Rising Star: Martin is behind-the-scenes strategist at Heed PR, StoneLoads

Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Natalie Martin and her dog Junior at her home.

The only thing scarier than quitting a job to start your own company might be quitting your job to start your own company with your spouse.

It's the sort of high-wire act that Natalie Martin says she signed up for when she and her husband, David, started Heed PR in 2018.

"The scariest part was putting in my notice with my previous company to say, 'We are doing this thing,"' Natalie remembers. "We sat down and mapped out our goals: What is it exactly that we want to do? Who do we want to work with? How will it bleed into our personal lives?"

That discussion resulted in a set of written core beliefs that have served the company well, says Martin. Now, anytime she and her husband face a tough business decision, they consult their original goals for guidance.

"Of course there are moments of frustration [working together], but overall I love working with my spouse," Natalie says. "I know he is always as invested as I am."

For the 36-year-old Chattanooga native, the first decade of her post-college career was about building a skill set that now serves her well as an entrepreneur.

She cycled through jobs as a copy writer and managing editor for a magazine publisher, a marketing expert for a local construction company, and an internet marketer for a media company.

Heed PR is a boutique public relations shop serving both start-up and established companies. One of the Martin's clients, Double Cola, is 100 years old, while others are just getting off the ground.

Natalie said the division of labor inside the company came naturally. David excels on the public-facing PR side and she tackles anything that requires project management skills.

Project management is not a skill she was born with, but one that emerged as a form of self-defense, Natalie says.

"I've become a project manager because my life would be chaos without it," she says.

Early on, she says she was drawn to a career in the communications realm because of her upbringing.

"I was always a language arts kid," she says. "My mom was a teacher for 38 years. We shared books. ... My sister was a librarian."

At the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Martin was a double major in English literature and communication.

She and David were married in 2015 and quickly came to realize that their skills overlapped in a way that would support a small PR company. They recently hired their first employee, as business continues to grow.

"We have never had a shortage of demand," Natalie says. "...We've always wanted to work with folks that are partners."

Recently, the Martins became partners in a new venture called StoneLoads, a start-up which aims to help coordinate the supply chain in the stone business.

"Heed is still our No. 1 focus," Natalie says, noting that most of the company's clients are "starting something new or in growth mode."

Natalie Martin

* Age: 36

* Hometown: Chattanooga

* Education: Chattanooga Central High School, University of Tennessee at Chatttanooga

* Family: Husband, David; dog, Junior

* Hobbies: Cooking and reading