Having a keen eye on fashion and a mind for business are proving to be the right assets for a fashion PR internship, as Jessica Minalga quickly found out. At Red Light PR, a full service PR agency specializing in fashion publicity, this Montana native and Fashion PR Confidential alum gained priceless experience and immersed herself in all aspects of fashion and PR. Connect with Jessica on Twitter and on Instagram.
What is your background?
A big part of my background is my upbringing in Bozeman, Montana – it’s a very special place to me as it has not only allowed me to see the beauty in simplicity, but the open land and big sky has also inspired me to create any life for myself that I want. Montana gives you space and allows you to form your own personality without the fear of it being taken away. Although not the most fashion forward of places, I have always felt free to be me, and it’s what has led me to my love for the fashion industry and discovering new ways to integrate it into many aspects of my life.
But to truly understand who I am, a big detail you can’t miss, is the fact that I am an identical twin! Being a twin has not only helped me learn how to communicate and get along with others easily, but it has also given me a constant push every day to be a better person as my sister is my biggest motivator and the most supportive person I know. Although we are identical, she is the reason I know my identity today.
I graduated from Montana State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Marketing and an Associate’s degree in Interior Design. This past year I became an Inbound Marketing certified professional and a graduate of the Media Bistro Public Relations program. Because I have multiple interests, I wanted my education to be a reflection of that. My Marketing major allowed me to learn to become a better businesswomen and my Interior Design degree helped fuel my creative fire. And by studying PR, I was able to create a focused career path for myself. My interests in the fashion industry have led me down the path that I am on today where I am currently interning at Red Light PR in New York City. By working at Red Light, I was fortunate to gain great hands-on work experience and knowledge in two industries that inspire me: fashion and PR.
Why Fashion PR?
I have always considered myself to have an “eye for fashion” but a “mind for business.” (I know this is true because there wasn’t one day throughout business school where I wasn’t wearing my favorite trends, even in a Montana snowstorm!!) I have also always had a way of working and communicating well with others. I love learning about what makes us different and truly listening to what others have to say and feel. One of my favorite books is the Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, and his ideas about relating across many different social circles ( a must PR skill) really resonated with me.
I wanted to find an industry that allowed me to integrate all of these qualities about myself into a career. And Fashion PR was that for me. When I first lived in NYC about two years ago, I was interning for Laura Bohn Design Associates when I took on a second internship at Wendy Silverstein & Associates, a small boutique PR company in Soho. Upon starting this second internship I never thought that it would completely change the way I saw this small but evolving branch of marketing, and I soon discovered that PR was something I really wanted to learn more about. I loved how there were so many different elements in PR, and how all of them contributed to the big picture that we were trying to achieve. I loved the constant creativity that it required, and how it could be applied to virtually every industry. Since then I have been learning and growing in this field and with my current internship at Red Light, I have finally been given an opportunity to take what I know about PR and see how it applies to the fashion industry.
How did you land your position?
After my internship at WS&A, I knew the next step I had to take to merge into the PR industry (specifically in fashion) was to find a position at a PR company that mainly worked with fashion oriented clients. I heard about Red Light from a close friend who was interning there at the same time that I was living in the city. After I moved back to Montana to complete my degree I continued to reach out to Red Light over the next two years, but the timing was never there. Upon my graduation from Montana State, I knew that I wanted to be back in NYC at a Fashion PR company, preferably during the fall to gain Fashion Week experience. Once again, I knew that Red Light was a company I really wanted to learn from, so I reached out again this summer. This time the timing was right! I inquired about an internship on a Tuesday, interviewed that Wednesday, accepted the position Thursday, and moved a month later. I feel very fortunate.
Because Red Light PR is a full service PR agency, my responsibilities varied from day to day. Our firm specializes in product placement, publicity, marketing, social media management, brand consulting, digital strategy, and event production. We also have an in-house showroom housing all of the current collections from our apparel clients. Our showroom is a major part of our daily operations. With that, a lot of my responsibilities included: completing sample requests for editorial and stylist pulls, maintaining the showroom, and managing the inventory of new collections. Aside from the showroom upkeep, I also helped coordinate giftings to editors/celebrities/bloggers, updated our contact lists and press kits, maintained consistent management of our client social media platforms, and aided in event production and execution. I even got to pull potential looks for photo shoots, which always brings out the stylist in me. I love it! In PR you are constantly doing different tasks, immersing yourself in all aspects of the brands you represent. Every day in this industry is a new adventure to say the least!
What elements of the job/internship were unexpected or surprising?
The PR team at Red Light is small, but when it comes to their clients, no task is considered too big. Each client has catered individual attention, and treated as an important asset, even on a busy day full of meetings and deadlines. The relationship building process here is very organic and personal. Each member of the Red Light team knows their clients so well, and it has been very informational to see how they can switch gears at any minute managing client after client. I was surprised that one week you can be producing a major fashion show for a client at NYFW, and the next week you can jump right into planning a small intimate blogger breakfast. Usually our projects are going on simultaneously as well and watching the team multi-task and communicate during stressful times was amazing to see and be a part of.
What is a recent success story you’ve been a part of?
Fall in the real world means spring in the fashion world. It is one the most exciting times to be involved in the industry as brands are preparing to unveil their new lines via Fashion Week, showcases, and press previews. As a public relations agency, press previews are a great way to meet people in the media that you have been emailing back and forth with for months and they give your client’s collections a chance to get that valuable in person exposure. Red Light hosted a Spring 2014 press preview, showcasing client’s new products to a gathering of editors, bloggers, and style influencers. This was a truly amazing success story for me to be a part of as I really got to experience the event from start to finish, inside and out.
My dream Fashion PR job would be…
I hope to have a job where I am not only known for my work ethic, but also for the person that I am. I want my clients to trust me and feel like I have their best interests at heart. I would love to have a PR job that is challenging and changes as much as the fast-paced fashion industry that I thrive in. Being a part of that would be so fulfilling for me every day. The future of fashion in this tech-driven world is so interesting to me, so my dream job would definitely encompass that in some way. Apart from a career in fashion, working with nonprofits is career goal of mine as well. I have worked work with nonprofits in the past and knowing that you are helping a greater cause is very motivational to me and sometimes even more inspiring than any glossy magazine photo or designer gown. One of my main aspirations is to work for a company that recognizes beauty in more ways than one and focuses on giving back to the community.