Taking A Leap of Faith With Fons PR
Not every successful entrepreneur intended to end up that way. Some, like Brandy Fons who owns Fons PR with her husband, simply grow into it into it.. Today, we’re talking to Brandy about some of the big risks she’s taken how her innovative spark have evolved their business.
foundingAustin: What is the big idea behind your company?
Brandy Fons: We do public relations on a national level for entertainment and film clients in the Austin market. In a nutshell, we are the representation and the spokespeople for brands. We strategize with our clients on the best way to represent them and their products and how to get the most exposure to build their brands.
fA: Who is your ideal client?
Brandy: People like the Alamo Drafthouse, who we've worked with for eight years and movie studios that are coming to premiere their products at festivals here or within the Austin market.
fA: What inspired you to go from working for someone else to working for yourself?
Brandy: I worked in-house at Disney Film Division and so did my husband, it's how we met. But I was a Texas girl in Los Angeles who wanted to see what we could do next. When we left the studio world to come to Austin, we decided to freelance. Eventually, we reached a point where we needed to either to start turning down business or grow. We grew and became Fons PR.
When we said that we were leaving Los Angeles and the studio world, some of our colleagues said, "Why would you leave a Fortune 500 company where your career path goes nowhere but up?" People forget that it's okay to take chances and risks. We had no guarantees that we were going to be successful, we just took that leap of faith. Now, those same colleagues ask me how they can do what we do. I always tell them that there's no rulebook that tells us how this is all going to work out. You just have to take that chance and do it. If you're a hard worker and you believe in yourself and you have the experience to be doing what you do, only positive things can come from that and you can't be afraid of those chances.
fA: What do you like the most about being an entrepreneur?
Brandy: Having the ability to spread my wings and to create. When I worked in-house for companies, I was kept in my box with a narrow area of focus and now I'm able to think freely and create outside of my box. That allows us to shine in the projects we do because we're able to make them stand out from other markets. It's also what has led to getting more business through word of mouth—because when other business owners see our work, they want to work with us.
fA: What do you dislike the most about being an entrepreneur?
Brandy: I didn't go to grad school to own a business and it wasn't always my grand scheme to become a business owner. I was a publicist who grew into this role, so areas like payroll, insurance, human resource management and taxes are not where I shine the most. So I’ve found people who are a better fit than I am at those tasks. I thrive in the creative aspects far more than the formalities, but I know that both are necessary.
It also helps that my husband is wholly my counterpart. We have different talents that complement our work together. He is also a creative genius and a really good writer and he prefers to keep his focus on the product and the projects, whereas my role is more overarching. So we definitely divide and conquer.
fA: What's the most important lesson you’ve learned?
Brandy: It’s okay to value your services. I think that PR is often an undervalued service because it's not something that shows an immediately quantifiable return on investment. The results are within the media but it's not something that you can prove and put a number on, and if you do put a number on it, it’s very subjective. We’ve learned, as a team, that we should be valued for the services we provide. We have the experience to back it up and I think that's my biggest regret or challenge—not always having believed that I am worth what I say we should be paid. I have to remind myself of that. It's okay to value your work.
I remember this filmmaker once commented to me, "I could have talked to all the journalists myself." I said, "How do you think those media got here for you to talk to?" And then he was like, "Oh, that's a really good point." I went on to explain that while he was talking to them on one project, I'm talking to them on multiple and so, I have more leverage. Additionally, my relationship with various media outlets is 15-years deep, which gives me yet another advantage.
fA: What advice would you give yourself five years ago?
Brandy: I think the advice I would have given myself in moving to Austin from Los Angeles, would be to realize that we have a skillset that is valuable and that people will hire that skillset. When we moved here and we told our clients in LA we were leaving, they said that we were making the biggest mistake of our careers—yet they also said they’d follow us wherever we went. I think I would go back to tell myself at that time, "You should start your own company because you've reached a skill level that people will follow, and that means something."
fA: Are there any organizations or charities that you are passionate about?
Brandy: I'm very pro-women because I have seen the challenges of being a female business owner, especially working with my husband. I've seen that at times, women are treated differently than men. I donate to women's organizations, GenNext is one I'm really passionate about. Also SafeHouse, where abused women are given shelters, and Pets Alive. I'm a big dog lover and so definitely help there as well.
I really believe in working with local companies to give back to the people who have given back to me. It's not that I don't want to give nationally because I think that's great too, but I want to support other entrepreneurs because that's what has allowed me to work in this market, so I need to give back when I can.
To see a menu or find out more, visit the website FonsPR.com.