5 Questions with SPPR Featuring Christina Schneider

From Snapchat filters to festival grounds it’s hard to resist a flower crown. The longtime favored accessory of boho-chic brides is now acceptable for weekend wear and we know who to thank for it. Wedding planner and flower queen Christina Schneider of Cake & Punch joins us on the blog this week to talk about how she turned a birthday party arts and crafts project into a serious side hustle.

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1. You started out as a wedding planner, where did you get your idea for a flower crown bar and when did you know it would be a success?

I’ve always had an eye and interest for floral design. I had the idea of a flower crown bar for a friend’s birthday party at Malibu Wines. Other guests at Malibu Wines came up to us and asked us if they could buy one.

I called Malibu Wines the following week to see if we could do a Pop Up Flower Crown Shop, and over 2 years later we are still at Malibu Wines and now Rosenthal Winery every weekend making custom flower crowns for purchase. We’ve also expanded to the festival market, making crowns at Coachella, Stagecoach, and KAABOO.

I had no idea it was going to be this popular, but I did recognize the need for affordable flower crowns. If you call up a Florist the pricing for 1 flower crown can be anywhere from $60 – $250. The first flower crown I ever wore was one I made for myself. I felt so radiant wearing it and I wanted to share that experience with everyone at a price everyone can afford.

2. You really hustled to make your business happen. How do you stay motivated?

It’s easier to stay motivated when you are doing what you love! Ever since I was young, I’ve always known I’d have my own business for some reason. I like the idea of working for myself and making my dreams and ideas come to fruition. My goal is to have Cake & Punch grow with me as I continue to discover all my passions in life.

3. What has been your proudest girl boss moment to date?

Wow I love this question! Growing up I’d secretly flip through The Knot magazine fantasizing about my future wedding (yes I was that girl lol), thinking that a wedding planner would be my absolute DREAM job.

Since starting Cake & Punch 2 years ago, one of my weddings got published in The Knot magazine with a 6 page spread AND we recently did an Instagram take over on their 1.3 million follower fan base! The fact that The Knot actually loves my work is what makes me feel truly like a Girl Boss.

4. What advice do you have for entrepreneurs just starting out or testing an idea?

Depending on what your product or idea is, get a booth at a local farmers market, venue, or small local event that fits your brand. The investment should be small, but the feedback from the attendees will be priceless. Start small and ask family and friends for a little help if you can! My business wouldn’t be where it is now without their help and support.

5. What goals do you have for the next year?

I’ve actually developed a unique hair accessory that I will be launching early spring and I hope everyone loves it as much as I do.

I also want to use my public speaking/hosting background in some capacity in the wedding industry. Whether its workshops I host, speaking at events, TV, who knows, but I am open to all possibilities that God and the Universe want to flow my way.

 

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5 Questions with SPPR featuring Ashley Hudson

This week we’re excited to welcome SPPR’s newest Senior Account Executive, Ashley Hudson, to the blog. Ashley joins Soda Pop PR with experience in design, architecture, and real estate public relations, and with a passion for strategic communication and how it can be applied to every industry.

Continue reading to learn more about Ashley’s advice to new PR professionals, what her perfect 24-hour food day would look like and where she would go on her dream vacation.

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1. In your opinion, what’s the best kept secret about LA?

LA’s food scene is slowly gaining greater recognition on a national and global scale, which typically includes our city’s Mexican, Korean and iconic American staples. However, access to consistent and locally-sourced farmer’s market ingredients has allowed for the recent burgeoning of fresh and thoughtful Italian eateries in Los Angeles and surprisingly, this has been flying under the radar.

I’ve been doing my best to eat my way through the Italian spots in my neighborhood on the Westside, so here are a few must-trys for the next time you’re out that way. Definitely book a reservation at Evan Funke’s, Felix, in Venice Beach and watch the master himself twist and roll fresh handmade pasta for dishes inspired by Italy’s various regions. Also, do not miss the house focaccia. Another great pasta eatery is the quaint, Forma, in Santa Monica. Forma specializes in their impressive cheese offering and charcuterie, but they have a few great pasta dishes that stay on the menu including the tortellini bathed in mushrooms, light cream, truffle oil then tossed in Bella Lodi cheese. Last but not least, make sure to check out Pizzana in Brentwood for a cozy #neoneopolitan pizza as they call it. It hits the spot for your true wood-fired pizza craving.

2. Describe your perfect food day from start to finish.

This is challenging to answer as there are so many great cuisines and it would depend entirely on my mood. I’ll go with an ideal food day in LA.

Although I’m not a morning person, I would have to wake up extra early so I could make sure to fit in all the must-haves in a 24-hour period. First, I would start the day off with a nutrition-packed smoothie to get my fruits and greens in right away. A couple hours later for breakfast part two, I would head to DTLA for an almond milk cappuccino from nice coffee and a croissant from Pitchoun. For lunch, I would go to my favorite empanada spot in West LA, Empanadas Place for their two empanada and salad special – I love empanadas. For dinner, it would be a toss-up between Korean BBQ in K-Town, Argentinean at Malbec in Santa Monica, or market-driven fare at MB Post in Manhattan Beach. I would finish this perfect day with the monkey bread dessert at Salt Air in Venice Beach. I’m full and happy just thinking about it.

3. If you had unlimited funds and two-weeks off, where would you go?

I would book the first flight to Oslo in October. I would spend the two weeks road-tripping through Norway, stopping to hike the Fjords, riding on dog sleds and staying in a bubble/igloo resort to see the majestic Northern Lights. If I had a couple extra days, I’d hop over to Iceland to dive the Silfra fissure where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet and are drifting apart at about 2cm per year.

4. What advice do you have for college students hoping to have a career in public relations?

Stay curious and value relationships.

A career in PR requires an inherent curiosity, but as our field continues to evolve, PR professionals must stay curious in non-traditional ways. As digital continues to take command of the way we practice public relations, we must be curious and informed of the latest tactics and tools that build brand equity and meet the bottom line. We should also be curious outside the silo of public relations practice. Companies are starting to consolidate public relations, marketing, and advertising into teams of well-rounded generalists. If PR is where you want to specialize, it’s still important to understand the fundamentals and best practices of these different disciplines to be nimble and forward-thinking in your career.

At this stage in my own career, the most important lesson I have learned is the value of relationships. Every person you will come in contact with over the course of your career is important, especially when the success of our daily work as PR practitioners depends on the strength of our relationships with the media, the public, our colleagues, clients, influencers, etc. The more connected our world is, the more important it is to nurture authentic connections. I have found that to date, my most meaningful work has been done in partnership with those I have spent the time to build quality relationships with.

5. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing publicists today?

I would say the biggest challenge facing publicists today is in educating clients about public relations practice and defining how it applies to them as the PR field steadily transforms. When clients understand the purpose and central value PR adds to their business, they are more inclined to work symbiotically with their publicists and provide essential resources to create something special.

5 Questions with SPPR Featuring Monica Wang

You’ve seen Monica Wang’s work before. Her bright, light filled photos have appeared on The Every Girl, Rue Magazine, Glitter Guide and even the Soda Pop PR blog. As an interior and lifestyle photographer popping up on all our favorite Insta feeds, Monica is one of our go-to ladies for photo magic and style inspiration. This week, we asked her to give us a little insight into balance, creativity and why it’s all about the lighting.

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1. You’re an amazing photographer but it’s actually your side hustle. What’s the biggest struggle in balancing photography with your finance career?

I would have to say that my biggest struggle is to maintain a normal personal life with two jobs and it isn’t balancing between a photography and a finance job. I am a workaholic! I can work hours on end and I love the feeling of achieving something and feeling proud of the work I have put together. So after juggling all my work responsibilities the thing that I spend the least amount of time on is with family and friends. I have to remind myself that I can’t complain because I have been given so many amazing opportunities.  However, now I only say yes to the gigs that I really want to do vs saying yes to everything.  Work/life balance is the real struggle for me.

2. Do you have a favorite, or particularly memorable, photo shoot?

My recent favorite shoot was with my dear friend, Anne Sage of City Sage (a previous 5 Questions with SPPR guest). She is a styling genius and I always love working with her so it doesn’t matter what we are shooting together. When you find the right creative partner, that is when you are able to produce the type of work that you are most proud of.  Work doesn’t feel like “work” and it is quite a milestone to find that within your career!  I always have to take a step back to reflect and be thankful that I am able to do what I do and call it my job.

3. Where do you look for inspiration?

I am constantly influenced by what is around me in LA. There are always new shops and restaurants popping up all the time so I try to keep my radar out for all the good ones I want to check out.

The IG accounts that I follow religiously are @garypeppergirl, @lucywilliams02, and @haleboyd for fashion and lifestyle related things.  I try not to look at other photo work so much because when you do that, your work starts to look like theirs instead of your own. I try to do my own thing as much as possible.

4. What would be your dream photo shoot?

My dream photo shoot would be traveling to Anguilla, Morocco or some other magical destination to photograph beautiful homes or hotels for Architectural Digest or Elle Decor. That would truly be a dream!

5. What is your number one tip for amateurs who want to take better pictures?

Find good lighting. It doesn’t even matter if you are shooting with your iPhone or a super high-end DSLR, as long as you have good natural lighting you can always take a good photo! My favorite kind is soft window light in the early morning.

Food for Thought with Dana Renee Ashmore

As 2016 winds down, we’re excited to share one last interview in the “Food for Thought” series. This week we welcome Dana Renee Ashmore to the blog. After years as a film and television producer, this inspiring lady used her great eye, florist chops and passion for giving back to found Gratitude Collaborative. The L.A.-based company offers curated gift boxes with a built in donation to provide meals to USA children in need. (It also happens to be the perfect holiday gift source if you’re panicking about what to get your boss/best friend/mother-in-law this year.) Read on for Dana’s insights on social media, creativity and what having a mission means for your brand.

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1. What do you look for when you’re searching for brands to include in the Gratitude Collaborative boxes?

We look at brands that we have tried and tested and love, and we love working with smaller brands and knowing the people behind the items we sell. We also trust our friends and people we work with. Every week we sit down and discuss new brands and see if we can find new ones to bring on.

2. How do you find inspiration when you’re in a rut creatively?

Step away and do something fun. Whenever I spend too much time trying to think of something to do, or feel like I’m in a rut, I just get out with friends and take my mind off of it. I think sometimes over-thinking can really make it worse. It’s really doing what feels natural instead of forced.

3. What are challenges you’ve encountered running a small business that aims to give back?

A couple things:  Our brand is that we are a gift company that gives back by providing meals to kids in the USA. In the beginning, our charitable efforts were well-intentioned but unfocused.  We provided art classes, after-school sponsorships and schools supplies to families that needed it. We still do more than provide meals, but at the time, people were really confused by what we were doing. They knew we gave back, but our brand wasn’t aligned with our mission. I think with a company that gives back, you just have to be clear on what you do, and make it easy to understand.

Second, what to do with the little money you have, and how to get yourself out there. Since your profits are not all going back to you or the company, you have smaller margins. It’s hard to make the right choices to help get your name out there. It’s hard when no one knows you and you are just getting started. It’s hard to try to sell yourself in an over-saturated and overexposed market.

4. How do you make sure your social media content is always on brand?

The best advice I have ever been given is to take 90% of my photos with a digital camera and the rest with my iPhone. That’s not for everyone, but for what we sell, we want the flowers to always be consistent in lighting and colors. In the beginning we tried a few things that didn’t work and then naturally fell into a place where we feel comfortable. I also use an app called Planoly; it helps me see my photos in a grid before they post so I can make sure they match with the other ones. This app has helped so much.

5. If you could speak to pre-business starting Dana, what advice would you give? Is there a piece of common advice given to small business owners that you would tell her to ignore?

Trust yourself and Customer Service is a must. Starting a small business is full of small decisions that can cost you lots of money.  You have to know ahead of time that not everything is going to be a win and leave financial space for that to happen.  As for Customer Service, we have someone that checks emails almost 24 hours a day to make sure we are available. Our customers are the reason any small business is running, and you have to remember that even when you’re tired, frustrated and hungry. Some customers will always think you are Amazon and have hundreds of people working around the clock. Instead, you have 3.

Keep up with Dana Renee at Gratitude Collaborative and on her beautiful Instagram.

Food for Thought with Jami Curl

We talk a lot about food at Soda Pop PR. The team is constantly swapping restaurant recommendations and deliberations for where to order our weekly team lunch start at 10 a.m. on Thursdays. Which is why we’re excited to announce our new interview series “Food for Thought.” Each month, we’ll explore the business behind the food industry and how foodie creatives find inspiration and get through tough times.

This week we’re kicking things off with SPPR client and candy-extraordinaire Jami Curl who is the founder of QUIN Candy- a small-batch, handmade candy company headquartered in Portland. Jami has been dubbed the “new Willy Wonka” by Bon Appètit and is listed as one of Fast Company’s most creative people in business. She is currently working with Ten Speed Press on a book ‘Candy is Magic: Real Ingredients, Modern Recipes.’ For sale in March 2017, Candy is Magic will share Jami’s candy secrets and best stories. Read on to work up a creative appetite.

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1. Staying inspired is EVERYTHING for a creative and we can all feel stuck sometimes. How do you get unstuck?

I am very thankful to have many things going on at once – so, if I’m stuck on something I’m writing, I can switch over to a recipe I’m trying to work out. Or, if a recipe isn’t quite working, I can walk away from it and focus a bit on marketing or something we’re promoting at QUIN.

I do tend to have zero separation between work and home – I work on work at home and I work on home at work. I work all hours of all days – whether it’s 6am on a Saturday or 11:30pm on a Tuesday. Because of this, ahem, “variety” of types of work and working hours, I rarely find myself stuck.

That said, I never give much thought to inspiration. It might just be because of how serious I am about work – but I rarely sit back and wonder or think about what’s going to inspire me on any given day. Not to get too Psychology Today on you, but I think it has to do with the fact that I rarely seek outside “help” for inspiration or energy. I rely only on myself for that stuff. This self-reliance is threaded through my entire life, not just work life. I rarely ask for help, I don’t look to others for happiness, I know in my heart it’s my responsibility to make myself happy, fulfilled, inspired, and motivated. (Note: I am an INTJ (Myers-Briggs) – so that might explain a lot. And, if you haven’t Myers-Briggs’ed yourself, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND.) Anyways, all my motivation and ideas come from the inside – not the outside. I basically just keep working and ideas keep coming. I truly hope it stays this way for the rest of my days because there’s really nothing like it.

 2. Can you share one of your first “pinch me” moments when you realized QUIN’s success was real?

“Success” is tricky because it’s a word that is generally controlled and defined by outside sources instead of the internal self. My self-defined version of success is this: that I wake up each day happy. Happy to be where I am in life, happy that my job is this job in candy. I feel successful when I’m fulfilled. When the ideas in my head tumble out and they somehow make sense to others – these moments are my successful moments.

By that definition, I have to say that one of the “pinch me” moments has to be the first day of the QUIN cookbook photoshoot. A group of very talented women surrounding me, I explained a vision – and they set to work making it come to life in photos. On so many levels I couldn’t believe it was happening – it made the book more real, it validated my vision for the candy in the book, it solidified and made visual thoughts and ideas that previously only existed in my head. I wish I could explain how totally crazy that feels – but, let me tell you – IT FEELS TOTALLY CRAZY!

In terms of success for QUIN – I think the “pinch me” moments are smaller moments – little bits of positive news, or a great new account, or a good piece of press – all of these moments add up to this experience that is overall absolutely, definitely a “pinch me” situation. That QUIN works at all, even in our slow times, is still totally unreal to me.

3. You have a very fun, active social media presence. How do you “unplug” or turn off when you need to recharge?

Oh, thank you. I actually think I’m the worst social media person. The first problem is that I’m pretty much a conscientious objector to the use of hashtags. I can’t get over the full paragraphs of hashtags that people add to posts. I 100% understand their usefulness, but that still won’t convince me to do it. Still, I like to have fun with social media and I’m a total weirdo at home, so I share a lot of that.

I spend a lot of time every day unplugged and turned off because I love to read. When waiting for an appointment or meeting to start, for a coffee or for a table, instead of scrolling through my phone, I’m reading a book. I never, ever leave the house without the book I’m currently reading. Those minutes during the day of leaving my phone in my bag and grabbing my book instead – they’re super essential mini-breaks for me.

I also schedule a full hour of reading every night before bed – it’s my favorite part of every day because I read with my little boy – each of us in a side-by-side twin bed, reading our books. I push through each day to get to this most magic of hours, I love it and treasure the time with him so much.

One other thing – I take a long walk (about 5 miles) every morning. I’ll allow myself to listen to a Podcast or music, but I don’t allow myself to check social media during my walks. Walking is the best because it’s really easy, and it’s mindless enough to allow yourself to be mindful (I swear that makes sense if you think about it.)

4. There’s a lot of buzz around the “habits of highly effective people.” What are some of your own personal habits for productive days and helping QUIN run efficiently?

I don’t keep a calendar or a to-do list electronically. I write EVERYTHING down. On paper. I keep a physical paper calendar/planner with me – and I basically just check it often (super often) to make sure I’m on track. I’m pencil obsessed, so that helps, but writing out lists, calendars, ideas, goals – actually WRITING it (not typing it or merely thinking it) helps to keep me on target.

I don’t sleep in. I get up at 6 every day (even on weekends) and try to do at least three things right away that will make me feel like I’m on track for a productive day. This could be as simple as unloading the dishwasher or starting a load of laundry, answering emails or writing a thank you note, organizing receipts or working on book edits – just three things right away – I find it sets me up for success all day long (three things PLUS coffee, that is.)

5. As a veteran of Feast Portland, what are you most looking forward to this year?

I’m excited about the candy we’re doing for Night Market – something we’ve never done before that has our entire staff TOTALLY EXCITED. I love stuff like that – a super fun candy that we can all get behind.

I think it’s great that Feast is five this year and that they’re putting the effort into celebrating that fact. I am also so happy that QUIN is part of the celebration – we created a special candy to help Feast celebrate this milestone birthday, and I was so honored that they even asked us to do it. I think the feeling of celebration is what Feast is all about – celebrating food and creativity and the bounty of Oregon and the people who work so hard to put out great food in restaurants – it all combines and the result is this string of days that all seem like a party. It’s almost like college again – everyone in town is kind of focused on the same thing, and I love that feeling of crazy unity. I’m looking forward to that spirit settling in on the city for a few days, for sure.

Follow along with Jami’s adventures at Feast PDX and beyond here.

5 Questions with SPPR Featuring Camryn Jun

This week we’re excited to welcome our new intern Camryn Jun to the blog. Camryn joins Soda Pop PR with marketing experience and boundless enthusiasm for the world of PR. She also shares our company-wide Scandal obsession!

Read on to learn about Camryn’s female role models, favorite way to start the day and what being a college athlete taught her about life.

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1. We are all about girl power at SPPR, who is one of your favorite girl bosses or female role models?

As cliché as it sounds, my favorite female role model is my mom. (Pause for eye roll here). There are a lot of amazing girl bosses out there that I draw inspiration from, but I don’t know any of them well enough to say I model my life after them, not like my mom. To me, my mom is living proof that I can have it all as long as I’m willing to put in the work. She is the boss at work and the boss at home. She started working as a temp and worked her way up to Chief of Staff and Resources, all while raising three kids and maintaining a 26-year marriage. She makes me excited for the future and determined to break stereotypes, because I know I don’t have to sacrifice family for my career and vice versa, and when it gets hard and I need advice I’ll already have the best coach.

2. What excites you most about the PR industry?

I love that it’s a female dominated industry, but I am most excited about how young it is. Social media has created a whole new job market, and PR plays an integral role in that. Technology is always advancing so strategies and trends are always changing. It definitely keeps publicists on their toes! This puts the industry in a constant state of growth because it’s directly related to the way people connect and communicate. I’m a total people-person, so I’m really inspired by the idea of being part of an industry that revolves around building relationships.

3. What is one important lesson you learned from being a college athlete that you have applied to your life?

I’ve learned a lot from playing soccer most of my life, and the lesson that was hardest to learn but most applicable to my life off the field is: mistakes are going to happen and it’s okay to fail. You can’t dwell on the mistake and allow it to take you out of the game. You have to dust yourself off, make an adjustment, and keep playing as hard as you can. The best player on the field isn’t the one who never makes a mistake, it’s the one who always recovers. Like in any game of soccer, challenges and setbacks are just a part of life and this sport has taught me how to face adversity with resilience and a positive attitude.

4. Are you a morning person or a night owl? What’s your favorite way to start or finish the day?

To be honest, my answer usually depends on what day of the week it is, but for the most part I am turning into more of a morning person! I love to start my day with the CorePower yoga sculpt class before work. Sometimes it’s a struggle to get up before the sun, but I always feel energized and ready to take on the day after I get my work out in!

5. If you were given the funds and resources to start a charity organization, what would it be?

My charity organization would focus on improving the overall wellness of our veterans and lobbying for higher pension rates for them. I would make physical rehabilitation, reemergence to civilian society, and mental health resources more accessible to the men and women who sacrifice everything for our freedom. My organization’s ultimate mission would be to eliminate the veteran percentage of America’s homeless population. They are our nation’s heroes and we need to treat them like it!

5 Questions with SPPR Featuring Deidre Weight

This week, we are excited to introduce our newest addition to the Soda Pop PR family: Account Executive Deidre Weight. With years of PR experience and event planning chops, Deidre is smart, media savvy and rarely without sunglasses.

Check out our interview with Deidre below to learn more about her networking tips and most embarrassing work moment.

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1. There are many types of industries to focus on in PR – beauty, entertainment, fashion, etc. What made you choose hospitality & lifestyle PR?

Growing up in LA, it was hard not to be exposed to this industry – especially hospitality and tourism.  It wasn’t until I moved to San Diego and began my coursework that I really understood the different industries I can pursue. You know, the realization that “PR” isn’t all red carpets and glamour! I’ve always been interested in entertainment and hospitality, and my first internship in college was at a hospitality group, naturally. I LOVED it!

As a senior at SDSU, I was required to take a PR occupation course which hosted a professional across different industries each week, and I was so fascinated by this field. I later worked with several lifestyle, food and hospitality brands during my time in San Diego. The path I took prepared me for SPPR where I’m able to showcase my expertise with hospitality and lifestyle brands, while still ‘biting’ into the food space.

2. You’re a natural at networking. What advice or tips do you have to share for young professionals looking to up their networking game?

  • Sign up for internships. Many of my post-college job opportunities have been referrals from prior jobs or internships in college. If you’re unable to take part in an internship, set up an informative interview with a local agency or in-house company to get your questions answered and learn about a “day in the life.”
  • Attend local networking events in your area. Whether it is through school or the community, it’s important (and useful) to meet people in your field.
  • Get involved. PRSSA is a great program for undergrads!
  • Don’t miss an opportunity to network on your free time. You never know who you might run into, or better yet who they might know!
  • Social media is your friend. If you’re not on LinkedIn, sign up today. If you don’t utilize Twitter to seek new media relationships, get tweeting!

3. If you could eat any meal in the world right now, what and where would it be?

Tortilla Soup from La Cocina, a family-owned restaurant in Santa Clarita. The restaurant is walking distance from my childhood home. It’s so good, my family still eats there every Friday night!

4. What are three things you can’t live without?

  • Hair-ties – I always end my day with a good messy bun.
  • Sunglasses  – you’ll rarely see me out without them!
  • Hot sauce – I self-admittedly collect hot sauces, but they never stay on the shelf for long!

5. Can you share an embarrassing work moment? 

During my first week as an intern I called the Food Network and asked to speak to Bobby Flay, in which I hoped to pitch a segment idea for a new product. He was listed in our database as a producer, and I was still green when it came to knowing the big names in food. I’ll never forget the look on my colleagues’ faces or the confusion in the receptionist’s voice. I’ve come a long way since.