Hustle Hard — It’s not always about making money immediately. If you want to truly achieve the American dream, you need to align yourself as an expert and a leader in your field. Sometimes you need to gift your time to achieve the dream to platforms and projects that open the windows of opportunity. You have to rewire your mind to always look for, and see, the bigger picture.
As a part of our series about immigrant success stories, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sophie Bowman, CEO of Brand Branding PR LLC and Co-Founder of Business Owner Society. Sophie is a multi-award-winning social media influencer who launched an online business a decade ago so she could travel the world and work from home in her pants. Recent awards include 2 MarCom awards for ‘Best Influencer for Local Businesses’ and a Stevie Award for PR Marketing Person of the Year from the American Business Awards.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Sophie! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Igrew up in London, UK, and actually attending a primary school called Unicorn School, in Kew Gardens. In my teenage years, I was mostly found in detention at my boarding school for rebelling against ‘the man’ and expressing my free-spirited, wild behaviors. I’m a lover of sun, sea and sand, so staying in grey London where you’re packed like sardines was never a lifestyle option for me. When I first moved to Miami, I knew no one and moved into a shared apartment with a random young professional I found on Craig’s List renting a room, who came to pick me up from the airport and remains a great friend. A month later, I was renting my own studio in Miami Beach, sleeping on an inflatable mattress after spending all my money on flights and furniture that wouldn’t arrive for weeks, patiently waiting for the American dream life to commence…
Was there a particular trigger point that made you emigrate to the US? Can you tell a story?
While I was living in Marrakech, Morocco, I met a group of army guys from San Diego. I realized how much I was missing out on by living in a country where I didn’t speak the language fluently. After a few (OK, many) cocktails, we collectively decided I should relocate to the U.S. so we flipped a coin to decide whether I should head to Miami or San Diego. Miami won, so here I am.
Can you tell us the story of how you came to the USA? What was that experience like?
I was a journalist for multiple publications in the UK, so was lucky enough to be assigned here to act as their U.S. correspondent. The experience has been amazing; and I’ve been fortunate enough to help increase tourism into the USA via my UK columns and blogs and guide American small businesses on how to connect with the European market, which is very different.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped make the move more manageable? Can you share a story?
Both Carmen Acre and Dan Medrea have guided me expertly throughout the entire process. I couldn’t have done it without them. They are an amazing team.
So how are things going today?
Business is booming. I can admit I was completely wrong about how the pandemic craziness would play out. Usually, marketing budgets are the first to be cut when recessions hit. However, the pandemic has made social media marketing a necessity for small businesses to survive.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I’ve been doing a lot of pro bono projects since the pandemic hit to help small businesses adapt and survive. I’m also using my social media influencer superpowers for good, helping local business owners increase their brand awareness and sales via personal appearances and giveaways. My efforts resulted in a video I created with zero budget for a local business going viral (over 150k views) which led to me winning two MarCom Awards naming me the ‘Best Influencer for Local Businesses’ in December 2019, and winning the Stevie Award for PR & Marketing Person of the Year in January 2020 from the American Business Awards.
Next year, you’ll find my portrait hanging in Times Square and Miami as part of a fashion and art venture highlighting inspirational immigrants by Vesna and Alessandro Cremona’s Amer_ICAN project which aim to spark the “I CAN” feeling with the intent to not allow circumstances to define us.
You have first-hand experience with the US immigration system. If you had the power, which three things would you change to improve the system?
Nothing, to be honest. The system is set up as it should be to make sure anyone who stays is bringing value to the U.S. economy.
Can you share “5 keys to achieving the American dream” that others can learn from you? Please share a story or example for each.
1. Add value — every immigrant brings the gift of cultural diversity to the American market. Whatever your profession, you can add value by bringing fresh ideas to the table and getting involved with local business and community projects.
2. Hustle Hard — It’s not always about making money immediately. If you want to truly achieve the American dream, you need to align yourself as an expert and a leader in your field. Sometimes you need to gift your time to achieve the dream to platforms and projects that open the windows of opportunity. You have to rewire your mind to always look for, and see, the bigger picture.
3. Manifest — Visualizing how your American Dream looks is imperative to achieving your dream lifestyle. For example, in November 2018, one of my NY goals for 2019 was to live in a house with a private pool. Writing your intentions and creating dream boards are the catalysts for manifesting what you want. I moved into a house with a pool ahead of schedule, way before we rang in 2019. Upgrade your mindset — Watch the movie ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’ — it’ll show you that the American dream is there for the taking…
4. Take Risks — no one ever achieved greatness by playing it safe. You have to be ready to take risks to reap rewards whether that be via risking it all to start your dream business or investing intelligently to create a legacy.
5. Take Time Out — Working non-stop, long hours is part of building your American Dream, but burnout is no good for anyone. Your brain will be inside out, your decision-making skills hindered, and overwhelm avec tiredness can lead to silly mistakes. Know when it’s time to unplug and decompress. Everyone’s different, but an afternoon near or on the ocean uplifts my soul and gives me the space I need to think and make intelligent decisions.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
Jeff Bezos — Amazon has forever changed the eCommerce world, spoils us by delivering our goods within 48 hours, and created a platform allowing people to sell their products. Dre has to be mentioned here too — what an incredible music empire he’s built — a true definition of leaving a legacy.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!