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Taking an unconventional route when it comes to one's career path is not an easy choice to make. However, for those who are willing to put in the work and put unwavering trust in their own journey, the rewards often can outweigh the risks. For Daniela Urso, the decision to go at her own pace helped lay the groundwork for her career today in personal relations, while also teaching her invaluable lessons about knowing her worth and how it can be healthy to challenge the status quo.
"... the company was merging fashion and tech to create a product that could be applied to so many different things and so many different types of people."
After finishing high school, Daniela decided to take a year off before venturing into college, a choice that is often referred to as a gap year. Taking time off before making the decision to further one's education or not has commonly yielded several benefits, especially for creatives, including resulting in a more focused dedication to one's classes once they do enroll. In Daniela's experience, the year break paid off both on a personal and professional level, laying the groundwork for what has since evolved into a rewarding, multifaceted career across several industries.
Throughout the course of her career in PR, Daniela has lent her expertise to elevate all sorts of campaigns spanning across the fashion, beauty, entertainment and tech industries. Now based in Los Angeles, the New York native is continuing to showcase the importance of being a well-rounded, adaptive and hard-working professional, whether she's working on sharpening her own skills or helping support her clients' projects.
During a recent conversation with DropLabs, Daniela shared more about her experiences navigating the fast-paced world of public relations, the importance of cultivating relationships and why investing in yourself is always your best bet.
What do you do for a living and how did you get started?
I currently work at a niche tech company and I oversee corporate communications, media relations, social media and marketing. My career has always been in public relations, in one form or another. I've worked in fashion, beauty, entertainment, and now tech. It's been interesting seeing how a lot of the skill sets can be applied to any of the industries but each are different in their own way.
I originally went to FIT--the Fashion Institute of Technology--for about a year and a half and then I decided to take a little time out. I took a bit of an unconventional route, and I took a year off from work. I feel like it's such a societal norm that you have to go to college right out of high school and keep going and secure a career. For me, it was important to go at my own pace and to take a step back in order to reevaluate. I hated the pressure of 'you have to do this and you have to do this now.' I think it's healthy to not follow the status quo. You have to do what you need to do to be sure in yourself, you know. After taking a year break, I was ready to go back to school. I attended the University of Tampa for International Business and Marketing. I got my degree at their business school while working pretty much full-time, and after I graduated, I ended up leaving Florida and going back to New York, where I started doing internships and really focusing on next steps.
What inspired you early on to gravitate towards public relations and communications?
I wish there was some type of exciting story to tell but I really just wanted to work in fashion. I knew I could write well; that comes naturally to me. So just knowing where my strengths were and knowing that I wanted to be in fashion, I gravitated toward fashion and beauty PR. After I started off my career and spent some time working at a boutique PR agency, I realized, ok, this is so not for me. I left the fashion and beauty industry forever after that. [Laughs]
With being across different facets of different industries, do you have a standout accomplishment or a project that you're really proud of?
I've been fortunate to have done a lot of really cool things at each of my posts. In my current job, I put on a massive national press conference from across the country and I was able to confirm a U.S. Senator to be the opening speaker. At my last company, which was a television network, I did so many cool things while I was there. One of the highlights while I was working there, before this current presidency, where I was able to work with one of our shows and confirming them to screen it and coordinate a panel in the White House.
What would you say is the most rewarding part of what you're doing professionally?
For me, it's seeing the fruits of your labor. So, when you're working with a reporter and you have a specific vision in mind, it's really rewarding to pitch your idea and sell it, and then see the story really come to life in the form of an article or some type of coverage. It's really rewarding to see it all come together and know you helped make it happen.
Do you have a certain environment or setting that helps you to do your best work?
You know what? I would say no, actually. I've always been one of those people where it's like, if I have a coffee and if I just buckle down, I'll get it done. For me, it's less about the setting that makes a difference and more about my mind state. Other factors, like how you wake up and if you're feeling ready, I think those play into how creative I'm feeling, versus if I'm alone in a room that's 72 degrees and nobody's around or something. Whether I'm in the office or whether I'm working from home, I like to think I'm more logical about it. If I need to do something, I just have some coffee and then I just do it.
What surprised you about trying DropLabs for the first time?
I found out about the company through Ange. When she first got started with the company, she told our group of friends about it and it sounded incredible. Ange explained how the company was merging fashion and tech to create a product that could be applied to so many different things and so many different types of people. I thought that was pretty neat. When I first tried them on, it was very cool because I've never tried something like that before. I feel like DropLabs is the first of its kind, and I'm not sure if I'm wrong in saying that, but I've certainly never tried on something that is so experiential to the point where it's innovative. It was a very cool experience.
In your personal application of them, are you more-so a music person, meditation or would you use them in several different ways?
What I thought was really cool about them is that it reminds me of the movie theaters where the seats themselves are in-sync with the movie playing, so there's a little bit of extra bass in your seat or that it shakes when something happens. Personally, I would most likely wear the DropLabs shoes the most when I'm watching a film. It intensifies the experience when there's a suspenseful moment or something happening, and your feet just immerse you in the film a little more.
What are your favorite kinds of movies?
I would say I prefer dramas and documentaries. I enjoy a good action film too. I feel like the DropLabs shoes would be very cool to wear while watching a James Bond movie or something like that.
How would you describe DropLabs Technology to someone who had never heard of them before?
I would say, it's really more than just a shoe. It's a new, innovative company that merges fashion and tech. They're really trendy and cute but they're amplified by whatever you want to use them for. Whether you're meditating, watching a movie or listening to music, the shoe syncs with the different frequencies and it sort of tremors. They can be applied to so many different things and they intensify the experience in such a cool way. What I think is the most interesting part about it is that I can see it being so helpful and useful for the Deaf community. Maybe I've just never paid close attention before, but I feel like I've never known of too many new cool innovative tech products that cater specifically to the Deaf community. I think that it's really awesome to see a new company trailblazing in a sense.
What are some goals that you have for the year ahead?
It's interesting now because with coronavirus, this pandemic is going to affect a lot of industries. I've always believed in the people who know more than I do on a particular subject or topic, and when it comes to this, I'm going to go ahead and believe the scientists. For the foreseeable months, we're all going to have to be evolving to deal with this new normal. So, for me, I would say it's a balance of continuing to work on my craft, while also weathering through what could potentially be the new norm along with everyone else. In the bigger picture, I'm really trying to continue working on bettering myself and working on my skill. I look at this quarantine time as an opportunity because now we have nothing but time. I have the good fortune of being able to work from home right now but I do believe you can use this time wisely to work on yourself if you so choose.
For me, at least as I've gotten older, I've placed more value in things like bettering myself and I've made more of an investment in myself. Whether that's professionally or personally, I do see the value in sharpening and refining your skills. I think that is going to be my focus these next few months and being in a constant state of doing that.
Do you have any advice you'd like to share to people in your field?
I would say that relationships are important, professionally and personally. Not to bring it back to coronavirus, but this is an example of how communities are going to be working together in really creative ways. When you look at what's happening in Italy, I think it's beautiful how people are on their balconies and creating music together and doing what they can to get through it. I think working with people and finding ways to nurture relationships with people is really important, especially during these times of isolation.
My advice to professionals would be to get to know as many people as you can. In any professional space, relationships are everything. Relationships can be what helps you get a foot in the door when you're interviewing or relationships could be what makes whatever project you're working on that much stronger. I think ultimately building good relationships and being a good partner to all your relationships is integral. You just never know how people can help one another. People will come and show up for you and help you when you need it. It's always a work in progress but it can be so easy when you're mindful of it. Building relationships comes more naturally to some people than others but when you realize it and focus on it, it's like, oh wow it really does take nothing for me to just check in on this person or to help somebody out where they don't even have to ask for it. I think nurturing relationships are really important, especially today.
Daniela Urso can be found on Instagram at @daniela_urso.
As innovators by design, the team behind DropLabs is dedicated to supporting and elevating members of the creative community. Together, we aim to serve as a platform highlighting different creators as they work towards achieving visionary excellence and inspiring others along their path. To nominate a creative leader you’d like to see highlighted on our website, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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