We had the good fortune of connecting with Safaque Kagdi Afzal and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Safaque, why did you pursue a creative career?
I was always inquisitive as a child. My father is a businessman, so the seeds of entrepreneurship were sown early in my mind. Growing up in a digital revolution, I helped my father boost his business by combining technology and creative marketing ideas which really worked well for him. Nothing as such was attempted in his domain earlier.
While pursuing my Master in Business Administration degree, I was clear that I wanted to be in the creative profession and not be in the financial or technical field. When I entered the PR industry back in 2012, I challenged the status quo as my strategies for my clients were totally unconventional. When a project was assigned to me, I would delve deep into the objective of the campaign to come up with out-of-the-box ideas which increased their confidence in my approach.
Today, I am hired for my creativity and tactical approach. My open-mindedness helps me to see things through another lens to think of strategies other than the traditional PR requirements.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As a PR and communications professional, there is no field untouched in my decade long career. My PR agency has counseled clients from the financial, banking and insurance industry as well as technology, lifestyle, cryptocurrency and entertainment sectors worldwide. I have helped build the reputation and online presence of HNIs, investors, C-level executives, celebrities and international artists as well as unicorn startups and global organizations.
Initially it was hard for clients to trust my work, they wanted to employ well-established PR agencies for their promotions. I remember pitching to 30 people in a day, landing up for 10 meetings to finalize one project. My first client was a local startup who believed in my no-formula based PR tactics. Steadily corporates recognized my creative thinking and novel campaign ideas which facilitated my business growth.
What sets me apart is my international PR niche. My PR agency is one of the few agencies that offers services in the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, and the UK. With technology at our feet, the world has shrunken and most of the brands are global. To maintain universal exposure and uniform messaging, multinational corporates look up to my prolific knowledge and expertise in these geographies.
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?
I am the biggest fan of Broadway shows, so when my best friend is in town, we would do a Broadway marathon followed by trying new cuisines at the Grand Central Market. One day we would visit the iconic Hollywood sign and the next we would spend some time at the Santa Monica pier and beach, soaking in the sun.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I grew faster than my peers in my career, as my creative performance was at speed. However, being in a plush job, basking in your comfort zone, sometimes your entrepreneurial streak takes a backseat and you need someone to re-ignite the zeal in you. My entrepreneurial journey started as a result of trust and constant reinforcement from my husband. He pushed me to work for myself to grow 10 times faster and eventually encouraged me to start my boutique PR agency in 2016 providing remote PR services to global clients.
One other system that keeps me going is the quote, “The darkest hour of the night is just before dawn” from one of my favorite books, Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. These words have been stuck in my head ever since I read it and keeps me motivated to retain my focus on the goal even if I have roadblocks on my way to success.