Close Up: A Good Egg
Yvonne Fry appreciates the power of a good story. After all, storytelling is something that’s heavily influenced her life and business, and inspired the name of her distributorship, Fryed Egg Productions. Behind the cheeky name is Fry’s life story. “I grew up on a chicken farm in Plant City, Florida,” she says. “We had 60,000 chickens, and we picked eggs by hand every single day. We grew crops and had other animals, but that chicken farm was just all-consuming.” Fry says her company’s name serves as a constant reminder of her childhood and upbringing. “There were many days where fried eggs were what we ate three times a day because it was all we had. No matter what big project I’m working on or what highfalutin people I get to work with, I always remember that I am just a farm girl,” says Fry.
Fry’s progression into the promotional products industry began when she opened Fryed Egg Productions, a boutique full-service marketing firm, in 2012. “From the very beginning, I had seen the importance of branded items in the execution of any strategy,” says Fry. “Even though we were not initially set up to offer branded items, we were doing it through other folks, leaving money on the table. But what was most distressing to me was that we were at the mercy of other people for quality, execution and timeliness. This ultimately affects the quality of results we can guarantee.”
Fryed Egg Productions isn’t Fry’s first or only company. “I say I have the sexy side and the non-sexy side of communications,” she says. “My other company is called Lines of Communication, and it is a 22-year-old IT and telecommunications consulting firm.” But with a degree in marketing and a passion for achievement, Fry decided to devote more time to the creative side of communications by opening Fryed Egg Productions. “I love helping companies build and achieve revenue goals,” she says. “It was so natural from what I had already been doing.” Fry is also an active community member, serving in leadership roles for a variety of civic and social service organizations as well as government boards and commissions.
Fry says her favorite part of the promo industry is seeing an idea transform into a client’s branded product. “It just makes it so much more real and significant,” she says. “Everything needs to have an emotional connection. Especially for products, you’ve got to weave the story with it to make the item cherished and appreciated. The other part that I just love is when you see it being placed in the hands of its intended audience. You put a product in someone’s hands, and you can almost see the meaning moving from their head to their heart. If we do the right kind of research, you see that moment of magic. That’s what we are after.”
To earn those moments of magic, Fry leaves no marketing tool untouched. By combining promotional products with video and digital marketing, Fryed Egg Productions lives up to its promise of “advancing brands by any legal means necessary.” “I feel like we would be leaving out a piece of critical engagement or reinforcement if we didn’t,” she says. “Everybody receives messages in different ways and from different sources. I think of it as building up to surround sound so that our message feels comfortable and like a part of their world. Branded products are an essential part of that. They have a much longer lifespan than almost anything else. How could you not want to include those in that holistic marketing plan?”
But Fryed Egg Productions is also devoted to understanding its clients. “There’s always a vision, and we take a lot of time to immerse ourselves with our clients,” says Fry. “I always say if I can’t feel their heartbeat of the things that worry, excite and inspire them, then we can’t really serve them to our greatest capacity. We also take time to really define our client’s message and audience, and then we come up with strategies.”
The doors at Fryed Egg Productions stayed open all last year, even during quarantine. “We had a great year as far as how we were able to contribute to the retooling, rebounds and pivots,” says Fry. “We were involved in a lot of different aspects of companies and organizations that were trying to power through what the pandemic was throwing at them.” For Fry, the pandemic has made her more grateful for the people in her life, especially her co-workers. “One of the tragic gifts from this time is how much we now appreciate people and being able to be with them. We took so much for granted before. Every day is a gift, and everything is much sweeter now. Without your team, you are nothing. I am often the weakest link. I look at the folks I get to work with, and I am just in awe of their talent and professional capacity. I am very grateful, but then, I look at their commitment to excellence for our clients, and I am blown away every day.”
Fry says her team strives for perfection and is relentless in delivering high quality. “We do a lot of social media and written content, so if there’s a mistake, it’s out there,” says Fry. “It’s not only a reflection on our clients, but it’s also a reflection on us.” Fry says she looks for a new team member who can own their space and figure out how to get the job done. “I want my people to make a new mistake every day. There are two parts to that: one is that you are trying something new and the other is that you don’t want to make the same mistake twice.”
PPB spoke with marketing specialist Fry for more nuggets of wisdom on community involvement and leadership.
PPB What does community outreach mean to you?
Fry To whom much is given, much is held accountable. I’ve had tremendous opportunities in my life, and while some of them are because of me and my hustle, the majority are because of other people’s generosity, friendship and mentorship. I’ve had a blessed life because of my rich relationships and amazing opportunities. Because of all that, I feel a tremendous responsibility to show up and give back. When you show up and you see need and opportunity, you raise your hand and say, ‘I’m here to help.’ Just like in business I want long-term trust relationships, I want that in the community as well. I want my brand to be somebody who’s going to help affect change, come with solutions and do the work. That’s what I hope I embody. I am humbled at the opportunity to be a part of the community that steps up and stands in for all the needs we have. Whether it’s hunger, transportation, education, domestic violence, health care or affordable housing, these issues affect all of us and could, at any time, creep into what we think is our safe world of privilege—and then, none of us are safe. My mission is to improve the quality of life for everyone in the community.
PPB What advice would you give to someone just starting out in this industry?
Fry Use your resources. To me, becoming a member of PPAI was that first step. There are a ton of resources and good people involved. I read the Promo Connect distributor digest every single day in my email. Even if I don’t need the information right then, I know where to look if I do. I can find ideas, good words about a vendor and struggles that help preempt some problems. Plug into the community. Take advantage of training opportunities and trade shows. I hope we get back to more in-person events, but virtual shows still make excellent use of your time. I also encourage people to realize that there is opportunity everywhere. It’s amazing how many ways branded products can be implemented in every type of organization. Relax and have fun with that. I think any time someone is starting something new, we are all wound up and worried. This is a lesson I learned: have fun and realize what an amazing opportunity this is. The sky’s the limit on what I think you can do in this industry.
Kristina Valdez is associate editor of PPB.