Can you tell me more about you, your company, and how it got started?
I’ve always been pretty independent and entrepreneurial, so starting a business came naturally to me. I attribute these characteristics in large part to the dedication, hard work and competitive nature gained from figure skating growing up, as well as building a work ethic early on – I held my first job at 14.
Growing up in the Washington, D.C. metro area, I had a slight taste of the city early on, but knew I wanted more. Right after high school I moved to New York to attend FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology), majoring in Advertising & Marketing Communications.
Through a Special Events class I took my last year of school, I jumped on an opportunity and gained my first client, Project Runway Season Two designer Zulema Griffin. I worked with her over that summer and fall, leading to my second client my last semester. I put a name to myself – RICHPR – and my very good friend Richard Phillips of Vanity Design designed my logo and business card.
I officially launched RICHPR upon graduation in December 2006.
What made you decide to take the leap to start your own company?
I was very lucky to have two clients in tow upon graduating, and thought – you know what, I’m going to do this.
Worst-case scenario it doesn’t work out and I go work for someone else, but at least I can say I tried.
I had taken numerous internships throughout school so I knew the ropes in PR & events – and while I didn’t know it all, I was ready to take on the challenge.
Not long after graduating from school, you decided to fly solo. What were the main challenges you faced when you first started and how did you deal with them?
Well, certainly lack of experience.
But I feel lack of just about anything can only hold you back if you’re not a) motivated and b) resourceful.
Given I had no prior work experience in PR beyond internships, I really had to rely on instinct and common sense to basically make up my own rules as I went along.
Starting from scratch, I had to build relationships from scratch – with editors,
writers, reporters, producers, stylists, and of course clients!
But where there is a will there is a way.
Through being creative, being proactive and staying motivated (thanks in large part to an amazing support system of friends, colleagues and clients) I was slowly but surely able to build a network of contacts and a growing portfolio.
Sure, I definitely made some mistakes that 1st year, but you know what? I learned from them, I grew stronger, and I kept going.
How did you realize you’ve reached the point that you’re ready to be on your own?
I don’t know if there was an exact point at which I knew I was ready… well, certainly gaining the second client helped!
I think it was more that I had this opportunity, and I was going to do everything I could to maximize it. Going out “on my own” right out of school just seemed natural to me, not daunting.
I think if you have an entrepreneurial mindset, you welcome challenges. There may not always be an ideal time to go your own, but I’ve found if you really want something, you will take that leap of faith and make it happen.
Anything else that the younger entrepreneurs out there should know about running a successful business?
Yes – stay optimistic! If things aren’t moving along as fast as you want them to, or an opportunity doesn’t come through, do not feel defeated.
You are going to have BOTH achievements and pitfalls, and you have to be able to let go of the negatives and focus on the positives.
Surround yourself with a great support network, stay motivated, stay inspired, and stay focused!
More from Women Grow Business:
- Why women are powerful entrepreneurs, a guest post by Melinda Emerson
- Stacy Yamaoka gives you four reasons not to be an entrepreneur, and why you should ignore them
- Thursday Bram on learning entrepreneurship: something school doesn’t teach
Image of Lauren Rich © and used with her permission
Dea Surjadi is a freelance public relations professional specializing in media relations and social media. Having worked in various newsrooms including television, radio, and the web, Dea applies her journalism and marketing background to the PR industry. A graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism, you can reach Dea through email: dea[dot]surjadi[at]gmail[dot] com, or connect with her on Twitter.