We had the good fortune of connecting with Jillian Sanders and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jillian, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I moved across the country and started a new business at 39 years old. Both of these are things I always wanted to do, but as time went on, I didn’t know how or when or if they would ever happen. Then. BOOM. Pandemic hits. I move out of New York. I lose my job. I didn’t know anyone out here! I didn’t know how to start a business! But somehow, you figure it out once you put yourself in a position where you have no choice but to make things happen.
Then again, I’ve always been a risk-taker. It’s part of my DNA. Something people might be surprised to know about me: I didn’t graduate from college. I went to a two year acting conservatory, and from there I waitressed at a NYC steakhouse before being lucky enough to land jobs as a personal assistant which I interviewed my way into. I’ve been a hustler, a people person, and a connector my whole life — not a traditional “by the book” career person in the slightest. I think living that way is innately a little “risky”, but it’s the only way I’ve ever known.
Every opportunity that has come to me has been through someone I met organically. Through conversation. Through networking. I think if you believe in yourself enough, and that’s met with a level of drive and hard work, the risk meets reward at some point. It might take ten, twenty years, or longer…but for me, the alternative wasn’t an option. I’ve always felt like following my intuition and instincts to make big decisions was the only way to go. You can’t look at what “could happen if the risk doesn’t pay off”. That’s not an option in my mind. The risk will always lead to the next best thing. Period.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Jillian Sanders Public Relations, LLC is a Denver-based PR agency representing all things lifestyle. We opened in January 2021 and hit the ground running, with a client roster that includes nationally known beauty and wellness brands plus food, fashion and lifestyle talent and Colorado nonprofits.
In January 2020, after 17 years of working in entertainment and PR in NYC, I transferred with my job to Denver. I’d been to Colorado multiple times and loved it and said for years that I was going to move out west. As the years ticked on I decided “What am I waiting for?” Then, because of the pandemic, I was furloughed and eventually let go within three months of moving here. In a new city, without a job, during a pandemic, I was at a loss for what my next move would be. So, I put together a website with all my experience as a way to market myself and emailed everyone I knew back in New York and said I was looking for work as a freelancer. Within the first month, I had three clients. The next month I had two more. The third month I had to file for an LLC and was looking to hire.
I moved to New York City to attend acting school, but after graduating, I quickly realized that my true talent was working behind the camera. I simultaneously landed jobs as the personal assistant to Victoria’s Secret supermodel Frederique van der Wal and famed author of the Goosebumps children’s series, R.L. Stine, and it became clear that where I really found my stride was working in publicity. Hachette Book Group offered me my first full-time job as a publicist. I helped manage national campaigns for multiple cookbook authors from The Food Network, as well as Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook It’s All Good.
From Hachette, I was hired by Random House, where I managed PR for health and wellness titles under the Crown imprint. I then began my career at Hearst Magazines as Senior Manager of Public Relations, overseeing PR and events for Hearst’s top food and lifestyle magazines, including Food Network Magazine, House Beautiful, Town & Country Magazine, Metropolitan Home, Veranda, and The Pioneer Woman Magazine. From Hearst, I transitioned over to tech PR. As the Senior Director of PR and Events for Zeel, I made television appearances across the country while organizing partnership events to strengthen the B2C awareness.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Definitely a show at Red Rocks – that’s a must! The Denver Botanic Gardens is always a nice trip, as is the Denver Science Museum. I’d definitely sneak in a day trip to Breckenridge too – the drive out there is so beautiful and I think half the fun of living out here are the beautiful car rides. A walk through Union Station is always nice for outsiders – with drinks at Cooper Lounge, of course. I love walking through Rino and a stop in Modern Nomad, as well as Meek for shopping. Denver Biscuit Co. is also a must for first-timers.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Dee Dee DeBartlo, Founder of DeBartlo & Co. – I met Dee Dee about eight years ago and she reinvigorated my career when I was feeling lost. I wasn’t sure if I should stay the PR route and she offered me an opportunity to work as a publicist at her new PR firm. She taught me so much – how to be a leader, how to run a company, how to manage clients, and at the same time, we became good friends. We still work on projects together to this day. No doubt, Dee Dee changed my career and my life. I aspire to be to the publicists on my team what Dee Dee was and continues to be to me.
Matthew Ballast, VP and PR Director at Hachette Book Group – Matthew hired me for my first job in PR and to this day he is indisputably the best boss I’ve ever had. I was new to the PR scene and he was patient and kind and fun and everyone on the PR team at Hachette loved working with him. He was the best person I could have ever asked for to ease me into corporate life and I’m forever grateful that I got to work with him.
R.L. Stine – A man that needs no introduction. To this day, working as R.L Stine’s assistant is the one thing that gets the most questions on my resume! It was pure luck that I got the opportunity to meet and know and work with him, and I don’t know that if I hadn’t, my career would have ever taken off as quickly.
Photo credit: Jillian Sanders Public Relations, LLC