Sarah Boyd thinks of herself as "dot connector," someone who brings people together. It was this passion for kindness, inclusion, and empowerment that led Boyd to leave the hustle and bustle of public relations to create her own community of fashion, beauty, and entrepreneurial leaders and to host conferences that bring them all together through her own company, SIMPLY.
"I wanted to do something that really gave back to the industry," Boyd tells MyDomaine. With a background in fashion PR, Boyd knew her way around the fast-paced industry, but there came a time when she wanted to do more. Like many entrepreneurs, she started with a vision board. Now, her dream of connecting industry leaders and newcomers alike is a reality, but it would never have been possible without taking a risk. "I've always been quite fearless, so I didn't give myself too much time to think about the scary leap I was taking," she says. "I figured, if it didn't work out, I could always find a job, but I couldn't live with the regret of not trying."
In this installment of Second Life, a series in which we spotlight women who've made major career changes, we catch up with Boyd about taking a leap of faith, paving the way for a more inclusive space in the fashion and beauty industries, and how she balances it all.
Tell us about your first career path.
I started out working in fashion public relations at my sister’s agency. I fell in love with PR, the fashion, the hustle and learned the ins and outs of the Los Angeles fashion industry. We worked with startups to established brands and everything in between. Over the eight years working in PR, I knew that I absolutely loved connecting and always came from a place of service and wanting to see others succeed. I learned to craft an enticing pitch, what was newsworthy, and honed in my networking skills.
How did you make the transition from working in PR to running your own company?
I gave myself three months to plan our first conference and spent the few months before leaving my job to build my business plan and work evenings to put together my strategy. I'm big on vision boards and goal setting, so I put together lots of goals in terms of speakers I wanted, brands I wanted to work with, venues I wanted to host our events in, cities I wanted to bring the conference to and monetary goals. Once I was off to the races and didn't have a 9-to-5, there was no turning back.
It took a bit of time to get used to not going into an office, so I made sure that each day I woke up and got ready (no sitting in sweatpants all day!) and also made sure to book at least one meeting daily to get me out of the house. After a few months, I hired my first employee, which was such a commitment! I'm now responsible for someone else's livelihood! Then after about a year, we invested in our first office space.
Tell us about your current career path/business.
I am currently the founder of SIMPLY, a company that is focused on joining together fashion and beauty industry leaders and hopefuls alike. We have two main arms: our SIMPLY Conferences, where budding influencers and industry insiders can hear from the top names in fashion, beauty, and tech. And then we have our SIMPLY Digital Network, where we work with our roster of celebrity bloggers in the digital sphere on media strategy, brand partnerships, and content creation.
We also work with brands and assist them on influencer marketing campaigns. I'm also the president of West Coast operations for NYLON and Socialyte, who acquired SIMPLY almost a year ago. And finally, I'm a fashion and beauty contributor to Forbes. I certainly keep myself busy but wouldn't have it otherwise.
Corina Marie Howell
What have been the biggest challenges in your many careers and why?
So many challenges! I feel like I face at least one a day. I think one of the biggest challenges though have been to find balance. In my 20s I would work non-stop. I would work 10 to 15 hour days and then go out to events every single night. Then at 29, I got married, so of course, I wanted to spend time with my husband. He also had two boys, so I was an overnight stepmom and wanted to be sure we had family dinners at night and that I was around for family time. Then, at 32 we had our own baby—my little angel, Ava. Life really changed then, and I had to have laser focus during work hours to maximize my time at the office.
Life balance I compare to unicorns—beautiful in theory, if it only existed. There were days I cried missing all the little moments in my baby's life, then moments where I felt like my business was getting passed up while I was at home. At the end of the day, I learned to enjoy each moment and really be present wherever I am and that's the best I can be.
What triggered your need to change this time around?
For me, I wanted to do something that really gave back to the industry and I wanted to feel like I was making a change in people's lives. In my PR days, I would work so hard and never get appreciation or thanks for the clients—only wanting more and pushing me harder. I physically could not sustain that lifestyle anymore and wanted to build a community based around kindness, inclusion, and empowerment.
My favorite day is the SIMPLY Conference days because I get to see hundreds of amazing, entrepreneurial women who are so grateful to have this platform to help them get their foot in the door, learn and connect with top experts in the fashion and beauty industry. I've heard countless success stories ranging from brand partnerships to influencers attending the conference and years later sitting on a panel, and that just makes my heart happy.
Why is your current path suitable for your personality?
I've always loved networking and bringing different people together; that's why everyone calls me “the dot connector." Now with SIMPLY, I get to use my love of connecting people every day. Whether that’s introducing one of our SIMPLY Digital talent to a brand they’ve always wanted to work with or seeing attendees create long-lasting relationships at our conferences, it’s always so rewarding to bring people together.
Corina Marie Howell
What's the most important thing you have learned in making a big change in your career life?
I've learned that it’s scary as heck, but if you don't take a risk you'll live with the "what ifs" your whole life. I couldn't imagine not taking the jump now and don’t know where I'd be in my life and career if I hadn't. It has made me whole as a person, and I have touched so many lives by the risk that I took in my own. For that, I'm so incredibly grateful.
How did you move past the fear of change to pursue your passion?
I've always been quite fearless, so I didn't give myself too much time to think about the scary leap I was taking. I figured, if it didn't work out, I could always find a job, but I couldn't live with the regret of not trying. Believe me, there were so many times I could've given up, but I kept sticking to what I believed in, and it always works out, in the end, the way it’s supposed to. When people see such a strong passion, they want to help, they want to support and want to see you succeed. It's a beautiful thing.
What are some mistakes you made along the way that ended up helping your success?
I believe that all mistakes are a learning moment (it took me many years to realize that fully).
Corina Marie Howell
What do you love most about your current role and why?
I love that every day is different and that I get to work with some of the top talent in the influencer industry who are all kind people. Each day is a new adventure at the office and keeps me on my toes.
When you look back and reflect on your previous career, do you have any regrets? Or are you still really happy with your decision?
Definitely no regrets. I needed those skills I learned in PR to do what I do now. Plus I built countless relationships over my 10 years in PR.
Do you have any advice to other women juggling a busy career and being a new mom?
Don't be so hard on yourself. There is no perfect balance; you just have to be present wherever you are whether that's with your little one or at the office. You'll always be mommy, so don't feel guilty; you're doing it for the family, and you're becoming a great role model for your baby.
What change do you want to see—or pave the way for—in your industry?
The fashion and beauty industry has made a lot of strides lately toward becoming a more inclusive space, but we still have a long way to go. I would love to see the industry continue to be more welcoming, and also a kinder space. Fashion and PR get a bad rap of being full of mean girls, and unfortunately, I’ve experienced plenty of that, but I hope to create a kind, welcoming community with SIMPLY. There’s room for everyone to succeed.
What is the best piece of career/life advice you've ever received?
Don't sweat the small stuff.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Our SIMPLY L.A. fashion and beauty conference is coming up in August 2018. Would love to see everyone there.
Us the discount code MYDOMAINE to receive 20% off tickets to the conference.