If you've ever been invited to a Stella & Dot party then you're familiar with the fashion jewelry and fashion accessories brand sold exclusively through at home jewelry parties or online. An Inc. 500 Fastest-Growing Company, Stella & Dot has been recognized by The Today Show, Wall Street Journal and The New York Times for its entrepreneurial, home based business model. As Director of PR for Stella & Dot, Katie Sann is not only responsible to the brand itself, but for it's amplifying the brand to help support the more than 20,000 women who throw jewelry parties and trunk shows under the company moniker.
What is your background?
I graduated from the University of Miami School of Communication and started working the day after graduation as an Associate Producer at WPLG-TV (ABC) in Miami, FL. I wrote news copy for the morning show and the hours were miserable – 1 am to 9 am! I realized that my favorite part of the job was watching the press releases come through the news desk with pitches for stories, so I quickly changed my career path from Broadcasting to Public Relations. Looking back at the jobs I’ve had over the years, I feel very fortunate to have some of the experiences I’ve had working for companies including movie studios like Miramax, the Weinstein Company and Sony Pictures to fashion brands including Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue. Prior to Stella & Dot, I worked at Avon on both the PR and Global Alliances teams, working on their global celebrity brands and partnerships.
What is your role at Stella & Dot?
I am the Director of PR and Buzz Marketing at Stella & Dot which involves overseeing the PR Department and our agency, our Social Media initiatives, the Stella & Dot Foundation and our external brand partnerships. I love Stella & Dot because I truly believe in its mission: to give every woman the means to style her own life.
What projects are you currently working on?
We just introduced our new Spring Collection last week and we are working closely now with the long-lead publications on the launch of our Summer Collection in April. We’re also planning out our philanthropic initiatives for 2013 with the Stella & Dot Foundation.
Looking over the past year, what are you most proud of?
I’m proud of the exposure we’ve given the Stella & Dot Foundation – our charitable arm. The Foundation is about two years old and we really put it on the map in 2012. We rang the closing bell at NASDAQ in honor of the funds raised towards improving the lives of women and children; we partnered with an amazing organization, The Noreen Fraser Foundation, to raise awareness of Breast Cancer through the sale of a capsule collection of pink products during the month of October; we renovated a school in the Bronx with buildOn and gave the students a library; we sponsored a Financial Literacy program for students with our partner Girls Inc.; and we raised significant funding for Autism Awareness and Ovarian Cancer Research. Giving back always feels so good!
How has Stella & Dot evolved since the early days?
I have only been with the company for about a year and a half now - before I joined, we did not have a PR Department, so it has been so much fun building a team. In 2012 alone, Stella & Dot received a lot of recognition – Ranking #57 on the Inc. 500|5000 list of Fastest Growing Private Companies, receiving the ACE Award from the Accessories Council for Retail Innovation, and our Chief Creative Officer Blythe Harris was recognized for her designs by the Fashion Group International (FGI) winning the Rising Star Award for Accessories. Looking back at the designs alone – they keep getting more and more fabulous and versatile each season. It has also been great to watch our celebrity fan base grow – our accessories have appeared on stars including Katherine Heigl, Katy Perry, Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Munn, Fergie and Rashida Jones.
What does the 2013 look like for the PR team at Stella & Dot?
One of our priorities is to make sure that we are always making the job easier for our “Stylists” (our Independent Business Owners) by providing them with all the tools they need grow their businesses. To-date, Stella & Dot has paid out over $100 million in commissions to our Stylists, and we can’t wait to help that number grow in the years to come. Securing regional media placements highlighting their success helps our Stylists share the style and career flexibility. When we have celebrity sightings in Stella & Dot, we share them out immediately as well – that helps drive excitement towards our accessories at our trunk shows. All of our top PR clips are shared in our “Press Room” on our website.
Olivia Munn wearing Stella & Dot
Another big success from 2012 that we will continue in 2013, was the use of video. We created an amazing video (with a few cameos from the PR team) alongside the launch of our new scarves to show all the different ways to wear them. We love to use our Stylists and Home Office staff in our product videos – I think it makes our brand more relatable and accessible.
What are some of the more recent PR strategies Stella & Dot has adopted?
We have been having a blast growing some of our social media channels in 2012 – especially our Instagram and Pinterest pages. It is amazing to see the amount of buzz around a photo sharing all the ways one piece of jewelry can be styled! Personally, I’m obsessed with Twitter – for me, it is the best way to get news updates. We’re training our Stylists to share their personal style on our social media channels as well. If you check out the home page of our website, we have a dedicated feed to just that – our “Style Snaps” section! When a photo is tagged with #stelladotstyle, it often shows up on our feed. Our customers and Stylists get so excited when their snap appears!
What is the role of your recent designer collaborations?
This past holiday season we launched collaborations with two British designers – Alice Temperley and Lara Bohinc. What worked so well, especially with the ALICE by Temperley styles, is that her vintage inspired charm collection perfectly complemented our existing charm and layering pieces. That collaboration was a natural fit for us, offering versatile designs for the “woman-on-the-go”, much like our customers and Stylists. Additionally, it was the first time for us, since launching in the UK last year, to have truly global partnerships, which helped elevate our brand overseas.