With Women’s History Month in full swing, we thought there was no better time to feature one of our favorite girl bosses, Ashley Chejade-Bloom, founder of PR agency LFB Media Group. We had the chance to sit down with Ashley and learn what it’s like to run your own business, her closet work essentials and all about her adorable French Bulldog.
You worked at a PR agency in New York before branching off on your own. What inspired you to start your own agency?
I saw an opportunity to pursue the hospitality industry from a lifestyle perspective. Publicity is only one part of what we do. Oftentimes, developers and ownership groups can be removed from what’s relevant to certain demographics, so we work with them from concept to completion to ensure that the right programming, partnerships and events are in place to achieve their goals, then we publicize the project. Every one of our clients, from hotel and restaurant groups to spirits brands and tourism boards, are driving lifestyle initiatives and campaigns. It’s the new normal, and we think we’ve been ahead of the curve from the get-go.
There are a TON of PR agencies in New York. How did you break through and what sets LFB Media Group apart?
We compete. Every day we go the extra mile because we are grateful for the opportunity to work with our clients, and we appreciate that they have entrusted us with their brands. My background is in sales and business development, so customer service is a part of our DNA at LFB. There are many talented publicists and agencies out there who can generate press, but the secret sauce is understanding that PR is ultimately a customer service business. It’s our job to first earn the client’s trust, so that we can work together to execute a successful campaign. Taking the time to educate and over communicate with clients is not always easy, but it pays dividends for both parties in the end.
What was your biggest obstacle when you started out, and how did you overcome it?
Well, no experience in actually running a business, no investors, and no real plan for starters! I was 25 years old, hungry, and blindly confident. The crazy part is that I never even sweat it, I just kept my head down and knew I would succeed. Looking back now (knowing what I know about running a business), I would have been much more cautious, so I’m glad I jumped when I did.
Running your own business is a 24/7 job. What keeps you motivated to keep going every day?
My team and my competitive drive. I’m not going to pretend like it’s always easy, but we put in the work day in and day out and the results speak for themselves. My job is to ensure we have happy employees and happy clients, so when I see a wildly successful campaign that we’ve executed, or an employee who is thriving, it makes it all worth it.
How do you balance work / life?
I think the blessing and the curse of being an entrepreneur is that you never feel like you’ve reached the top – there is always more to accomplish. Because of this, I never looked at work and life as something I should balance. Working hard was my hobby… I was passionate about it, and I felt a tremendous sense of personal accomplishment from it.
Luckily, I have the best team in the business! They are extremely hardworking, talented, and truly care about each other, the agency and our clients. They force me to have a personal life, which I’m getting better at every day.
My husband Raphael is also incredibly supportive. He encourages me to reach for my goals every day and I absolutely couldn’t do it without a partner like him. Surrounding yourself with people who support your ambition is essential to achieving personal and professional success.
Do you have a secret for success?
#1 – BE CONFIDENT. My mother always taught me that “success is a state of mind.” Even if you aren’t necessarily the smartest, most qualified person in the room, convince yourself that you are and act (and dress) the part. Now, if you do this, you better be willing to do whatever it takes to deliver!
#2 – Confidence and a fiercely competitive drive can take you very far, but to achieve true success, you need to be knowledgeable and prepared, so I try to stay curious and learn as much as I can every day.
#3 – Don’t be emotional. Although I hate the phrase “it’s business, not personal” (because for a business owner, there is nothing more personal), there is still something to it. I’ve always taken advantage of negative moments, using them as fuel to push myself harder and achieve more.
Favorite work moment (if you can pick just one!)?
Moving into our first real office space was a truly rewarding moment. It felt like we ‘made it.’ That said, we have a pretty monumental moment coming up that you’ll be hearing more about this spring!
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to start their own business in what may seem like a challenging/competitive market?
I’m approached for advice by many aspiring entrepreneurs and the first thing I ask them is how much are you willing to sacrifice for your business? If the answer is not “everything,” I advise them to rethink starting one.
#1 – Being a business owner doesn’t come with the perks of vacation time, normal office hours, a personal life, etc. When you eat what you kill, and you’re responsible for your employees’ livelihood, you have to go all in. Regardless of how challenging and competitive the market is, you must be willing to put your business first if you want it to thrive.
#2 – If you are a sole business owner, like myself, you have to be equipped to make big, and often time-sensitive decisions that will impact your business (regardless of if you have experience with the topic at hand or not), so you definitely have to be decisive, rational and cool under pressure.
#3 – Always, always, always, know your numbers and understand the operations of your business inside and out.
#4 – Don’t have an ego. Put your employees and your clients and customers first. Remember, without them, there is no company.
How do you de-stress after a stressful day / week?
Quality time with my husband and wine.
You always look so put together. What is your secret?
Your style is the first impression you make, so make it a good one! I’m a big believer in dressing for success. My primary responsibility at the company is sales, so for me, feeling confident and powerful in a room sets the tone. I’m selling myself, as much as my company. I also dress the part… I look very different when I’m meeting with a restaurant on the Lower East Side vs. a global hotel group.
Speed is essential for me because I’m constantly traveling or running to meetings, so I don’t have time to primp for an hour or two every day. I know the silhouettes and styles that work for me and I buy them in different varieties. This allows me to not think about it… I can just grab and go, and still have versatile looks.
What are the five closet essentials every working girl needs in her closet?
The ‘Unicorn’ Stiletto: One that is both stylish and comfortable. I’m definitely a shoe junkie, but when you live in NYC, expensive shoes should be saved for occasions when you aren’t walking through cobblestone streets, and running into cabs and subways all day.
Black Blazer: This is one item that I definitely suggest splurging on in multiple styles. It will last forever if you take care of it.
Colorful/Lightweight Blazers: It’s challenging to dress for work in the summer. You need to look professional and somewhat covered up, but it’s so damn hot, so these are the perfect solution. You can throw one over a short skirt or silk pants and look put together.
Leather Leggings (or vegan leather): It’s an easy way to make any outfit more stylish. They look good with everything. I especially love them for one day work trips, because I can wear them on the plane with sneakers and a blouse, then throw on my blazer and heels for the meeting.
Work Bag: This is the other item to splurge on. I like a bag that can fit all of the essentials (laptop, charger, makeup bag, notepad, sunglasses, water bottle, lint roller, etc.). You need to be able to shake someone’s hand when you walk into a room without dropping 5 bags.
Since your firm specializes in hospitality, we’d love to know your favorite spots to check out in NY, LA… or anywhere else!
NY: Employees Only, Palm Court at The Plaza, Mr. Purple, Marea, VANDAL, Via Carota, Lalo and Llama Inn.
LA: I love to stay at L’Ermitage Beverly Hills because the rooms are so spacious, which you appreciate as a New Yorker. John & Vinny’s is the first place I stop to eat… the food, music and service are on point! I always try to set up my last meeting of the day at Viceroy Santa Monica because there is no better place to end the day then at one of the cabanas.
Favorite place to visit in the US? Abroad?
My husband and I always make food the main event when traveling to any destination, so I need to preface by saying that my opinions are purely based on eating. Domestically, I love Austin. The food and culture is incredible, and our partners at BMF Media just opened an Austin office, so there is always an excuse to go. Internationally, we recently traveled to Vienna and absolutely loved it. Marbella is pretty special as well. I also lived in London for two years and enjoy going back, but LA is my hometown, so it will always be at the top of my list.
Tell us about your dog @jesusbloomberg! We here he’s quite the celebrity!
He’s a legend in the frenchie community. Chunky, but we don’t judge.
What’s next for you? Tell us everything
LFB will be making a very exciting announcement this spring, which I am incredibly excited about! We’re embarking on a new collaboration that will continue to keep us competitive and most importantly, offering the best service to our clients.