Meet Sophie Bowman, PR & Branding expert, CEO of Brand Branding PR LLC. She is an official member of the Forbes Agency Council, an award-winning social media influencer, she won a MarCom award recognizing her as the best social media influencer building awareness for local businesses. Some of her clients: Kanye West, John Legend, London Fashion Week, Liverpool Fashion Week, Olympics among others.
Who is Sophie Bowman? Define yourself
Sophie Bowman AKA ‘That Brit’ who built her business online so she could travel the world and work from home in her pants (that’s without pants, in American) is a Forbes-published, multi-award-winning entrepreneur and influencer who proved herself an asset to small businesses in America thanks to her ‘entrepreneurial ADHD’.
How were you as a kid?
A character, for sure - a rebellious wild child! If I was interested in a teacher’s class, I was great; if I wasn’t, I spent most of their lesson time in the corridor ‘thinking about my behavior, locked away in detention, or waiting outside the headmistress’ office. I was kind of a loner. I tended to have one really close friend throughout my school days who I spent most of my time with, because even then, I was selective who I liked and who I wanted to be around. I just didn’t connect and vibe with many people. Fun fact; I got suspended aged ten for kidnapping the school hamster because I didn’t want him to be lonely when he was left alone in the school at the weekends. I was a little out there, even at a young age. Explains a lot.
You hold a Higher National Diploma in Business & Public Relations at Leeds Metropolitan University and you have a Certification in Music Journalism at London school of Journalism, why did you choose those courses of study?
I’m forever investing in my personal development. I always gravitated towards the creative sector of public relations, and somehow knew I’d be my own boss someday, so business & PR were an obvious and practical choice for me. I’m an avid music lover, and was launching a record label in London at the time, so a course in music journalism was a strategic move to fuse my passions and handle the music PR for my artists.
“Forcing yourself out of your comfort zone knowing there’s a possibility of failure, but doing it anyway, is the recipe for growth”
It seems you have always been an entrepreneur, your first business, a global entertainment agency, was nominated for 3 prestigious business awards including Business Innovation, and was selected as 1 of 6 companies to be showcased by Richard Branson for his Back of an envelope campaign. Tell us, about your background before you founded Brand Branding PR LLC?
I always had multiple side hustles going on at all times from my early twenties. I was a promotional model for cool brands like Guitar Hero and Jean Paul Gaultier, so I utilized those contacts to break into talent recruitment and PR. I was a nightclub promoter for a long time, until I got sick of partying and having to deal with people all the time.
I dabbled with special needs teaching until I realized the salary and career path would never reach my financial expectations. Someone told me I ‘wasn’t smart enough’ to become a psychiatrist, so I took the science exam, got an A*, applied and received an offer to study medicine at university in London, which I turned down. I had no interest in becoming a doctor; I wanted to make the point that people have no business telling a child that they aren’t capable of doing anything.
My most lucrative ‘side hustle’ was selling copywriting, branding, PR and social media services as part of my exit strategy from teaching, and thus Brand Branding PR was born. Launching an agency around my passions really put my career on the map, allowing me to travel the world and work from wherever I was in the world (without pants) while becoming a published Forbes writer and winning multiple awards along the way.
What does Brand Branding PR LLC make unique in the market?
I didn’t reinvent the wheel, I just out-branded the competition. To this day, I’m still yet to meet anyone else who possesses my unusual skill set and insider knowledge of multiple industries. I created a one-stop-creative-shop knowing happy customers who saw tangible results will become repeat customers. Once clients trust you, they ask you before doing business with anyone, so I built a database of tried and trusted affiliates - an additional revenue stream in itself - you have to play smart. People always tell you to brand yourself in one specific niche; well, me being the backwards person I am, I branded myself as offering multiple services as my niche; every move I made, and continue to make, is strategic, so the success followed.
You are an official member of the Forbes Agency Council, an award-winning social media influencer. In October 2019, you won a MarCom award recognizing you as the best social media marketing influencer building awareness for local businesses in America. Your clients have been: Saatchi & Saatchi, Kanye West (album launch), John Legend (single release), London Fashion Week, Liverpool Fashion Week, 2012 Olympics, Notting Hill Carnival among others. What´s the recipe for your success?
I never stop investing in my self-development, which is ironic when you consider my history at school. Being a social media manager is pretty basic now. So, I added a Digital Marketing Diploma and SEO certifications to my skill set. You have to keep finding ways to bring more to the table to outsmart your competition. Also, I took Richard Branson’s quote literally at an early age, and continue to live by it; ‘If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”
I can’t stress the importance of being ballsy enough - you will never learn or evolve by sticking to what you know. Forcing yourself out of your comfort zone knowing there’s a possibility of failure, but doing it anyway, is the recipe for growth. This is a great strategy for life, in general.
“If I feel a client isn’t a good fit, I don’t waste my time or energy. It’s not all about money; it has to be about preserving your peace too”
Another vital ingredient is upgrading your mindset to see opportunity everywhere. While some people are still sitting around at home squandering their new found ‘spare time’ waiting for COVID to end, others pivoted, quickly adapted their businesses to meet new consumer demands, and are busy getting rich. It’s all about how you choose to see the world.
I won a Stevie Award in February from the American Business Awards naming me the PR person of the year for small businesses in America, and just won two Hermes Creative Awards this August for both my marketing campaigns and pro bono work throughout COVID. I’m able to generate a lot of brand awareness online with zero budget by utilizing a few insider PR & marketing hacks, so I wanted to use my superpowers for good and help business owners during COVID; some things are more important than money. If you’ve started, or own, a business, you’ll understand the distress facing the possibility of losing it will cause. So, I focused on helping entrepreneurs adapt and survive by resuscitating their dying brick & mortar businesses by relaunching their brand as an e-commerce store by virtue of social media marketing.
Persistence is key. If I want to achieve something, I do it, no matter how long it takes. A lot of long-term projects I slaved on are starting to come to fruition. You’ll find my portrait hanging in Times Square and Miami as an example of an inspirational immigrant as part of a fashion week project with Conde Nast for the Amer-ICAN project, and I’m being published in a number of amazing publications next month including SUCCESS Magazine and BusinessInsider.com.
You are Co-Founder of BusinessOwnerSociety.com, what is it about? And who can join? how much does it cost?
My business partner, Jackie Nepola, and I completely altered the original business model when COVID hit. Right now, it’s free for entrepreneurs to join our online community of business owners who’ll inspire you to level up. We have an ‘anything goes’ group where members can retain anonymity to ask awkward questions or rant, which business owners can’t do as themselves for fear of tarnishing their professional or brand image.
Imagine being able to openly ask industry leaders anonymously how they won their first client? The anonymity is a gamechanger. Launching and maintaining a business is overwhelming and lonely at times, so we wanted to create a community of badass like-minded business owners who act as your personal advisory board you can bounce ideas off, and brainstorm solutions to your business problems with and so much more.
There will eventually be a subscription fee to our exclusive BOS membership, but we waived fees for obvious reasons during COVID. Places are limited, so register now at businessownersociety.com
“Audit your circle; cut loose anyone who emanates toxicity. You can’t talk power moves around people who don’t share your hunger”
What does a normal workday look like for you?
I usually have a plan for the day, which usually gets thrown out of the window by 11 AM. I could be writing a feature for Forbes, or putting out fires; it all depends what curveballs the universe decides to throw at me on any given day. I do work long hours most of the time, but that’s because I’m extra and I choose to use any ‘free time’ setting the foundations for new projects, and kicking the doors open to bigger opportunities. I’m restless and agitated if I don’t achieve a certain level of accomplishment every day, so I’m pretty relentless in my pursuit of greatness (and happiness).
What do you love most about your job? & what is the most difficult part?
I love that I’m not doing the same thing every day; that would suck the creative soul out of me. One day I could be working on a branding strategy for a new business startup, the next, I may be ghostwriting blogs and social media for celebrities; I love the uncertainty of it all. Every day is like a surprise. If you’d asked me what the most difficult part of my job was a year or two ago, I would have said ‘dealing with difficult clients.’ But I don’t entertain BS anymore. If I feel a client isn’t a good fit, I don’t waste my time or energy. It’s not all about money; it has to be about preserving your peace too. The most difficult part for me now is probably trying to remember to make time for a life; I blink and a whole week seems to have flown past me.
What is one strategy that has helped you to grow your business?
I built my social media presence as a calling card to potential clients, which became a lucrative side hustle in itself once I hit 50K followers, and led to me becoming a published social media marketing contributor to Forbes. A decade of multi-industry insight is the method to my madness, and my continued success. I handle my own PR, social media and marketing now because I’m yet to find anyone who shares my drive. It’s a lot to do alone, and it is overwhelming at times, hence why we formed BusinessOwnerSociety.com - who better to know what business owners want and need to make their lives easier than two badass entrepreneurs with an impressive shared history of turning businesses around and making them successful? I’ll wait…
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else does?
Think big. Install a 5-10-year vision, create a vision board, and don’t listen to the opinions of people who aren’t where you aspire to be. Audit your circle; cut loose anyone who emanates toxicity. You can’t talk power moves around people who don’t share your hunger; it breeds low-key haters who are anything but cheering behind your break. Read that again. Create your brand with the intention of evolving it into a global empire surrounded by like-minded go-getters, and watch the magic unfold.
“Unleash your branding beast and detonate some noise in your industry”
What are the do and don’ts in PR and branding?
When it comes to PR, you have to go big to cut through the noise and stand out. You can choose to go down the controversy rabbit hole; just have a strategy in place in case you receive negative backlash. The keyboard warrior citizens of social media are on red alert while bored at home, so bear in mind everything can (and will) be used against you. The right audience will get you, so don’t let the current global pandemic of brands tiptoeing around consumers keep you from playing the game.
The same goes for branding; go big or stay small. Modern consumers will be loyal only to brands they resonate with, so unleash your branding beast and detonate some noise in your industry.
Everybody has had dark moments in their lives, what have you done to get out of that phase?
When everything feels like it’s going left, I stop what I’m doing. I put out fires, then take time out. Unplug from everything; go be alone on an island somewhere to give yourself space to think and deep dive into solution-solving. Panicking leads to hysteria. A day at the beach or on the ocean always lifts my soul and, somehow, I always find the solutions I seek when I’m away from humans, near water. In times of high stress, you need to remove yourself from further stress AKA other peoples’ drama. Go into hiding to recuperate so you can come back with a vengeance and fix whatever’s broken.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
A year ago, I would have laughed and asked, what’s spare time? However, when I broke my jaw in an accident that nearly ended my life last year, it put things into perspective for me. I am my brand, so without me, there is no brand Sophie. I’m getting better at taking time out to avoid burnout now. A perfect day off for me is basking under the sun like a lizard next to my pool, curled up with a book, with limited socialization. I find constant human interaction draining, so I crave time alone. Social distancing has, and will, forever be my thing.
“Any company thinking, they can get away with paying women less than their male counterparts today should have a lawyer and crisis PR team on speed dial”
Many authors say women can and must strive to have everything – a shining career, a blossoming family life and a perfectly balanced lifestyle all at once, others point out that– then women are placing unrealistic expectations on themselves if they believe they can have it all, I don´t know if you are married and have kids, so according to your experience, what do you think about these statements?
You can have it all, but not everyone’s time on this earth is destined to share the same journey. I think I got that quote from Shrek. Anyway, I always wanted my own family since I was a little girl, but I never met anyone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I’ve been engaged a few times, but always called it off. Like in business, when things don’t go to plan, adapt the strategy. I may adopt in the future; with over 500K children currently in the care system, I don’t feel the need to have a child biologically without a significant other; not when I can change a child in need's life.
What are your plans for the future?
I always have a plan for my business endeavors; not so much for my personal life. I’m more of a free spirit. I do plan on global domination of some form or another, and being able to retire by the time I’m forty so that I can focus on investing in next gen entrepreneurs and other fun stuff. I am currently looking at buying my first dream home; somewhere that both inspires my hustle and captures my chill zone.
There is still the glass ceiling for women in the world: Fewer opportunities, jobs underpaid just for that fact of being a woman, etc. Have you experimented with the glass ceiling? If yes, what are the biggest challenges you have faced and how have you overcome them?
I’ve never personally lost out on anything to a man, because my experience, skills and reputation precede me. There are more females climbing the ranks now than ever before. Any company thinking, they can get away with paying women less than their male counterparts today should have a lawyer and crisis PR team on speed dial.
What tips, can you give to young girls who want to become an entrepreneur like you?
Whatever you’re passionate about in life, do that; it’s the key to happiness, and perseverance. Join an online entrepreneurial community who will act as your mentors and help guide you to greatness. We have a next gen division at businessownercommunity.com - we’re all about that building the entrepreneurs of tomorrow life, so come join us.
I followed you on IG and your life seems very luxurious, so I think in your position, many people may have the wrong idea of who you are, and what do you (professionally), with this idea in mind, what is being Sophie and what´s not?
I do so many things I sometimes don’t even know what I do anymore… I’m actually pretty down to earth and I’m a real home bunny. My entire life can be summed up as Work - bask in the sun with a book - eat - watch movies - repeat. I give so much of myself mentally and physically during the day to multiple projects, people and podcasts, that I practice social distancing most evenings and weekends, and not just because of COVID.
People always have the impression I’m still a party girl, but that’s not the case at all. In reality, I haven’t consumed alcohol in months and I’d rather chill at home or be at the beach. I’m low-key pretty boring. I had two decades of wild child antics, and got sick of my own BS. I’ve crafted a certain level of peace and happiness I plan to maintain, which carries zero FOMO (fear of missing out).
Who is the woman you admire the most and why?
Interestingly, most of my entrepreneurial icons are male i.e. Richard Branson, because he’s such a character. I really admire J.K. Rowling and her wizardry transformation from single mother on welfare to best-selling billionaire; what an inspirational story, and exceptional legacy to leave!
Name: Sophie Bowman
Sector: Branding, PR, & Social Media Marketing and Online Community Building.
Company: Brand Branding PR LLC / BusinessOwnerSociety.com
Designation: CEO / Co-Founder,