With the start of a fresh year, we decided to sit down with our founder, Coral Darby, this month and chat about how she got into the industry, some of her best memories in her time at Darby, what goals she’s setting for the agency this year, and much more. So grab a fresh cup of coffee and keep reading to get to know Coral a little better.
We’re so excited to get to finally interview you, Coral! Let’s kick it off with what is one of the most common questions we hear you get asked, how did you start in this industry?
Honestly, my start came from a blend of hard work and good fortune. I was in the right place at the right time. After an internship with Patagonia my senior year in college, I decided to move to Bozeman, Montana in hopes of working for the Patagonia Mail Order division. That did not pan out, but after an amazing stint with a company called Tibetan Traders, I landed an entry-level position with an advertising agency that specialized in working with outdoor equipment manufacturers. Through that experience, I met the likes of Dana Gleason (Mystery Ranch, Dana Designs), the Kirsch family (Sportif, Aventura), Demetri Coupounas (GoLite), and many other iconic industry members. I was in love and knew that the outdoor industry was my home.
While at the agency, I worked hard to learn all that I could about every aspect of marketing and business. I was a quick learner and moved swiftly through the ranks from admin assistant to accounting to media buying and finally, to public relations. I pioneered the PR department for the agency and we won industry awards for our services. That experience opened many doors for me.
What is one of your most favorite things about working in the communications business?
Truthfully, it can be challenging sometimes to keep up with the evolution of PR and digital marketing, but I love the learning process and welcome the fact that no two days are ever the same in this business. The constant flow of information and new data is invigorating!
My other favorite aspect is the multitude of people I get to interact with regularly which includes the Darby team, our clients, and our media friends. Building rapport with so many influential and engaging individuals is a highlight for me every day!
You’ve always given back to your community, whether through Darby Comm or in your personal life, can you share with us a particular experience that meant the most to you personally?
I love getting involved with the Asheville City Schools. Nothing feels better than helping make a difference in kids’ lives.
Running a PR agency isn’t as easy as many people think. Can you share with us some of the biggest challenges you faced this past year and how you overcame (or are overcoming them)?
This past year has definitely been interesting with the ongoing pandemic and trying to unify a creative house when remote work is the norm. With the help of the management team, we’ve been finding ways to connect our staff while giving them the space to feel safe, healthy, and respected. Our top priority is to keep our employees feeling valued, so we’ve built a new road map that recognizes success with greater financial rewards and a strong internal growth path.
What agency goals are you excited about for 2022?
Smart growth that aligns the agency with the right clients. By teaming up with clients that value and respect our work as much as we value and respect theirs, we are able to create a win-win situation that yields happy clients, and a staff that feels good about their efforts and contributions. By keeping morale high on all fronts, we should be positioned for our best year yet! I’m excited for 2022!
You have had the opportunity to go on a lot of great business trips and put on some fun events, what is one of your best memories from the past 14 years of Darby Comm?
Tough question because there are so many incredible memories. Let’s see, I crossed glaciers in Iceland with our past client, Vasque, and that was epic. I spent numerous weeks in Leadville, CO supporting clients at the Leadville Trail 100 and those memories are pure gold. I also have loved every Outdoor Retailer Trade Show I’ve attended (beginning with Summer 1994) — the happy hours, the networking, the client dinner, the team AirBnB’s, it’s all been a blast! Geez, I have been so fortunate.
We also heard that you’re a big fan of winter! What are some activities you’re looking forward to doing now that it’s getting colder?
Nothing beats a crisp cold trail run when the fallen debris crunches under your feet and your beanie freezes over. It quiets my mind and uplifts my demeanor.
What song/artist is playing on repeat for you right now?
Ha, Ed Sheeran, I am currently obsessing about the UK — probably because I’ve been binge-watching Ted Lasso.
Podcast or Documentary? Which one is your preference and do you have a favorite?
Let’s pretend you could have an all-expenses-paid trip to anywhere – where would you go?
I would do a multi-stop trip, first to the UK, with the bulk of my time in the Scottish Highlands. Then I would hop over to Norway because it’s beautiful and I want to learn why Norwegians are so damn happy!
If you could meet someone from the past, present, or future, who would it be and why?
Unequivocally, President Barack Obama. IMO he served before his time, I miss him at the helm daily.
What is the most underrated piece of gear you own?
The App Gear Co Beanie, it’s so comfortable, it fits underneath a helmet and is constructed of Alpaca so it is amazing at regulating temperature. Plus, it wears in a really fashionable, cute way! Love it!
What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I worked for a jewelry wholesaler in the Denver Merchandising Mart as my first real job out of college. I was miserable.
Anything fun coming up on the horizon that you want to share with us?
I’m back into running longer distances and will be participating in a half marathon with my 16-year-old daughter on March 5th. Wish us luck!
You can find Coral on LinkedIn.