Female Disruptors: Julie Leffler is helping small businesses thrive

I had the pleasure of interviewing Julie Leffler, President and Creative Director at Big Hype Marketing and PR. Big Hype Marketing and PR is a full-service marketing, public relations and website design agency located in Orange County, CA. Julie and her team at Big Hype Marketing work with small to medium-size businesses nationwide to provide custom marketing, PR and creative strategies that reach their target demographic, therefore standing out against their competitors, increasing revenue, and building HYPE for the brand and its services. Big Hype Marketing is a full-service marketing agency that provides, public relations services, website design, digital marketing, social media advertising, social media management, search engine optimization, Google Adwords, branding, graphic design, logo design, printing and much more…

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

I have worked in marketing and public relations for almost 20 years promoting both individuals and businesses across a variety of industries including, celebrities, fashion, events, charity, consumer products, service industry, theatrical movie releases, home video and non-profit organizations.

Earlier in my career, I worked at a PR agency in Hollywood representing home video releases and then I worked for one of the biggest celebrity PR agencies in the business. I worked directly under the publicist that at the time, represented Ben Affleck (pre-J-LO and Jennifer Garner), Justin Theroux (pre-Jennifer Aniston), Jared Leto, Michael Clark Duncan, Scott Caan, Stuart Townsend, Tom Welling, Jessalyn Gilsig and more.

I worked at movie premieres, theatrical movie releases, red carpets, press junkets and photo shoots and met countless celebrities. It was a great experience and a lot of fun.

I later managed both marketing and public relations at action sports company, Hurley. In 2006, I launched my own public relations agency, where I represented mostly fashion and lifestyle brands.

After taking a few years off of work to be a mom, I decided to jump back into the workforce and launched, Big Hype Marketing and PR in 2015 with the goal of helping entrepreneurs like myself with marketing their companies and brands.

Why did you found your company?

After 9 years of being a stay-at-home mom, I was faced with the reality of having to go back into the workforce in order to support myself and my two daughters. With my background, it was a natural choice to jump back into that field of work, so in 2015, I dropped my youngest daughter at pre-K and launched, Big Hype Marketing & PR where we focus on providing marketing solutions for small to medium-sized businesses nationwide.

What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

People always ask me what type of businesses I work with or what is my “niche,” and I tell them that I work with business owners, like myself, who are working to provide for their families and their employee’s families…people whose personal lives would benefit from my work and efforts.

My team and I are disruptive because we are providing custom marketing services to these types of entrepreneurs. Each of our clients is entirely different, from the product or service they are selling, to their budget, to their target demographic, no two businesses are the same so how can their marketing be the same? We spend time with our clients, get to know them on a personal level and work with them to create the right marketing solution for them and their business.

We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors?

My dad is a marketing consultant and has worked with many hi-profile celebrities including Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, R.L. Stine from Goosebumps, Jane Fonda, and Richard Simmons to name a few.

I tagged along with him when I could when I was young and got to see what goes on behind the scenes of filming, photo shoots, press junkets, VIP travel and celebrity life. My dad definitely inspired me to pursue marketing and I often call on him as a sounding board.

How are you going to shake things up next?

This next year, I have two main goals…

#1. Focus on increasing business in our own backyard of Orange County. I want to eventually become the marketing agency that Orange County businesses know about and turn to.

#2. I would also like to be the go-to women-owned marketing company for female entrepreneurs. I love to support other women-in-business and want to become the marketing company that female business owners rely on and feel supported by.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey?

  1. If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me! — Which also means, the only person who is going to give me everything I want is me. You have to put your thoughts and wants into action if you want them to exist, so I did. Starting a business and being financially independent was up to me and that is why I created Big Hype Marketing & PR.
  2. Think Like A Man — A year ago I went to this networking luncheon and the speaker’s topic was, “How Women Sabotage Their Success in Business…According to Men”. When I heard this topic I was kind of perturbed and almost angry. I would be willing to learn how women sabotage themselves in business but from a man’s perspective?? Why? I thought about leaving but decided to hear her out (or duck out while she was talking). But to my surprise, she had some good points. The main thing I heard was…Speak Up — Women are afraid to speak up because we are perceived as bitchy or loud, but as women in business, we have to speak up. She told us that men speak up. They tell their boss what they did and they ask to be compensated in return. Women on the contrary, wait to be acknowledged, but in most cases, the squeaky wheel gets the oil so you can’t wait for acknowledgement, you have to speak up.
  3. Empowered Women, Empower Women — I’ve always been a cheerleader (and was literally one in high school) but when I started my business, I realized running a business is HARD. You need your girls to support you and you need to support other women in business. I love working with other female business owners, networking with them, befriending them and supporting one another.

What’s a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking?

I have both read and watched The Handmaids Tale and loved both. This is such an impactful story. I loved it for so many reasons, but mostly that freedom isn’t a guarantee and that we need to all be aware and active in speaking up for what we think is right.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)

I am obsessed with Iris Apfel. I have always loved her style and the fact that she has such a specific style at her age, but I watched her documentary on Netflix and fell even deeper in love with her. She is a smart, business-minded woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to be herself. She embraces her personality and personal style and owns it. She is an inspiration to all women of all ages for being who they are and loving themselves.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

https://www.instagram.com/bighypemarketing

https://www.facebook.com/BigHypeMarketing/