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40 Under 40 - Class of 2018
Business Observer Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018 10 months ago

Thomas Paterek, 32

Co-founder and co-owner, Stevie & Fern
by: Brian Hartz Tampa Bay Editor

Stevie & Fern, by way of explanation, is a St. Petersburg-based ad agency that specializes in creative branding for clients ranging from Red Stripe beer and the Women’s Tennis Association to commercial property developer Sembler and St. Pete fintech startup Intrinio.

The company’s unusual name is indicative of the unique outlook of co-founder Thomas Paterek, a surfer dude who says “purpose and passion are the highest priority when it comes to pursuing anything.”

Paterek grew up riding the waves of Long Island and the Jersey Shore, and even now travels the world to find the best breaks. Surfing in developing countries like Costa Rica, he says, “exposed me to a lot of things I had never seen here in the First World. It fueled a passion for wanting to make an impact.”

He’s carried that passion over into his career via a Stevie & Fern program called Waves of Change, in which the firm selects two nonprofits per year and delivers a heavily discounted rebranding of the entity's visual identity, website and collateral materials. So far, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Great Explorations Children Museum and Community Action Stops Abuse, which aids victims of domestic violence, have benefited from the program.

“We provide over $100,000 of branding services for next to nothing,” Paterek says. “And it’s not because we have extra time on our hands or because we’ve hit certain revenue criteria. It's something that we wholeheartedly believe is the right thing to do … it’s part of our business plan, because when you run a nonprofit, it’s tough — you’re asking for money to go toward marketing, but no one wants to donate for that. It’s important for marketing teams to come in and support these nonprofits.”


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