Staffers at This Alaska Agency Led by Women Do Some of Their Best Work Outside the Office

Spawn Ideas fosters a culture of exploration

(L. to r.): Mike Weed, vp, creative director; Kathy Norford, vp, media director; and Karen King, CEO, president J Martin Pictures
Headshot of Sami Main

Spawn Ideas, an employee-owned and female-led creative shop based in Anchorage, Alaska, boasts an adventurous spirit from top to bottom.

The agency, which launched in 2008, is now home to 40 people who help create campaigns for companies looking to speak to residents of the U.S.’s northernmost state, from telecom company GCI and Midas to Travel Alaska and McDonald’s.

Spawn employees take advantage of the agency’s culture of exploration by embracing the many outdoor activities Alaska has to offer, such as snowmobiling, hiking, canoeing or braving some rapids. (The agency’s other two locations in Denver and Seattle similarly appeal to nature lovers.) As a result, Spawn has been one of Outside magazine’s 100 Best Places to Work in America for the past five years.

“We’d rather be mountain climbers than status climbers,” said Karen King, CEO and president. Her advice to employees: “What you’re trying to do out there for your clients and their customer service you need to remember to bring indoors to your own people and company.”

This story first appeared in the Aug. 21, 2017, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

@samimain Sami Main is social editor for Adweek, where she posts Adweek content onto social platforms and looks for creative ways to communicate what's new.