“Stay Humble” The 5 Lessons I Learned Being a 20-Something Founder
I had the pleasure of interviewing Dalton Primeaux, entrepreneur and fashion guru, who founded his own digital public relations and branding agency at 25 following his success on social media and with his style blog The WearHouse District.
Jean: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory” of how you become a founder?
Thank you! My career really started back in 2013, when I had moved to Manhattan, N.Y. following college to further my career in fashion PR. I started my work in the industry as a traditional publicist — working to secure placements in print and producing events around the city and runway shows for New York Fashion Week. During that time I began to see the evolution of the industry beginning, and wanted to be a part of it. Even though a lot of the work I was assigned was focused on traditional PR efforts, it was clear to me that the future of fashion and PR was online. I knew my new goal was to help people and businesses build a digital presence. But even with that personal goal in mind, I still felt the agency I was at was still so focused on old school methods and clients weren’t really getting the bang for their buck.
So, back in 2016 I took the dive and started working for myself. I had already established a following online with my style blog, The WearHouse District. This community I had built had helped me create a freelance business as a social media consultant. From there I was able to branch out and do even more. I couldn’t find the position that fit my vision, so I created it myself. Within the year, my business had already began expanding into different departments and expanding our team. Once only social media consulting, we’re now helping companies with social media management, influencer/blogger relations, and PR efforts. I’m able to finally offer budding fashion and beauty brands the services they want and need during this turning chapter of the industry. For me, my business is essentially my passion and the need for something within the industry colliding together. Sometimes it feels like it almost formed or evolved naturally over time. I had always dreamed of owning my own firm — but my goal was never specifically to start it in my 20s. It just happened that way.
Jean: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
My company was built to offer brands, especially emerging ones, more options in the PR and marketing space. Just like a sick or injured person going to a doctor. Even though a generalist is still a doctor and may be able to help us, often times we seek a specialist when we have a specific need or concern and expect a particular quality of care. Specialist physicians are able to deliver care of higher quality within the narrow areas of their specialty, just as my team and I specialize in PR and branding via digital strategies — specifically through social media management, influencer relations and digital media outreach.
The current changes within the fashion & beauty industries are creating change within the needs of each brand. We specialize in digital communication strategies because there are a lot of brands that are searching for this. And its definitely common for a young brand to need not only a stricter budget, where it’s smarter to spend marketing money online, but they also need more one-on-one time with their publicist/marketer/consultant.
Our company remains small and digitally-focused — foregoing showrooms and lavish offices placed around the country or around the world — so we can offer more time and attention to our clients and essentially more affordable rates. This also allows me, even as a founder and a principal, to be involved in all of my client’s campaigns and activations. Where in other firms or similar PR companies most accounts are managed by mid-level execs and top level communication remains rare.
We are also able to completely tailor our services to what the client needs. The structure of a fashion brand is a lot different today than those built a decade ago. Some need services that other clients don’t, and vice versa. Why pay for print outreach or runway shows or sample trafficking if it isn’t going to better the designer or the brand. Every PR firm is essentially offering the same goals to clients, like, brand awareness, publicity and sales — my business just offers a new, digital-age approach to those same goals, which is also sometimes a more affordable approach.
Jean: Are you working on any exciting projects now?
I’m constantly adding new exciting projects and clients to my roster and it feels amazing. I love that I’m able to work with such incredible, up-and-coming brands like SNKR Project, and Karma and Luck. Being a part of their story is incredible. I’m also planning to continue expanding our team within the year — which is very exciting.
I find myself saying this often when asked about milestones and upcoming projects… but, truly, just starting the business itself is exciting! As terrifying as that leap was, I had to do it because I knew I had a unique and powerful insight that could change the success of so many companies. And so far it’s been an incredibly positive experience.
Even though I’m young and we’re still a young company, I know we have plenty to look forward to.
Jean: Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?
I do have a favorite book, Watership Down by Richard Adams — who sadly passed away a little over a year ago — around Christmas shortly after I founded my business. I know it was around Christmas because I remember hearing the news of his passing while I was home for the Holidays and had just started to reread the book as I often do when I visit home. The book is about a group of rabbits, searching for a new home after their warren is destroyed, who have their on language, culture and myths. Ever since I was really young I always loved the story. It’s this crazy, epic journey — filled with action, adventure, sorrow, and humor. It’s so unique and intricate. My kid-self couldn’t help but love it, and my adult-self can’t help but enjoy the nostalgia.
Even though the actual story doesn’t have a deep connection to business or entrepreneurship, the story behind the book being published does in a way. Watership Down was originally a story that Adams told to his daughters on long car rides. They insisted he write it down, and so he did. It took him over a year and a half to get the whole story down on paper. Just to have it turned down by a number of publishers. It took him more than seven tries to finally get the book published — which led to numerous awards and accolades and success. The book itself is a symbol for hope, confidence, and determination. And proof that sometimes the best ideas can come from unexpected places.
Jean: What are your “5 Lessons I Learned as a 20-Something Founder” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
1 - Trust Your Gut.
Being a business person or entrepreneur can basically boil down to being a decision-maker. I’ve learned the only way to avoid pangs of regret is to just move forward with your initial reaction or whatever your gut feeling tells you is right. And if you make a mistake, don’t panic. Take a breath. And then, fix it.
2 - Stay Humble.
Don’t let being a business owner at such a young age go to your head. Be proud, but also be humble. And know how to truly measure your success. It’s looking at the things you have built, the experiences you have had, and the people you affect or interact with. Like Citizen Kane, we learn that fortune and extravagant goods can’t truly fill a void.
3 - Act Your Age.
In the same vein, just because you’re a business owner, doesn’t mean you can’t also be twenty-something. Make sure you maintain a true work-life balance and have fun when you can. Don’t let your youth completely slip by without acknowledgment. “Rosebud.” Another Citizen Kane reference…. On the flip side, being a twenty-something founder comes with it’s own stigmas, and you never want to prove the contributors to that stigma right. So, don’t misunderstand “fun” to mean “irresponsible.” You still have to work hard, and be professional and respectful.
4 - Keep Learning.
Even with success at a young age, school is so important. If you have the opportunity, don’t step away from a formal education. It’s also important to stay grounded and not get too arrogant. With success, we don’t lose the ability or the need to learn. We should aim to learn something new every day. Like Tony Robbins said, “If you are not growing, you are dying.” The urge to learn and grow as a person (even after school), and the willingness to adapt/evolve, is what sets the dreamers and the doers apart.
5 - Listen to Others.
Respect other business owners and experts in your field, regardless of age or experience level. And continue to network even after you find success. Some of the best advice and best collaboration opportunities come from your peers. Always keep an open-mind and always be kind.
Jean: 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. :-)
It’s no secret. I have definitely mentioned my love for her before, Bethenny Frankel! She’s fantastic! I love strong and business-savvy New Yorkers. And she encompasses so much of who I want to be as a person and business owner. I mean, she’s a business owner times twenty: a chef, a producer, an author, and an investor. She even had her own talk show. And she still finds time for philanthropy and charity work. Like, that’s my goal! I want someone, someday to look at me like I look at her. And they just say, oh my god. Dalton is such a badass!
Jean: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
— Published on June 27, 2018