The biggest challenge of [being the Jr. Account Exec for Rent the Runway] is that the campus representatives literally have no budget to work with. Our outreach efforts have to be creative and cost efficient. – Nicole McClellan
Nicole may still be a college student, but she is racking up serious fashion industry experience as a campus representative for Rent the Runway, a position she secured through the local PRSSA student-led PR agency Creative Consultants. Billing itself as “access to the Carrie Bradshaw closet on a budget,” Rent the Runway is a designer dress and accessories rental company that has been covered everywhere from The New York Times to InStyle.
I grew up in a small town called Tifton, Ga. and lived there until I moved to Athens, Ga. to attend college at the University of
Georgia. I applied to UGA as a chemistry major and was destined to be pre-med. I had honestly never considered PR or fashion PR for that matter. The mall in my hometown was fondly bestowed the name “The Tifton Small” so I never had access to or even awareness of the stores and designers I have grown to love through my experiences with Rent the Runway. I changed my major to PR before classes even began because of an activities fair that introduced me to the student organization, Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). After talking with the PRSSA representatives for several minutes in front of a creatively decorated tri-fold display, I had a feeling that PR could be something that I would excel at. I was right.
Why Fashion PR?
It was pure chance that I fell into Fashion PR. Being from a small country town where I didn’t even have internet access until the 10th grade, I was not exposed to high fashion at all unless I went to Atlanta. Even then, I was so unaware of all that was available. I have always loved to read and I developed a love for fashion by reading-–and let’s be honest, lusting over all of the beautiful clothes, jewelry and SHOES within the pages of Vogue, InStyle and whatever other magazines and articles I could get my hands on. I knew I wanted to practice Public Relations and when the opportunity to apply for a fashion PR position came along through PRSSA’s student-run PR agency, Creative Consultants, it was like I had found the Holy Grail.
How did you land your internship?
Landing the internship was definitely a process. First, I had to send in a resume and an application to Creative Consultants that detailed my experiences and qualifications and also what client I would like to work for. It was a situation where they would contact me if they were interested. I received an email about a week or so later requesting a phone interview. I emailed back and the interview was set. I had a 30-minute conversation with an executive board member and she said that she would let me know if they had a position available and that she would be in touch. I received an email about a week later informing me that I had been selected to be the Junior Account Executive for Rent the Runway! I was elated when I got that email!
What are your responsibilities?
My responsibilities include helping my Account Executive Christine Wang manage our team, which includes Taylor Henriquez, Hannah Alexander, Mary-Kerstin Lindqvist, and Danielle Ruble, drive sign ups, act as the liaison with our Salon partners, and plan and host events. We also pitch story ideas to local magazines and newspapers to bring awareness to Rent the Runway locally.
What is a recent success story that you have been a part of?
My number one job as a representative for Rent the Runway on campus is to create awareness for renttherunway.com by having people sign up, and not only have them sign up for the website, but to actually rent. Anytime that I have the opportunity to hear that a friend or an acquaintance got complements all night long and had an absolutely amazing time at a wedding, formal, semi- formal or date night in one of our dresses is a HUGE success story for me. The fact that I referred them to our fabulous website makes me feel like I had a small part in making their night marvelous and helping them feel stunning and confident in whatever designer they are wearing. I hear stories like that all the time and it brings a smile to my face every time.
What challenges are attached to your job?
The biggest challenge of my job is that the campus representatives literally have no budget to work with. Our outreach efforts have to be creative and cost efficient. We have formed partnerships with several salons in Athens in order to offer incentives to those who rent and to help sponsor the events we host. Needless to say, my negotiating and salesmanship skills are improving every day due to my line of work.
What is exciting about your position?
Being a part of such an awesome company is exciting in and of itself, but I have to say that the most exciting and rewarding part of my job is helping people feel confident and beautiful in designer clothes that they might not have otherwise been able to afford. Every girl deserves to look beautiful and feel good in her clothes and my job helps make that a reality.
What is an example of a typical day in the office?
Since I am still in school at UGA and Rent the Runway’s headquarters are in New York, I do not report to an office every day, but I take my job very seriously and make a conscious effort every day to have a conversation about or make reference to Rent the Runway. I often find that a simple short conversation is all it takes to get people interested. Who wouldn’t want to rent designer dresses for 10 percent of the cost of buying them retail?
In a few words, how would you summarize your agency?
The agency that I work for directly is called Creative Consultants. Creative Consultants is a student-run PR firm within the University of Georgia’s PRSSA chapter. This agency is unique because the students are solely responsible for attracting clients, maintaining clients, hiring and delegating tasks. It is an awesome opportunity offered by PRSSA to help students get “real world” experience. Rent the Runway is one of Creative Consultants’ clients.