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Hidden Gems: Meet Hayden Van Hulzen of HVH Media & Marketing

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hayden Van Hulzen. 

Hi Hayden, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I grew up in Chicago, Illinois, and had a very sheltered childhood. 

My mother was a fear and ego-based parent, abusive, and impossible to please. She divorced my father when I was three and remarried to a man who never considered me one of his own children and treated me as such. 

I imagine that military school would have made my mother’s parenting seem like a cakewalk. I remember crying in the rain at the bus stop one day because I was afraid to come home and tell my mother that I had received a C on an advanced mathematics test. 

I had two step-siblings and a half-brother who were all my stepfather’s children, so I was consistently the outcast and they never let me forget it. 

My mother allowed my step-father and his entire family treat me like the outcast and when my inquisitive young mind wanted to understand why I was made to feel afraid or ashamed for asking. 

It was no surprise that I worked tirelessly to please her and always came up short. No matter how many varsity sports I played, no matter how many Honors and AP courses I aced, no matter how many accolades that I received from the Dean, no matter how many hours that I volunteered with the local special needs chapter, and no matter how many awards that I received in a variety of courses, it was never good enough. 

At some point, something inside of me evolved under the pressure of her expectations and it birthed someone miraculous even though I didn’t know at the time just how miraculous I would become. 

Pressure makes diamonds and I was hardening and waiting for my time to sparkle. 

Once I began to realize that my mother wasn’t ever going to give me her approval (because what she wanted was control), I stopped feeding into her fear-based egotistical parenting and freed myself of the shackles of her expectations. 

Unfortunately, we accept the love that we think we deserve, so I soon went on to pick a partner that mimicked a lot of these qualities and although the entire relationship was not bad, there were some major foundational pieces that would never be strong enough to support the person I was meant to become. 

All of these painful periods in my life were the pressure I was going to need to transform. 

I was one of those people who found comfort in a salary, sameness, consistency, and absolutely no risk. I had crippling anxiety, a small scope of the world, and people around me that prayed on my naïveté. It was during my divorce that I lost my job in a tragic way. My boss and my assistant died suddenly in a plane crash on the way to one of our events. The people internally who I had considered my friends, quickly turned on me and I was forced out. 

I was getting divorced, I lost my friends, I lost my job, and I was at the lowest point in my life. For the first time ever, I asked my mother for some support, she used this time to degrade me and end our relationship. We haven’t spoken since. 

In this moment I was lucky to have my father give me the little bit of aid that he could, but I knew it wouldn’t be a permanent solution, I was going to have to change my life myself. 

My son was relying on me. 

So, I went out and found a new job. I found a great position at an international cosmetics company that needed a young and innovative mind to put their brand on the map. So, I worked my butt off. 

I put our brand in the room with some of the most influential people in the world. By day I was a rockstar CMO and in my evenings I worked to dig myself out of the debt left over from my divorce. In my evenings, I built another stream of revenue for myself through my own influence. I used my platform to start conversations about my process of climbing out from this pit of despair. 

I didn’t sugarcoat what my life was and I wanted people to see my metamorphosis live. I wanted to live out loud as a way of staying accountable, inspiring others who were going through a similar situation, and to use this audience that I was curating to create a brand that I could monetize. 

I continued to work my butt off for two and a half years and it was then that I knew it was time for me to take the ultimate leap. It was in this moment that the universe conspired to deliver me some much-needed “belief in me” at a time that I didn’t even know that I needed it. 

The origin of this “belief” was the magic that I needed to take one of the scariest leaps that I’ve taken, I was to bet on myself. I launched my business, HVH Media & Marketing, that year. In the first year of business, I greatly exceeded my revenue projections. 

Then COVID hit. 

I helped to pivot my clients into e-commerce and virtual marketing tactics. Because of this quick thinking, my business played an instrumental role in helping many businesses and brands to survive the hardest parts of COVID. 

I took another risk and partnered with PR Powerhouse, Christina Elmen, and we launched Twenty-One North. It also exceeded my revenue projections in the first year. 

We have now graced the cover of Entrepreneurial magazines as innovators in our space and we represent clients internationally. I have quite a bit more room to grow, but I love to look back on where I was just 4 years ago and pleasantly smile at where I am now. 

It is possible. Believe in yourself! 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
There are always struggles in entrepreneurship but the most important part about the struggles are how you work to get past them and avoid them in the future. 

I have had some ultimate lows like, my mother abandoning me, the devastation of divorce, having people that I put my faith and trust, in turn, their back on me in a vulnerable time, and the tragic loss of a dear friend in a plane crash that also resulted in me losing my job. But it is in these moments you can either wallow in melancholy or burn the old version of yourself to the ground and then rise from the ashes like a Phoenix. 

Always RISE. 

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about HVH Media & Marketing?
HVH Media & Marketing and Twenty One North are both of my agencies. 

HVH Media & Marketing focuses on modern marketing tactics like social media marketing, influencer marketing, digital marketing, and events. We care about curating your brand voice and presence in the digital world in order to help you to curate your highest-converting audience and showcase your brand’s essence in the most evocative way. 

Twenty One North focused on public relations, brand reputation, brand development, and events. We work to create media and news coverage that support our client’s authority, reach, and enhance sales and conversions. We also work hard to help control your reputation both on and offline. 

Do you have any advice for those looking to network or find a mentor?
There are so many different ways to find a mentor but one of the best ways is through networking. I do want to mention that RISE Collaborative Workspace has a digital membership that offers a vast network of some of the most empowered and professional women. if you’re looking for like-minded professionals to grow with, then I highly suggest it. 

Contact Info:

Image Credits
The Digital Eclectic
HVH Media & Marketing Photographers
Phoenix Entrepreneurs Magazine

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