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Priya Chopra of 1Milk2Sugars: “I think women need to speak out more and ask for what they deserve; It’s shocking to learn about the pay disparity that exists”

I still find there is a huge disparity in the workplace between men and women. Equal pay for equal work is big in my books. I think women need to speak out more and ask for what they deserve. It’s shocking to learn about the pay disparity that exists between men and women, across all […]


I still find there is a huge disparity in the workplace between men and women. Equal pay for equal work is big in my books. I think women need to speak out more and ask for what they deserve. It’s shocking to learn about the pay disparity that exists between men and women, across all levels and in all fields. I am proud to be not only a woman owned, but women led Agency.


I had the pleasure to interview Priya Chopra. At age 22, Montreal native, Priya Chopra had already made her mark at global companies like L’Oreal and Cambell’s Soup. Following a brief stint working in fashion in Milan, Priya returned home and launched 1Milk2Sugars in 2012, an agency specializing in PR, Social Media and Influencer Marketing. 1Milk2Sugars has now tripled in size, both in terms of employees and client roster, and has picked up industry accolades, by winning PR Daily’s Social Media Awards. With a coveted client list, including brands like Pfizer, NIVEA, L’Oréal and Sotheby’s, 1Milk2Sugars now has three offices covering the key eastern hubs of North America: Montreal, Toronto and New York. Priya is an elite member of the Forbes Agency Council, an invite-only organization for executives in fast growing agencies. Members of this world class community are hand-picked by Forbes, one of the most iconic media companies in the world. Priya has been featured on Forbes.com, Bloomberg TV, Globe and Mail and others, to share thought leadership as well as how she balances a growing career while being an active mom to three young children. In March 2018, Priya was also awarded the PR In Canada, Women in Communications Award in the “Founders” category.


Thank you so much for joining us Priya! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I always knew I would work for myself, I was too defiant to work in corporate. I remember when I used to work for L’Oreal, I had the hardest time getting dressed in the morning to look ‘presentable’ for work, let alone arriving to work on time. The 9–5 corporate culture was too routine for me. However, I always had a solid job, with great opportunity for upward progress so it was difficult to let go. The opportunity came when I went back to school to pursue my Masters in Fashion Management, and I moved to Italy. When I came back, I found myself unemployed for the first time. This was the crossroad for me. I had to decide if I go back to work in marketing for a large multinational and essentially pick up where I left of — or do I take the path less traveled. I decided to opt for the unknown and start my own shop.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

Oh there were many! I started my business in my 20s, a time where you don’t have a large personal network, or net worth for that matter. Amongst other tasks, I was in charge of sales. Being so young, I had to do a ton of cold calling. I like to think of cold calling like a rite of passage as an entrepreneur — it is the ultimate test of character and resilience. Getting past that stage is extremely rewarding. I remember sitting in my office one day and the phone kept ringing (yes, these were the days of calling over email!). It was a pivotal moment that I realized clients were finally calling us.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

I am innately intuitive. Not just a bit, but a lot. Growing up, everyone would ask me to ‘vibe’ about them, I was like the classroom psychic. Being East Indian, this is something I really believe in. When I got older and started a family of my own, I grew away from that. As a parent you don’t want to over read things. However, in my business, this instinct has always been present, and has guided me throughout the years. I know when to worry, and when not to. I use my instinct to get through hard times and help me answer questions about the unknown. I think we are all intuitive to a certain degree, but if you embrace and harness your instinct, it can serve as an internal compass.

So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

I say this a lot to people these days: even though it was extremely hard to build 1Milk2Sugars to where it is today, I would do it 10 times over knowing I have now. It took year over year of grit and persistence to get to where I am today. There are many challenges in building your own empire but one of the main ones is credibility. How do you build credibility when no one knows who you are? Overcoming that challenge to now having some of the largest international brands in the world knocking on our door, is a reward I have merited through patience and strong work ethic.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Well, it starts with our name. 1Milk2Sugars is a name that definitely helps cut through clutter. People are very intrigued and LOL when they learn we are a communications agency and not a coffee shop. We have a very solid brand identity and are always working on keeping it fresh (stay tuned for our new website, launching soon). More than our namesake, what has been a distinct team accomplishment is winning bids where there are a large number of players. We have been competing in some tenders where there are 8–10 agencies bidding, so your chances of getting the mandate can be less than 10% right out of the gate. Being able to win in that environment and take home the prize is a testament that our Agency can compete on a large stage.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

The word balance is overused so I won’t talk about that. What I will speak to, is keeping things in perspective. I have had to experience illness and loss of loved ones early in life — this is what keeps me grounded. I always tell my team, “it’s just work” — as the founder and owner, even I can say that. While I love my agency like it’s my 4th child, I also keep it real that this is not the be all and end all of my life. I have other things that matter more — like the people in my inner circle.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I can’t answer that without naming two people. One of them being my beautiful mother, who immigrated here from India, arriving on her own with only a few dollars in her pocket. Even though she had a law degree from back home, she worked in blue collar jobs in order to rebuild a life for us here in Canada. Her personal sacrifices kept my brother and I on the right track, and we’ve always overachieved with her in mind. The other person is my husband, who entered my life later. We are both entrepreneurs and each have our own business in completely different fields. We share the reality of being business owners. It’s a true partnership, where we help each other along the way to build a business and a life of our dreams. He has been a key person in helping me succeed, I call him my unofficial business partner.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We are a very mindful agency, leading with honesty and integrity. There are a number of projects that we are committed to. Being a mother of 3, children’s causes are very near and dear to my heart. We support a multitude of children’s charities and will continue our support in that area. Kids are the future of tomorrow and the world is seemingly more precarious than ever. Next on our list is the environment and sustainability. We have made many conscious decisions about our own imprint on the environment and have implemented a number of measures including a no water bottle policy at our Agency events, or internally at our offices. We have cut back on over the top wasteful PR mailers and only use reusable bags or recycled carton. Finally, another area that is a personal project for me is promoting women from diverse cultural backgrounds. I have a new project that I am working on in this vein, that I can’t wait to announce soon.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Be fearless: When I speak to people that are longing to be their own boss, the main hurdle to overcome is fear. Think back to when you were a child, and you would climb to the highest diving board and jump in head first! I want to encourage people to let go of self-doubt and fear. If you believe in yourself, anything is possible.
  2. Failure is an essential part of the process: Fear often derives from the fear of failure. But why is that a horrible thing? Failing is necessary — it’s the building block from which we learn how not to repeat the same mistakes. It’s how we get better, get greater. Failure has never made me think I was less successful, or less intelligent. I never claim to know it all, and I am still learning to this day.
  3. Yes, you can have it all — Family and work: this one is geared to the working women out there. I managed to have three kids all while growing my business from the ground up. Contrary to what people think, children did not hinder my success — they helped me. I finally had to learn to let go, I learned to teach and delegate. I hired and trained a rock star team that has helped me enjoy work life balance.
  4. There are never any shortage of obstacles: Now that my business is stable and thriving, people often think I have it made, that it’s easy sailing from here. On the contrary, every stage of business from growth to maturity, comes with its own unique set of obstacles. While I have not seen them all yet, I have built a thick skin and can say that I am ready for whatever comes my way.
  5. Never waste your time: I would never waste 1 minute of the precious gift of life being unhappy with something I can control and change. If there is something you are doing, but you wish you were doing something else — move now. I am always true to myself and encourage others to do the same.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I still find there is a huge disparity in the workplace between men and women. Equal pay for equal work is big in my books. I think women need to speak out more and ask for what they deserve. It’s shocking to learn about the pay disparity that exists between men and women, across all levels and in all fields. I am proud to be not only a woman owned, but women led Agency.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Readers can follow me on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/prchopra/ as well as 1Milk2Sugars’ social media platforms:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/1milk2sugarspr/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/2034141/admin/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/1milk2sugars/?ref=br_rs

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Thanks.

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