When you imagine what your life will be like in the next five years, what do you envision? Do you see yourself on Forbes 30 Under 30, on a road trip in South Africa with your best friend, or in a new home with your husband and child? Do you want to help others in undeveloped countries, build an empire, or simply learn how to just be happy? In short, what you decide to dream today can determine how your life will blossom. Instead of taking a gamble on your future, you can take action and learn how to build the road that hasn’t yet been paved. For today’s Boss Babe, she did just that. She took an unfortunate situation and turned it on its head. And if there’s one story you need to hear, it’s Leland Drummond’s.
Before the days of social media and digital content, Leland Drummond was a badass snowboarder. The slopes became her home as she competed in big air competitions and rode for several brands. However, when her life took an unexpected turn due to a major sport injury, Drummond didn’t let it defeat her. From there, she ended up working for the Mouse (aka Disney) and small boutique agencies. And as her career progressed, she eventually met her future business partner, Michele Thomas, to create a show-stopping PR agency named Azione. Her drive and determination are what sets her apart. While she could have let her accident paralyzed her from fulfilling her dreams, she faced her fears and created the future she knew she was always meant to live. Meet the always beautiful and incredibly driven, Leland Drummond.
Brooklyn, NY —> Huntington Beach, CA
How would you describe your life in three words:
Blessed, Never boring
Ultimate girl crush:
App you currently can’t live without:
Uber, Alarm Clock (I use it for meditation),
Best way to release some stress:
Workout and meditate
NYC restaurant you’ve been meaning to check out:
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into public relations.
I guess in some ways it started through snowboarding. I learned when I was a teenager and began doing freestyle/ big air competitions in the years following which landed me some sponsorships. That love affair took me west to Colorado for college eventually I began riding for several brands as an amateur. When I injured myself (inevitably), I realized I could still work with some of these brands and help them to market themselves, even if I wasn’t riding. That was really my first taste of it.
From there I went to California and started a job at Disney in their Consumer Products division. It was a really cool time at the company when they were looking to breathe energy into their most beloved legacy characters. It was like grad school for me. I had a chance to collaborate with some pretty incredible creative people during that time like Darren Romanelli and Kidada Jones and we did all the things you did pre-social media, like real viral marketing. We came up with chalk art and graffiti campaigns around Hollywood and Downtown LA and we re-upped Mickey Mouse’s cool factor with a vintage tee shirt collection for Fred Segal. No two days were the same and I was like a sponge soaking up the 360-degree approach. It was unique and totally invaluable.
After that, I worked at mostly small boutique agencies in everything from celebrity to fashion to consumer products and ultimately connected back with my snowboarding roots helping to bridge the gap for action sports companies with a more mainstream consumer. I met my now business partner Michele in 2007 and we just clicked. We worked so well together and ultimately always saw eye to eye on how to build brands in an action-oriented manner that we didn’t feel like we could do under anyone else’s jurisdiction. In 2010 AZIONE was born and the rest is history.
Describe what your day-to-day is like.
I’m usually up somewhere between 6:30-7:15 a.m., depending on when my son Oliver wakes up (he’s typically my alarm clock). I usually try and squeeze in a meditation before he does, but sometimes it has to wait until later in the day. My favorite time of the day is my morning with Oli and right before bed when he’s really silly. At least two mornings during the work week I’ll go to modelFIT for a workout— it really starts my day off properly and they’re like my family there. Otherwise, I’m usually in the office at around 10 a.m. doing the usual catch up with my team, responding to and filing emails, talking to Michele and our Managing Director about business stuff and then typically stacked with client calls and often new business meetings. I am home by five almost every day so I get evenings with Oli and then often catch up on a few things after eight when he goes to bed. I find it really important to try and keep my work life and my mom life as separate as possible, though it’s a constant work in progress. I try for the most part to have no meetings on Fridays and use the day to decompress a bit and slow down. Weekends are always spent with the family and I’ve made it a rule to not open my computer on Saturdays.
Azione really seems to set the bar high when it comes to their brands and clients. In your own words, how do you believe Azione stands apart from other PR companies and why do you believe it has blossomed into the badass company it is today?
Thank you! First and foremost, we are all about action (that’s why we named our company that!) and we believe that in each client relationship, we need to act as a true extension of their brand. With that said, we are constantly putting our heads together to get results in unique ways and build authentic relationships with not only the media, but also with everyone that crosses our paths. We always try to look through an editorial lens when telling stories, planning activations or building initiatives — in other words, everything has to have a purpose and have some type of visibility ripple effect. I think as an agency, we are constantly trying to redefine what PR is, I think in large part because the traditional model is antiquated and doesn’t allow for much creative license but also because the media landscape is always shape-shifting. We’re definitely tireless workers and take a lot of pride in what we do but at the same time, we want to have fun and at the end of the day just be innovative and collaborative. We’ve built our entire business on word of mouth, and it’s been cool to see people gravitate towards what we are doing. We’re grateful.
Being a co-founder of a PR company is an amazing feat, but can be extremely stressful. Over the years, how did you learn to have a work/life balance and not feel overwhelmed?
Ah, balance is tricky. It’s a never-ending give and take. Every time you think you’ve reached the peak, there’s another obstacle, and that can be stressful for sure. Fitness has helped me A LOT. As an athlete, movement is a crucial piece of my happiness and mental clarity. Meditation has also been a lifesaver… I make sure to do it for at least 20 minutes a day. My business partner and I have a really good relationship too—we work incredibly hard, but we also have one another’s backs when things feel unsurmountable. We keep each other in check. My husband Peter is also my rock. We share all the daily responsibilities 50/50 and he’s an incredible father. I feel like good partnerships are the key to success.
What do you say was the biggest challenge when creating a company from scratch? Hiring. Hands down it’s the hardest part of building a business… I could write a book about it.
If you had a million dollars, what do you think you would’ve done differently when initially creating your company?
Probably would have hired a COO to put certain business infrastructure in place. We learned through experience as well as through making mistakes — but the life lessons are probably worth their weight in gold.
If you can drink with anybody, dead or alive, who and where would that be?
My Grandpa Ted. He died right after I was born, but I’ve been told my whole life that I’m quite a bit like him.
Where do you hope to see yourself in the next five years?
Collaborating with creative people. Helping build incredible brands. Giving back. Being an amazing mom.
Any advice for future Boss Babes, especially those looking to enter into the PR world?
Do your research. Work somewhere where you connect with both the Founder(s) of the company but also its mission. Try and get a sense of the team and their work style. PR takes dedication and is not for the faint of heart, but the payoff is great—in particular when you love where you work.
Office Interiors by Theresa Rivera Design
Written by Raven Ishak
Photography via Vanessa Granda