How Creative Aspirations Led Dee Cotter to a Life of Fulfilling Work

 “I feel like my work history reads more like a rap sheet!” Dee Cotter, a twenty-eight year old native New Jerseyite admits. “Basically, nothing turned out as I expected it would, as a child.”

In this economy, it can be said that one is lucky to have a job. Dee is a relatively young entrepreneur who likes to keep both hands busy with work. The President of Sales and Marketing for Adrenaline Lifestyle Apparel is proud to have spent time at a variety of jobs and on an eclectic range of projects before taking on this current title.

“After reviewing my work history most people assume I am quite older and when they see that I am in my twenties, it’s pretty comical, but happens quite often.”

Early on, Dee had dreams of giving back to the community by providing a service that would benefit others. Like many children, Dee had been drawn to altruistic roles where helping people was the number one priority.

“I wanted to be a painter and a firefighter,” recalls Dee, “…a part of me always wanted to help the world in some way.”

However, when high school arrived, Dee’s specific career aspirations changed, and the tech-savvy student spent time cutting class and editing video projects in the TV room, instead of working in the art room or riding on the backs of blaring bright red fire engines. Still, the excitement of certain situations stayed close to the thrill-seeker’s heart, and Dee found other ways to express a fondness for action.

“I decided it would be way cooler to make movies about dangerous situations rather than be thrust into them,” Dee remembers.

Following that vision, the future advertising and marketing maven joined the electric union and began working on lighting for film and television. Seeking a helpful school and the right scene to succeed, Dee packed up and moved to the west coast to attend the Art Institute of California in Santa Monica where one could receive a degree in Video Production. Dee recalls the time as a good one, but also recognizes the advantages of learning on the job.

“I feel as if college was a great starting point for my education,” says Dee. “[However] I have learned substantially more from first-hand work experience during my time onset, in galleries, at record labels, in retail and working on freelance gigs.”

Siting a stint at the company Mole Richardson, as one of the best jobs someone new to the industry could fill, Dee can easily point out the reasons for this—a major one having to do with location.

“…I was in one of the hubs in Hollywood for film and TV production,” Dee remembers. “I made lots of contacts but above all else I left with a wealth of production and equipment knowledge and experience. Aside from that, we had an excellent staff, a large portion of which I remain close friends with to this day.”

For certain creative industries, like film and television, it can be difficult to get the career ball rolling if you aren’t already living in a thriving city that welcomes your type of work. Dee was courageous and lucky. With momentum growing, the young professional moved forward and made waves with business ventures in art, design, and entertainment. Aside from work as a licensing consultant for Citation Records, the graphic designer’s artwork was chosen to appear on the third season of the reality television series The Bad Girls’ Club. Despite these early successes, Dee isn’t afraid to look back and see how things could have been done better.

“If I could change anything,” Dee says. “I would have started pounding the pavement a little harder earlier on after college as far as networking is concerned. I feel that today, my networking skills and abilities are my most valued resource and I jump at the opportunity to build new on-going working relationships.”

As many professionals know, making, maintaining, and nurturing networking relationships is a crucial component to success. Today, Dee’s energy is focused on marketing for Adrenaline Lifestyle Apparel, a modern company that specializes in clothing for active young men and women. This newest venture is surely one that will rely on strong communication skills and the ability to meet consumers’ needs and demands. Dee is also working on a green based community development initiative called Sprawling Roots. Both businesses keep the jack-of-all trades busy, and that’s just how the modern-day entrepreneur likes it.

“The successful people I knew kept their hands in a wide variety of projects,” Dee recalls. “I can do that, I thought to myself. I can totally adapt to learning new skills so, why should I pigeon-hole myself into just one source of income and one career?”

In a world where several career changes can be considered normal, it’s not entirely unusual to find people who go after a variety of opportunities. Sticking to different work in a related field can be one of the wisest ways to go about things, as was the case for Dee.

“I feel like changing career paths has been very fluid for me,” Dee says. “In the entertainment and creative worlds everyone in every department in some way, shape or form ends up working together. Now, if let’s say I choose to switch over into law or medicine then, I’d be out of my element.”

Moving back to Dee’s original hope to be of help to others, the experienced business partner thinks others should prepare themselves for a potentially difficult, but rewarding, experience ahead.

“My advice to anyone trying to become an entrepreneur is to never let anyone take away your dream,” Dee says. “People are going to second-guess you, people are going to be negative, it’s all in how you choose to handle it.  The people that matter most will be the ones who listen and then ask questions not the ones who automatically pass judgment. And, above all else, stay open-minded and keep building  upon your skills and learning.”

With this advice from a pro, new entrepreneurs and creative individuals should have the right mindset to handle any challenges or opposition that comes their way.

“A great job should make you feel happy to go to work every day,” says Dee. “I feel like a great job should also make you feel like you’re making a special and worthwhile contribution to society…  I’d rather make less money and be content then make a huge salary and be completely miserable.”

Wouldn’t you?

For more articles by Sara Kosmyna.

What are some of the strong qualities Dee possesses? Do you see these in yourself?

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