Socials by MANMAN Studios

Networking Redefined: The Magic of Socials by MANMAN Studios

Picture wearing giant hair, pearls, chandelier earrings and a period dress in the middle of your workday. Now add gorgeous models, professional photographers and mini vignettes with luscious props and backdrops. Let’s not forget a charcuterie table fit for a king. Where are you and how did you get here? It’s easy: start on Instagram at Socials by MANMAN Studios and check out their high-glam posts. The next thing you know you are entering a networking multiverse that will reframe your perception of networking: elevator speeches are not encouraged, but real connections and business cards are. 

Socializing with strangers when everyone is dressed up in costumes and posing for photos between bites and sips somehow manages to be a natural ice breaker. It creates a surreal world of socializing where you are meeting new industry professionals, but pressure is off: everyone is not in their normal attire or environment and therefore more open and relaxed. Afterwards, you walk away with some new friends, businesses to follow, and top-quality edited photos to post and cherish.

Here to bring us into the world of the extraordinary is the Founder & Designer of MANMAN Studios, Mandy Lehman.

How did Socials by MANMAN Studios get its start?

I started Socials as a way to give back to the small business community. Coming from a design agency background and working with large companies, like P&G, Anheuser-Busch, Nike, etc…I saw how they would spend thousands on a photoshoot for one product. With instagram being one of the best marketing tools for small businesses, especially creatives, I realized there was no way for them to afford elaborate professional photos like these big companies. Socials was created to spearhead these mega photoshoots where we all benefit from all the different talent that contributes and leave with new connections, a free library of photos to post with and a boost in new followers on Instagram. Over time, I’ve seen the biggest benefit end of being the connections and community it has created, one where everyone really does support and refer each other constantly. It’s beautiful to see!

Explain the different ways people can participate in these curated events?

Socials by MANMAN Studios are comprised of lots of small businesses. If you can think of a way to give back to the small business community and benefit them in some way at the party, you can participate for free, getting the library of photos and being a featured vendor that gets promoted by everyone at the event. The types of companies we have at every event are hairstylists, makeup artists, models, decorators, bartenders, chefs, bakeries, djs, fashion designers/clothing boutiques, balloon artists, photographers, videographers, influencers, event coordinators, model coaches and venues. We’ve also had a business consultant set up an “advice booth”,  a fitness instructor give away classes to the attendees, a tattoo artist raffling off flash tattoos that she tattooed on site at the party and many other creative ideas people have come to me with. If you have an idea of how you can give to the others at the party and show support to other businesses in some way, I’m all ears. My goal for these parties is not to make money, it’s to help small businesses in whatever way we all can, together. That said, anyone who is not able to give something to the group, can also attend! That type of attendee is what we call an “industry pro” and they pay $30 to get in (because they are getting free booze/food/photos just like everyone else but not contributing anything to the group).

What are some of the basic requirements for participation?

You must dress to the theme, no matter how you are participating (and people go all out on their outfits/costumes)! You also must be kind to others and come to meet new people: this is about community and supporting local small business. Those are the only two requirements.

How has the response been so far?

So good! People LOVE these events! At least half of every event are repeat attendees that have come back over and over for more! I cap the events at 40 people to keep it reasonable for all of those who are giving their talents for free and we are now becoming fully booked months ahead of time. The energy surrounding the events and the kind of people they attract are perfect! Very supportive, kind, friendly and no pretentious vibes here! We also seem to attract a lot of Cincinnati newbies so that is always fun too, to meet people new to the city or just starting businesses here.

Describe the most surprising thing that you’ve discovered by hosting Socials by MANMAN Studios?

It’s turned into something bigger and better than I originally intended and that’s because of the people they’re attracting. I have had people not want to be part of a Social because they have to give of themselves for free to the group…and I think that’s the key difference that makes these parties what they are. There’s a certain kind of person that wants to give to others for the benefit of everyone else (and themselves too, of course) and that kind of person is what Socials events are made of: a selfless, supportive community of people that love to help each other thrive, recommends each other and knows how to have fun together. I’m obsessed with this crew of people.

Where do you come up with your themes? Any favorites so far?

I typically find one photo that inspires me (as a photographer) on Pinterest and then I build the whole theme around it. I also try to make sure each theme (I host 4 a year) is really different from all the others, it makes it fun for all of us who are dressing up and for the photographers that are shooting everything, not to mention all of the rest of the vendors who are participating, as well. It’s a great way for all of us to show off our creativity that we don’t always get to with our regular clients. And every theme/event, I feel like is my favorite haha, ask my friends, after every Social, I will swear to you THAT one was my favorite one…and I really feel that way. They just keep getting better and better!

What is on the horizon for Socials by MANMAN Studios?

We have 4 events this year! The first one is in March and is a film noir theme. We also have a tropical theme, an over-the-top color explosion theme and an ultra-creative/avant-garde theme. You can see all of the dates and theme styles on our Instagram account, @socialsbymanman’s 2024 Themes Highlight. And following @manmanstudios (the parent company) is always a good idea to get extra tips and opportunities to enter in giveaways. MANMAN Studios account is always the first account to chat about anything new happening in the overall business, which includes Socials by MANMAN Studios events. Hope to see all of you at one this year!

Looking for more fun events around Cincinnati? Check out our list of local events!