By Milda Urban, Summersalt Yoga founder
Kristina is one of these women you’re immediately drawn to – the way she talks, the energy she gives and the style and elegance she exudes (I want to steal her entire wardrobe!)
Kristina runs her own PR company in Berlin together with her partner and a long time friend. When we met Kristina at our Balance yoga retreat last fall her story has immediately captured my interest – not being happy with her current work situation and after reflecting on it she had enough courage to star her own venture.
I am so happy to share my interview with this beautiful soul and I hope you can draw some inspiration from her words just as I did!
You are a business woman who runs her own PR company! How cool, but what exactly do you do?
I`ve been working in PR for almost 5 years now and I founded my own business two years ago. My main job is to help young brands and startups to gain public attention through the media and to give their visions a strong voice. I think my passion for telling stories is the key to my work – I just get really excited about great ideas and love to talk about them. For my clients I intend to be more than just a manager, I want to be a sparing partner and part of the team, someone they can trust and grow with.
You have started your business quite recently, what was the push and motivation behind it and when would you say you felt like you’re finally settled in?
I think especially when you are self-employed, change is inevitable. I learn so much from the founders and creators I work with and they keep challenging me and that is where the growth can happen and what constantly motivates me. I think in the past year I settled in with who I am as a working individual and realized once again how much I love what I do. And that is exactly what pushed me to do it in the first place. I wanted to create a work environment where I could grow as a person and have fun with the topics and teams that I appreciate.
You have mentioned that your previous job was not the best environment for you to fulfill yourself. What was happening? Was that a part of the reason to go out on your own?
My previous job – and first full-time job after university – taught me a lot. Not only about PR but also in experience and work ethics in general. I was able to help building a brand from the very beginning and to work with people I admire a lot about their power and creativity. It was an intense time and I would not want to miss it, but one day I realized that I could not develop myself further, as the possibilities where limited and I felt like I could not live up to the high expectations. It just became a lot of pressure. It actually was during a 3-day-yoga trip that I realized that I could not expect people or the circumstances to change, but that it was me who had to move on. So fear became trust and I decided to leave – and the fear never came back.
What obstacles did you encounter while setting up your business and now – developing it?
Many people projected their own fears on me and my situation – such as, „there are so many PR agencies out there, how do you want to survive? “ or „being self-employed is such a big risk, what happens if you are sick / pregnant / without projects…“ – the list of potential downers and obstacles is endless, but I just focus on the up-sides. In the end this is a people`s business and clients want to work with me because we have a connection and they like our reputation and portfolio. Critic is necessary and helps you bring out the best in you, but as one of the female founders I work with, Tanja Bogumil from Kisura.de stated once: You have to learn to differ between constructive advice and the random background noise. I always keep that in mind.
I personally know that starting your own business can be scary, what scared you the most? How did you deal with that?
As I’ve mentioned before, I think the fear about the idea of doing it is worse than anything that can actually happen to you. Of course it is a huge relief when you build something as a team, as I did with my partner Sandra. To go through bad and good together is the best part of it – you can share memories and learn from each other! There will always be times when you are uncertain about some aspects, but I just have the confidence to say that it all will be alright and quitting is not an option. As I said: Trust is key.
\What kind of women have you encountered in the PR industry? Is the competition harsh or is it more of a “there is enough to go around for everyone” situation?
Maybe I am just lucky, but people treat me really kindly. And if there is negative energy, it is just not for me. I meet amazing women of all businesses and in my opinion there is always enough for everyone and if you focus on what you wish for yourself (and work on it!!!) it will eventually come your way. It is hard work. A 60 hour week is pretty normal, but it is about to go with the flow – and it is great fun!
While starting and now running your own business have you encountered situations where being a woman was identified as an “obstacle” or situations where you felt sexism was at large?
I firmly believe that energy and attitude are everything. If we walk around and keep pointing out only what is missing and being miserable, it won’t change. I refuse to identify myself as weak because I am a woman in the first place. I experienced obstacles in the way that people thought just because you are a friendly person and care about people, PR is just about smiles and handshakes and no hard work at all. But I don`t care about these opinions and hidden sexism. Focus on your personal goals and surround yourself with positive energy and people you look up to. As Victoria Beckham, who I admire a lot for her career path, pointed out recently: My life is too short for negative thoughts! So instead of facing obstacles, networking is very important to me. Before work I like to meet for early morning coffees with fellow (PR ) colleagues and catch up on projects and ideas. Women should join forces and not work against each other, mutual support and bouncing ideas are everything to me! I am very proud of what my female friends achieve in their work and that we share our successes and fails. Together we stand strong against any attempt to ruin this vibe.
Germany is one of the most advanced countries, what is the situation with women equality and sexism?
Unfortunately, there are still individuals who treat women or people in general with disrespect and project their own insecurities on them, and Germany is no exception. I mostly experienced that people underestimated me in the beginning of my career, but it is a great joy when you can proof them wrong! Women should never be afraid to ask for what they want, to claim their rights and look out for each other. I stick with my path no matter what and no man or woman can ruin that for me. There are many great campaigns to support women rights and German women – and men – are quick to get up and on the streets or in social media networks to fight for their rights. There are many amazing networks and collaborations where women support women and it’s amazing to see that grow and be a part of it. It is important to be there for each other and share knowledge and experiences. I think equality starts in our heads and actually it starts in your very own head!
What were the things that motivated you at the beginning and what motivates you now?
In the beginning I mainly had to take the chance to work with many brands instead of concentrating on one – it`s great to have a whole variety of topics to work with and to get to know all these amazing founders and designers and their ideas. Now that is still the same, but as the time goes by you are able to enjoy the the results of your work and that`s motivation, too. At a recent event my client came up to me and said: You believed in us, before even we did it. To be this person for them and to help them grow and become the brand they want to be in the public eye, really means everything to me.
What would you say are the qualities a woman needs when embarking on a journey of starting their own business (or changing careers)?
You must not be afraid to really get to know yourself – because you better start to be your best friend along this ride!! Be honest with yourself and know what you are good at – and what`s not in it for you. Make your passion your business and you will be good in it. We spend so much time in our life working, it better should be with something we love to do! For cultivating those qualities, try to learn a lot, improve your skills, stay curious and get away from it all from time to time. That could be a daily meditation or a weekend trip, whatever works best for you.
Which experiences in your life were important to come where you are now?
I guess it is the sum of all my experiences that brought me here, but to really decide to start my own business was at a yoga trip in 2014. I was full of anger and fear about the current circumstances and believed that apart from my current job nobody would ever want to work with me more, that I even mattered in the Berlin work space. Over the weekend we were supposed to focus on what we wished to gain and how to let go of negative energies. So I worked on finding more self esteem and after the yoga getaway I knew that in order to break free from negative thoughts, starting something on my own would be the next step for me.
What is the downside of running your own business?
Your own business is like your baby – you are responsible 24/7. Sometimes it is really hard to unwind after a long and hectic week. Ideas and plans always keep popping up in my head. What really helps me to relax is a yoga class to get the connection between body and mind in balance. Adigital detox is also a good thing, to stay away from emails and to concentrate on being in the now and enjoy a chat with friends, the food market or a book. The best way to stay sane is to get away from it all from time to time.
What are your plans for the future?
I never plan very much ahead for myself, right now is an extra intensive time with new projects and clients and things come together really nicely. I know, this is just the beginning of something amazing!
Any advice for women who are looking to change their jobs, careers, start their own businesses?
Trust in yourself and find the one quality that`s really outstanding. Find out what makes you happy, because only if you are really passionate about something, you can be good at it. There will be hard times and it is all about staying power and positive energy. I truly believe that you can channel good experiences and if you treat business partners, clients, projects, and yourself with devotion and respect, it will come back to you in a good way.