Of all the cool jobs out there, pulling double duty as co-owner of a wine company, while also running a PR firm, has got to rank high on the list. I mean, just saying it out loud makes you sound like a badass. "Oh yeah, I own a wine company and run a PR firm." No big deal. :)
I first met Stephanie (and later Kerry) when we worked together on photos for Speak Wines, but it was only after to getting to know the both of them a little more that I realized how cool they really are. In addition to co-founding and running Speak Wines, Kerry + Stephanie also run K. Sutherland PR (owned and founded by Kerry), a successful PR agency specializing in high-profile lifestyle and corporate clients. And on top of all of this, they're both down-to-earth AND so much fun!
I was fascinated to know more! How do they do it all? Where did the idea for Speak Wines come from? How does each business help the other? What are some of the unique challenges of their jobs? And can I have some more wine, please?
1) WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO? WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY LIKE FOR YOU?
Kerry & Stephanie: Speak is a beautiful collection of wine that was created by two friends (Stephanie Fasi and Kerry Sutherland) over a glass of wine. With a love for sharing words that inspire and a sincere appreciation for style, we set out to find a bold, delicious Argentinian red and thoughtfully package the wine to perfectly speak to any occasion.
Stephanie: Kerry and I work together full-time at a PR Agency (which Kerry owns, K. Sutherland PR) and we also manage Speak on a daily basis too. There’s no such thing as a typical day, truly… We could be doing anything from coordinating a segment for a PR client on the TODAY Show, to handling our next wine import from Argentina with the government. There’s no such thing as a slow day at our office, but it’s why we love it so much! Things are always exciting!
2) HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START IN THE PR WORLD?
K: I got a journalism degree from the University of Nevada, Reno and actually wanted to be a writer. I thought a job in travel journalism would be the coolest job ever- traveling the world and writing about it. That said, I graduated during a period of decline in jobs within traditional journalism, and PR was a natural second option. I worked at a traditional agency for 6 years before launching my own agency over 4 years ago. It’s been the most exciting, and most fulfilling career move of my life. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world every day when I go to the office.
S: I actually met Kerry because I was her nanny! I started watching her beautiful daughter (Audrey), while I was finishing up college. I was really interested in PR, although the degree I was getting was in Education. Once I realized I didn’t want to teach, I started exploring my options and PR was something I wanted to learn more about. As soon as Kerry launched her own PR Agency, I was the first employee she hired. I’ve been doing PR for 4 years now and I love it and have learned so much!
3) WHAT DO FEW PEOPLE UNDERSTAND ABOUT THE PR WORLD? WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT FOR BUSINESSES? (Any good PR tips you can give to solo-preneurs?)
K: I think few people understand PR in general. It can be a pretty difficult field to explain (not even my parents totally understand what I do on a daily basis), but perhaps the biggest point to remember is the PR is all about getting the right people (mainly media, but not always) to talk about you. It’s not advertising, where your job is to talk about yourself. PR is effective for brands who want to build their reputation and brand awareness through the mouths of other authority figures/personalities/media outlets. Solo-preneurs looking to earn some positive PR should be as personalized as possible. Really think about where your product or brand fits within the media landscape and try to find the right person to pitch your story idea. Start your search on Twitter, and really (concisely) explain why that individual needs to hear your story. Not every media outlet is a fit for you, and that’s ok. It’s better to find the right outlets, who reach the right audiences (your customers), at the right times. That’s the coverage that will have an impact on your business (ie- sales!).
4) HOW DID SPEAK WINES COME ABOUT?
K & S: We were actually working when we came up with the idea for Speak. Specifically, we were brainstorming for a new client brand, and of course drinking wine for "liquid inspiration" – have we mentioned that we have really cool jobs at a PR agency? We thought, “wouldn’t it be so amazing if a wine existed…” The name, Speak, was one of the first we said that night and it just stuck.
5) WHAT MAKES SPEAK SO UNIQUE?
K & S: Speak offers customers a deliciously beautiful collection of wine that was inspired by the fashion industry. Similar to fashion, we’ll be releasing new collections of Speak regularly, featuring new, on-trend art and inspiring thoughts.
6) DOES HAVING A PR BACKGROUND COME IN HANDY WHEN WORKING TO PROMOTE SPEAK?
K & S: Absolutely! Without our PR experience and contacts, this project would not have gone very far (at least as fast). We believe there are so many amazing ideas out there, but not everyone with these ideas has the means or expertise to properly promote their brand after they get it off the ground. We have come to realize that someone with insight into the PR and marketing world has a great foundation of knowledge, and most likely great contacts for launching new brands.
7) HOW DO YOU JUGGLE TWO BUSY + GROWING BUSINESSES? WHAT'S YOUR BEST ADVICE FOR PEOPLE JUGGLING MULTIPLE HATS?
S: PR is very fast-paced and constantly requires you to learn new things and become experts in industries/products that sometimes you’ve never even heard of. Kerry and I both feel that we are able to juggle a lot at once, expert multi-takers, really. We think that its all about prioritizing and working together to make sure we’re efficient, but still creative.
8) WHAT'S BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE OR STRUGGLE IN YOUR CAREER?
S: When it comes to Speak, Kerry and I both agree that we’ve definitely noticed a strong male presence in the industry. We’re actually really proud to be two young females entering an industry where that’s not your typical norm. I think the biggest challenge that we’ve encountered is that Speak is a very female-friendly product. Women get it right away. It’s much harder for men to see the potential that we know it will have on female consumers. We like to think of Speak as a “Pinterest Meets Malbec”, which usually resonates immediately with women… Men, not as much.
9) WHAT'S BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT/HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER?
K: Yikes, such a hard question! Well, starting K. Sutherland PR is without a doubt the best career move of my life. It’s been such an adventure, so much fun and learning along the way, and I couldn’t be prouder of what my agency has accomplished in its first four years. I’ve always been a big dreamer, but K. Sutherland PR’s success constantly reminds me- why stop there? Enter Speak Wines. Something that I would have never thought possible, here I am because of an amazing relationship made through K. Sutherland PR and of course, STEPHANIE!!! I’m having the time of my life with these two brands that I’m simply obsessed with and I feel so grateful every single day for these opportunities.
S: It’s really hard to highlight just one accomplishment. I think that launching Speak has to be one of the best moments of my life. Seeing all of the hard work we had put into Speak come to life….that was a pretty amazing feeling! However, I feel like Kerry and I both have had so many accomplishments with Speak and KSPR. Every time we get one of our clients featured in a national news outlet, it always feels good! Our clients success is our success too!
10) WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE IN 5 YEARS?
K & S: I think we both hope that we’ll be running three very successful companies in five years from now. Yes, three! We’re planning on launching a new pet company at the end of the summer called Dasher & Jess. We just hope to be successful while having fun at the same time. Isn’t that everyone’s goal?
11) WHAT IS YOUR BEST ADVICE TO SOMEONE JUST BEGINNING THEIR CREATIVE/PROFESSIONAL JOURNEY?
S: The one thing that you have that nobody else has, is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. Always remember that and use it to your advantage.
K: I would encourage people to take bets on themselves… after all- if you are going to gamble on anything- it might as well be you!
Thank you so much to both Kerry + Stephanie! Can't wait to see where you'll go next...
If you need more, more, MORE, check them out here:
K. SUTHERLAND PR
DASHER & JESS