The indie fashion PR component to top fashion PR blog PR Couture, Show Me The Pretty features 5-question interviews with hand-selected indie fashion labels. PR Couture shares the pretty and then turns it back to the designers to ask questions and get advice and feedback about their own fashion PR strategy from a variety of industry experts. Sound like fun? Email info[at]prcouture.com for more information.
Every Little Counts, a graphics-driven line of romantic, often love-song inspired tees, dresses and totes, has just launched their fourth collection, for Summer, 2009. In addition to these new 20 designs, husband and wife team Amy and Adam have expanded their vision into a vintage store, Dreams Never End. Every Little Counts is made exclusively in the east side of Los Angeles, where Every Little Counts provides provide affordable and feminine garments for women that express feelings of romance, independence, and nostalgia.
Amy is our interviewee for this installment of Show Me The Pretty, if your interest in piqued, she also pens a lovely blog filled with inspiration and behind-the-scenes insight into Every Little Counts.
P.S. Exclusive for PR Couture - Take 20% off your Every Little Counts Purchase with code prcouture until June 15. Yes! Shop! Love!
I've designed for pretty much every market, Harley Davidson for kids, junior sportswear for Macy's and Urban Outfitters, Jaclyn Smith for Kmart, and finally contemporary sportswear for Beau & Eros here in Los Angeles. The job market in NYC and the fashion industry in general was definitely tough- lots of stress, little pay, intense work environments. After only two years working in the industry, I was beginning to get burnt out. In the fall of 2003, an opportunity to move to LA came about, so I took a chance and I've been out here ever since. I dabbled a bit in costume design for film and theater and I had a great time. But ultimately, the bills were calling my name and I started working for Beau & Eros, a contemporary knitwear company in downtown LA.
Working at Beau & Eros definitely opened my eyes and got me thinking that starting my own business could be a real possibility. Two of my co-workers had already left to start their own labels...Lauren Fong for Itsola and Farron Walker for Farron Elizabeth. I spent 3 years there, learning & doing everything I could from design, sourcing, patternmaking, production, shipping, and sales- really just about everything! It was a great work environment, but ultimately I grew tired of working for someone else's vision. Beau & Eros closed shop back in 2007, and by then I was ready for a new chapter in my life. It took about a year of soul searching and development before creating Every Little Counts.
What's it like working as a husband-and-wife team, who does what?
I love working with my husband, but of course there are challenges. The ups and downs of the business can get translated into our relationship at times. The business can be difficult to put down when the same person you work with is the one you live with. But we love making things, and it makes us happy to be practicing the crafts we set out to do from the beginning. Adam (my husband) studied art and design, and teaches it during the week. I know it makes him happy to have an outlet for those things where he can make something he likes and stands behind. More than that, though, we love doing something that is completely ours. I think we've both had bad experiences working for companies whose products or ideas we didn't like. The best part is that he knows me so well- he really understands the vision I want to convey with the line. We also have similar interests which are the core behind Every Little Counts- film, music, art, etc. "Every Little Counts" by New Order was our wedding song after-all.
As far as who does what, Every Little Counts is definitely my vision and my project, but of course it would be impossible without Adam. He takes all our photographs, designs the website, and even does the graphic design and the screen-printing. As for me... I do all of the design, sourcing, marketing, advertising, shipping, and sales, as well as some graphics and screen-printing.
Explain a bit more about the Every Little Counts girl
The Every Little Counts girl is a dreamer and a hopeless romantic, drowning in nostalgia. But she is also complicated, passionate, and flirtatious. She has an emotional connection with her wardrobe, and makes sartorial choices that may seem inspired or crazy but match her obsessions and moods.
What is currently inspiring you to create?
I am incredibly nostalgic and sentimental so a lot of my inspirations are derived from emotion, whether from the past or present.
I love cheesy coming-of-age stories, and we watch tons of movies from the 60's and 70's, all about romantic obsession and passion. I carry my camera everywhere; I've recently became obsessed with photographing this kind of daydream-y nature, something that I think plays into our new summer collection. And of course, I am constantly inspired by my friends; I am lucky enough to be surrounded by creative people in art, fashion, and film.
We've also begun to really develop the Every Little Counts lifestyle. We've just opened a vintage shop on Etsy called " Dreams Never End" This has been especially fun for me because I have always loved hunting for treasures. Ever since I was a little girl, I've spent countless hours pouring over garage sales and thrift stores everywhere. I've assembled a great collection of dreamy, whimsical and ethereal pieces that I think are the natural extension of the Every Little Counts girl.
What has been the most challenging thing about starting your own line? The most surprising?
I knew it was going to be a lot of work- that was no surprise. But it's fun, and it's mine. I do miss working 9-5 and being able to shut off after work hours, but then again I make my own schedule and I am creating a product I believe in. Being so close to the business can definitely make you more emotionally attached to the ups and downs of things, though, which is always a challenge. I also tend to be very modest, so hyping up the line every chance I get is something I need to work on. Initially, we were concerned with the downturn in the economy as well, but right from the beginning it has always been our goal to create an affordable product with emotional and sentimental value, so we feel like we're in a good place for the current economic climate.
The most surprising thing, even though it sounds obvious, is discovering that our weird, eclectic assortment of influences and obsessions resonates with an audience. We spend a lot of time obsessing over obscure 60's movies and little-known photographers (some of which you can read about on our blog), but it's nice to see our interests supported by our customers, and it makes us feel more enthusiastic about continuing with the business.
Fashion PR Tips*
How do you think the era of social networking (facebook, twitter, digg, myspace, etc) has changed PR? Does it put more control in the hands of individual businesses and make traditional PR more difficult? How does an established PR firm make the transition?
PR Couture says...
Social networking and the popularity of social media represents a powerful significant shift in they way we communicate. The traditional model of - PR pitches client to media, media writes story about client, people read story and are positively influenced toward client - has evolved into a more complex endeavor. This is owed to the struggles of print journalism (one editor covering multiple beats, publications folding) and the rising up of key influencers online who present new opportunities for client coverage. While there are more places to pitch, the expectations are different, and agencies must not only listen to the conversation online about their clients, but be prepared, both through pro-active communication as well as reactive communication, to help facilitate that relationship online. I think established PR firms have to let go of the old model, and be willing to venture into new territory. PR also needs to not only familiarize itself, but be proficient with online metrics, SEO and ability to respond quickly (owing to the speed and vastness of the conversation happening online), in order to provide value to clients.
As one of my colleagues at Waggener Edstrom has described it, social media puts the public back in public relations. In other words, in the social media world, anyone can be an influencer, not just traditional media. Established PR firms need to incorporate and consider social media just as much, if not more, than traditional PR tactics in their planning. Most are already aware and immersed in social media, but those looking to get more involved should start by listening and identifying where conversations about their clients are already happening online (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, forums, wikis, etc). - Jordana Bruner, PR Professional and Clutch-22 blogger
We at Pitch! Press are on Twitter and find it to be a wonderful tool to get clients additional coverage for blog posts, traditional editorial and to drive traffic to their sites via our updates. Social networking has become a part of our business but a successful public relations campaign needs to reach out to all levels of the media: print, online, newspapers, broadcast and cable television. Agencies looking to implement social networking to their outreach programs should start with Twitter. The networking is simply fabulous and everyone is so user friendly. It's a wealth of shared information. - Shannon Cavanagh-Estrada. Partner, Pitch! Press
This sign of the times neither helps nor hurts PR. If anything, more power is being given to the average person as to what they want to hear and see, and therefore social networking has made PR more democratic and challenges the news providers to be more news-worthy. In the Information Age, and in an information industry, things are always in flux. Every PR firm should embrace this as a new possibility to reach a vast world-wide audience. By definition, established PR firms should have seen this potential coming a long way out. Polina Fashion has anticipated the importance and impact of social media, and continues to push the envelope in how it can be leveraged. -Polina Raygorodskaya, Polina Fashion
What sort of advice do you have for small young companies like ourselves who would like to save money by doing some PR on their own?
PR Couture says...
Independent designers can have great success doing their own PR by presenting well-branded, well-designed promotional materials, and familiarizing themselves with what results in media coverage. A great trick is to take an afternoon at your local bookstore and immerse yourself in the magazine rack. Take a look at the kinds of articles being written, what are the themes, are there any recurring columns? Think about how your line, and specific items within your line, might fit in with different publications, not only fashion but maybe yoga or travel. Glean these magazines for ideas for pitches and then create a few emails presenting these story ideas to those publications. Then hop online and find blogs that cover similar things, send them your story idea as well.
In addition, be prepared to move fast. Undoubtedly the call from an editor will come towards the end of the day and they will need it tomorrow. Make sure you have enough inventory on-hand to be able to make a last-minute dash to Fed-Ex!
Reach out to your local media! Capitalize on where you live and design. Contact your papers, your blogs, your local magazines with a simple, professional, informational press kit. But remember, no one in the media has time to sit down and read a novel, so keep the verbiage to a minimum, include clean, high quality images a little ditty on yourselves, your inspiration, your contact info and be creative in how you present the press kit itself. A disc of hi-res images is an added bonus in the press kit as well. And don't forget your website. Your URL should be on everything! - Shannon Cavanagh-Estrada. Partner, Pitch! Press
There has never been a better time to grasp DIY PR with both hands and get proactive! Blogs are a great place for fledgling and established brands alike to find some exposure, so dedicate a couple of hours a week to sending out polite, concise pitches to blog owners requesting feature, or offering a giveaway or competition prize. As their audiences now rival those of top fashion glossies, the importance of being covered by influential blogs should never be underestimated, yet their editors are far more accessible to those without professional PR representation. Regular blog readers will also be open to discovering fresh new online stores, so as well as upping your press portfolio, you'll be well on your way to gaining new customers! - Sarah-Jane Adams, Fashion editor, www.sarahjaneadams.com
As for an overlying axiom for those doing their own PR, I would suggest being honest with yourself and your limitations. You can do PR yourself with a certain degree of effectiveness, but PR is a daily on-going effort that needs to be consistent to succeed. As a business owner you need to spend most of your time building and growing your business so the time left to do a good PR campaign is very small which correlates with the results of the campaign. - Polina Raygorodskaya, Polina Fashion
Do you think the market is oversaturated with new designers? With sites like etsy.com more and more people have started their own creative businesses. Do you see this as a positive or a negative to the consumer marketplace?
PR Couture says...
Personally, I love having access to so many designers and being able to cultivate a truly unique wardrobe. Professionally, I do think the marketplace is over-saturated, but I'm not sure that is a bad thing. I think there is plenty to go around and it just requires everyone to work that much harder, designers, PR's blogger, editors included. I love the story-telling aspect of PR, and think that the story behind the clothes can often be as compelling as the designs themselves. That can be your clear differentiator.
There are a lot of designers out there, but there is also a lot of junk. I always believe that the cream rises to the top, so to speak. Don’t be discouraged. If you’re doing something special and working on getting the word out there to the right people, they are bound to take notice. - Melissa Davis, Founder and Co-Owner of Ruby Press
There are various ways to look at it. On the positive side, sites like Etsy and Moxsie allow consumers a place to discover new, emerging designers. Additionally, the fashion blogosphere has exploded in the past two years. With so many independent bloggers in play, there is a huge opportunity for brands like Every Little Counts to establish brand evangelists to help drive visibility and eventually, sales. Etsy designer I Heart Norwegian Wood (Angie Johnson) is a great example of someone who has captured the attention of fashion bloggers. One way she’s done this is by becoming a supporter of the fashion blogging community (e.g. leaving comments, engaging on Twitter, sending thank you emails, etc). As an independent fashion blogger, I love supporting cool indie designers and think others would also respond well to Every Little Counts (love your stuff). - Jordana Bruner, PR Professional and Clutch-22 blogger
The internet has certainly seen a boom in indie businesses, from online stores and craft communities, to teenagers trading solely on social networking sites such as Myspace. The effects of this depend on your viewpoint; on one hand there is an overwhelming array of competition, yet the rise in so many creative businesses also demonstrates the soar in interest of shopping online and in the independent fashion sector as a whole. The real trick lies in differentiating yourself from the amateur end of the market by providing reliable, high end service and products, and emphasizing your credibility as a respected retailer. - Sarah-Jane Adams, Fashion editor, www.sarahjaneadams.com
What are you looking for in a new client/ designer? Do you ever turn down clients?
PR Couture says...
Successful PR requires commitment and not only in terms of budget. It is a collaboration that requires trust, patience and flexibility. The best clients are those that value PR and are willing to do what it takes - whether that is a web site redesign or a trunk show - to help their angency help them.
We are very selective of the clients we’ll take on. We only consider companies that we are really passionate about, that we feel fit the Ruby Press overall brand and that we feel is ‘editorial’. It’s hard to describe what makes something editorial, but it’s typically something that is very current without being completely derivative of something else, that is an appropriate price point for a large number of media outlets, that is high quality and that feels fresh and unique. As a former fashion editor, when I get excited about a clients’ product, I know that the editors will feel the same way. And yes, we turn down many, many clients that come our way. It may seem counter productive in this economy, but we want to set ourselves and our clients up for success. (If you’re not the right fit for us, that’s not to say that there’s not another agency out there that might be perfect for you!) - Melissa Davis, Founder and Co-Owner of Ruby Press
We look for clients that stick out and are distinct and "newsworthy." We pride ourselves in being highly selective in designers we work with allowing us to foster strong relationships with press, buyers and stylists. It does not make sense for us to work with a client that I do not believe has the aggressiveness, persistence, or potential to succeed because given my job of enhancing and refining their brand, if they do not contain that intangible 'right stuff' at their core, they will inevitably be their own downfall. On the other hand, it wouldn't be fair to the designer either if I am not able to give them results on account of mismatched working styles and chemistry. I also make sure to work with clients that are different from one another. We do not believe in having two clients who are similar because it becomes confusing to our contacts and causes our clients to compete against one another. I am in the business of their success and I keep that at the forefront of my mind at all times. - Polina Raygorodskaya, Polina Fashion
Unfortunately we turn down potential clients more than we sign them. The most important element to our business is securing editorial. And not every line is one my editors can work with, so sadly there are many we cannot represent. To work with a line, it has to be "editorially savvy", they must be able to provide us with press samples, professional images, have a branded and preferably e-commerce website, and commitment to a PR campaign. - Shannon Cavanagh-Estrada. Partner, Pitch! Press
What are some common PR mistakes you see new designers making that you would caution against?
PR Couture Says...
An email addressed to Sir/Madam with one sentence and a link does not a successful pitch make. Designers should keep pitches short, but include the basics - who you are, what you make, and why I should care. Include links to your lookbook/photography/site. I think developing a section on your site for press and bloggers is a great way to make everyone's lives easier. Include hi-res and low-res logos and photography, testimonials, bios, even video. If you want to get really fancy, provide the embed code right there on the page so online media doesn't have to host your image on their own site. Make it easy for bloggers to work with you by making it easy for them to get the information they need quickly.
When opportunities come your way, don’t be afraid to ask questions. There are so many bloggers out there these days contacting small designers, asking for product to review in return for a write up in their blog. Be careful. There are many great blogs out there that do reviews, but there are also many that won’t be worth your time. Look into the blogs- ask how many unique visitors they have each month, check out the kinds of comments they get on their site and how many they get. Make sure they feel like the right fit with your brand and that they are attracting the reader that you want to be reaching out to. There are, unfortunately, lots of bloggers just looking for free product hoping that you won’t know what to ask of them. - Melissa Davis, Founder and Co-Owner of Ruby Press
Never, ever call an editor to see how they liked the samples you sent. Ever.
Never, ever call an editor to ask if they shot something. Ever.
Never, ever call an editor unless they called you. Ever.
Editors prefer to work with publicists because we know and respect the process. When designers get in the correspondence mix, it causes frustration and mayhem. Their work days and weeks are full enough, stressful enough and time to eat lunch is almost nonexistent, so unsolicited calls send them over the edge. - Shannon Cavanagh-Estrada. Partner, Pitch! Press
A lot of people try to dive into social media too fast without checking the water, which can sometimes put their brand in a worse place than it was before. It’s also important to outline clear objectives before getting started so you’re able to effectively track your results. One company recently got a ton of visibility on Twitter, among other social sites, but there was no call to action. Now, they are only mentioned as an ineffective case example. - Jordana Bruner, PR Professional and Clutch-22 blogger