As The Devil Wears Prada shamelessly portrays, the fashion industry can be full of tough personalities. Add in the tenacity and resolve of a publicist, and you have a recipe for a group of people that won't take no for an answer, have fabulous taste in shoes and understand if they don't work hard enough, someone is waiting in line to replace them. Welcome to Fashion PR.
Intern, intern, intern
The importance of internships (note the plural) is three fold. First off, it gives you an idea if this is even an arena you want to compete in. Pull aside the veil of glitz and glam, and there is a ton of hard work that goes on behind the scenes. An internship will allow you the opportunity to see if Fashion PR is a good fit for you. Next, an ever-evolving industry has resulted in multiple lanes to explore. Try to gain experience both in-house and with an agency, as well as across different divisions, if possible. Do you want to direct your efforts towards digital influencer partnerships, produce innovative media events or work with stylists for the red carpet? You won't know until you try. Finally, internships give you an edge – the more you can put on your resume, the better. “A million girls would kill for this job" isn't just a DWP quote, it's completely true – and should be the only motivation you need.
Don't burn bridges – or ladders you'll need to climb later
A solid network is of utmost importance in this industry. There are a few ways to build one: Don't make fast enemies, treat people like people, help out when you can, be nice to everyone and go out of your way to do a phenomenal job. Not only will that assistant be Fashion Director at Vogue one day, but she'll be more likely to answer your email if she thinks highly of you. Additionally, connections and relationships are primarily what your worth is weighed upon, and the more people you can count as fans, the more opportunities will come your way.
Don't let anyone ruffle your LBD
The rules of how to play nicely in Fashion PR are sometimes a soft suggestion, and not everyone colors inside the lines. Whether it's a client, brand or co worker, the industry is blessed with a bevy of rich (and sometimes difficult) personalities. Don't let anything or anyone bring you down! Put on your best, and dare I say always black, power publicist outfit, and do your job. Accept that any challenging moment is a tool to learn from, and move on. Appreciate and encourage those that build you up, teach you how to succeed and high five you after a job well done!
The word “no" doesn't exist
Be aggressive! But not too aggressive. Find a nice balance between never taking “no" for an answer, and thinking outside the box to find alternative paths to success. When it comes to pitching, hearing it's a “pass" is less than ideal (and sometimes detrimental), so be prepared to be persistent without earning a restraining order.
Your best bet is to get creative and find a way to get what you want by providing other people with what they want. Think of the other person, not just yourself, and you will be victorious more often than not.
You are your own best publicist
It can take some time to gain the confidence you need to get ahead in this business, but once you do, utilize it. Let your work speak for itself (hopefully, it's consistently A+), but also, stand up for yourself and the recognition you deserve. No one is going to give you anything; you have to fight for it. More importantly, you have to earn it. Ask how you can improve, set goals for yourself, go above and beyond, and constantly prove that you are willing to work harder than everyone else to rise in the ranks.
Enjoy the ride
While I admit this job can be wildly chaotic, it can also be a hell of a lot of fun! The perks are endless: incredible fashion moments, exciting parties, inspiring designers and industry leaders, and the thrill of being at the forefront of it all. Remember that these exhilarating moments are the reason you got into Fashion PR in the first place! Enjoy the wins that make you proud, appreciate the challenges that make you strong, take a second to do a happy dance in those Jimmy Choos, and congratulate yourself for kicking ass! Then get back to work.
In 2016, I finally found my voice. I always thought I had one, especially as a business owner and mother of two vocal toddlers, but I had been wrong.
For more than 30 years, I had been struggling with the fear of being my true self and speaking my truth. Then the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse unraveled before me while raising my 3-year-old daughter, and my life has not been the same since.
Believe it or not, I am happy about that.
The journey for a survivor like me to feel even slightly comfortable sharing these words, without fear of being shamed or looked down upon, is a long and often lonely one. For all of the people out there in the shadows who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I dedicate this to you. You might never come out to talk about it and that's okay, but I am going to do so here and I hope that in doing so, I will open people's eyes to the long-term effects of abuse. As a survivor who is now fully conscious of her abuse, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, quite frankly, it may never go away.
It took me some time to accept that and I refuse to let it stop me from thriving in life; therefore, I strive to manage it (as do many others with PTSD) through various strategies I've learned and continue to learn through personal and group therapy. Over the years, various things have triggered my repressed memories and emotions of my abuse--from going to birthday parties and attending preschool tours to the Kavanaugh hearing and most recently, the"Leaving Neverland" documentary (I did not watch the latter, but read commentary about it).
These triggers often cause panic attacks. I was angry when I read Barbara Streisand's comments about the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary. She was quoted as saying, "They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them." She later apologized for her comments. I was frustrated when one of the senators questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (during the Kavanaugh hearing) responded snidely that Dr. Ford was still able to get her Ph.D. after her alleged assault--as if to imply she must be lying because she gained success in life.We survivors are screaming to the world, "You just don't get it!" So let me explain: It takes a great amount of resilience and fortitude to walk out into society every day knowing that at any moment an image, a sound, a color, a smell, or a child crying could ignite fear in us that brings us back to that moment of abuse, causing a chemical reaction that results in a panic attack.
So yes, despite enduring and repressing those awful moments in my early life during which I didn't understand what was happening to me or why, decades later I did get married; I did become a parent; I did start a business that I continue to run today; and I am still learning to navigate this "new normal." These milestones do not erase the trauma that I experienced. Society needs to open their eyes and realize that any triumph after something as ghastly as childhood abuse should be celebrated, not looked upon as evidence that perhaps the trauma "never happened" or "wasn't that bad. "When a survivor is speaking out about what happened to them, they are asking the world to join them on their journey to heal. We need love, we need to feel safe and we need society to learn the signs of abuse and how to prevent it so that we can protect the 1 out of 10 children who are being abused by the age of 18. When I state this statistic at events or in large groups, I often have at least one person come up to me after and confide that they too are a survivor and have kept it a secret. My vehicle for speaking out was through the novella The Survivors Club, which is the inspiration behind a TV pilot that my co-creator and I are pitching as a supernatural, mind-bending TV series. Acknowledging my abuse has empowered me to speak up on behalf of innocent children who do not have a voice and the adult survivors who are silent.
Remembering has helped me further understand my young adult challenges,past risky relationships, anger issues, buried fears, and my anxieties. I am determined to thrive and not hide behind these negative things as they have molded me into the strong person I am today.Here is my advice to those who wonder how to best support survivors of sexual abuse:Ask how we need support: Many survivors have a tough exterior, which means the people around them assume they never need help--we tend to be the caregivers for our friends and families. Learning to be vulnerable was new for me, so I realized I needed a check-off list of what loved ones should ask me afterI had a panic attack.
The list had questions like: "Do you need a hug," "How are you feeling," "Do you need time alone."Be patient with our PTSD". Family and close ones tend to ask when will the PTSD go away. It isn't a cold or a disease that requires a finite amount of drugs or treatment. There's no pill to make it miraculously disappear, but therapy helps manage it and some therapies have been known to help it go away. Mental Health America has a wealth of information on PTSD that can help you and survivors understand it better. Have compassion: When I was with friends at a preschool tour to learn more about its summer camp, I almost fainted because I couldn't stop worrying about my kids being around new teenagers and staff that might watch them go the bathroom or put on their bathing suit. After the tour, my friends said,"Nubia, you don't have to put your kids in this camp. They will be happy doing other things this summer."
In that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have friends who understood what I was going through and supported me. They showed me love and compassion, which made me feel safe and not judged.