When Ashley Teplin arrived in Napa in 2006, she wasn’t sure where her career path was headed.
A graduate of UCLA and the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, Teplin had grown up around food and wine — her parents, who lived in Danville, California, were early enthusiasts. Teplin had been a filmmaker in Los Angeles, now she had a job cooking at the Oxbow School.
Then she met Pam Hunter.
Much is written about the pioneer winemakers who revived the Napa Valley wine industry in the 1960s and ‘70s. Hunter was one of the pioneers in business of telling their stories. After working at the Napa Valley Register, she went on to launch Pam Hunter Public Relations and Studio 707.
“I met her at a lunch at Angéle,” Teplin said. “She told me, ‘Quit your job and come and work for me.”
Hunter became Teplin’s mentor as well as employer. “She was a strong, intense, wonderful, smart, intuitive woman,” Teplin said. “Pam was also the first to adopt things — first person I knew to get an iPhone, to talk about TedX.”
Hunter was diagnosed with cancer and before she died in 2010, she gave Studio 707 to Teplin.
It would be nearly a decade before Teplin would relaunch Studio 707, re-envisioned to serve the 21st century. In the meantime, Teplin co-founded the public relations agency Teplin+Nuss, and launched Media-Ant where she consulted with numerous winery groups and PR agents. Her accounts included CK Mondavi, and the Carneros Wine Alliance and the Stags Leap AVA.
“Pam really saw it change in the Napa Valley,” Teplin said. But in turn, Teplin has witnessed the massive changes in the way today’s more than 500 wineries and changing roster of restaurants, competes for public attention.
It all comes down to stories, and how you tell the story, she said.
“Pam Hunter died just as digital and social media began to transform the way information is shared, a new opportunity she would’ve embraced,” she said. “Communications has completely changed in the past decade. There is so much chatter. You have to be on some social media platform but how do you cut through the noise — shouting or whispering?”
The mission of the newly relaunched Studio 707, Teplin says, is “integrated storytelling and narrative strategy for clients with a focus on wine, lifestyle and specialty food space.”
“I’ve always wanted to be able to offer more robust services and leverage my background in the culinary and arts worlds as well as the creative talent in the Napa Valley,” Teplin said.
The challenge today is “bridging traditional public relations, content creation and digital media,” finding ways to tell a story that will help her clients stand out — “a comprehensive approach to meet our clients’ modern needs.”
“You have to be cognizant of non-traditional ways: what tells the story of your brand? What resonates? You have to find this and then amplify it. One thing that works is to diversity — digital content, video.”
“Basically we want to help someone reach their full potential.”
Teplin said she continues to apply to this new world the lessons she learned from working with Hunter.
“Pam always talked about the circle of influence, the importance of being out there, the right partnerships,” Teplin said. For the rejuvenated Studio 707, she has assembled “the tribe,” — five consultants who are pros communications, public relations, writing, digital media, video and photography.
The agency is also launching Line + Ink + Lifestyle, a quarterly art program highlighting local artists on their new website, starting with Teplin’s own pen-and-ink drawings.
In addition, Studio 707 will have a quarterly newsletter sharing “insights and musings” on local trends, the communications field and more.
It’s an exciting time, said Teplin, who now lives in Yountville and who is balancing the demands of motherhood — a 2-year-old toddler named Sophie — with the challenge of relaunching Studio 707.
Hunter’s dauntless, pioneering spirit “lives on” the new multi-disciplinary Studio 707,” Teplin said. “It’s daunting — fun but daunting.”
Visit www.studio-707.com for more information.