Publicist Sandra Florent is the ambitious face behind Solo Dove Public Relations. Having worked with professionals in the fashion and entertainment industry, Florent is steadily making a name for herself. We had a chance to catch up with this solo naturalista to learn more about her work and life as a publicist.
Tell us a little bit about Solo Dove PR? Why did you start it?
Solo Dove PR started in 2009, it was literally two months after I was done with school. I was done in December but I actually got to walk across in May. So during that time, it was a recession and there weren’t many PR jobs out there. I had one internship under my belt, but it was rather difficult during those few months looking for a job. Something in me just sparked and said “well, if I can’t get a job, I’ll just start my own job and I’ll use that as my ladder to get into PR.” Instead of just hanging around and not doing anything in my major, I wanted to at least keep my skills fresh and network and meet people.
How did you come up with the name of your company?
I am a Zeta, so the dove part was kind of a nod to my sorority. I am an only child and even the way I run my business, the way I do life in general, I do it by myself. Becoming a Zeta, I was a solo, meaning I was the only person during that became a member of my chapter that year. I figured that instead of it just being Sandra Florent PR, maybe Solo Dove will work, because it’s something catchy and it symbolic of some of my personal experiences.
As a recent college graduate at the time, what gave you the confidence to venture out on your own?
I think it was a bit of naivety. I never really thought about it, I just assumed that I could do it. I never thought about failing. Not until I actually got started did I think, “what if I’m not as good as I thought I was.” In the beginning I was just so passionate, I am still passionate. I just really wanted to work in PR, I really wanted to work in social media, I really wanted that client, I really wanted to get people in the magazine and I wasn’t able to do it at the time so I was feeling discouraged. I didn’t want to be one of those people that went to college, got a degree and didn’t work in what they majored in. I went to school for communications and I wanted to be a publicist.
How long have you been natural?
It has been about 4 years.
Why did you decide to go natural?
When I went natural, I didn’t really intend on going natural. It just happened. I had relaxers all through college and then I just tired of it. My best friend had been natural for years; she never pressured me to go natural but just from our conversations about hair, I decided to take a break from relaxers. I didn’t like relaxers so why was I getting it? My intentions were to stretch out my relaxers, but then a couple of months went by and I saw how my hair grew. Being 20-something, out of college, everyone thought I was going through a mid-life crisis. That was in 2009 and in February 2010, my best friend encouraged me to let the rest go. She actually cut off my relaxed hair. I had a teeny afro and I wore wigs for about a year, after that I was natural.
With all that you have going on how do you cope with the ups and downs of natural hair?
I’m becoming more of a protective styling person. It’s cold where I am so I don’t really like to do wash and gos or air-drying. In the winter time I try to keep my hair braided or wear a wig or a weave, anything where I do not have to do my hair all the time. In the summertime or spring time I have a little more leeway, thats when I usually do a twist-out or puff or ‘fro.
What’s your go to hairstyle for a professional woman on the move such as yourself?
Sometimes I try to cater my hair to where I am going. If I go to a fashion event, big hair is not really going to be an issue; but If I am going to a panel event, I might go for a tuck and pin look or a little old-school bouffant.
I’m an accessories girl so I might stick a flower or bow in my hair. If you like it you like it, if you don’t you don’t.
What are some of your favorite hair products?
I used to be a product junkie but I’ve calmed that down a little bit.
Switching the conversation to images of black women in the media.
As an African American women who works in entertainment and fashion, how would you describe the portrayal of black women in those industries?
I think there has been some improvement in the portrayal of black women. The issue arises when the gatekeepers, the people who are in-charge of content, have limited views and interactions with African American women and that is what they assume all black women will be like, so that is what they project. Sometimes it may not be negative, just limited.
For example, in the fashion industry all the models that are black have to be a certain size. Maybe you can only find two black models that are a size 2. Images are limited because maybe the types of models you are trying to get are limited in that demographic. It’s hard to find a size 2 model with light skin and naturally thick hair because thats just not how we are all made. If the criteria was expanded, maybe you’ll be able to find a dark skin model who is a size 2.
The industry is stuck on what they want, they want a specific person or image. If they want a quiet and meek African American women and the only meek African American women they met was short with glasses, then they are only going to hire a black woman who is short and has glasses, because that is all they have ever met.
How do you suggest we incorporate different types of images of black women in the media?
I think we may have to make our own. Our media has to showcase black women and continue to show different types of black women. Oftentimes, with publications, we see the same women over and over. It’s the same five artists or the same three tennis players.
Also, we can’t only talk about the things we don’t like in the media. So, if you see someone new and you like it, let them know. Like Lupita Nyong’o, she’s awesome. if you like her, tell the media you like her. If Newsweek puts Lupita on the cover, we have to go buy it. It’s okay to say we like people. Let mainstream media know when that they are doing good when they organically incorporate other images of us, put our money behind it.
Not only are they showing me, but are they hiring me. It is not only about what images they are showing, but are they hiring the people who know how to market to me. It’s the behind the scenes people that are responsible for the content.
Find out more about Sandra Florent and Solo Dove PR