PR Boss Q&A: Meet Christine Faulhaber, Owner of Faulhaber Communications

Christine in FSHOPPE

Agency founder, ringleader, and mentor, Christine Faulhaber is a renowned public relations and marketing powerhouse with a keen eye for opportunity. Christine has been a force in the marketing and public relations industry for two decades; her Faulhaber brand and impressive client roster spans across the lifestyle sector in the areas of fashion, beauty, health, hospitality, real estate, and design. Her Canadian-based business has grown to include a product placement showroom, the FSHOPPE, and a strong national, bilingual team with aspirations of future expansion. Learn more about how this PR Boss encourages her workplace mantra: #worksmart.

CF Headshot
Name: Christine Faulhaber
Title: Owner
Agency: Faulhaber Communications
Education: Ryserson University, Marketing and Communications
Twitter: @faulhabercomm
Instagram:@faulhabercomm

How did you get started in PR?

I went to a performing arts high school and used to sing at resorts. I put myself through business school working in retail. From there I worked as a national merchandising manager and eventually as head of sales and marketing for a top Canadian fashion designer. During my time there, I travelled across the country working with retailers, stylists, influencers and media. I realized that collaborating and closing deals was my calling.

Why did you decide to start Faulhaber Communications?

The fashion designer I worked for changed ownership and then 9/11 happened. I was devastated by it. It made me think about what life was all about, and, during a solo trip to Greece in 2001, I ended up having a bit of a quarter-life crisis. I made the decision to start my own business. I started my company with just a laptop in my kitchen 15 years ago. It grew from referrals and connections I had within the industry. I was 27.

What do you spend most of your time doing?

As CEO, I lead a team of 20 professionals across several sectors of lifestyle marketing and PR. I work closely with my senior team to drive current client success while also pursuing new client verticals and streams of revenue. I try to personally work with each member of my team to inspire them to be the best they can be.

What are you working on right now?

We’re a high energy team. We’re always on and always looking for the next idea. We have a showroom that we call the FShoppe where we house amazing trend items from our clients. Editors, celebrities and stylists are always coming to visit and pull products. Our office is in a historic building with vaulted ceilings, a kitchen and lounge area. It’s important that we keep a good vibe in the office so we make visitors and staff feel at home.

What is a recent success story that makes you especially proud?

One really proud moment was being listed on Chatelaine and PROFIT’s W100 list of Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs in 2015. I am an entrepreneur, so to be recognized in a list of super power business owners is a real honour.

Tell us what you are really good at?

I think my team would say that I’m great at networking and finding synergies. I love to connect people, brands, and companies that matter to find opportunities for cross-pollination. I think that’s a big part of what makes Faulhaber successful. I find opportunities ideas where none existed before.

Most memorable or meaningful moment in your career thus far?

At Faulhaber, we have a number of staff who have been with us since their internships. It means a lot to know that we’ve had a hand in helping them develop into the talented and successful professionals they are today.

Most glamourous moment in your career thus far?

Standing onstage with Mr. Louboutin himself during the launch of the Christian Louboutin Exhibit at the Design Exchange is a moment I cherish. Drinking champagne backstage with Charlotte Tilbury and our celebrity guests at the Canadian launch of her make-up counter at Holt Renfrew was also a cool moment.

Least glamorous moment in your career thus far?

I’m a hands on entrepreneur. And that includes getting down on your hands and knees and fixing a power cord. I make it happen, whatever it is.

Christine and Lindsay Singer at IDS16

Christine with Lindsay Singer at IDS16

PR can be stressful and full of rejection – how do you deal?

You have to be thick-skinned in this industry. As PR’s we have to earn every win, and part of that is sometimes getting ten no’s before you get a yes. You have to want that win. As for dealing with stress, all you can do is understand that there will be stressful moments and remember to keep a cool head when they hit. Cry and move on. It is part of the job.

I’m a hands on entrepreneur. And that includes getting down on your hands and knees and fixing a power cord. I make it happen, whatever it is.

What are three must-haves that are crucial for you to get the job done?

  • Bluetooth
  • iPhone power cord.
  • Next Issue. I need to be connected at all times. When I’m on the road, I power up my phone and make important calls in my car when I’m alone. I can catch upon a dozen publications on the Next Issue app when I find a free hour.

What do you wish more people understood about your job?

A lot of my job revolves around taking care of people and making sure they have the tools they need to be successful.  I herd kittens for a living. Mom. Mentor. Motivator. As a leader, it’s crucial that I set my team up for success so that we can have continued success as an agency.

How is PR (fashion or otherwise) different in Canada from the U.S?

We’re very similar and creative ideas work in either country. One main difference between Canadian PR and U.S. PR is simply the size of the audience and the number of media outlets. Canada has a tenth of America’s population and the amount of media outlets is scaled accordingly. The smaller number of outlets means there’s more PRs fighting for the same wins so you have to find a truly unique angle if you want to stand out. The media pool is shrinking everywhere, so creativity is key both here and in the US.

What is one thing we should know about fashion market in Canada?

Designers should look outside of our borders. Just because the designer is based in Canada doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where their market is.

FSHOPPE

FSHOPPE setup 

How do you stay on top of industry trends?

I am constantly reading, both digital and hard copies. Fast Company, Conde Naste and HBR are a few of my go-tos. Award shows are great for trends. And I follow the right people on social media which is a great way to stay on top of what’s hot.

A hit in the largest newspaper is not as valuable as it used to be. We have to be more digital to reach our desired key demographics.

What type of person thrives at your agency?

Our internal mantra is #worksmart. The people who thrive at Faulhaber are the ones who have an entrepreneurial spirit and make things happen. The millennial generation is invested in diversifying their skills and wearing as many hats as possible – which is important in a communications world that is continuously evolving.

What’s the biggest challenge facing fashion communicators right now?

The PR pie chart is changing. The media landscape has gone through a massive transformation in the last few years with traditional outlets shifting and shrinking. The emergence of new types of online outlets, the continued evolution of social media and the shift away from traditional media consumption has transformed the way we, and consumers, communicate. A hit in the largest newspaper is not as valuable as it used to be. We have to be more digital to reach our desired key demographics.

At Faulhaber, we have been on top of these trends and have built out a larger digital team to help meet this need and identify strategies and opportunities that were never available to us before. From one-on-one meetings with social influencers, which are happening at our office every day, to creating our own powerful brand of digital channels to help amplify our clients’ voice and convey their message to the right audience, we have had to adapt to the changing landscape in the PR industry.

Monogram Dinner by Design at Design Exchange 2016

At the Monogram Dinner by Design at Design Exchange 2016

What would you tell someone who wants to be you when they grow up?

Be ready to hustle and be ready to make sacrifices. I’ve always said that there’s no such thing as work-life balance, only work-life integration, and I truly believe that. If you really want to succeed you have to be willing to put the work in. I would also tell them to make themselves invaluable to their employer.

Thanks Christine!

 

About This Author

Known as the “fashion publicist’s most powerful accessory,” (San Diego Union-Tribune) and the “West Coast ‘It’ girl of fashion PR,” (YFS Magazine) Crosby Noricks put fashion public relations on the digital map when she launched PR Couture in 2006. She is the author of Ready to Launch: The PR Couture Guide to Breaking into Fashion PR, available on Amazon. A decade later, Crosby is a successful fashion marketing strategist who spends her time championing PR Couture's growth and mentoring fashion publicists through her signature online course PRISM. Learn more about opportunities to work directly with Crosby at her website crosbynoricks.com