Angela Ceberano has been regarded as a PR powerhouse, with over 15 years of PR and communications experience. Her experience has cemented strong contacts throughout the industry, and she’s represented the biggest celebrities and brands within Australia such as Steven Tyler, Mariah Carey, The Backstreet Boys, Celine Dion, John Mayer, Guy Sebastian, The Foo Fighters, Olivia Newton John, Justin Timberlake and John Farnham to name a few.
Prior to opening Flourish, Angela was the National Publicity Manager at Sony Music Entertainment. At 28, she saw an opportunity to create a new-school communications agency that was obsessed and addicted to results.
In 2019 after a major health scare, Angela founded Marco & Co a luxury candle brand inspired by the equestrian lifestyle.
This is The Inside Story on Angela.
What ignited the spark in you to start your business?
I’ve always wanted to have my own business. I was drawing up business plans and planning my office fit out when I was 12 years old. I’ve always had a business brain and entrepreneur spirit. What really pushed me to start my PR business what the fact that I wanted to create a new school way of doing PR. I was seeing many old school approaches to the communications industry & because I was in my mid-twenties when I started the agency, I wanted to offer a new school approach that was built on old school manners. It was about learning from the past & adapting the way we tell stories and communicate to audiences via the new school digital platforms that were becoming available to us back then (I started the business almost 10 years ago).
Initially, what difficulties did you face?
A LOT. I was young. I was 26 when I started my first business so it was challenge to be taken seriously. Eventually the results spoke for themselves. The biggest challenges were the ones around finance, cash flow, & managing staff. No one truly teaches you how to run a business. I knew how to do PR. I didn’t REALLY know how to run a business. The first year was tough especially when I got a surprising tax bill. I then had to go on a payment plan to pay the ATO back… so my first lesson was, GET AN ACCOUNTANT YOU CAN TRUST.. AND… UNDERSTAND.
The other difficulty I faced was that, I was too nice to staff. I wanted to be everyone’s friend. I wanted to solve all their problems for them. When you’re too nice to the wrong people, they can take advantage of your generosity & the boundaries get blurred.
10 years on, I have learnt a lot. We now, hire slow and fire fast. I held onto the wrong people for way too long. These days, if someone isn’t the right cultural fit, we address it straight away. It’s the best thing for the business and it’s the best thing for the employee. I don’t let things slip anymore. If something feels off, it usually is so I confront it straight away now.
In 2017 you had a life changing moment where you hit extreme burnout, what led to that?
Working really long hours, taking no breaks and letting stress rule my body. I became the master of masking my emotions – I looked like the perfect swan on the surface but underneath, I was paddling like crazy. It’s a tricky thing for a business owner or leader to talk about how they are actually feeling. You need to lead and inspire… you can’t tell staff that you’re worried about cashflow or that there are issues happening behind the scenes so if you don’t surround yourself with a network of other leaders/business owners, you will feel really alone and isolated.
What led to my burn out is a lack of a support network and I also didn’t have any hobbies or allow time for my personal core needs. I used to wake up on the hour, every hour to check my phone/emails. A really bad habit. I wasn’t getting enough sleep. I wasn’t eating right. I wasn’t surrounded by the right people. I wasn’t taking care of my physical or mental health.
What was integral to you overcoming burnout and how did your mindset change?
I got really sick. I was hospitalised with a really serious case of pneumonia and was put on bed rest for weeks. Even if I wanted to work, I couldn’t. I was just too sick. It was the moment when my family really stepped in and helped me to understand that things had to change. I knew they had to but I just felt a bit stuck. I didn’t know how they could change. Slowly but surely, I started taking time out for myself. And guess what?! The world didn’t end. My world became a much nicer place to live. I did a lot of work on myself and rediscovered a part of me that was lost for a really long time.
I found a hobby which was horse riding. I used to ride as a kid and loved it and it was so wonderful to rediscover this as an adult. I then committed to that hobby once a week. It was time just for me to switch off and be within nature. It helped in my recovery more than I’ll ever know. It truly did save me. It’s now become a non-negotiable in my life. I must horse ride every week. It switches my brain off and allows me to be truly present. It’s very mindful. I come back refreshed and reinvigorated. It’s done wonders for my creativity, mental health and happiness levels.
I now encourage everyone to find a hobby. Find something that is truly just for you. Something you can escape into every week that encourages your mind to be calm & still.
Any advice or tips for women to manage their hectic schedules better?
Work in blocks of time. I now have set ‘meeting’ days and set ‘office days’. I plan my schedule out a week in advance. I work with my PA to allocate BLOCKS of times to things where I can be really focused. So that means, no emails, calls or meetings for set periods of time otherwise you fulfil everyone else’s to-do list and then you’re at the office to midnight fulfilling your to-do list.
Looking back is there a piece of advice you wish to pass onto someone starting out their entrepreneurial journey?
Make sure you make time for yourself & take breaks. You will be all consumed with your new venture and whilst it will pay off in the short term, think of the long-term implications of your health.
Your new venture Marco & Co. By Angela Ceberano was born out of your hobby after your health scare, can you tell us more about this?
Marco & Co is inspired by my wonderful horse, Marco. When I found Marco, I discovered a new way of being. I found a sense of stillness and I learnt how to be truly present. Marco helped me understand what true freedom feels like. I now know that freedom appears when we become acutely aware of what makes us truly happy. Some of my happiest moments are the days I’ve spent with my horse. Beautiful days out on a mountain trail ride. Summer days under the Australian sun, cantering along the beach. And the hours I’ve spent in the tack room and the stables.
Being around my horse, out in the fresh country air, always invigorates me. Scent can unlock some of our fondest memories and transport us to a different place and time. I wanted to create a range of luxury equestrian inspired candles that could transport me (and other horse riding enthusiasts) to their happy place. At the heart of the brand, it’s all about passion and educating women (and men) of the importance of mental health & quiet reflective moments.
What was the best advice that you have been given?
Money comes and goes. You make money. You lose money. True wealth comes from health and happiness.
Where do you see yourself and your business in the next 10 years?
I see myself and my husband living between Melbourne, the farm & Hawaii. Our businesses will be set up in a way that will allow us to work from anywhere. I see our business structures being a lot leaner which will allow us to invest into more opportunities. I see us creating more brands and more products in the lifestyle space.