The Styley

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January 22, 2015

Profile: Kerri Lee Ross, publicist, Los Angeles

Kerri Lee Ross is a beauty and wellness PR consultant based in Venice, CA. We met over Moon Juice (one of her clients, which is how I found her) to talk about California vs. New York, taking leaps of faith, and the joys and challenges of building your own business.

Where are you from?

I grew up in Massachusetts, in a town called Plymouth. I moved to New York when I was 18, and went to NYU. I worked at a couple of agencies that were more lifestyle oriented. I worked for Lizzie Grubman, who is famous for running people over. I was before that situation. I landed at an agency called Siren PR. They do beauty and fashion. I worked there for about eight and a half years. So I did hard-core beauty.

What do you mean when you say that?

I did everything from Unilever/Clarins accounts to small niche brands like Annick Goutal. I worked with Sally Hirschberger for four and a half years. I worked with a ton of celebrity hairstylists, talking about mousse and hairspray. I worked there for a long time, and I started to get this little voice that grew larger and larger and louder and louder. It kept saying, "This is not happiness. This is not fulfilling." It was wonderful training, because beauty, no matter how large or small, is truly a business. Fashion can be a little wavy-gravy. Beauty has kind of a corporate edge to it. It makes you dot all your I's and cross all of your T's and that's wonderful. But I looked around, and I was like, "Nobody's really into all of this," but all the girls I worked with were like, "Yeah, I get out of bed for the spring 2015 eyeshadow." And I was like, I don't care.

You were like, I don't even know how to put eyeshadow on.

I know, I don't. 

I don't either.

So I did a program at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, not because I wanted to become a holistic nutritionist but because I just needed something to focus on that I was interested in. And that was something that had been growing. At the same time, I was traveling to LA for work, and every time I went I would think, "I really like it here," but I didn't do it. And then finally one day I was like, "This is never going to be easy. Never." It's never easy to wrap up your entire life, all of your friends, all of your everything, and move. Usually people ask me whether it was for love or a job, but it was for neither. I actually quit my job of eight and a half years that was quite cushy. I wasn't seeing anybody in New York or LA. It was just a feeling. I knew I needed to go, so I did. I didn't have a plan. I didn't want to work for an agency out here, but I knew it was an option. 

So no plan? I didn't have a plan when I moved to California. 

I know! No plan, and I'm such a planner too. I'm a Virgo.

Me too! But I'm like the least planned Virgo ever.

Everyone was just like, "What are you doing?" I had it in my head that I was going to go in-house for some kind of center or property and do holistic counseling. The connection for me originated with beauty. What you put in your body is a reflection of how you look and how you feel. So I got interested in holistic nutrition for from a vanity standpoint. I put both of those things out there--either working in house somewhere or doing holistic PR. I kind of threw both options out there to the first person I reached out to, and they were like, "Well we want to hire you for PR." So I was like, okay I have one client, I need a couple more in order to pay rent. So that's how I found Amanda (of Moon Juice).

But you hadn't initially wanted to do PR.

No, I thought I was going to leave PR because I was so uninterested in the whole thing. But when I looked at it from a different perspective, and asked myself how I could apply all of my skills to something I was actually interested in, I could maybe change things up. Maybe I didn't need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

How did you become open to doing what you had done before, only with a different perspective?

I think I knew I was making a huge change in my life. It was really scary. I was like, "Is anyone going to hire me," and on the flip side, "Are any of the editors that I worked with going to remember me now that I'm not with this agency?" There was a huge question mark about whether or not all of this was going to pan out.

It looks like it has.

Yeah, it has. It took a little bit to build, but I'm in a good place. What my business has evolved into is more lifestyle than anything else. It's wonderful because it leaves room for a lot of other things I'm interested in: wellness, for sure, some design, some food, all the things Moon Juice represents. In New York, you have to be specialized, but my LA clients do a million different things. There's just an openness about Southern California that dares you to do something that isn't boxed in.

What's the good juice in your life, aside from Moon Juice? What gets you going?

What comes to mind is freedom. I feel like I have such a freedom out here that I never felt in New York. That's just beautiful. It's scary, because with freedom comes instability, but that's also exciting. I'll get a little woo-woo here, but if you truly trust the universe, if you trust that you will be taken care of, it kind of all works out. I've seen it happen over and over again, so it's kind of like I have evidence.