We had the good fortune of connecting with Tori Mac and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tori, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
The most important factor behind the success of my brand was recognizing who I am in the midst of my context. I first “entered” into the Christian Hip Hop (CHH) scene in 2014 as a fan of the music. As I continued going to any and every CHH concert I could – both big and small, I started to grow my network/community by connecting with fans and artists alike. One day, a particular artist friend of mine (who had been heavily involved in the CHH scene for a long time) was selling a book he recently wrote. When I asked for him to sign my purchased copy, he wrote it out to me as, “The First Lady of Arizona Christian Hip Hop.”
It finally dawned on me: I stand out to those in my Christian Hip Hop community because it’s so male-dominated; my being a woman was my most noticeably unique characteristic. As someone who has had the mind of a marketer/promoter for years, I knew a better way to brand myself was to call myself “Arizona’s Queen of CHH.” Beyond this title, my branding was also built on who I am as a person in that, I LOVE supporting my “people.” That looks like attending every local show I can, sharing content on social media (side note: I made several connections from doing freelance concert photography and tagging the artists), and also SERVING.
My desire to help and support eventually led to my “claim to fame” – when I promoted a show for an artist signed to the biggest Christian Hip Hop label there is… and that only happened because I took a chance by directly messaging the artist on Instagram asking how could I help bring them to Arizona for a stop on their tour. To my surprise, he messaged me back and connected me with his tour manager. Through God’s providence and the incredible CHH community, the show was nearly sold out.
I firmly believe in the unique “micro-narratives” God gives each person, which includes who they are, what they can do, and who they are surrounded by in their lifetime. And while treating others how you would want to be treated is imperative to being truly successful, the most important factor in making one’s brand successful is recognizing who you are and what your context is. Because you cannot go far trying to be a false version of yourself, and you cannot go anywhere without the support of your community. As one of my old seminary professors once said, “It’s all about you, but it’s also not about you at all.”
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve had an interesting journey vocationally. I first started informally promoting my friend’s band in college, then I became a Realtor before I graduated, and then ended up as a Marketing Coordinator for a couple real estate firms over the past 7 years. Now, I’m a marketing assistant for a real estate team, an HR Coach, and a Cybersecurity startup while doing Christian Hip Hop promotion (and a few other entrepreneurial endeavors on the side). As a kid, whenever I was asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I would list off at least 4 different vocations. While the specific vocations changed over time, my desire to be involved in various careers simultaneously has not. I credit this to my having ADHD, attention deficit type. I know ADHD is often stigmatized, but research shows that people with ADHD are exponentially more likely to become entrepreneurs, and is considered our “superpower.” I used to compare myself to others and question why I wasn’t dedicated to one career or even one full-time job like most of my counterparts, but over time, I learned to accept and then EMBRACE my uniqueness. And it wasn’t easy.
When I was in graduate school to become a Marriage & Family Therapist, I nearly effortlessly earned a 3.9 GPA, received attention from my professors, and was offered an opportunity to be brought onto a research project that would be published. Six months before I was set to graduate, I decided I didn’t want to be a therapist anymore. When asked by my cohort what I wanted to do instead, I said, “I want to do Christian hip hop promotion and tour management.” As I was finishing my program, I had multiple people try to convince me to stick to therapy. One time in particular, I gave a fellow student some feedback on a case they wanted to discuss in our group, and I received an email from the professor that literally said, “It seems to come so easy for you, something I don’t see often in a trainee setting. Are you sure this field isn’t where you need to be?” It was difficult to not heed what people were telling me they thought I should do, but ultimately I knew I needed to be true to myself. Only three months after I graduated, I had my first formal promoting gig… for an artist signed to Reach Records – the most well-known CHH label.
I say all this to say, when it comes to my work, I’m most proud of myself for learning to embrace who I really am and living more authentically. It certainly helped me develop professionally. What I’ve found is when you accept who you are, you know what you have to offer. When you know what you have to offer, the path to take is much clearer. And when the path is clear, then you can focus on propelling forward. That being said, I’m truly excited to see what my future holds as I live out all I’ve learned.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If I had a week to show my best friend an amazing time in Arizona, I’d bring them to some of my favorite coffee shops: Black Rock Coffee Bar, Jojo Coffee House, Press Coffee, and Lux Central. Some of my favorite eateries we’d visit (for either the food or the experience) would be Harumi Sushi & Sake, Lou Malnati’s, Culinary Dropout, Mill’s Modern Social, Four Peaks Brewery, Pedal House Brewery, Barrio Queen, the White Rabbit, the Perch, the Farm at South Mountain, and Melinda’s Alley. Aside from the eating & drinking, I’d also certainly love to have them explore the downtown life in Phoenix, Gilbert, Chandler, and Tempe. Naturally, I’d also do my best to showcase some of the most beautiful features of Arizona: the glorious Grand Canyon and the lush trees of Flagstaff. I’d also make it a point to rent a pontoon on Tempe Town Lake during golden hour.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to dedicate my shoutout to my loving partner Eric, my incredible best friends Gavriela and Candace, the amazing Christian Hip Hop community, and of course, the gracious Lord who has blessed me with every one of them.