5 Questions: SPPR Moms

In honor of Mother’s Day, we wanted to take a moment this week to celebrate our amazing SPPR Mamas. Being a working Mom means juggling morning meetings with midnight feedings and our Founder + Owner Dyan Dolfi-Offutt and Administrative Contractor, Jennie Palluzzi do it with grace and style. Today they get real about navigating the transition back from maternity leave and how to take care of yourself as well as your little one.

Dyan Dolfi-Offutt: SPPR Founder + Owner

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Dyan & 13-month-old Ryder

How has becoming a Mom affected how you work?

In so many ways but the biggest shifts have been 1) quality vs. the quantity of hours: as a working Mom, I must be very intentional and focused with my hours in the office. I’ve learned the times of day that are the most productive and give myself grace if I need to take a break to reset 2) my newly complicated relationship with inefficiency: I’m more of a stickler for setting a desired outcome and hard stop for meetings now. Over the last 6 months, I’ve put processes in place to be more intentional with my time. and 3) embracing delegation-  my team has stepped up and grown tremendously over the last year. It took me years to get here but delegation is vital to keep things moving.

Lastly, having Ryder put my career into perspective. SPPR was my first baby and at times, I had an unhealthy attachment to my work. I do my best to approach setbacks and change with patience now. It’s so refreshing!

True Life: How hard was it going back to work? Do you have any advice to give other Mom’s transitioning back into their careers?

I’m leaning into the “truth” of the prompt because my guess is more working mother’s experience the extreme stress of going back to work but want to downplay for various reasons. Babies are still very dependent on their mothers at 3 months and most aren’t sleeping through the night. Getting up for night feedings and then functioning during the day was brutal. And it physically hurt leaving him all day at first because we had spent every waking minute together. Also, socially I was out of practice talking or thinking of anything that wasn’t baby so interacting with my team and clients was challenging. I suffered from a tremendous amount of insecurity for months post-maternity leave.

The good news is you slowly start to get your groove back each day. My advice for the transition is to lower your expectations, take it day by day, and give yourself space to work out the complicated emotions that come with adding the pace of work back into your new normal. I promise it gets easier and the rewards of having a work family and home family makes the chaos of it all worth it.

What are your top 3 brands that have carried you throughout motherhood so far?

Burt’s Bee’s – these One-Piece Bodysuits were my go-to for over six months. We had super cute/trendy clothes too but when you’re sleep deprived and getting spit up on regularly, these are a lifesaver. Fawn Design Diaper Bag – I get asked about my diaper bag often from moms and non-moms – it’s stylish and functional. I’ve even gifted the mini option to family members. Get Moore Sleep – I found Maggie on Instagram while researching sleep training. Her tips and guides taught me so much about sleep cycles, wake windows, nap transitions, etc.  Guiding Ryder to be an independent sleeper was hard work, but it paid off big. My husband and I got our evenings back and Ryder was happier because he was on a consistent nap and nighttime schedule.

Myth Buster: What is the weirdest parenting trick you’ve tried and did it work?

Being silly. Ryder loves when I do funny voices while changing this diaper or when he’s having a tantrum. The other day, he was NOT having it when I tried to change his  diaper. I pulled a very bad impression of Luminar from Beauty and the Beast out of thin air. At first he looked at me like I was crazy but then started to laugh. Then I laughed which made him laugh louder. The end game was a clean bottom and fresh diaper. Mom magic!

What’s your favorite memory that you’ve shared with your little one so far?

Everyday there is a new memory you want to savor and take a mental picture of (or 50 pictures and videos a day with your iPhone #guilty). Growing up, music was very important to me and I love sharing my love of music with Ryder. If you watched the Billboard Music Awards and you were a teen of the 90s like me, Paula Abdul’s performance was EVERYTHING. The next day, I played her biggest hit Straight Up for Ryder and embarrassingly tried to mimic her dance routine. Ryder was absolutely memorized. He scooted and grooved alongside me and every time I did a hair flip (mandatory diva dance move!) he hysterically laughed. The kind of laugh that could bring world peace it was so pure and joyous. My goal is to continue to provide and foster an environment for him to play, laugh, learn and be super goofy.

Jennie Palluzzi- Administrative Contractor

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Jennie & 19-month-old Evie

How has becoming a Mom affect how you work?

How hasn’t it? Hah! I have always been a go-getter who can’t sit still; I’ve managed a food blog since 2009, so I always had “work” after work. Becoming a mom meant I had to equal parts rally and step back – I had to work on self care (sleeping/eating/exercising enough) but also had to push through the exhaustion for the first year to find a way to coexist with the fact that this little person needs my attention and could at any moment need me fully. You can’t hit the snooze button on a one and a half year old.

My ability to “push through” is balanced with the fact that at 3 am Evie might wake me up. So I try to stop working by 9 pm and give myself an hour to unwind before bed. I try to be in bed by 10:30. I’ve also gotten better at really working when I’m “on the clock” and walking away even when there’s more to be done – because there’s always more to be done. I don’t save lives in my work, so I recognize that I need to take my work seriously, but not let every “fire drill” rule my life.

True Life: How hard was it going back to work? Do you have any advice to give other Mom’s transitioning back into their careers?

When I made a decision at the end of my maternity leave to not go back to my job, I was worried about what was ahead and if I could craft a job that really worked for me. I started slow; at 3 months, I worked part time with a client I had worked with in the past who told me to call her when I was ready to get back at it. Then, I signed my first retainer client at 5 months when another friend-turned-client saw my value. Slowly I built a client list, and after 17 months, I’m at a full-time capacity and Evie has transitioned into full-time daycare.

As for advice, it’s never one-size-fits-all. I thought I wanted to be a stay-at-home parent, as I’d been a nanny/babysitter since I was 11; turns out, it wasn’t for me. Let yourself breathe, let yourself change your mind, and try to put yourself first. If you’re not taking care of you, you can’t take care of anyone else. Talk to other moms you know, your partner if you have one, and other moms in your industry, and try to check in with yourself about your career. Don’t judge yourself by others; what works for one doesn’t always work for another.

What are your top 3 brands that have carried you throughout motherhood so far?

Primary Clothing – their stuff is so cute and non-gendered and I love it all. I definitely love buying clothes for Evie more than I ever enjoyed buying them for myself! Burts Bees Baby – their baby products are great for Evie’s sensitive skin, from their sheets to their diaper rash cream and shampoo/soap combo. Third, all of Evie’s favorite toys are from Melissa & Doug – they are mostly primary colors, gender neutral, and encourage lots of imaginative play. Evie’s current favorite thing is to pretend to clean, so we got her a broom/cleaning kit from M&D – now if she’d just learn to vacuum!

Myth Buster: What is the weirdest parenting trick you’ve tried and did it work?

I don’t even know how this happened, but it works for us: whenever I want to take something from Evie (turn off the TV, a book she’s likely to rip, a breakable coaster she’s gotten her hands on) I just say, “OK it’s time for XYZ to leave! Say bye XYZ!” and it usually works. Yesterday I told her that her learning tower (basically a baby step stool) had to go down for a nap, and she said “Bye tower!” whereas if I just took it from her she’d have a major meltdown. It’s working for now, so I don’t question it!

What’s your favorite memory that you’ve shared with your little one so far?

My current favorite memory (ask me again tomorrow) is this little moment we shared when she had just turned 19 months. She had lost a puzzle piece, and we couldn’t find it. I asked her to go into her room to see if it was in there, and she went and looked for a couple of minutes. Finally, she came back empty handed but with a HUGE smile on her face. She handed me an imaginary puzzle piece and said, “Here go!” I just thought, wow, your brain is learning at such a break-neck speed. What a cool moment. You’ve literally imagined the problem away. Kids are freaking incredible.

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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.

5 Questions with SPPR- Girl Boss Edition: featuring Sonja Rasula

If you’re a creative in LA you’ve probably heard about UNIQUE. From their summer-camp-meets-business-conference to inspirational talks at an awesome co-working space, UNIQUE Founder & Creative Director Sonja Rasula is one busy girl boss. As she gears up for another UNIQUE LA Holiday Market this weekend, we chatted with Sonja about what it’s like to wear so many hats, and not just the super cute beanies she often sports.

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All photos c/o Sonja Rasula

1. What does nobody tell you (good or bad) about being the boss?

On the good side no one told me that when you become The Boss you can make up your own rules and create the change in the world that you want (For instance my company works Mon-Thur, so we have a 3-day weekend). On the not as good side of things, nobody told me how lonely it would be. Not a lot of people are “bosses” so it’s hard to find people to talk with, compare notes with, etc. Sometimes I wish I had a co-founder to help with all the decisions and brainstorm with.

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2. What are some challenges that you have overcome as a female entrepreneur?

Great question! I actually still face challenge everyday as a female entrepreneur, which is frustrating, and weird right?! I mean, it’s 2015…  I see most challenges in my work not as he/she but simply as challenge, period. However there are daily/weekly reminders when I’m like, “Oh that was interesting…” For instance sometimes at meetings men will talk to the male staff members on my team as if they were the boss, assuming that they are the boss. Literally only looking at me or the female members on my team as a glance. That KILLS me.

One challenge I’ve overcome and encourage all women in power positions (whether you’re your own boss or a senior manager at a company) to do is look at what you pay those who work for you, women and men. To this day women make just 79 cents to the dollar compared to men for the exact same role. WE can change that and be part of the solution! Give equal pay for equal work, and educate and empower female staff to gather their annual results, prove how they’ve grown business or have gone above and beyond expectations and ask for raises. In my experience women in the workplace don’t talk about their accomplishments and see it as “showing off”, which needs to change. Be proud, show off, get that money! My mom taught me that, “If you don’t show off about what you do how will anyone know?”

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3. You invested in yourself by risking your retirement funds. What did you learn from having that type of control instead of relying on investors?

Since I’ve never relied on investors I don’t know what that is like at all, so all I know is what it’s like to risk my money. So far it’s been awesome! I’ve never been scared once; I create a business idea in my head and I just do it, not thinking about the “risk” of it all. While some may say it’s naive, I think that kind of positive thinking/fearlessness is what separates entrepreneurs from everyone else. You have to have balls. Because I used my own money, so had no one but myself to report to, all decisions are 100% mine which is great. From marketing ideas to the imagery used in advertising to growth, it’s all what I want to do. Freedom is a great thing!

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 4. What are some of the hats you wear as the hands-on owner of a small business?

A boss wears all the hats! Well, until you can afford to delegate and hire help. My point is that even when you have employees a good boss knows what each role takes, to a certain extent, because it’s the ability to understand how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together that will create a successful business. My personal day-to-day involve everything from web writer to photographer, human resources manager to graphic designer, coffee maker to cheerleader.

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5. Name one girl boss that you admire and how she inspires you?

I love Amanda De Cadenet who, like me, works on a huge variety of projects from photography to producing television. What I love is her focus on women and girls – empowering them, educating them, giving them a voice and documenting it all. She inspires me with her constant creative energy and new ideas, and the fact that she sees the ‘bigger picture’ to do good work, to have a positive impact on the world and community!

Follow along with all of Sonja’s adventures at @sonjarasula

 

5 Questions with SPPR- Girl Boss Edition: featuring Dyan Dolfi-Offutt

Beyoncé said it best when she asked “who run the world?” and at SPPR we never underestimate the magic of girl power. In honor of all the strong female role models in our lives, we are excited to kick off a new series “5 Questions with SPPR: Girl Boss Edition” to find out what it really takes to be a woman in charge. This week we’re starting with Soda Pop PR’s own fearless leader Dyan Dolfi-Offutt as she gets real about breaking the rules, staying feisty and why she loves Amy Poehler.

Photo 11. When did you first start to think like a boss?

I’m pretty sure I came out of the womb thinking like a boss. I got the leadership gene from my mother, who was one hell of a boss. I worked for her during high school and college and learned firsthand how to earn respect by working hard, setting boundaries and creating a culture that cultivates respect, understanding and fun.

Photo 22. Girl bosses aren’t afraid to take chances or bend the rules, what was a memorable moment when taking a risk paid off for you?

Bending the rules is the most fun and it’s hard to be successful playing it safe. The best work comes from risk, trying new things and having the gumption to follow your gut. I took a big risk opening Soda Pop. At the time, I had one client who put their trust in me with a sizeable amount of business. I didn’t have time to second guess my decision because there was work to be done. I used LegalZoom to become a legit business, got insurance, met with an accountant…a month later, Soda Pop was born. A few months later I hired my first two employees, made a trip to Ikea, and opened up shop. We’re going into our 5th year of business and I still get a bit of nervous stomach thinking back on what a whirlwind it was but eternally grateful for how it all worked out.

Photo 33. What are a few of the most important lessons you’ve learned from having your own business?

I learn lessons daily. It’s one of the humbling and motivating aspects of owning a business. These are a few of the biggies.

It’s okay to freak out! – Any small business owner that tells you it’s easy, breezy is straight up lying to you. You will second guess yourself and think it will all come crashing down around you, especially in the first few years. But then this beautiful thing happens, you start to build a reputation for doing great work and your confidence grows. You’ll still have your “moments” but they will be more about protecting your team and what you’ve worked so hard for than fear-based.

Under promise and over deliver – Anyone who knows me would say I like to “keep it real” and that translates to my business. I’m not a flashy person and winning business by name-dropping or over promising is not my style. I’d like to think our clients continue to work with us because we’re constantly hustling to exceed expectations.

Be smart with your money – Hire a good accountant and bookkeeper. I’m still learning how it all works from the business side of things but I hired a bookkeeper last year and it’s been such a help. Spend smart! Invest in your team and put money back into your company.

Photo 44. Name one girl boss that you admire and how she inspires you?

There are a number of kickass women that inspire me but one that I have a major boss lady crush on is Amy Poehler. I’ve been a fan since her SNL days and have my Leslie Knope moments but it’s what she’s doing with Smart Girls that inspires me most. Smart Girls is all about being real and digging deeper. They are teaching young people that it’s okay to be yourself, that being weird is cool and intelligence is the true currency. Knowing there is an organization like Smart Girls out there motivates me to be better and do better.

Photo 55. Describe your Boss Lady style in 5 words.

Hands-on, Supportive, Decisive, Feisty, and Fun!