never noticed before (after all motherhood is endless comedy), and I became motivated in ways I had never been. My whole trajectory changed after becoming a mom. I took my career into my own hands and began creating work I wanted to do and be in. I was passionate about it. I joined forces with my business partner and fellow mama, and we began to get the “yeses” we’d been waiting for our whole careers. We are literally doing our dream job right now and it feels like we basically created this opportunity for ourselves. And it’s all inspired by our little loves.
We are literally doing our dream job right now and it feels like we basically created this opportunity for ourselves.
What steps did you take to build your social media presence and personal brand?
Samantha: I was very strategic from the start when I started out on social media and with my brand. I was on a digital series and one of my episodes hit 45 million views. I knew I had to do something with that so I took my Instagram off private and met with people in the social media space to be smart about to how begin to build it organically and find my “brand” and voice. I gathered so much great advice and went for it. I also launched my blog around the same time. I had a contact from the magazine I worked at who worked in marketing and social media, and I convinced her to take me on as a client part-time. She really helped me grow in the right way and strategize every step of the way. She’s now my full-time social team and I’m so grateful she believed in me when everything was just an idea in my head. From the get-go I asked myself, “Why should people care?” I put myself in my audience’s shoes. If you ask that question, it helps you create content with a purpose. I also experimented. I tried different things and saw what resonated and what didn’t. I failed and every failure was a lesson. I collaborated and went for tons of coffees, send lots of emails, and tried to learn from other people in the space. I’m still building. I try to get content out daily. I try to never stay stagnant and I still experiment. I’m also always trying to learn. This space changes constantly and I want to be able to evolve with it.
When did the idea for “Don’t Call Me Mommy” come about?
Samantha: I love this story. My business partner Haely White and I had been friends for years, pre-kids. We met on a red carpet as hosts at a comedy festival. Fast forward, in true mom fashion, it took us 6 months to plan a happy hour on Abbot Kinney in Venice. We met for a drink at the Other Room and starting riffing about how tough being a new mom is. I had a pitch meeting the next day and I wrote a few of our jokes and ideas on a napkin. The next day at the meeting I pulled out the napkin and sold our first show “Shit No One Told You” to Mom.me. The show has over 5 million views and is the thing that truly got us started in this space. We were suddenly in business. We had to come up with a name and brand since we started getting inquiries for commercials and more scripted shows. After throwing around a few we settled on Don’t Call Me Mommy. We are 1.5 years old and have grown so much in just a year. We have a series on FabFitFun, Parents.com, and several commercials out. We also just got a show!!! I can’t wait to share more but it’s live, it’s interactive and it’s comedic. At the root of it, Haely and I want to share real truths about parenting and motherhood in a comedic way.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in making it happen?
Samantha: That every “failure” or challenge actually brings you closer to where you are supposed to be. You learn from every mistake and that makes you better. Also some said something really wise recently that I truly carry with me as a new business owner: “When it becomes really scary and you want to quit, you know you are SO close to that breakthrough.” I love that. Being an entrepreneur is scary. You have to fight through those “I can’t do it” moments of doubt.
As an entrepreneurial mama, how does connecting with other women with both kids and ambition help you thrive?
Samantha: Oh it is everything! I am constantly inspired by the women in this community and women I meet at events etc. We are all here to support each other through motherhood and our businesses. We lift each other up, we collaborate and we listen to each other. It’s magic.
What do you love most about hosting in your home? Do you do themes?
Samantha: We just moved into our first home in March and already I think I’ve hosted like 4 events! I have always enjoyed bringing people together so I love welcoming friends into my home. I do themes for my kids’ parties, but for mine, my themes have been more the vibe of the event, whether that is a self-care night with massages, manicures and crystals, or a mommy group where we share stories of motherhood with each other.
What’s your best advice for making guests feel special?
Samantha: I think making sure the event lends itself to connecting makes guests feel special. I always greet each guest and take time for a real conversation. I also think crafting the space to allow for flow and conversation is important. At events that are intimate enough, I like to have each person introduce themselves and share something about themselves too.
Every day is a new day. You might feel like you didn’t kill it one day, but when you wake up the next morning, it’s a re-start. Your kids change day to day, challenges change day to day and so do you. Don’t be so hard on yourself, you are doing amazing!
You are your toughest critic. Trust me. Your kiddos adore you just for being their loving mama.
Date your hubby or partner. We set Saturday nights aside and have been doing it since our first son was 6 weeks old. It’s a game changer. We connect that one night a week if the rest of the week is crazy. I look forward to it.