Grazia Watkins invents her own career path
by Deja Goode
photography by Christine Diaz
You spend four formative years in college where you enter with high expectations of succeeding, but have to put in incredible, tiresome efforts to get there. There are endless late nights of studying, attending class, and putting your all into projects to receive this precious degree that should open your future. Nevertheless, after all this work, you find yourself jobless after graduation. The likelihood of getting a job out of college with a degree is high, but the sad reality is not everyone is that fortunate, especially during the lockdown caused by the pandemic. In some cases, students will find a job three to six months after college. It can even be two to three years, and, depending on the person’s situation, this is not the ideal route. The path is totally uncharted now with the unique hardships COVID-19 has brought upon us.
Grazia Watkins, a University of La Verne public relations alumna, had her fair share of trials and tribulations when it came to finding a job after college. Grazia has a firecracker personality, completely bubbly and open, and is very proud of her work. She never missed a chance to show what she was capable of. Full of confidence, she doesn’t hesitate to dive into the assets she possesses. Sometimes this process was intimidating as she often worried about her future in her career field of choice. Grazia expresses how she often became anxious waiting day and night on emails with hopes for opportunities to start living her dream. Pushing forward and remaining hopeful, she made an internal note reminding herself that patience and persistence are key.
After dedicating her time to three internships as a La Verne student, she has gained an abundance of experience with a resume any person would be proud of. However, this was not enough to advance her through the hiring process of the different companies to which she applied. “I had roughly three internships, all mostly unpaid,” Grazia explains, “It was mainly in the social media industry.”
As a graduate, she suspected that she would run through multiple positions before finding her dream job. She saw that some of her acquaintances got lucky and gained their dream opportunity right after school. She had a bad habit of comparing her own journey to others, causing more stress for herself. However, she had a positive outlook on the experience she was gaining, even if it was not exactly what she wanted.
Grazia’s first internships showed her what she did not want to do as a career. “It was horribly bad” as there was no growth for her in the industry. She still appreciated the opportunity and continued her search. Things changed for the better when she worked briefly with JustFab and ShoeDazzle. “I got to work closely with influencers and make PR packages to expand the business,” Grazia says. Her third internship experience inspired her. A lifestyle blogger reached out to Grazia to join her team as an influencer. Grazia nevertheless branded herself as a public relations manager, and was hired on as an intern for four months. This created a whole new window of opportunity for the career of a lifetime.
She put the fate of her future in her own hands and added the title “entrepreneur” to her name after starting her two successful businesses: Rad Beauty Co., a makeup business selling false lashes and lip gloss, and Happy Social Media, a company that helps businesses grow their social media pages on every platform through PR campaigns and more. Both have taken off with the great effort and the long hours Grazia has put into them.
As a new business owner, she often thinks about the advice she received from a friend. That person told her, “You will get out of it what you put into it.” To this day, this is still the mantra she follows. Starting two businesses and being consistent with both of them felt overwhelming for a while; she had a lot on her plate. Rad Beauty Co. was Grazia’s dream since she was a sophomore at St. Lucy’s High School. Her goal was going from lashes and gloss to eye shadow palettes, and even possibly advancing to skin care. However, she has since become more invested in her social media business. Being a one-woman show does not leave a lot of room for anything else, but she loves every second of it. “I used to drive four hours every day to an internship, and to me that is not feasible,” Grazia shares, “I don’t like working for people; I like working for myself.”
Grazia’s personal preference of being her own boss seemed to work out in her favor as she has already landed five clients as a public relations manager. She promotes her business through word of mouth. Her goal is to create personal relationships and connections with every client she takes on. This business tactic also creates an opportunity for complete transparency. In her field, most PR managers only get hired if they have years of experience. With her being fresh out of college and with little experience as a PR manager, the chances of her attracting potential clients were low. But Grazia did not quit. Receiving notifications for every possible job posted on websites kept her hopes high and her vision alive. Being quite adventurous, she had no problem dipping her toes into just about anything having to do with the PR field, whether it was photography, marketing or even graphic design.
Grazia is completely honest and transparent about her freshly printed spring 2020 degree to every person interested in her services. “I have only been doing this for six months so there’s still a lot of growth,” she says, “I own what I do, and I always mention that I am fresh out of college.” She brands herself with the saying, “You’re growing with me as I am growing with you.” Her businesses are growing, and she is rapidly making a name for herself in the PR field and setting herself up for future success.
Grazia says she uses herself as a test dummy for all of her clients. She spends hours glued to her devices, researching different organic media growth approaches, all while completely devoted to the success of all of her clients. “I research hashtags to use at certain times of the day, and so far it has been the best way to gain more media exposure.”
She jokes about her family always mentioning her constantly being on her phone, but she is learning to balance that out. Spending hours on her devices is a lifestyle that she is still adjusting to, but she is actively seeking balance that will keep her mental health and personal relationships intact. “Sometimes, I have to step away from my screens and get in touch with reality, but at the same time, it’s only me,” Grazia laughs. “I chose this, though, so I have to do what I have to do.” The pandemic leaves much room for business growth as professional life is primarily social media based. From digital marketing to new business strategies, Grazia knows the possibilities for creativity are endless.
Despite her comfort with her budding career as a PR manager, she is still applying to jobs, always looking for opportunities to make herself better and more equipped to take on more clients. Her drive to be successful is a powerful trait that not many people have. Grazia is an ideal role model for students who just graduated and are worried about their futures as working professionals. She is aware that not everyone wants to start her own business, but she encourages everyone to never give up. “Keep going, fix up your resume, gain your experience everywhere that you can and never give up,” she says.
Grazia’s future plans for Happy Social Media include a beautiful office location with a team of hard-working, dedicated women who can be themselves and use their own personal flair for the business. She emphasizes the importance of “genuinity” in the PR business, and how it is an important selling point.
Grazia’s focus on Rad Beauty Co. has shifted a bit since she put so many hours into her PR clients. However, the business has a steady client base and is popular with potential for growth. Grazia says she has bigger plans for her brand once things settle down. Her products are affordable and tailored to anyone’s personal preferences. For instance, for those who enjoy fun dramatic lashes, Grazia holds such a wide variety to the point where one would have trouble choosing. Her makeup is transformative. Grazia started experimenting her lashes with her friends and found that a chain reaction occurred when the friends started recommending her products to other people they knew. Soon, she had a fast-growing client base.
Rad Beauty Co. is highly important to Grazia because this is an ode to her younger, insecure self. Growing up, she was an athlete playing softball for 10 years. She loved the life of an athlete, but expresses that it was hard to feel pretty and athletic at the same time. High school children were harsh and made it seem like she could not be both. However, these experiences gave her tough skin. They fueled the flames of desire for success toward her businesses, which seemed to be nothing more than mere dreams at one point.
Grazia’s makeup business is being constantly reinvented, following current trends, and keeping a dedicated follower base that is always looking to purchase her products. For example, the pink “Palm Springs” aesthetic has been made over in several different ways, and the personality that is put into her brand is the shining star and primary selling factor. These things have made it clear that Rad Beauty Co., has a bright future ahead. With a whole team of friends and family behind Grazia supporting her, success is a given.
Hard work and dedication have led Grazia down an extraordinary path. While this is an unorthodox way to approach a lifetime career, it is one where great knowledge and experience is captured. She has managed to be a boss in the makeup business as well as a public relations manager for several clients. It is exciting to guess where her great efforts could possibly take her next. Grazia’s passion has inspired many, and as she continues to work, there is no doubt she will inspire even more people along the way.