Najwa Moses is an ambassador of the eclectic lifestyle. As such, she has interviewed Beyonce's dog and gotten celebrities like Diddy, Tommy Hillfigger, Timbaland and others to admit, from the red carpet, that they are Styleaholics. The genuis behind the earliest shopping parties back in 2001, The Closet, Najwa created an interactive experience for designers, shoppers, and key infuencers to converge for a night of shopping and dancing in a loft-party environment to the sounds of international female DJ's.
Based in New York, she operates her own event production company, Styleaholic Productions, runs her funky-bizzare website that features her fashion fusion, celebrity-driven podcast, and writes a fashion blog. In addition, this multi-talented, multi-tasking entrepreneur consults with PR companies, emerging designers, fashion companies and bloggers about how to best navigate the social media space.
Get in touch with her through the contact form at Styleaholics.com
In this interview, Najwa shares her thoughts on PR and Social Media, viral marketing, and the importance of living life on your terms. Najwa also chats with PR Couture about her educational and professional experiences, and a few hundred other questions thrown in for fun (Thanks Naj!).
PR Couture: You went to FIT and majored in Marketing and Advertising Communications. Would you recommend fashion school rather than a traditional 4-year anniversary for those interested in Fashion PR?
Najwa: Well, Fashion PR is one of those professions where you don’t necessarily need to go to school for it, it’s more about the internships and your talent for pitching. FIT is great if you want to go to school for design or fashion buying. But if you want to be in a fashion heavy atmosphere that also prepares you for a job – FIT is a great, affordable place to go. By the time I graduated, I knew how to write a business plan, an advertising plan...
PR Couture: Why do you think PR has been so hesitant to embrace social media, and so awkward when it does try?
Najwa: PR is still very traditional, they know traditional media, and they know how to play that game. Working with bloggers is different. Bloggers don’t have the same pressures from advertising and bloggers don’t have to claim to be impartial – they have the freedom to tell their opinion, [there is no] absolute truth. I think [the fear] comes from the fact that 10 bloggers can blast your product and shoot you down, and some bloggers can be really nasty. There is this aspect of frivolity with bloggers that is scary for PR.
I think the danger comes from not wanting to understand it or ignoring it. Some PR people just don’t become familiar with relevant blogs.
PR Couture: What advice do you have for Fashion PRs looking to navigate the social media space?
Najwa: Determine your audience and find them online. The web is sensitive so the hardcore pitching is not really applicable here [the way it] would be in traditional media. It's important to be honest, all of the hyperbole truly doesn't work. Remember, [whatever you are pitching] still needs to be a fit.
PR Couture: You were able to secure amazing publicity mentions for your “The Closet” shopping parties - how did you do so?
Najwa: Relationships, having a great concept, a decent publicist and constant networking.
PR Couture: What do you consider “must-do’s” when promoting an event?
Najwa: Cross marketing and viral marketing are key. After 6 years of putting on events in NYC, I have a pretty strong database of contacts. So maybe I sponsor an event, or get someone to sponsor my event, and then we promote each other to our lists, on the flyers – online and offline. It’s really about this mix of using traditional marketing with non-traditional, and adding in an element of real, grassroots outreach. It’s about using everything you have to increase your visibility.
PR Couture: Where do you get your information? What blogs, news, mags do you read?
Najwa: Blogs: Fashiontribes.com, Perez Hilton. [I’m] not really a big magazine person. I read Yahoo for news and I'm signed up to a ton of mailing lists for events and haps in the NYC area. WWD newsletter and AD Week Daily.
PR Couture: How did you come to work for NPR and MTV - what have those experiences been like?
Najwa: I write freelance for NPR. I love it because it is such an unexpected platform for someone like myself to write for. I was featured in an MTV/Converse campaign where I spoke about upcoming trends. [MTV]was it a lot of fun, I felt like a celebrity for a day.
PR Couture: You mention in your bio that you're into style, not fashion. What distinction do you see between the two?
Najwa: Fashion is really dictated by commerce and who says what's in right now--but STYLE is innate. An individual with STYLE will not have a dollar to their name and will still be the most stylish person in the room because they are aware of what looks good on them regardless [of] current trends in FASHION. Fashion can be bought, STYLE cannot. How many celebs do we know that are horrible dressers despite having tons of dough?
PR Couture: What about the fashion industry twists your knickers?
Najwa: The unnecessary drama and pretentiousness, I mean really, it's only fashion, not saving the world from AIDS. Get a grip people!
PR Couture: What exactly is a Styleaholic, and when did you first realize you were one?
Najwa: A Styleaholic is an Ambassador of the Eclectic Lifestyle. On the surface it would appear to be an addiction to STYLE, but it is an actually an addiction or oath or creed to enjoying variety in lifestyle and embracing the many interests that one individual can have. i.e., being a young Mom who is a pro-skateboarder, or a nurse turned fashion designer.
I think we are the first generation who isn’t going to stay at the same job and be ruled by a 401k. It’s about living as many dreams as possible and not being afraid to break boundaries, taking chances…it’s like, we aren’t going to let a light bill keep us from living our lives.
I've always been a Styleaholic--I refuse to be put into any one box. Trust me, I've suffered enough for being this way!
PR Couture: Your company, Styleaholic Productions, produces "lifestyle experiences," what exactly does this mean?
Najwa: Every Styleaholic production is a lifestyle experience. I created the concept of Shopping Parties back in '01 and I remember thinking--everyone loves to shop and party - let's put them together! My video podcast, The In List, features engaging content for the person who loves to see fabu people on the red carpet, as well as those on the rise.
PR Couture: On a different note, If you had to dress like any female cartoon character– who would you choose and why?
Najwa: Darn, this is a little hard and funny! I guess across between Wonder Woman, Veronica (from Archie) and Rainbow Brite. Wonder Woman--cause she's sexy and has a cape and a tiara thingy, Veronica cause she's super rich and has great STYLE and Rainbow Brite because I love tons of color! What can I say, I'm part West Indian!
PR Couture: When you find a piece of clothing you love but it's too expensive – do you buy it anyway or let it go?
Najwa: Depends on the price and how much run I think I can get out of it. Now that I'm older, with a business, that…is my first baby - I always give to that first and me second. Plus I do get quite a few pieces for free, so a lot of times it's not that urgent for me.
PR Couture: What advice do you have for women looking to establish a unique, individual style?
Najwa: Be yourself, and look at your grandparents in their earlier days for style ideas.
PR Couture: What does the perfect, Styleaholic paradise look like? Sound like? Feel like?
Najwa: You-happy. Seriously, that's it.