There’s an immense amount of pressure around becoming an entrepreneur, especially at a young age. Some ‘thought leaders’, like Gary Vee, vehemently believe that – if you enjoy working within a company, you clearly aren’t a born entrepreneur. Our interviewee today, Julia Kendrick, founder of Kendrick PR has a fascinating and engaging career history to date – driven by her hardwork and ethics.
Let’s find out more and let us know your thoughts on the employee / entrepreneur debate in the comments…
HOC: Wonderful to meet you Julia and thanks for taking the time to speak to us about your business, Kendrick PR? Can you give us the elevator pitch?
Julia: Haha, straight in with the hard stuff! In a nutshell, Kendrick PR is a boutique, bespoke public relations and marketing consultancy; specifically focused on the medical aesthetic, cosmetic surgery and high-end beauty and skincare industries. It’s great because we’ve had a major growth spurt in recent months thanks to the acquisition of another highly respected PR agency in the same field, but that core of who we are and what we do definitely remains the same!
My passion has always been in bringing to life the science behind a product; why it’s new and why it works – this from my background in health PR, working in big London agencies for major pharma companies. I’ve been able to take this approach forward out of the strict ‘pharma’ field – working with ethical and well-founded consumer brands and bringing them to where they need to go.
There’s been such a boom in the aesthetic and cosmeceuticals industries recently – so the challenge for media (and consumers) is knowing who to trust and why to believe in a particular brand or treatment! I’m passionate about bringing the educational part of the industry out and only working with brands that meet my rather exceptionally high standards. I’m not into fluff or snake oil!
HOC: Science and PR seems like an interesting cross-over, and definitely not anything my career advisor told me about!, how did you come to specialise in this field?
Julia: That’s definitely true, especially as PR can sometimes be seen a lot of smoke and mirrors! It’s interesting as I feel the UK is very different to the US when it comes to routes into PR. Many American PRs have studied PR and Marketing at college whereas I did a degree in Biology and Psychology!
I basically just studied what I found interesting and I love hopping from one thing to another – those subjects are ever evolving so there’s always something new to learn. So that’s the science, but I’ve always loved language and how it can be used for different means and the psychology behind how language can inform and persuade. I’ve fallen into the right niche!
HOC: When did you start running your business, was it always a dream of yours?
Julia: Not at all! I’m a typical Taurian; I’m risk averse and never set out to be an entrepreneur – it just worked out this way. I switched from PR agencies to in-house and was happily ploughing my furrow – but a change in circumstances saw me jump into freelance life in 2015, from which I built up Kendrick PR.
I think there’s sometimes an expectation that wanting to be an entrepreneur from the start (or an early age) is the norm, that you are missing out if you don’t have this innate drive to conquer the world. I think there’s a lot of pressure around age as well, you see teenagers making crazy money on Instagram and YouTube and can feel that you’ve totally missed the boat to carve out your own business or niche offering.
Being an entrepreneur can come at a later stage in your career and from a direction you don’t expect. This was how it was for me; completely out of leftfield and terrifying when it first happened! It’s important for people to realise that it’s possible that later on in your life, maybe after babies or after another milestone; change can come. It can be a hugely positive and inspirational thing.
HOC: I couldn’t agree more, the conversation nowadays can make people feel so inferior if they haven’t got 7 revenue streams at the age of 20! So how did you transition from a career you were happy in to running your business?
Julia: After many years in PR agencies, I was in-house at a big industry corporate, in a job I loved – in fact, where I had found my passion for the medical aesthetic industry! I had my first baby at age 30 – stepping off the career path to go on mat leave was a bit scary in itself for an ambitious person like me, but I knew I would be back on track in a year. Unfortunately, while I was off the company had a reshuffle and the role I was offered on returning didn’t align with what I was looking for in terms of scope and flexibility for a more balanced work/life! I wanted the security of a job that I knew, but I needed the flexibility to dictate my own work schedule around my family, so I screwed up my courage and just flung myself into the unknown world of freelance consultancy.
Thanks to the relationships I’d built up in the aesthetic industry, I quickly, built up a great client roster and a viable business – including presenting at industry congresses, running business workshops, writing for trade press on PR and marketing – as well as launching brands, and working with leading businesses. It snowballed so quickly and it was just me, like Harry Potter, sat at my desk under the stairs at home! It was the best thing that could have happened and showed me that sometimes you’ve just got to go for what you want.
For a few years, I was a sole consultant but in 2018 I rapidly expanded the business by acquiring another leading PR agency in the same space – which gave me a great team and expanded capabilities to deliver the true and to end service for clients that I wanted – from trade launches all the way through to consumer press and influencer work, and so much more. Now, I’ve got my sights set on a Dubai office, a Singapore office…
HOC: Do you get to travel much with your business?
Julia: At the moment, I’m not travelling too much but that’s the next item on the agenda! The market is evolving and a lot of the innovation is coming out of the Middle East and Singapore. There’s a few brands we’ve worked with already who want to get a foothold in Europe and the UK is the first place that they tend to land. That’s where I want to take things; to be that hub that can bring amazing brands across.
One of the brands that I do really want to bring over from Singapore is a stem cell-based skincare range, they have fascinating technology and new directions that are well established over there will shake the market up here!
HOC: It definitely feels like the general consumer is getting behind the science in beauty more now than ever before…
Julia: Definitely, that’s true with the influx of injectables and lasers, facials, high end medical beauty treatments – but I strongly feel we have to give due gravitas to these products and procedures. We do work in a controversial area; there are some who think that we are tools of the patriarchy – that somehow our work is telling women that they aren’t good enough. We actually put female empowerment at the heart of everything we do. For instance, if something is bothering you and is affecting your well-being or your health, it’s our job to help inform the public about the options for doing something about it.
We work on everything from clinically-based skincare brands that treat acne and rosacea, to medical tech and treatments that can help restore a woman’s pelvic floor after child birth which the NHS doesn’t currently provide. It’s your choice, if you don’t know what’s out there, you can’t make an informed decision about what’s right for you.
HOC: Not so fluffy PR now then!
Julia: Not at all! I’ll be honest, I’ve always loved beauty and make-up but for me, there was a hesitancy in pursuing it as part of a career due to the feeling that it tended to be pigeon-holed as superficial or shallow. There’s still sometimes that feeling of having to choose between beauty and brains – that somehow you can’t have both, or that one devalues the other. PR itself definitely has an image problem, being seen as fluffy or waffly – but there’s so much to it, when it’s done well.
I have brands come to me asking me to “get them into the magazines” but often I have to make them stop and go back three steps, as they haven’t truly worked on their value proposition, or messaging, or sussed out how to differentiate effectively from their competitors. Once this foundation is in place, the PR will be much more successful. In this world of social media you have to be ready to engage on a personal level with customers and if you don’t have a consistent social media strategy and response team ready, any negative comments can snowball and ruin your brand reputation.
Every entrepreneur needs to understand how to do their own PR but they need the skills. I was getting so many requests from clinics and doctors who couldn’t appoint their own PR company but needed help that I created The Elite Reputation Programme. It’s an online training programme with 24 modules basically of my knowledge and expertise distilled down into training sessions and materials – right from the basics of PR to more complex stuff. It’s another way for me to upskill and support my industry.
HOC:How do you balance your business / family?
Julia: It’s challenging for sure and we often put this pressure on ourselves to be women who ‘have it all’; I think that’s very toxic and damaging. I have managed over the past 4 years because I’ve had support from so many women. My family help me look after the kids and I have an amazing childminder. In a business sense, I’ve had so much support from other female entrepreneurs who have guided me, lifted me up and connected me to a nurturing and empowering environment. It’s incredible how ready I’ve found women are to support others.
For me, it’s about allowing myself the little instances of self-care so I can keep plates spinning and my energy up. When I first went freelance I went from working in a buzzy office to working on my own and after a while, the shine wore off and I was in the house on my own, enjoying my work but not getting any social interaction and sometimes not even getting ready to leave the house. This started to get me down and I recognised that I wasn’t feeling right in myself. I joined a health club to have a way to keep fit and work remotely, a change of scene was what I needed. I was lucky enough to meet a fantastic life coach (who was incidentally helping me sleep train my daughter!) and I have regular sessions with her to help mentor, grow and develop myself.
As women, I think we too often put ourselves last but the thing is, if we pack in and the wheels fall off; everyone around us loses out too. Just simple things like having a personal trainer come to my house super early, twice per week, means I can have something for myself without compromising on work or family time. We need to give ourselves permission to make those changes.
HOC: Finally, what advice, if any, would you have for you 10 years ago?
Julia: Good question! 2009 me was just about to get married and I was happily working in a buzzy PR agency. I think one thing I would say to myself is around embracing change. I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am today without unexpected change coming in – and you shouldn’t see change as negative or disruptive, but as something which can break up the status quo and allow something even better to come to fruition.
I certainly tend to crave consistency and safety but you grow best through adversity and challenging yourself. You find out more about yourself and what you are capable of. I don’t mean that something terrible has to happen but that the more interesting things in your life, and your ability to grow and develop will only come when you’re not in your comfort zone. That’s where you achieve those things that you never even thought that you could, and think ooh, I’ve only gone and done it!
Find out more about Kendrick PR here.
Follow Julia and her business on instagram: @kendrickpr_uk