Sara Weeks went to college for journalism, but her creative thinking and admiration of PR paved her path to fashion PR in an unexpected way. The Auburn University alum ventured to Florida for a summer of what was suppose to be rest, relaxation and clarity. Little did she know that what would start out as a job at a small boutique would turn into a PR/Marketing internship at bohemian fashion brand, Judith March.
Now the Social Media and PR Coordinator at Judith March, Sara is learning all she can about the fashion business and using social media to create brand identity for the contemporary clothing brand. Connect with Sara on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
What is your background?
Evolution. That is how I would describe my career journey so far. I have been mentally stretched, creatively inspired, intellectually stimulated and humbled by the opportunities my career has given me thus far. I was born and raised in Huntsville, AL, the engineer heart of the South, where the emphasis on learning math and science was overwhelming. It wasn't my strong suit, to say the least. I am more of a creative, free-thinker, always striving to produce the most inspiring way to present ideas. I attended college at Auburn University in Auburn, AL. In August of 2011 I graduated with a bachelor's degree in Journalism with concentrations in both English & Communications. Looking back on my education, I was never truly in my element, until I got to college. I love creating, stories mostly, and there I was able to let my creativity evolve in an intentional and targeted way. Although I majored in Journalism I have always had an interest in public relations, but until I graduated I did not really know how that would play a role in the development of my career. My position as Judith March's Social Media & Public Relations Coordinator inspires me, daily, to soak up every aspect of the fashion business, and I am beyond excited to do so.
Why Fashion PR?
To be honest, I never could have dreamed of doing fashion public relations, until this job. I think that is why my story is unique. I didn’t necessarily pick fashion PR, fashion PR picked me; and I am so grateful for that. I kept my mind open to any type of public relations work and took full advantage of the opportunity that was placed in front of me. I worked hard to make a difference in the company and that work has paid off. Since beginning work in the fashion PR industry I have grown passionate for it! I wake up every morning excited to go to work, which I think is a special aspect about my job.
How did you land your position?
With one PR internship for a non-profit organization, I began looking for a job. After months of intense job searching with no feedback, I decided to make a move to Florida to take a breather for the summer. I applied to work at a cute little boutique in the charming town of Seaside, FL; it's name was Deja Vu. I worked there for a couple of months and learned about the entire company. I had no idea Southern Fashion House (parent company of Deja Vu and Judith March) was even in Florida, I had never heard of it, but I knew I wanted to be a part of it. Over the course of a few weeks I had landed a Marketing/PR internship with the company. I began working at their headquarters located in Santa Rosa Beach, FL--not too far from Seaside.
At that point the company was experiencing a lot of growth, and I realized if I wanted to be a part of it, it was up to me to make it happen.
I began intensely focusing on growing their social media following and getting the word out about the brand any way that I could -- reaching out to celebrities, handling all press opportunities, coordinating fashion events we are involved with and working with our customers to research what they wanted from our company.
I have been in this position ever since and have learned so much. I did not consider myself a "fashionista" by any means before, however I have soaked up everything I can to help me be a better fashion PR professional. Having a good understanding of the entire process of a wholesale clothing line, all the way from creating the prints to putting the garment together to shipping the garments to retailers, is very intriguing to me. Our executive team really encourages us to be creative in our own ways and share our ideas and that has greatly encouraged me and helped me grow in this industry.
What are your responsibilities?
My duties range from managing social media campaigns, community-outreach efforts, promotions, customer service, and online marketing campaigns, to planning and executing promotional events such as fashion weeks, contests, trunk shows, charity events and fashion shoots. I also correspond with the press and notable customers in order to gain publicity and promotion. There is always a new creative task going on each week.
What elements of your social media internship were unexpected or surprising?
I had no idea about the design process of clothing -- the actual design and production process, but the sales and business side of it as well -- until I began working here. Judith March makes custom prints in house, so It has been really neat to see the process of designing garments from start to finish. From projecting sales and ordering production materials, there is a lot to think about, and I do not think people realize how intense it can be. There is so much more to it than just sketching a picture of a pretty garment. These aspects have taught me the importance of being resourceful and observant in the work place.
Learning all that I can about fashion and the process of running a business is a very important trait as a public relations professional, especially in the fashion industry. I have learned so much about textiles, production, graphic design and the design process, and love it!
What is a recent success story you've been a part of?
One of the biggest events we have ever been involved in was South Walton's ( the county in the Florida Panhandle in which our headquarters are located) inaugural fashion week. The large-scale multi-day event highlighted regional rising designers, models and retailers. Southern Fashion House played a large role in the event as a VIP sponsor. I personally assisted with every aspect of the event and VIP party we were involved in including organizing our models and styling them for the Exclusive Runway Show held on the biggest night of the event. I also partnered with the events coordinator in helping promote the fashion week via press releases, social media content and email blasts. It was not only an awesome experience, but also very rewarding to attend an event you helped create.
My dream Fashion PR job would be...
The aspect of Fashion PR that I love is seeing a company grow and develop a brand identity. I love seeing designers evolve, not only with their designs, but also with how they present themselves to the public. Finding what a company's edge is--whether that be producing Eco-friendly products or Made in the USA garments, is something I really enjoy. My dream Fashion PR dream would be to own my own Fashion PR firm where I can help designers and boutiques find their identity and share it with the world! We are all different, businesses included, and I love helping people find their way to who they truly are and shouting it from the rooftops - via social media, of course.
The Getting IN series features interviews with fashion PR interns and entry-level professionals. If you enjoyed this article, don't miss our Getting IN ebook, featuring fifteen original interviews plus "where are they now" updates, available for pay what you can. It's a very fun read and a great way to support PR Couture. If you are interested in being featured for this series, please contact Martha-at-PRCouture.com for more information.