This week’s Woman in Business Interview is with Tatiana Dumitru, Founder & Branding Specialist – PreTee Creative
This is her interview…
Tell us about your business
I’m Tatiana Dumitru, the founder of PreTee Creative, a branding agency in Orange County, CA. I help clients with naming, design, website copy and strategy for their brands.
My agency is different because I take a unique approach to each client – I don’t follow a template. Instead, I shape a client’s idea by sprinkling it with creativity, infusing it with personality, and adding my own expertise. The result? A captivating brand that’s impossible to forget.
Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?
Before I opened my agency, I started a small business as a t-shirt designer. As a stay-at-home mom with two young daughters, I thought that making shirts with creative messages would be a good way to showcase my creativity…and keep my sanity. I’ve always had a creative side, and this was a great outlet that kept me excited and motivated.
Later, I became interested in branding and started exploring freelance opportunities…eventually, I was able to launch my own full-service agency. Now, I get to interact with people from so many different industries – one day, I’ll be creating names for a beauty brand, and the next day, I’ll be drawing a roadmap for a financial company.
It’s been a challenging, bumpy ride, but the journey has been incredibly gratifying. Along the way, I’ve gotten a lot of “Nos,” but it’s those “Yeses” that keep me going. And most importantly, I’ve gotten to fulfill my dream of a creative career.
What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
I’m an immigrant, so when I came to America I had no support system. And since I studied accounting in school, I didn’t have the degree to back up my creative pursuits. I’m constantly inspired by other entrepreneurs who, like me, started from nothing, didn’t have support systems or back-up plans, and still found success.
What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
Every opportunity I’ve been given has been an accomplishment for me. As I said, I started out as an accountant with no marketing or business background, and I immigrated from Romania to the United States in 2012. When I decided I wanted to explore branding and marketing, I started working for free. After building my portfolio and my reputation, I’ve now had opportunities to work with several global corporations.
After finishing a project for one of these corporations, my client there told me that though she’s worked with some of the world’s biggest branding agencies, she was glad she hired me and was impressed with my work. This was hugely gratifying, and definitely felt like a major professional accomplishment.
What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?
My advice is that if you want to get your name out there, you need to do something different. Show people how you can help them, and don’t try to sell yourself – it’s not about you, it’s about them. Sell how your services can help other people by locating their problems and offering solutions. And don’t overpromise – instead, deliver at 100% and continue to surpass your clients’ expectations from there.
What has been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business?
I’ve promoted my agency mostly through networking and word-of-mouth recommendations – and I’ve found LinkedIn a good platform for connecting with potential clients and other entrepreneurs. But I think the most effective way to market yourself is to let your work speak for itself. If you consistently put out great work, people will want to know where (and who) it came from.
What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?
Something I’ve learned along the way is that your reaction and attitude are everything. You’ll get a lot of “nos” and the road can be bumpy, but reacting to problems professionally and positively will get you a long way.
Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other small business owners that have helped you run your business?
I use SlideBean for client presentations and Wix to host my website. I also use Slack, Google Suite, Upwork, and LinkedIn to find new clients and collaborate with my teammates.
Do you have any new projects coming up (or have you just completed a big project ~ reached a milestone, etc.)?
I recently celebrated my agency’s first birthday! We’re currently a small team of four, and I’m hoping to expand this year.
What do you do for fun/relaxation?
I love to spend time with family and friends – the California weather is perfect for going to the beach, hiking, picnicking, and just being outside. I do a lot of cooking as well…I miss Romanian food, so that’s what I make most of the time.
What is Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?
My main goal is to continue making sure that all of my clients are 100% satisfied.
You want to write a book on…Build a Brand, Not Just a Business
I would write a book on the difference between a business and a brand…and why building a brand is the key to success in any entrepreneurial pursuit.
When you start selling a product or service, you can call it a business. But once someone else realizes they can sell the same product, demand will decrease and your business will become meaningless.
If you want to last, you need to create a brand. Branding goes beyond cute packaging and a fun website – you need to have clear core values, unique positioning, and a coherent strategy. A brand should create a recognizable feeling, and awaken an emotional connection with customers. because brand loyalty is created by the experience we have with a product, not the product itself.