The Story Exchange, Ida Cheinman, Substance151Your Name: Ida Cheinman

Business Name: Substance151, Benefit LLC, strategic communication and design for business to business companies and nonprofits

Type of Business: Marketing & PR/Brand Communications Firm

Business Location: Baltimore, Maryland, United States

Twitter   @substance151

Reason for starting
I founded Substance151 with the vision to create a company with a conscience – where success is measured not only on its profitability, but also on its environmental and social impact.

How do you define success?
Since its inception, Substance151 has made a commitment to advance sustainable values through the firm’s design practice, education and community involvement. Under my leadership, Substance151 has built a solid reputation for its stellar strategy and design work, as well as its passion for advocating environmentally and socially responsible business practices. Substance151 is a Green America (formerly “Co-op America”) certified business, joining the ranks of progressive business leaders and the oldest, largest, and most diverse network of socially and environmentally responsible businesses in America. I have been named one of “Baltimore’s Green Masterminds” by Bmore Media and an Eco CEO by Baltimore SmartCEO (2010).

Biggest Success
Substance151 became one of the first 3 companies in Maryland, and in the United States, to become a Benefit LLC under the Maryland Benefit Corporation legislation. Benefit corporations are a new breed of companies that strive to make a positive impact – they seek to do well by doing good. Creating a company with a purpose beyond just profit enabled Substance151 to build a competitive advantage for Substance151 across three principal business areas: Brand Building, Business Development, Talent Recruitment and Retention. By building a brand around the belief that people and companies want to connect to meaningful ideas and values and to have a positive impact on personal, business and social levels, Substance151 has carved a niche in an extremely competitive marketplace. Substance151’s brand reputation has kept the firm top of mind where purchasing decisions are made, even in tough economic times.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Not being caught in simply “getting it done.” With every project and client engagement trying to push the boundaries of what we know further – visually, conceptually, technically. Staying on top of trends and constantly advancing techniques and being to master them – proactively. And staying profitable while doing excellent, inspired and inspiring work. This requires a team inspired by excellence. Substance151 has assembled a collaborative, flexible and responsive team of senior-level professionals who understand, and practice “strategic creativity” and strive to do great work that matters.

Who is your most important role model?
I don’t think that there’s one person, but throughout my career I’ve been very fortunate to have many great role models. From my college professors who encouraged me to go after often not-so-realistic goals I would set for myself, to my first Art director who showed me what a great Art Director should be. I feel like there are pieces of all of those people in me – they’ve helped shape the type of professional, and leader, that I am today.