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.
Sometimes the person you have to stand up to is you! There I was, rewatching the Miss Universe 2019 competition. Which I do for inspiration from time to time. (No, seriously!) There is something about seeing women on stage, in full-on glam mode, and speaking with confident assuredness that really lights my fire!
I have seen this Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa win this crown so many times before, but something about this particular viewing, her delivery or her words, touched something inside me a little differently. At that moment, I truly believed, with complete conviction, that she lives what she speaks.
The announcement was made, the audience cheered, and the crown was awarded. The light was dazzling,, she looked stunning, almost blessed. The judges made the right call with 2019's queen.
Reflecting On Myself
Suddenly, the YouTube video ended. And I was left looking at a black screen. In the darkness of that screen, I saw my reflection and I began assessing what I saw, asking myself, "What have I been doing with my life?" It may seem like an overly dramatic question, but at that moment, I had to ask myself seriously… What have you done? The fact that I couldn't come up with a solid, confident answer gave my inner-cynic license to quickly spiral into self-criticism.
This went on for quite some time, until I got up. I stood up and walked to my mirror to have some serious one-on-one "Queen Talk." I needed to get out of that self-critical mindset, and I know that physical movement is something that help disrupt a way of thinking. I needed to remind myself of who I really was. The negative feelings I was experiencing at that moment were not reality.
Here are a few reminders for whenever you need some Queen Talk!
1.) Comparison is truly the thief of joy.
This saying feels like a cliché. That is, until it's applicable to you. At that moment, this "cliché, becomes self-evident. Comparing myself to someone on a stage with years of experience in an area I know nothing about is not only unfair but straight-up mean. A part of my comparison comes from me wondering, "Would I have the ability, if put in that position, to perform at such a level?" The answer is totally and without question, yes. I excel in the field I work in now, and I know that if I put that same energy towards something else, with practice, I could do just as well. No joy can come from comparing yourself to someone in a completely different field!
2.) Never forget the blessings that have been bestowed upon you.
Every single day, I am blessed to have the opportunity to wake up with all ten fingers and toes and choose to create the kind of life I want to live. There is so much power in that alone, but sometimes it's easy to take it for granted. Let us not forget those who are unable to make that same decision every day of their lives.
3.) Appreciate how far you have come!
I've been very intentional for some time to be kinder and gentler to myself. I need to realize that I am human. Being human means that I will not know everything, and I will continue to make mistakes.But I must let go of the need to always be right. I feel empowered when I can see the growth that I've made, regardless of the mistakes that may come in the future. I don't react to every little thing that bothers me, because I have learned boundaries when it comes to dealing with others and myself. I truly value my time and my energy, and, for that, I am proud.
4.) You Can Be Who You Want To Be
If you can see it in your mind, you can achieve it in reality. I saw myself when I looked at the women on stage, when she smiled, the way she talked, her elegant walk. For a moment, in my self-criticism spiral, I forgot that we are all connected. Debasish Mridha has said "I may not know you, but I don't see any difference between you and me. I see myself in you; we are one." I will not sit in the mentality of lack, there is more than enough opportunity and good fortune to go around for everyone. Her win was not a loss for me, but it can be a nudge from the universe for me to go ahead and dream big!
This Queen Talk was not easy. There may have been some tissues and tears involved but giving myself an honest yet compassionate talk is sometimes what I need to bring myself out of some bad head space. In these moments of doubt, you truly need to be your own best friend.When times get rough, criticism won't always come from outside sources. How you speak about yourself internally is crucial to how you see and feel about yourself. As Beyoncé once sang, "I've got Me, Myself, and I." We must put forth every effort to be there for ourselves. I look forward to more Queen Talks when some negative emotions arise. I am grateful for the person I am today, but I am excited to see the women I become.