May's Fearless Leader | Duree Ross
What is the name of your business?
Durée & Company
When did you open your business?
I incorporated Durée & Company in 1999 at the age of 24.
Why did you open your business?
I fell in love with public relations at the age of 19 during a fated college internship. Originally a double major in broadcast journalism and sociology at the University of Miami, I found my place in the world of PR. Now I lead a talented team of public relations and marketing professionals in South Florida and Aspen, Colorado. Durée & Company works with clients who provide services and impact lives from South Florida and all over the world.
I kind of stumbled into opening my business. Word got out that I was starting to do some work following a stint at a nonprofit and then the phone started ringing. All those internships that I had while in college were suddenly paying off for me at 24 years old. I was so busy with work that the business was just born – without a business plan or anything!
What did you learn in your first year of business?
I learned to be authentic, honest and transparent and built my entire brand around that. Always be a person of your word and do what you say you are going to do as your word is really all you have! I always say as a business owner you have two types of job. Your “day” job which is in your profession then a “night/weekend” job of running the business, dealing with paperwork, etc. I never set out to have my own company but it just kind of happened for me! I guess it was just meant to be.
What did you learn about yourself personally?
Everyone sees the outcome of hard work and success, but people don’t always realize the personal sacrifices and unending commitment around the clock that it takes to get there. It takes grit, hustle and integrity to be a business owner. I have definitely had to get tougher over the years.
I have learned that I am most definitely a people person, a perfectionist and Type A!
I’ve also learned to always listen to my gut.
What have you improved upon as a business owner?
I have had to improve on quite a few things! Learning to hire correctly to help me grow the business and also to find people who are the right fit for our culture. The biggest skill I look for when interviewing for our office is drive, hustle and dedication. I can teach the rest but having that desire to succeed is critical.
Learning to say “no” and not feeling guilty about it. I have to admit that I am still working on that one!
I’ve also had to develop the skills for identifying who might be a great partner for us to work with as a client. It’s such a team effort that we always want to make sure that we are working with like-minded clients.
Are you doing what you love?
Most definitely. While PR has changed drastically since I first started out (no more standing at a fax machine sending press releases!), I can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s true what they say, “find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
What do you love about your career as a business owner?
Public relations isn’t a traditional 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. job. It’s 24-7 and I absolutely love it! For nearly 20 years, I have been building Durée & Company to be one of the top PR and marketing agencies and I take pride in the firm’s many accomplishments. Our motto is: “under promise and over deliver” and we are passionate about delivering stellar results for our clients each and every day! Truly there are no two days alike and that keeps it fresh, exhilarating and fulfilling for me and our team. I can’t imagine it any other way.
Who would you like to thank for your success?
First, my family! They are incredibly supportive and understanding that my career often has me working nights and weekends. They are my biggest cheerleaders and who I strive to make proud daily. Second, all the people who took a chance on me as a 24-year-old and have continued to refer me business to this day. Third, my team who is unwavering in their support of me and for our clients.
What would you say to someone thinking about starting their own business?
Don’t! Just kidding. I would say to make sure you are completely committed and have the ability to be available and ready to deal with anything that comes up at all hours of the day and night. Having your own business means it’s pretty rare to have much time off (even when you do have time off it’s usually spent catching up or on administrative tasks). The sky truly is the limit; in my wildest dreams I could not have dreamt this up.
What is your Company Mission?
At Durée & Company, we’re absolutely obsessed with creating amazing public relations, marketing and special events. And while it’s true that you only get one chance to make a first impression, you have a million chances to make an indelible impression. That’s at the core of our business – creating those ‘million chances’ for you to make your impression great, fantastic, impactful, cutting-edge – whatever you want it to be.
We’re a group of insanely passionate people who stand for honesty, integrity, loyalty and hard work. We go the extra mile for clients who get it, know what we do, and allow us to do our job. In many cases, the relationships that Durée & Company establishes become the bedrock of future client initiatives.
What is the vision you want to bring to life for your company?
Whether we are opening a restaurant, launching a new brand, promoting an exhibition or raising funds for a cause, we see the challenge the same way — to achieve the best outcomes for our clients via media (traditional and social), partner relationships and of course, the general public’s feedback. (It’s called public relations for a reason, right?)
Durée & Company recently opened a full-time office in Aspen, Colorado. It is a natural fit for us as many of our South Florida clients have business interests in Colorado, we have clients based in Colorado and I have been a part-time resident for many years. Our expanded office gives us the opportunity to serve them in both destinations.
Our Colorado client base includes the growing CBD business – a new vertical for the firm – as well as real estate/business, nonprofit, lifestyle/hospitality, and more.
I truly love new challenges that push our team, as we always strive to make a difference for our clients. We definitely work hard and play hard!