Fashion PR is not just a tough business, but it can also be a mean one. But Sarah Pollack Boyd has taken a different approach as she kills them with kindness — and it’s certainly working. After nine years spent building a successful fashion-focused career in public relations, Sarah launched the stylist-centric SimplyStylist.com in January 2012.
In just a few short months, SimplyStylist.com has become a hub for stylists and lovers of fashion. And the recent Simply Stylist Seminar event at the W Hollywood drew many participants who flocked to learn valuable career advice from industry experts, including Brenna Egan, Refinery29.com Los Angeles Editor and former Vogue staffer; Jamie Krell, E! and Style Network Style Expert; Alexis and Kym McClay, Naven Designers; Jeanne Yang, Celebrity Stylist, who also collaborates with Katie Holmes on their clothing line, Holmes & Yang; and Shea Marie, CheyenneMeetsChanel.com Fashion Blogger.
Sarah was nice enough to take time out from her hectic schedule to answer The Gucci Hoochie’s questions about her career, her fashion and her advice for PR newbies. Read on!
How did you make your way to Los Angeles?
I’m a small town girl from York, Pennsylvania. I ended up in Los Angeles because, for fashion, it’s really Los Angeles or New York. My sister had moved to L.A. when I just started college, and I would visit her at least once a year and always told myself that I would live here. So, as soon as I graduated, I packed up and moved out!
You were inspired to work in the industry after shadowing department store buyers. What was it about their work that inspired you to work in fashion?
It was at Bon Ton back in Pennsylvania. I had no idea what I wanted to major in for college, let alone my life path! My high school offered a field trip to shadow store buyers, and I couldn’t believe that shopping could actually be a job. I immediately started looking into fashion schools, and the next year I was beginning to pave my path into the world of fashion.
Fashion PR sounds really glamorous, but it’s a lot of emails and pitches. With current technology, editors and producers want everything pitched through email so it makes being in fashion PR much more email intensive. It is fun though when you get to be on-site for a fitting or a celebrity showroom visit.
What was the most difficult aspect of working in fashion PR?
Being denied. You have to hear the word “no” or even worse, get no response multiple times a day. There are countless pitches going out daily and very few make it to print. It’s a long and tedious process, but it all pays off when you see the placement!
What is your favorite part of your job?
Ummm all the free clothes?!
What advice would you give to new faces in the fashion PR business?
I would say to definitely have THICK skin! And intern, intern, intern — get as much experience as you possibly can. Also, be kind. It goes a long way, and you never know where you can help someone or someone can help you down the road. PR people are known for not being the nicest, but I chose the route of being super sweet and it has proved to be successful so far.
When you launched SimplyStylist.com, what were you most nervous about? What were you most excited about?
I was definitely most nervous about my customers — do I have enough? Will people be as interested in the topic as I am? Will people come to my events? I was most excited to build my own business from the ground up and to be able to bring a service to women that I know everyone can find value in. People buy the fashion magazines, so why not hear about the trends in person from the experts?
You note that people buy magazines, so why not hear about the trends in person — was this your motivation behind starting simply stylist? What sparked the idea for the website?
From my years in PR I noticed that some of the best celebrity placements (a celebrity wearing my clients’ clothing) came through their wardrobe stylist. And the wardrobe stylists never got any credit for it! The fashion editors and the celebrities get showered with gifts and taken to fancy dinners. Years ago, stylists were lugging around clothing, working 150-hour work weeks and got no credit for some of these amazing trends THEY started by putting it on their client. I started SimplyStylist.com to give back to these stylists and show the world who the trendsetters really are.
I’m wearing ALL types of hats so I try to think big picture and delegate the smaller tasks. Otherwise I find myself running in circles trying to be everything to everyone. I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses — and what I enjoy doing. My love is relationship building and connecting, so I try to book at least one meeting a day with either a stylist, a clothing brand, a fellow PR executive, etc. Each day I put together my to-do list of what I want to accomplish, which sometimes includes going to setup a business license for the company or going to a runway show. This is why I love my job … every day is different and exciting. I also have two AMAZING interns who help with everything from finding content for the site, local errands, research for events and more.
What would you say is the key to your success with SimplyStylist.com?
Staying true to what I would want out of an event. Making sure there are fantastic panelists, amazing networking opportunities and that the content of the seminar is useful to the attendees.
Finally, for the most important question: Who is your favorite designer?