…in pursuit of what makes life good.

Meet the Business: Soda Pop PR

October15

Photo by: Bonnie Tsang

Photo by: Bonnie Tsang

The last few months, since starting this blog and getting my freelance career going, have been quite a learning experience. I’ve learned that running a business, no matter how small it is (just me!), can be all consuming. It can leave you zapped of energy but excited for more. I look at this business as my baby. I have to nurture it, pay attention to it, and give it all it needs to grow. I also whole heartedly believe in learning from other people’s experiences. They may not be able to prevent you from making your own mistakes along the way, but they can help you understand that mistakes are always part of the process. A few words of wisdom is sometimes all it takes to inspire you to move forward.

When I met Dyan Dolfi-Offutt, the owner of Soda Pop PR, at Create + Cultivate, and she poured over us all her amazing knowledge of public relations, I knew I had to know more about her path to starting and successfully running her own company. So when she agreed to do an interview for me, I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

Soda Pop PR is a boutique public relations firm based in Los Angeles. It specializes in food and beverage, hospitality, and lifestyle brands.

Photo by:  Carley Rudd

Photo by: Carley Rudd

Can you tell us a little about your background and what led you to the public relations field?

My journey to public relations is not a straight line or a short story that’s for sure. I went to college at Ohio University where I studied Communications and Public Relations. Graduated in 4 years (plus one summer quarter where the only course I remember taking is “Tuscan Cooking”.) Most of my friends knew what they wanted to do post-college – tech, business, get married, etc. – but I wasn’t ready to settle down so I moved to Los Angeles. After a number of frustrating years living in L.A. with the title “Actress/Waitress”, I reached out to a buddy who owned an advertising firm. He had a few small projects that needed project management. It was first time in years that I felt confident. I was good at it and made things happen. That gig opened doors for me and over the next five years, I worked at some of the best PR firms in Los Angeles, all which specialized in travel, food and hospitality.

What inspired you to start your own PR firm?

Truthfully, it all stems from a few friends and mentors believing in me. It was never part of my “5 Year Plan” to own a PR firm. I was at a point in my career where it was sink or swim. Although I loved the people at my previous job, I was burnt out. My health was in the toilet due to stress and it was time to make a change. Around that time I was presented an opportunity to start my own PR shop. I know for most people the idea of opening their own firm would be more stressful but for me it was the opposite. It was liberating, exciting, and inspiring. It was just what I needed at the time.

At an event for Soda Pop PR's clients QUIN, Dyan helps food blogger, Let Me Eat Cake, style a shot for Instagram. Photo by: Katherine Levin Sheehan

At an event for Soda Pop PR’s clients QUIN, Dyan helps local food blogger, Let Me Eat Cake, style a shot for Instagram. Photo by: Katherine Levin Sheehan

I’m a food lover and I love that you focus your expertise on the food and beverage industry. What made you decide to focus it on that?

Food has always been one of my biggest passions. Growing up in an Italian family food played a defining role in my adolescence. Both my Mother and Nana were amazing cooks and used their talents to bring people together which left a big impression on me. I also worked in restaurants from thirteen to my mid-twenties with experience ranging from a dishwasher to banquet manager. Most importantly, it’s fun to promote! We work with great brands like Tillamook, Union Wine Co., Salt & Straw and QUIN who continue to do cool things. Not too shabby.

What is the most rewarding part of running your own business?

It’s hard to pick just one. Creating a healthy company culture feels really good. I love managing my team. Watching them grow and become PR powerhouses is the best feeling. I also take great pride in the work we do for our clients. I don’t mean for this to come across gross or braggadocios but the amount of thoughtful and quality work we produce with our small team continues to amaze me.

Photo by: Carley Rudd

Photo by: Carley Rudd

Have there been any roadblocks you’ve encountered since getting started? How did you get past it?

My biggest roadblock is my tendency to overthink. The responsibility that comes with owning a business can be overwhelming at times. At least once a month I’m convinced the rug will be pulled out from under me. When worry and negative thoughts creep in, I remember to breathe and focus on the present and continue to do good work. A good 90’s hip-hop dance party always helps too.

Photo by: Bonnie Tsang

Photo by: Bonnie Tsang

Can you share any words of wisdom for others who want to start their own company?

GO FOR IT but be prepared for your brand/company to become your biggest priority, especially in the start-up phase. Love what you do; it makes the long hours and time away from family and friends easier to digest. Don’t under value your talent or work just because you are a new or small company. Know your worth! Get comfortable with the fact that on a weekly or even daily basis you won’t have all the answers but it’s your job to figure shit out. You were brave enough to start your own business so remember – YOU GOT THIS!

What’s your favorite way to unwind at the end of a long day or week?

I’d love to sound well-rounded and cool and say something like go to Hotel Café to scout out new music or focus on my photography. I’m not that interesting. Because my schedule is full with travel, meetings and planning most of the time my favorite thing to do at the end of a long day or week is to just chill. I love stopping by Silver Lake Wine, picking up a great bottle of wine to enjoy with my husband at home. Happy hour or dinner with friends is always a treat as well.

Thank you so much, Dyan, it was truly an honor having you on my blog. I appreciate the words of wisdom and sneak peek of the public relations world.

Sunday Share: #livethelittlethings

October12

From left to right, top to bottom: @christine_farmer, @seaismyanchor, @kardemomme1, @monarchknitting, @thelittleredbutton, @brookekupcho, @dnilla, @jtylerwhitmer, @masha_theone

From left to right, top to bottom: @christine_farmer, @seaismyanchor, @kardemomme1, @monarchknitting, @thelittleredbutton, @brookekupcho, @dnilla, @jtylerwhitmer, @masha_theone

This past week, I had the pleasure of being the guest judge for the #livethelittlethings project on Instagram. If you are unfamiliar with the project, it is a hashtag that was started by Brandi Buckley from Run Style Run and Megan Magers, that honors the little things in our lives that bring us joy and make life so satisfying. I started following and contributing my images to the project all the way back in January and it has helped me open my eyes to so many sweet moments that might have passed me by.

So it’s October. The time of year that shows the leaves turning vibrant orange and red; pumpkins and squash in all shapes and sizes; and a crispness in the air that calls for blankets and hot apple cider. This is truly my favorite time of year. I get excited for baking sweet treats and new knitting projects. This post is dedicated to the changing season and living each and every little thing that makes it sweet.

@kardemomme1

@kardemomme1


@beckyaco

@beckyaco


@brookekupcho

@brookekupcho


@thehappyhunters,  @jaymeeanthony, @littleredbowtique, @sarah_inpursuit

@thehappyhunters, @jaymeeanthony, @littleredbowtique, @sarah_inpursuit


@chelseadiane

@chelseadiane


@jordanstokke

@jordanstokke


From left to right, top to bottom: @saltabie, @julesybaby, @theginger_snap, @tori_kent

From left to right, top to bottom: @saltabie, @julesybaby, @theginger_snap, @tori_kent


@beckyaco

@beckyaco

Thank you so much, my friends, for letting me be a part of such a wonderful movement. I obviously had a hard time choosing just a few photos. It warms my heart to see so many people living the little things in their lives and it was just the reminder I needed to look around me and appreciate my life.

In the Making: Melanie Abrantes

October08

Melanie Abrantes Designs

The newest addition to the “In the Making” series is Melanie Abrantes. I had the pleasure of meeting Melanie in Los Angeles during the Create + Cultivate conference. She taught a beautiful floral workshop and did the decor for the conference. She is such a talent! Melanie is a Bay Area-based designer who creates cork and solid wood products.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

My name is Melanie Abrantes and I’m a producer of handcrafted objects based in the Bay Area. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas but attended Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, CA. In college, I learned how to use my hands to create beautiful objects. As time went on after graduating, I picked up several graphic design jobs but realized that I longed for the tactile feeling of making with my hands. I grew out of staring at a computer screen all day, and decided to start working with my hands again. I began crafting small woodworked gifts for friends and family, and in 2013 I signed up for my first craft show and realized that I wanted to move forward and do this full time. From then on Melanie Abrantes Designs took off!

What led you to creating this type of work?

I instantly fell in love with woodworking, specifically lathing at my time at Otis. After graduation, I continued my woodworking at a local woodshop near my house in Glassell Park in Los Angeles. I developed my lathing technique and turned blocks of wood into one-of-a-kind bowls, plates, cups, stands, etc… and eventually applied it to cork! I really love working with wood because of its natural inherent qualities that make each piece unique!

Melanie Abrantes
Melanie Abrantes
MelanieAbrantes_Shop_6

A lot of hard work goes into creating handmade products such as yours. Could you briefly explain your process?

YES! Its so true! A lot of work goes into making just one product. For me, I believe that in order to create something beautiful, you have to get your hands dirty. I use a woodworking lathe to make majority of my products. Lathing is one of the faster machines for woodworking. I think I love this process because it eases my impatient tendencies haha! To briefly describe how wood turning works, a machine holds material at two points and spins at very high speeds. Then you take a “lathing tool” (a sharp blade almost like a chisel) and start removing material from the spinning wood or cork. After spending time carving out a desired shape, you then sand the piece to smooth the surface. And finally oil and wax the wood to accentuate the qualities of the grain.

MelanieAbrantes_Shop_12

What inspires you in your work and in your day-to-day life?

I draw my inspiration from many disparate sources, especially from different designers around me. I love to do studio visits with different creatives, it’s very inspiring to see the world through someone else’s eyes! I feel having a strong creative community in your life is key. The support, and sometimes-even challenge, of the people around you can keep your ideas fresh.

Have you experienced any set-backs in your work or running your own business? How did you get past it?

Set-backs are ALWAYS a part of the process! Being a maker and owning a small business is always challenging. Being creative and simultaneously juggling the business aspect of things is difficult, resulting in wearing a ton of hats in a single day. Things like keeping track of orders, crunching numbers, answering emails on a timely fashion, etc…I am a one-woman shop! But a drink or two helps from time to time! Hahaha!

WalnutCakeStand
Melanie Abrantes
All_corkplanter

Any words of wisdom for people just getting their start in their own creative business?

Being an entrepreneur takes thick skin. I think it’s important to continually press forward and treat every challenge as a learning opportunity.

So what’s next for Melanie Abrantes Designs? Any new projects you are excited about?

I am starting to expand my line into small furniture and lighting! I am excited to launch it at West Coast Craft in San Francisco this December.

Thank you so much, Melanie, for taking the time to share your work and process with us. I appreciate so much the hard work that goes into handmade products like these and learning a bit more about it is fascinating.

You can purchase her incredible products at her online shop and follow her day to day life inspiration on Instagram.

Design and Content © 2014 Sarah In Pursuit

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