We had the good fortune of connecting with Tatiana Dumitru and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tatiana, what do you attribute your success to?
It’s hard to name the “most important factor” because I believe my success is the result of a number of factors – and they’re all tied together to play a part in my success. These factors include being disciplined, not procrastinating, always putting my best work out there and going the extra mile, being honest, taking responsibility for everything I do, and sticking to my brand’s promise. But if I had to pick one, it would be the fact that you have to be prepared to accept failure. It’s inevitable and it’s not necessarily a reflection of you or of your capability. Failure shouldn’t make you feel unworthy – it’s just part of the process and part of success. I’ve always seen failure as something predictable, and as a necessary stepping stone for success. I’ve never been scared to fail because I’m aware it’s something that everyone experiences…often, more than just once. Understanding and adapting to failure is something that really makes a difference when it comes to your business’ future and it’s success. Choose to see it as a beginning and not as an end.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I’m a brand specialist and I’m PreTee Creative. Years ago, I opened an Etsy shop where I sold t-shirts with my own designs…so that’s why my business is spelled “PreTee.” From there, I started freelancing as a branding and naming specialist on Upwork, and after a few years, I started my own agency: PreTee Creative. I decided to keep the name as a reminder of how it all began. Opening an agency has been a huge step for me. I did it without any formal educational experience or training – I’m a former accountant, but my passions for branding and creativity have followed me forever. I spent years educating myself to make this dream a reality, and to make sure my agency would be different than the rest. PreTee Creative isn’t just another branding agency. I believe that my branding process isn’t just about the service and finished product – it’s about the start-to-finish experience. I collaborate with every client until they’re happy, and I treat each brand as my own, whether I’m working with a small start-up or a global corporation. If we disagree on something, I present my rationale while considering their feedback. I always keep a positive and friendly tone that’s both professional and personable…a sprinkle of humor never hurt anyone! Something else that sets me apart is my availability and communication. I’m not afraid to hop on the phone and make time for a client, and I’m always there to guide them through my process. I believe my approach to every client is unique. I take their idea, blend it with my expertise, and infuse it with creativity. I consider a product’s target audience to ensure the branding will speak to them. Branding is essential. It builds consumer confidence and determines the direction of your business’ future. Iconic branding goes beyond a catchy name and Instagram-worthy packaging, and I believe every piece of a brand’s journey is important and impactful. Every project I’ve accomplished has helped me improve my work – and has taught me important lessons. Starting a business is never easy, and there are always challenges along the way (“No way!” said no one ever)…but it’s your attitude that makes a difference in the long run. How you respond to what happens to you can ultimately be essential for your business’ growth. I’ve learned a lot since starting my own business. I’ve learned to focus on my strengths and not my weaknesses, because that’s where success comes from. Although I’m a confident and independent woman who thinks she can do it all, I’ve learned along the way that it’s ok to ask for help on things I struggle with. Otherwise, I’ll waste time and energy that’s better spent elsewhere. I’ve also learned to give up control. If everything depends on me, I won’t get the best ideas from the people I work with and I’ll just create a bottleneck. This whole journey started as a fleeting idea with very little confidence that I’d ever actually have a branding agency. I grew up in Romania, and moved to the United States when I was 28 – I knew very few people, and had no support system. But, I took small steps every day towards my goal. I took chances on myself. I grew a network of friends and collaborators. (Some of my biggest supporters are people who I’ve never met and that’s pretty incredible!) And now I’ve surrounded myself with an awesome team that I owe everything to. I can’t wait to see what comes next!
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 live in Orange County, CA, and I love it – we have everything from beaches and mountains to glamour and entertainment (and so much more!). You can easily drive to L.A, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Las Vegas, and even San Francisco in just a few hours. When my friends are visiting, I like to show them Anaheim Hills, where I’ve been living for 8 years. We have scenic views and plenty of green space – including Oak Canyon Nature Center (with kid-friendly trails) and Yorba Regional Park, with fishing, riverfront paths, and a duck pond. Kaffeine Alley is a cute local spot for organic high quality coffees, teas, and breakfast goodies, while Tempo Cantina is my go-to spot for creative Mexican food and delicious margaritas. These are great places to grab a bite before heading out to Disneyland for a fun-filled day. Or, if you’re a water park-lover like myself, you can’t miss Great Wolf Lodge – perfect for kids and adults alike, with lots of water slides and other howl-ing fun activities. Another must is Old Town Orange, beloved for its eclectic mix of restaurants, bars, and antique shops. I love to walk around there and stop for some tea and croissants at Paris In A Cup, a Parisian themed-cafe complete with an elegant tearoom. In our itinerary, I’d also include a nice drive to my favorite coastal destination, Laguna Beach. Here, I love to explore the sea caves, ocean-side bluffs, natural tide pools, and the beautiful sandy beach. If it’s summer time, we can’t miss the Pageant of the Masters which is arguably one of the most unique productions in the entire world – the performance brings famous works of art to life onstage. Another one of my favorite local events is the Sawdust Art & Craft Festival, dedicated to educating the public and promoting the art created in Laguna Beach. While we’re in the area, I’d stop by Rothschild’s Restaurant in Corona del Mar – just a 15 minute drive from Laguna. This family-owned Italian restaurant has been my favorite date spot for years thanks to their homemade pasta and cozy, romantic ambience. If you go, don’t miss the spicy shrimp, garlic bread, and pasta of the day. Another favorite seaside destination is Balboa Island. This harborside community is located in Newport Beach, and it’s the perfect place for a relaxing walk or a short, scenic ferry ride across the harbor. Don’t forget to indulge in a famous frozen banana or snag a souvenir! During the winter, I love to visit Wrightwood, a mountain town that’s just an hour-long drive from Anaheim Hills. Wrightwood makes a great weekend destination from the city, and is less touristy than Big Bear. At Wrightwood, you’ll find mountain cabins, the Pacific Crest Trail, a variety of great restaurants (Evergreen Cafe is my favorite breakfast spot!) and a ski resort with skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing. It might sound like a cliché, but southern California is indeed the best place to live.
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 believe that being surrounded by the right people is everything…and I have to admit, I wouldn’t have continued to pursue my dream of a branding agency without the support of my amazing team. On my team, I have Allison Russo, an awesome copywriter who I’ve clicked with from the start. She is always able to capture my vision and fine-tune copy for clients, whether it’s a mission statement or ‘About’ section. She’s talented, quick, creative and a true word wizard – but most importantly, Allison has an amazing personality and is always willing to help. I also have a graphic designer, Aleksandar Živanović. He has been with me from the very beginning, and he handles all of the design work I need. Aleksandar is highly skilled, amazingly creative, and he always goes beyond and above to make each project successful.