In this ongoing series, we are sharing advice, tips and insights from real entrepreneurs who are out there doing business battle on a daily basis. (Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)

True entrepreneurs just can’t help themselves. They see a need in the marketplace and they get to work.

For Dria Murphy, founder and CEO of creative brand marketing company Alise Collective, when she looked at the mind-boggling amount of health and wellness products out there in the buyer ecosystem, she identified something that consumers were truly craving: “I saw a demand for authentic recommendations,” she explains. That realization spurred her to launch her latest venture, by dria, a global membership community that offers carefully curated products and experiences for those seeking a happier and healthier lifestyle.

“I really love discovering new brands and recommending what people should spend their time and money on,” she explains. “This industry can be so overwhelming with the number of products out there and strict regimes they push — you can’t drink any alcohol, you have to be 100 percent plant-based. For me, it’s all about helping people cherish a little bit of self-care. I want to help people feel good about doing something for themselves in a way that fits into their lives.”

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I spoke with Dria about her new company, how she launched and grew Alise Collective and by dria, and her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to chase their dreams in health and wellness or any category they feel passionate about. Below are highlights from that conversation, which have been edited for length and clarity.

Her entrepreneurial beginnings

“I grew up in San Francisco. The summer before I graduated from Santa Clara University, I interned in New York City, doing public relations for Giorgio Armani and Bottega Veneta. I was quickly hooked on NYC and moved there right out of college with no job and one friend. It was a huge leap of faith (aka naïvete), but I was so drawn to the energy and hustle. Looking back, I can see the correlation between my solo move and my career journey to entrepreneurship. Being 100 percent self-made was an innate part of my personal and professional evolution. I started working in PR at fashion brands like Calvin Klein, Topshop, and Ralph Lauren. And I then led communications at a fashion tech startup. One day, I walked into the office and they informed us it would be our last day. It was very unexpected and I was devastated, but it ultimately led me to start my own business because it pushed me to reevaluate my career desires and put a lot into perspective. It was definitely scary to go out on my own, but as any entrepreneur will tell you, it can be difficult but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Launching and evolving her first business

“Alise Collective is now eight years old. It started very focused on PR, and it grew as I grew and the wellness industry grew. So now we’re working on brand experiences. That can be anything from a brand collaboration to a live event to thought leadership to curated gifting. Research shows that you need to see a brand at least seven times before you convert to buying it. So we’re figuring out creative ways where founders share their stories and consumers can feel and test the brands. This past summer, we created summer-long wellness programming in the Hamptons at Hero Beach Club that brought together the best fitness studios from New York City and products like Athletic Greens, Vita Coco and Supergoop Sunscreen. It’s a fun way for people to engage with the products, see their benefits firsthand, and very importantly, connect with a community of other health-minded people. And we can’t wait for what’s in store this upcoming summer 2024 — it’s going to be even bigger than last year! “

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Branching out

“I’ve been passionate about wellness since long before it was trending. It is so important to my routine and identity. I love trying new products, experiencing new treatments, chatting with experts and educating myself and I was just getting inundated with people asking me for my recommendations. It made me think how could I share this information at scale?’ That’s when by dria began. It has taken off more than I could have hoped. In the first month, we quadrupled our launch membership goal, which was an incredible affirmation. We’re all about breaking through the noise and prioritizing the quality of products over quantity. It’s about giving members one or two recommendations for a skin cream instead of 20. We have two different membership tiers. The first is $35 a month and gives members curated product recommendations, invites to exclusive events and access to our community. The second tier is $225 and offers all of that plus one-on-one consultations with me, personalized recommendations and VIP status at our events. Whichever level is right for members, the goal is the same: Helping someone who wants to live a happier, healthier life save time and money by telling them about products and services that really work.”

The power of networking

“I was able to grow my businesses on the strength of the relationships I’ve developed over the years. So my advice to anyone who is starting out is to put yourself in situations where there are like-minded people around you. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself or cold email. And don’t be afraid to follow up. Everyone’s inboxes are over capacity these days — myself included — but I try to make time for people who reach out because that’s how I got my foot in the door. Keep yourself open to trying new experiences and attending events because one thing I’ve learned from by dria members is that everyone is really craving to connect with people who share their passions and interests. And those trusted friendships can often lead to exciting connections and opportunities down the road.”

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Keep calm and keep moving

“As an entrepreneur, I think you have to accept that many things will always be out of your control. And I’ve learned that instead of freaking out, the best thing to do is to just keep moving. I started off in the fashion industry, which is so intense and can be absolutely ridiculous — you know, it’s life or death over a t-shirt. But I have realized that, okay, we’re not saving lives here. Of course, I want everything to be perfect at my events, but stuff happens. Shipments don’t arrive, panelists don’t show up and you kind of just have to roll with it. The thing you learn is that you might think it’s a ‘disaster,’ but most of the time the people attending the event have no idea that anything is wrong.”

Surrounding yourself with great people

“I think that the best trait of an entrepreneur is to know what you don’t know. I do not know accounting, right? So I have the best accountant that I’ve been working with for nine years. I can’t be an expert in everything, and there are tons of other people who know this stuff better and have done it before. I wish when I was younger that I asked for help more. I always thought that was a negative. But now I know that having the right people in place allows you to focus on what you do well.”

Mindset of success

“I strongly believe that mindset is everything. Have the mindset that this is your business, and you are the one making it work. It’s so simple and sometimes hard to grasp when you’re so consumed in day-to-day issues, but whatever is going on, I really try to remind myself that I have the power to change things, whether that’s dealing with a tough client or an issue at an event. Looking at everything through that filter helps me know that I can get through anything.”


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