Meet Elizabeth Heard White. She’s the founding partner of Domino Media Group, a creative public relations firm based in Atlanta, which specializes in lifestyle brand partnerships. Although that role might sound like more than enough for a young professional, Elizabeth is also the proud owner of an eponymous hair accessories line, too! Scroll on for Elizabeth’s in-depth suggestions for juggling two businesses, all while reaping the creative and financial rewards.
My grandmother, a real gem, told me: “Life is either one big adventure or just plain boring—the decision is yours.” These wise words have fueled me to make decisions that aren’t the easiest, and I am now a believer that if you want something, it’s up to you to make it happen.
Picture this: I had moved to Atlanta from New York City almost two years before and realized my life needed some invigorating. So, I started to dive into what made me feel fulfilled and happy. I worked as a “think tank” for big brands while in New York City and really loved coming up with out-of-the-box concepts to energize their businesses.
Then I started reaching out to people I admired from afar who were doing interesting things in the area. I told them my background, put together a proposal and offered to help them out for free for a select period of time. This is one of the best moves I have made as it began to open the door to meetings and future accounts.
I started with two accounts. At the same time, I began working on a small line of hair accessories under my own name. The hair accessories were something that I had always wanted to do (I even took weekend classes at Parsons while living and working in New York City), but never found the time or had the gumption to just start.
I call the accessories my “side hustle,” and I am equally passionate about them. It has been amazing to watch the two businesses merge together organically and feed off each other in ways I would never have foreseen. My background in PR helped propel the barrettes and give them credibility that they may not have had initially. The barrettes also evolved into the beginning of a case study for my PR work. Now merged under one umbrella, Domino Media Group encompasses both endeavors. The accessories are a media holding within Domino and are currently sold in approximately 70 retail locations nationwide. In addition, through Domino, I work with three-to-seven lifestyle-based clients on a PR basis at any given time.
I feel like my life is a little chaotic at the moment, but I honestly think I do my best when things are chaotic. I’m not a huge believer in balance, as the scale is bound to tip in one direction. However, I have found ways to maximize my time and juggle priorities between the two. Below, you’ll find a few of the strategies I’ve found to be helpful from my own experience juggling two passions in order to return a profit.
It’s not how many hours you’ve spent sitting at your desk working—it’s all about how intentional you are with the hours you have. There are so many things going on in the day, but by looking at the value of each along with the time you have to give, it makes the task more manageable.
I’m a wannabe tech nerd and love playing around with apps to help myself be more efficient. I schedule meetings through Doodle, which works to eliminate back and forth email chains. I also use Slack with select clients and my team, and Planoly to schedule Instagram posts.
Also, when crafting a pitch for an editor or buyer, you can save yourself so much time and hassle by simply making sure you’re reaching out to the correct contact. Do your research and make your pitch relevant. Know who they are, educate yourself on the culture of the publication or store. Be intentional. A helpful tip when looking for media contacts is to review the masthead, which holds the names of the editorial staff. First and last names will take you far in cracking email codes!
Try to be proactive versus reactive. It’s not always easy when your time is split, but figuring out your goals for each business, keeping them in mind while mapping out a plan of action and proactively taking steps to meet goals will further your business tenfold. With this in mind, a beginning can be as simple as a cold email or phone call. The worst someone can do is not answer or say “no,” but at least you’ve planted a seed or initiated a conversation.
For my barrettes, I knew that in order to move the units I wanted, the accessories needed to appear on a larger screen. From working in PR, I knew the power of shows and segments on the “TODAY” show and “Good Morning America.” I contacted GMA, sent in product and they essentially said “thank you, but no thank you.” Two weeks later, I noticed the host of the segment I had been emailing with (Tory Johnson’s “Deals & Steals”) was going to be in Atlanta for a panel discussion. I printed foam board pictures of my barrettes in hair to demonstrate what they looked like, went to the panel and introduced myself.
Tory graciously gave us the chance to be a “bonus deal” later in the month. I had around 400 barrettes to my name and needed 4,000 for initial deliveries. I rented an apartment, my sister flew home and we hired two girls who worked from the apartment complex we rented from. For one week, we made barrettes and sent out every last order. I’m not joking. Everything is possible. It’s just about believing that it is possible.
Prioritize and communicate expectations.
There are only so many hours in the day. You can’t do it all, so one must prioritize! I start every day with a master to-do list and then number everything by importance. Having multiple PR accounts and a side business, I’m constantly getting pulled in different directions. I’ve found I’m more successful with my time if I finish one thing before going on to the next versus working a little in each.
I also create an editorial road map of sorts when a client on-boards. It helps both parties understand what is happening and what’s going to happen throughout the month. It also helps create a clear understanding of what the overall goals are and the steps we’re going to take to achieve them. Clearly communicating goals and expectations will help you know what the overall priorities are saving you time.
Exercise does the mind and body good.
The more I have going on, the more I crave a glass of wine or a run. I figure the latter is a healthier option! Exercise will clear your head, help you de-stress and re-energize you during a wild work week.
I’m not much of a planner, but I have been forced to become more of one. Anyone who works for themselves will tell you, there is no such thing as a 9-to-5 schedule and sometimes—especially when working on two businesses—you have to really plan ahead to accomplish what’s needed. That might mean missing out on social events, but that’s just part of it. If I know I will have a big week ahead, I may work through the weekend to prep or pack orders on a Friday when emails are slower so that, come Monday morning, my focus is back to the PR side. It’s also helpful to think of what you have on your plate, your growth rate/capabilities to determine if you need to begin planning to bring on support to help meet all your responsibilities.
Figure out what you can outsource.
You can’t do it all—even if you want to! I found myself spending so much time running around for an order or doing product drop-offs for particular clients. Tedious tasks like this take valuable time away from your desk. To figure out what and when you need to outsource, I recommend jotting down where you spend your time for a week and calculate the hours for each task and topic. Then really look at the items that you don’t need to handle. That package may still need to be delivered, but you may not need to physically do it yourself. I now schedule mail pick-ups from my office or have an intern run the errand. This will help you be much more efficient and able to hone in on the larger tasks at hand.