"Everything about this job has been a surprise to me. I never thought I would land an internship like this. It was such a rare and interesting opportunity; there was no way I could turn it down [and] once I get to New York during Fashion Week, the real work will begin." - Jorie Westley
Meet Jorie Westley, a journalism/PR grad currently balancing a full-time fashion career on the west coast with a fast-paced, all-hours fashion show production internship on the east coast. Here's how she does it:
What is your background?
I was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California; a hippie, sometimes sleepy beach town on the central coast north of San Francisco. Since I was a child I have had a passion for writing. However it wasn't until high school that I realized I could make a career out of it. My high school English teacher saw my passion and talent for writing and suggested I study journalism in college. I never gave it a second thought; I was a declared journalism major before my first day of school. I went to college at Chico State and was drawn to the school after I heard about their exceptional journalism department. I chose to option in PR my freshman year before I really understood what it was; I just knew that news ed wasn't for me.
My first internship while I was in college was at Restored Clothing Co. Restored, which was in business from 2007-2010. It was a local Chico business that provided its customers with quality clothing that had a message of restoration behind its designs. For each purchase made, Restored would donate 10% of the sale to the charitable organizations it supported. I worked as the public relations and marketing intern for this clothing company for a little over a year. I wrote and developed Restored’s media kit, built strong media relations, planned events, produced fashion shows, planned and implemented campaigns, and assisted in the styling and production of photo shoots and fashion shows.
Also while in college I worked part-time as a sales associate at Gap Inc. While at Gap, I worked on the visual merchandising team, and discovered an interest in styling, window display settings, and executing the overall visual appeal and flow of the store.
I graduated from Chico State last December and have been working full-time for LuLus.com, an online clothing company based in Chico. I am currently searching for a PR job where I can combine my college degree and my love for fashion.
Why Fashion PR?
I fell in love with fashion PR during my internship at Restored Clothing Co. It wasn't until I interned there that I realized I could combine my love for fashion (which developed while working at Gap Inc) and my studies in public relations. The fast pace, the fashion shows, visual merchandising, media relations and photo shoots; I loved every minute of it. All of my past jobs and internships helped pave the way to my current internship which includes helping to execute Planete Chic Fashion NY Week on September 15.
How did you land your position?
While studying public relations at Chico State, I recall one of my professors saying "it's not always what you know, but who you know". I actually landed my internship at Planete Chic through my best friend and college roommate. My roommate, Amanda, moved to New York after college to pursue a career in event panning. Last year, she volunteered at New York Fashion Week. After she worked the show, the owner of Planete Chic, Herve Racaud, came up to her and complemented her on her hard work during the show. He asked her to come back as the event coordinator intern this season. Racaud mentioned to her that he was looking for someone to do PR, meanwhile Amanda mentioned me and my experience. After sending my resume and working out the details with working from California for a NY company, I was hired; all thanks to my best friend.
What is an example of a typical day in the office?
My typical day at the office is coming home from my regular 9 to 5 job and then working for Planete Chic. It has been hard at times working from California, when I wish I could be in New York and on the same page as my team. Unfortunately at times, my internship at Planete Chic isn't my only priority. I work full-time in California and I spend the rest of my time "in New York" at Planete Chic. I usually start getting texts and emails from Herve in the morning, and we plan our tasks for the day and night. I usually work on Planete Chic projects from the time I get off work at 5 p.m. until about 11 o'clock at night. Once I'm ready to call it a night, I realize that it's 2 a.m. in New York, and Herve is still sending me emails! He works so hard; I swear the man must never sleep. It will be nice once I'm actually in New York in September, and we can break from being a bi-coastal team.
What are your responsibilities?
My main tasks have been writing press releases, working on fact sheets about the designers we are working with, social media updates and building up Planete Chic's media kit. In addition to standard PR writing, I have been researching for press, buyers, bloggers and media we want to invite. Once I get to New York during Fashion Week, the real work will begin. I am so excited to actually work with Herve in person, prep for the show, see New York and my best friend!
What is a recent success story that you have been a part of?
My main successes so far have been establishing media contacts and building our invite list. This has been my main project as of now. Research seems like it can go on forever, but have been really enjoying discovering new boutiques, finding buyers, press and bloggers who love fashion as much as I do. The true success story will hopeful come after our fashion show.
What challenges are attached to your job?
The main challenges I have faced so far is doing this internship from California. It can be very frustrating when I need to ask Herve a quick question or want to know Amanda's opinion on something, and I can't just say it out loud from my desk. Communication has been key for us; however, a lot can get lost in translation through emails and text messages.
What aspects of the job requirements were a surprise to you?
Everything about this job has been a surprise to me. I never thought I would land an internship like this. It was such a rare and interesting opportunity; there was no way I could turn it down. I knew it would be difficult working for someone who is so far away from me, but so far it has been well worth it. I can only imagine how many more things will surprise me once I get to New York. I am going to be able to work on what is going to be a truly fabulous fashion show, meet so many people, and see some great fashion.