There are really two things that are growing. I’ve been running my PR business, a boutique firm called Jacklyn Denise Communications, going on three years now. It has always comprised of traditional media relations, communications, PR services for clients – whether that is pitching to media, building communication strategies, executing social media plans, or hosting events.
Ultimately, Jacklyn Denise Communications has always been partially traditional, public relations. At the same time, along the sidelines, the area that is growing is the one-on-one consulting, communications and marketing coaching for your business. This can include traditional PR strategy, social media, or business guidance. It’s really about teaching clients to build an integrated plan and working on that.
The second part is the working with female entrepreneurs, which seems to be growing organically. As a result, I’d adopted the hashtag #ladyboss in many communications. So much so that we are launching a complimentary piece to Jacklyn Denise Communications, called Ladyboss Mag.
Alongside of the traditional PR work, I’ve been finding inspiration in working with other inspirational women. Working with them as clients, but also creating with them. So I’ve had plenty of secret Pinterest boards happening (aka, my mood boards and dream boards) as to what Jacklyn Denise Communications would eventually become.
Any brand is ever evolving, however in the last six months or so, it’s really solidified for me that there are two brands here – one focusing on women entirely for business and life; and one lifestyle PR and marketing firm.
Jacklyn Denise Communications will always be my baby and will always comprise of the PR and marketing portion of the business – through traditional media relations and business consulting.
Ladyboss Mag will grow and hold a piece of my heart that allows me to connect with other women and provide them with a space to inspire and be inspired.
In keeping with the ‘keeping it real’ mantra, Ladyboss will definitely keep the conversation real. It will be a digital magazine and a space for gatherings. We’ve been collecting profiles of women from all different industries and areas around the world and the works of these incredible women is what will build the basis of the topics we introduce and conversations we start. There will be some room for the lighter inspiration of course.
However, as a speaker once told me, what I don’t want Ladyboss Mag to become is a ‘Pinterest graveyard – where too many good ideas go to die’. I can’t take credit for this clever phrase. There will be tips and tricks and resources that we recommend, more in-depth interviews, contributors who are writing in their own areas of expertise. Ladyboss Mag won’t be a place for featuring our PR clients. On occasion, it might be a fit. However, it’s ultimately two brands, where when it feels right, they’ll support one another.
How I got into PR in the first place… I had a high school guidance counselor who suggested PR. Like most kids that age, I had no idea what I really wanted to do and I didn’t even know what PR was to be honest. So, I took this trusted woman’s advice, applied, got accepted and dove into the four year specialized program. I think at the time, it was the only four-year Bachelor program of it’s kind so specialized in the country. I fell in love.
It was a blessing in disguise and perhaps something that was always meant to be, that I went off on my own solo while all of my friends growing up (for the most part) went to the same university.
Post grad, I went from agency life in Halifax, to agency life in Toronto, the client side, freelance… but always with one goal. Own my own business. I grew up in an entrepreneurial family, my dad had his own business and it was always something I aspired to have for myself. It was just a matter of timing.
As mentioned, it was always the ultimate goal. In hindsight, even when I’m uncertain of something (which we all are from time to time), communications is my passion. A life by design makes my heart sing.
Helping others build brands that are meaningful to them, it feels so damn good. From client side, to a few of the Canadian designer clients I picked up at the beginning, I naturally did some work in fashion. Having grown up rural Newfoundland, I never in a million years thought I would say that Toronto feels small. However, when you work in an industry that is so tightly knit, it actually is quite small. And that can be a nice thing. It makes a larger city feel more welcoming and neighbourly.
(Theresa) How do you even get into the fashion industry? Because I think a lot of people who want to get into the fashion industry, look at it as “Oh my god, it’s an impossible dream.”
(JDM) - It sounds a lot more glamorous than it is. The reality is, and you’ll see this from recent fashion and lifestyle features in major Canadian publications like the Globe and Mail. Unfortunately, the fashion industry in this country is not well funded at all. Designers are incredibly hard working, and there is a lot of bootstrapping entrepreneurs in the industry. I admire them for this.
Like any industry or career, people on the outside looking in like to see the shiny. Let’s not get negative, though. I’m where I am because a part of me appreciates and gets the nitty gritty behind the scenes. However, for this reason, I brand Jacklyn Denise Communications under lifestyle. It keeps opportunities open and allows me to work with some of the incredible clients I have in yoga, wellness and kids’ brands.
I would say one of the greatest challenges I’m up against as a PR consultant in today’s world is the ever-growing requests for paid press and the blurring of lines between traditional media and paid advertising. It’s a learning curve for many and certainly a challenge on my clients (and for me to manage those expectations).
Clients hire PR to assist with integrated communications and a more organic approach as opposed to necessarily fully paid advertising; so when faced with added fees for what used to be organic coverage, it’s an ongoing learning and challenge. It’s the new PR reality.
By the same token, when working lifestyle and independent PR versus corporate or crisis communications, platforms like Instagram are a huge part of my day. I work with brands who build businesses (viable ones) on Instagram before having a website or storefront. It can be viewed as the “Pinterest graveyard” and cute to some, but for many, it’s a reality and it’s a business. I would never say one is more valuable than the other. They are all just very different.
(Theresa) So how did Ladyboss organically develop? Because I mean, you were kind of—you were talking about doing the PR, having the Jacklyn Denise firm, communications, and then you kind of had this secret….secret Pinterest board, like you had an interest in. You had sort of like a side passion that you were kind of just dabbling in. And then slowly it kindof…
(JDM) I think it all started because, every now and again, I’d feature something or shared something that happened to be fun or be inspiration by another woman, I hashtag it #ladyboss, and it just sort of grew into “What does Ladyboss mean to you?”
It’s not necessarily a term that means you are your own boss. It doesn’t have to mean that you own a business or an entrepreneur. I like to look at it as “How do you define Ladyboss in your own life?”. Whether you are an entrepreneur, a stay at home mom, or climbing the corporate ladder. I really like to look at it in a bigger scheme of things – own it. Own whatever you take on in your life. I want to build on the engagement I’ve started.
(Theresa) I love the idea . You were inspired by other Ladybosses and you were sharing and tweeting their work and what inspired you, and that caused other people to be inspired and that kind of started like a domino effect organically. And then…here you are. You started to build on it and to market. And now you have this digital magazine that you’re gonna be launching fairly soon, so that’s really exciting.
JDM - There is so much content out there for women. However, we all have our own tribe, and I had one who wanted to have this conversation. So, like everything in my life, I took my own advice of start before you think you’re ready. I have given this advice often, but this time needed to take it myself. Things don’t have to be perfect. It’s like writing a book. You’re going to find things you’d like to change about that book for the rest of your life.
For me, it started with wise words from a friend of mine Gloria. She’s a boss, a friend, a wife, a daughter, and boy is she unapologetic. I say this in the most admirable way. I love it.
It doesn’t have to mean adding harm, but simply standing up for what you believe in and have no shame doing so. This applies to more than just business. Believing in something and letting people know it. Because sometimes, there are so many things that people think quietly and do quietly, not knowing that they necessarily have the support of someone else. So, for me, a big part of being a Ladyboss is owning whatever you believe in.
(Theresa) Owning whatever you believe in, owning who you are. Your values. And living it. JDM - Exactly.
Prepare for roadblocks. Because we’re always going get them and you won’t always be prepared.
- Start before you think you’re ready.
- Don’t take things personally.
- Own it – the good and the bad.
- Learn the value of saying no. Reserve your energy by saying no when it needs to be said.
- Fit is so important.
(Theresa) It really is, isn’t it?
(JDM) It’s one of the biggest things. And you don’t necessarily realize it when you’re at the beginning of a career or still in school. Things can be taught, skills can be honed, and personality cannot be changed. Fit is huge. This comes back to learning not to take things personally. When the fit is right, you’ll know it.
(Theresa) Yeah. And when you talk about fit, are you talking about like in collaboration with other people or…?
(JDM) In anything. In collaboration with other people. In choosing your clients. In hiring. I’ve seen so many conversations, especially among people—other entrepreneurs—is around fit. I often here people saying “Oh this client’s awful, it’s not working out, what can I do with—” really, at the end of the day, you can break up with a client. It’s okay. It’s happened.
And that might be one of the biggest lessons you learn if you do it early in your business, is breaking up with a client. But it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It doesn’t mean that things exploded and it ended on horrible terms and you think it might have destroyed your career. It doesn’t have to mean that at all. It just means that you can both be better served with someone else doing the job. So, that was a big lesson for me, I would say.
(Theresa) So learning to say no and knowing it’s a good fit. Because often when you say yes to something that’s not a good fit, you end up sacrificing a lot of your energy and time.
6. What advice would you give to readers who are ready to rewrite their story and take on the world?
Again, start before you’re ready. Be with whatever is. Sounds like some woo-woo talk, but it’s the truth.
Well first, I really, truly believe work-life balance is a myth. But I definitely think there are ways you can achieve balance and a happy life. And I know that sounds a little contradictory, but one of the ways I do it is, (it’s easy to let things fall to the side when it gets really busy) but taking time for yourself. I know I’m not good at this. It’s a practice. It’s why they call meditation a practice. No matter how long you’ve been doing it, every experience is new and different.
Good food, good friends, quality solo time. They seem obvious, and they are. But I really think that they’re basic human things that we must adopt and practice.
(Theresa) For sure, they are the foundation of our human needs.
(JDM) And they are some of the first things that people let go.
(Theresa) So pencil yourself in your calendar.
JDM – 100%.
I go work out, (or pour a glass of wine). Whatever my body is feeling, I try to honour it.
A good life. Includes what I mention above. Good food, good friends, and for me… solo travel. It’s a high like no other and I LOVE it. I find peace in nourishing myself, and being with friends who also really appreciate real food, and just savor good things.
(Theresa) Yes. It sounds like you need your own personal chef. That’s a good life too, to have your own personal chef.
A favorite quote that I live by is: "I hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection." - Emily Ley.
Saying no. Learning to say it and practicing it. It's hard, and sometimes you don't see the return immediately, but it's saying no to anything that's not serving you is the best self care you can give you (and often, them). It's amazing how quickly that actually opens up room for something awesome.
(Theresa) Yeah, so know your non-negotiables.
(JDM) It’s a lot easier said than done, but it really is true.
Personally: to travel with my partner. Professionally, right now: just be with everything that is happening. I love my studio, my space. An open creative space is my happy place. I want to grow my communications consulting business in it, while continuing to inspire other women. And not just inspire to want something, but inspire action.