Sarah Parsons is a creative entrepreneur and the Founder of Sarah Parsons Media, a boutique, Los Angeles-based PR and media firm offering bespoke, story-based public relations services to creatives and creators. Sarah has placed clients in publications such as Success, Business Insider, GameRant, FilmThreat, Bustle, The Strad, and Dance Enthusiast and has appeared in Authority Magazine, Darling Magazine, CBNation, and ShoutOutLA.
Tell us about your childhood and where you grew up?
I grew up in the Midwest. I was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio; though my upbringing isn’t what I’d call typical of where I’m from. While I love the lush greenery and open space of the Midwest and chalk my work ethic and stamina to growing up on my grandparent’s farm, from as early as three years old, I would pack my play suitcases and tell my parents I was moving to Hollywood. Simultaneously, I was always creating something of my own to entertain and bring people together. From garage concerts and haunted houses to making backyard films, setting up art exhibits, and of course lemonade stands, I’ve always had a very entrepreneurial spirit that my Father encouraged. Looking back, I feel incredibly blessed that he fostered and fed that fire I had by letting me try things that weren’t always amazing. I loved every second of it, and I truly believe it’s one of the foundations that ingrained in me the courage to create my own business and live life on my own terms, even if it didn’t succeed the first time. Homeschooled from first grade until the age of fifteen, I was always in extracurricular activities to meet kids my own age and make friends; this is when I was properly introduced to and fell in love with acting and theatre. I’ve always had a deep love and need to listen, share, and be a part of telling stories that bring us closer together. When I turned fifteen, I began studying theatre arts and performance full-time at the college level and was cast in my first college show. I was certain this was how I was meant to share stories with the world and by the age of nineteen, I had been accepted into the Disney Arts School in Southern California, CALARTS. This time I was packing my suitcases to go to Hollywood for real. Now nearing a decade in Los Angeles, it’s incredible to look back at how my time here has been spent in so many different careers. All of which, in one way or another, have played an important part in the ultimate founding of Sarah Parsons Media. From acting to learning to be a yoga teacher, to freelancing and becoming a business manager, all the way to being promoted to Chief Operating Officer by the age of twenty-six; because my path took unexpected turns, I discovered the invaluable practice of resiliency, the value of trusting the process, and how just saying, “Yes” to opportunities in front of you, even if they’re not part of your plan, can change the course of your life for the better.
How did you get started as an entrepreneur?
I touched on this a little before, but I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit that my family encouraged. Though I would say my proper start as an entrepreneur came after my time at CALARTS. I had just turned twenty and decided to leave the acting program, but decided to stay in LA. Knowing no one else in Los Angeles, I tried to find my footing by learning to be a yoga teacher, which led to teaching classes and eventually helping manage a studio. It was during this time I first began freelancing and built my business as an online business manager for entrepreneurs and business coaches in the online space. Over the course of the following six years, I grew my business to the point where one company hired me as the Chief Operating Officer. It was in this role I first worked in Public Relations and helped open a new firm in Los Angeles. As I spent time working in PR, it became clear that public relations had an overwhelmingly negative connotation for most people. In time, I heard countless stories about terrible experiences with publicists that did nothing and promises of instant fame and on the opposite end of the spectrum, so many people had no idea what exactly PR was. In my time as COO, I was fortunate to work in and understand every facet of the firm I helped open on a very intimate level. Over time, I was able to piece together the differences between good PR and typical PR, why it worked for some people, and what the common denominators were when it didn’t work. What it all boils down to is: good PR, in its purest form, is top-shelf storytelling and if a client doesn’t have anything to show or share for this and furthermore isn’t doing anything with what they’ve got, it leads to disappointing results. Now that I could delineate what made a great PR campaign, I was hooked. This was an entirely new way for me to share stories that brought people together. As someone who has loved storytelling her entire life, I view it as an extreme privilege to share the story of each client with the right sources to connect them with their true audience.
What is one business lesson you would tell a startup founder?
Take time for yourself every day, don’t put it off until tomorrow. This may sound counterintuitive when someone is trying to build a business, but as someone who has faced serious burnout, if there’s one thing I wish I had implemented sooner as non-negotiable it would be dedicating time to take care of myself daily. If you’re an entrepreneur, this probably isn’t going to be easy (I know it wasn’t for me). By our very nature, most of what we do goes back into what we’re building. We live and breathe to build our visions. The key here is to know how valuable you are in making that vision a reality. This isn’t about ego, it’s about knowing you have an obligation to the vision you’ve been given and knowing that you can’t properly show up for it or serve it if you’re not in fighting condition. It’s not selfish or taking away from anything to make time for yourself non-negotiable. In the long run, not only with it save you from burnout, but it may keep you from resenting the very thing you love.