After years working in fashion marketing, public relations and celebrity product placement, Sarah Pollack Boyd started the website Simply Stylist in January 2012. Featuring style experts sharing industry insight, advice and tips direct from the source, Simply Stylist reaches more than 65,000 unique visitors each month. In reaching out to celebrity and editorial stylists as well as fashion brands for site content and producing Simply Stylist events in Los Angeles, some of these relationships turned into business engagements. Now, Sarah offers her PR expertise working directly with stylists, TV personalities and fashion bloggers.
On September 9, Simply Stylist will partner with Marie Claire for Simply Stylist New York, an event of shopping, expert panels and a fashion blogger style off. Get your tickets and we'll see you there!
You previously worked on campaigns for clients like Paul & Joe, Hobo International and TOMS. What was your primary focus on these campaigns and what did each client teach you about the fashion business?
I worked on these accounts with my sister (Caroline Rothwell, founder of Caro Marketing) and the Caro Marketing team, and each experience taught me new things about the fashion industry. Paul & Joe is a Parisian collection looking to make a splash in the US. They are a staple across the world, but in the US they were known mostly within the fashion community. We introduced the collection to the top stylists in LA, dressed countless celebrities and placed them on multiple magazine covers including Cosmopolitan (with Rihanna) and Lucky (with Nicole Richie). Since we began working with them, they launched a flagship store in Los Angeles and are now looking to expand into New York. With Hobo, they were seeking coverage on their handbags. Their ‘Lauren’ wallet was such a hit and a great seller, but their handbags were equally as gorgeous. We sent some to media darling, Taylor Swift, and she completely fell in love with the line. She continued wearing their handbags daily.
As for TOMS, that was a very cool project that I was honored to be a part of. Blake came back from an inspirational trip to Argentina playing Polo and was brainstorming at our offices for a few days coming up for the concept for TOMS ‘Shoes for Tomorrow’. We worked on his account from Day 1 introducing this new concept to the media world. Many of the editors wanted to go on a date with Blake . The focus for TOMS was to tell the story, so his first big feature (that he still credits to this day) was the full feature in LA Times. From this one placement, Blake sold 2,500 pairs of TOMS in one single day, which launched his company. Working with TOMS showed me that the fashion industry needed a philanthropic leader. And Blake Mycoskie of TOMS gladly stepped into that role by creating a brand that gave back. I strongly feel that he changed the industry because now there are hundreds of ‘do-good’ brands on the market that are giving to charity in a similar way.
How did you get started in fashion PR?
I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania and always had big dreams to move to Los Angeles since my first visit in high school. I was so inspired that I decided to study Fashion Merchandising at Philadelphia University and at the University of Rome. After realizing I DIDN’T want to be a buyer, which is what I originally went to school for, I set off to Los Angeles to pursue a career in fashion. I’m extremely lucky to have an older sister who also worked in fashion and launched her own PR & Marketing company shortly after I moved out. I started working with her and began building strong relationships in the media, with stylists and other key players in the entertainment world. I always had knack for connecting people – whether playing Cupid or always being the friend to coordinate dinners. I try to stay in touch with everyone I meet and easily see how different relationships can work together. I love ‘connecting the dots’ between friends and colleagues. This quality is an important one to have in order to have a successful career in public relations.
What inspired the most recent addition of public relations for style experts to your business?
After making one of the most difficult decisions of my life, I left my sister’s company to chase my dream and build up Simply Inc. and the Simply Stylist brand. I launched the website in January 2012 and interviewed top celebrity & editorial stylists as well as fashion taste-makers. Many of the features on my site got picked up through high traffic sites such as Racked and some stories spread like wildfire on Twitter. In addition to the website, I produced Simply Stylist Los Angeles complete with a panel of style experts discussing the seasons trends. Due to the platform that I built, stylists, bloggers and taste-makers began reaching out to see if I could handle their public relations.
How does your experience as a fashion PR transfer to doing PR for style experts?
I think it’s become a pretty seamless transition! When booking fashion TV segments I would normally call my friends that are stylists to be the ‘style expert’ and discuss why the trends work and how to put them together. Now, I can work in the reverse and plan segments with Fashion PR friends. Thanks to the success of Rachel Zoe and blogs such as the ManRepeller, these fashionable ladies went from behind the scenes to celebrities. They’re hosting events & tv shoes, walking the red carpets and have certainly earned the title of ‘Style Experts’. We live in such a digital age, and things are changing so quickly! There really are no rules anymore. Bloggers are becoming models, and stylists are reality stars. The lines between job titles have become so blurred, it’s all about getting more exposure than your competitor.
How did you acquire your first clients?
My first client was Catt Sadler of E! News, who is a very close friend of mine. She asked if I could do her PR and I was very honest in letting her know that I had never done personal PR before and that my background is in fashion…. not people. She wanted to build her image in the fashion world (since she’s such a die-hard fashion lover) and knew I had the relationships to get her there. She fully trusted me and I couldn’t wait to get started! I’m always up for a new challenge.
Who are some of your clients?
Currently I work with:
Catt Sadler, E! News
Joey Tierney, Celebrity Stylist & Designer - clients include Ashley Madekwe, Jenna Ushkowitz, Audrina Patridge, Julie Benz to name a few
April Luca, Luxury Event Planner – yet also very stylish!
Lindsey Calla, Fashion Blogger, Saucy Glossie
Jenna Hipp, Celebrity Nail Artist
Agave Denim, Celebrity & Blogger Relations
What type of services do you offer?
For Fashion Brands, I offer the following:
- Celebrity Product Placement
- Fashion Blogger Placement
- Event Production (seasonal previews, tastemaker events)
For Experts, I offer:
- Red Carpet
- Media Relations (Includes Broadcast, Print, Online)
- Event Hosting Opportunities
- Collaborations/Strategic Partnerships
- Image Consulting
How do you measure the success of your campaigns?
With the digital age growing it is getting more and more difficult to measure success for PR campaigns. Sometimes a prominent blog post could get far more traffic to a clients site than a print placement in Vogue. However, the Vogue placement will boost their cache and get them more fashion credibility. This will then lead to possible ad campaigns, hosting opportunities and more fashion press. We can both usually ‘feel’ the momentum when we have a successful campaign. When I start with a new client, we put together a wish list of outlets they would like to be in and what I see them in. I can also measure success based on how many target outlets we get!
What is a recent success story you are especially proud of?
I think it would be my recent work with Catt. Within the first few months we did a 4 page swimsuit shoot in US Weekly, a 16 page Refinery29 feature, Racked feature, Huffington Post, In Touch and Genlux to name a few and now we’re working on planning her Wedding! She’s a dream to work with!
What are some of the biggest benefits available to style experts who choose to work with a publicist?
It gives them a leg up against the competition. Many experts have agents with a PR agent in- house working on all clients but they will just field requests. To have a dedicated PR team, you will see dramatic results because your story is being crafted and pitched. Once their name is mentioned enough, people take notice. These ‘people’ could be advertising executives, brand managers, editors and event planners.
You never know where 1 single placement could lead. That is why I carefully sit down with each client to discuss their end goal – where do they want to be in 1 year, 5 years and even 10 years. Once I learn what their end goal is, we can craft their target list to reach those goals. I even have my own PR company, Sarah Shapori PR, because it really is THAT important. I know that you can’t do it all, especially when it comes to talking about how amazing you are.
When does it make sense for someone looking to brand themselves as an expert to invest in PR?
I think a good time is once you’ve gotten some credibility in the industry. This could mean signing with a top agency or working with A-list celebrities. Also, when there is something press-worthy to pitch. My job as a publicist is to find a hook and if I can’t find a hook or a reason that person stands out from the rest, then it’s probably not time to hire me. For instance, right now I’m pitching April Luca’s ‘Boozy Ice Cream Bar’ that she uses at her private events. It’s a great angle, it’s timely and it edges her out against her competition since she’s the only one doing it.
You've dressed A-List Celebrities - what is the best way for new brands to reach celebrities?
Twitter is a direct in! Also, my suggestion is to go through their stylists. They put together all of their outfits and edit their closet frequently. Build relationships with the celebrities surrounding team ie: publicist, stylist, manager, and assistant. It’s really all about relationships! If you’re not the hob-nobbing type, I would suggest hiring a PR agency to help get your foot in the door. If you don’t have the funds, there are alternative ways such as using a freelancer that can help with targeted celebrities or offering a percentage of your company to someone with the relationships that believes in your line to help from the ground up.
What are 3 tips for fashion PR's looking to work more closely with stylists?
First off is definitely a good product. Second is a good pitch – remember you have to think they’re not sitting in front of their computer all day like the editors are. Most stylists are running around on set, pulling from showrooms or in fitting with their clients. Be respectful but persistent. Always send images within your email so they can see them on the go and think FOR them. For instance, if you’re pitching Rachel Bilson’s stylist, pick individual images that you think would work for Rachel in particular. And finally, if you’re sending gifts for the celebrity, include a gift for the stylist too! After all, they’re the one that’s making it happen.