“Building a Viable Business Takes More Than One” 5 Growth Lessons With CEO, Kristin Marquet

Kristin Marquet, Creative Development Agency
“I am most proud of my team. Without them, I would not have been able to grow my businesses the way that I have. They’re an integral part of the brand infrastructure.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Kristin Marquet. Kristin is the owner of the PR firm CreativeDevelopmentAgency.com, the design studio FemFounder.co, and the women’s lifestyle magazine TheHauteRebel.com.
Passionate about learning, Kristin attended MIT, Boston University, and New York University. She studied advanced data modeling, business analytics, and data science; she holds degrees in literature and marketing; and she has written the book, Squash Your Competition and Dominate Your Marketplace 55 Easy Tips to Generate Big Publicity for Your Startup or Small Business Today.

Yitzi: Thank you so much for your time. I know that you are a very busy person. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

After college, I had worked as a PR manager for a law firm for a year because I was considering applying to law school. But then after, I realized that I didn’t enjoy it so I went on to work in consulting for four years. During the financial crisis, my office in the Northeast shut down and I was laid off. At that point, I had a tough decision to make: “Do I look for a job, or Do I start a PR agency?” After a few days of weighing the pros and cons, I decided to take the risk and launch a PR firm (originally Marquet Media, now Creative Development Agency). I never looked back after that.

Yitzi: How did you get involved in the PR industry?

Since I had planned on applying to law school after college, I wanted to work for a law firm so I had relevant experience. However, I didn’t want to be a paralegal or a legal secretary so I searched for other positions, and saw an opening in the PR/communications department at a large law firm in New Jersey. I applied for the position, went on an interview, and was hired two days later.

Yitzi: Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

I’ve worked with a large number of high-profile personalities and brands. But the most interesting story of my career was when I was planning a large-scale fashion show for one of today’s well-known fashion designers. Although I had been involved with smaller NYFW presentations, this event was different because of the scale — 500+ media, influencers, and celebrities. It was truly a career-changing event.

Yitzi: What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

The most interesting projects we’re working on right now are launching the high-fashion model agency DebutModels.com, growing emerging beauty brand BubblePopBeauty.com, working with entertainment entrepreneurs Fabiola and Simon Hesslein of TryonEntertainment.com, as well as expanding women’s lifestyle magazine, TheHauteRebel.com.

Yitzi: What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my team. Without them, I would not have been able to grow my businesses the way that I have. They’re an integral part of the brand infrastructure.

Yitzi: Do you think the PR profession has changed over the past 30 years?

Yes, the PR industry has changed significantly. Thirty years ago, pitching editors and journalists was done via snail mail or over the telephone or fax. Now, we use all forms of communication: email, social media (mostly Twitter.com and Instagram.com in my experience), and text with telephone communication trailing way behind.

Yitzi: What drives you?

I love what I do and I’m passionate about launching and growing fashion, lifestyle, and wellness brands. Despite all of the headaches, seeing my clients get the tangible results needed to launch and grow their businesses is what drives me. I just love to help others…honestly.

Yitzi: Based on your personal experience, what advice would you give to young people considering a career in PR?

The best piece of advice that I can give to someone who wants to go into PR is: know how to write well because you’re going to spend the most of your time writing pitches, press releases, and PR strategies. I live by the book, Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. It’s my go-to writing resource.

Yitzi: You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?

Yes, show up to all events on time, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to others, ask questions, and don’t pitch right yourself right out of the gate. Focus on building relationships before pitching anything because no one likes to be sold.

Yitzi: Which skills do you think are most important to becoming a successful PR professional?

The most important skills are strong writing skills and being a strategic thinker.

Yitzi: You are in a position of influence. How have you used your position and skill to bring goodness to the world?

Yes, I’ve worked with a number of brands/companies on a pro bono basis and strive to work with one cause/charity that I’m passionate about every year.

Yitzi: Who are some of the most famous people you have interacted with?

As a fashion/celebrity publicist, I’ve interacted with many famous people including NFL players from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Minnesota Vikings, and Tennessee Titans, famous fashion designers from Project Runway, and high fashion models from Ford, IMG, and more.

Yitzi: What was that like?

Most of the celebrities that I’ve worked with have been humble. I’m grateful for those experiences because I have friends who are also publicists who have represented B, C, and D-list celebrities that were rude and egotistical.

Yitzi: Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?

Coco Chanel because she was a forward-thinker and helped shape what the fashion industry is today.

Katharine Hepburn because she was unconventional and redefined the role of being a woman in modern society.

Yitzi: Which company do you admire most, and why?

Clique Media Group because it’s a primarily woman-owned and operated business that was started by two women who saw a gap in the digital market and worked effortlessly to fill it. Now the company reaches tens of millions of readers every month through web properties such as Byrdie.com, WhoWhatWear.com, and MyDomaine.com.

Yitzi: What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why.

Well, the five things I wish someone had told me before I started my business are:

1). Business Planning — I wish I would have put together a business plan because it would have kept me focused and on track.

2). Wearing a Million Hats — I wish I would have listened when someone told me that I could not run every aspect of my efficiently. I spent the first two years running every aspect when I should have outsourced. This would have allowed me to focus on growing the business.

3). Lack of Clarity — Not knowing what industry I wanted to serve cost me a lot of time. One week I would want to do professional services, the next I would want to focus on medical and health, and then the next I would want to focus on fashion. I finally figured out where my best contacts were and my strongest skill set and committed to fashion/lifestyle.

4). Lack of Brand Identity — The first two years, I didn’t develop a brand identity and it cost in the long run. I tried catering to everyone but ended up not catering to anyone. If I had a specific brand identity then (like now), then I would’ve scaled my business more efficiently.

5). Discounting Prices — Back in 2009, I thought I had to discount my prices to compete, but quickly learned that perception is reality, meaning that you get what you pay for.

When I started out, I quoted a potential client a low monthly fee but was asked why my prices were so cheap in contrast to the competition. Needless to say, that company hired a different firm because I was considered “too cheap” and so I doubled my prices and never had a problem selling them since then.

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