We know that you're thinking - what is a "Nive Girl of the Month"? Each Month, we will be interviewing a millennial woman that acts as a catalyst for deviating from the typical nine-to-five lifestyle. This month, our Nive Girl of the Month is Alessandra Pollina, owner and founder of pollina PR.
After quickly realizing that the nine-to-five workday was not for her, Alessandra started pollina PR in order to aid businesses and organizations in their communications and public relations endeavors. With a background in hospitality and non-profit public relations, Alessandra works with clients to develop strategic communications plans and implements them in the most effective way possible. Her goal is to grow her clients businesses and exposure through successful communications with their audiences.
Check out how Alessandra has taken her career in public relations into her own hands by founding her own agency in this months Nive Girl interview.
Tell us a little about your background
“I grew up in Vermont, and came to Boston for college. I studied public relations in the College of Communications at Boston University and started my own PR agency only a year after graduating. I still live in Boston, and now spend my days running my business and raising my 4 year old son.”
What is something that most people don't know about you?
“I have a PR business, so people think I'm always out there and have to love being out and about and being social etc. While I do love making connections, I actually think of myself as more of an introvert. I used to be really intimidated about events. While I can now enjoy myself at them these days, and I always make the most of it and make sure I make the connections and build the relationships I need, I much more prefer to be at home and be alone, or with just one or two people!”
As our Nive Girl of the Month, how do you think you would define your individual style?
“Casual professional. I usually have to wear something that will be appropriate for a client meeting but also might get finger paint on it once I pick my son up from school. I usually go with nice jeans and a blouse, with heels. A great casual blazer that I can throw on top of anything is my go-to on days with client meetings.”
Tell us about your morning routine!
“With a 4 year old, morning routines are tough! In this stage of life I keep it minimal, and I have to be prepared to always go with the flow (sometimes he'll wake up earlier than expected and it all goes out the window and I just have to roll with it!) but there are a few things I try to do on a normal morning. I'm not a morning person, but I try to wake up around 6:15 and have some coffee while reading a newspaper (no I'm not 60 years old, but I'm in PR so I have to stay up on these things!) or a book for just a few minutes. Once my body has woken up a little, I do a 30-minute spin class on my Peloton with headphones in so that I don't wake anyone else up, which is the most amazing invention ever. By the time that's over (around 7:00-7:15), my son has woken up and I have a smoothie while making him breakfast. Afterwards, I'll take a shower and get ready while he eats.
I have the worlds fastest makeup routine - I apply Hylunia Vitamin C Serum and Blissoma Awake Firming Moisturizer right after the shower and then just swipe on some Coola Tinted spf BB Cream. I then add some eyeliner, eye shadow, mascara, and run a straightener through my hair to touch it up. I have about 30 lipsticks in my bag and will put some on if I have a meeting or something later. Usually by then my son is done eating and has hopefully gotten himself dressed, or I'll help him at this point. Then we're running out the door to drop him off at school (or in the summer like right now, camp) and then I start my workday.”
How have you chosen to deviate from the typical 40-hour workweek? What initially prompted you to start your own business?
“While I feel like I have tons of experience working in all types of offices through multiple internships in college, I only truly had a typical 'nine-to-five' for about three months when I first graduated college - and it was awful. I thought I wanted to do nonprofit PR, so I took a job right out of college that didn't even pay enough to cover my bills, but promised the opportunity for growth and a chance to head up all of the marketing and communications work for an organization that was making a difference in peoples' lives. It quickly became clear that there would be no opportunity for growth that would bring a salary that could sustain me, and the entire organization ended up shutting down only a month or so after I left, so I got out right in time.
At this point, I was still only a few months out of college, and had just finished the whole job search process and didn't want to go there again. I also knew I didn't like working for big agencies or companies where everyone is one little cog in a wheel that you never truly see the full mechanics of. I'd interned in some of the 'best' PR agencies in the city, as well as the European headquarters for Disney in London while studying abroad, and neither type of job (big agency or in-house corporate) was something I could see myself enjoying long-term. I called up my old boss from a small PR agency that I had interned and worked part-time for in college, and asked if he could use help on any projects…like, tomorrow. He said yes.
I worked with him as his right hand for almost a year before my husband (who was my boyfriend at the time) suggested that I could be doing the exact same thing all by myself and would have more flexibility, more control of my time, and the opportunity to bring in more money, since I had all the knowledge and contacts and was doing most of the day-to-day of running this company. He connected me with someone he knew who was opening a business and needed to promote it. Since the business literally didn't even know what PR was or why they needed it, I was able to talk them into hiring me for a low rate to try it out. While I did the opening PR for that brand, I was still working on clients at my existing job. My boss was fine with it as long as I still helped on his projects as needed. From there, I built up my client base slowly but surely until I was working solely on my own clients and officially 'had a business'.
It just made more sense to do it on my own and have the freedom that comes with owning your own business, and the unlimited earning potential that you can't really get in any other setting. Ironically, I felt more secure owning my own business than working for someone else's small business, and being at their whim.”
Starting your own business can be a tough road. In the difficult moments, how do you stay focused on moving forward and making progress?
“It's been tough every step of the way, but I've never thought for a second that it wasn't worth it. The only option is moving forward and making progress, because I would never be able to work for someone else again. I read a lot of books and listen to a lot of podcasts from other women in business which really motivate me and ramp up excitement for business in general, making me want to do more, better. When I first had my son I really didn't feel like working that much, so I cut back on clients by not renewing contracts that were up around that time and not actively seeking out new business for a while, and just took it easy for a bit. I was able to do that because the business was mine and it was all up to me. You don't always have to be moving forward or making progress, that's the beautiful thing about being in charge. After a while, I got sick of not making much money and I got really motivated to work more again!”
Who are your biggest influences? Who or what inspired you to do what you’re doing now?
“My main inspiration right now comes from all the amazing women I have met through my entrepreneurial journey who are along for the ride with me. At first, I was really lonely in it, because I didn't know any other women who had their own business, so I started a group for female millennial entrepreneurs to get together for coffee and talk business once a month. The women I've met through that have been my biggest supporters and inspiration ever since, and they continue to make me dream bigger, want to do better and be more successful every day.”
What is one piece of advice that you'd like to share with our readers?
“I love goals and plans, and think they're vital to success in business, but I also think you need to be flexible. Don't feel like you need a 5-year plan or a 10-year plan for your business. If you do want to make those, then keep reminding yourself that they can change. Your desires and needs will change year to year, let alone in ten years. You don't want to find yourself working toward a goal you set years ago, realizing that the outcome is now not even something that would make you happy anymore. As life changes and your tastes change, your business plans might too and that's okay. It's not a failure to not reach every goal you had once set. Don't worry about letting the you from 2017 down-- all that matters is what current you and future you want and need, so be sure to check in on that periodically!”
THE INTERVIEW DOESN'T STOP HERE...
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