Jill Cooper and Sara Andréasson are the cofounders of bi-coastal PR agency Michele Marie PR, where they have worked with clients like Coca-Cola, Mattel, Warner Brothers, Ban.do and recently became AOR for Henri Bendel. As they head into nearly a decade of partnership, the two PR exectives launched a collection of tailored shirt dresses inspired by the daily needs of boss babes everywhere, called Shifts. We talked to Jill about their agency, Shifts, and 3 things she can’t live without.
Job Title: Co-Founders
Agency Name: Michele Marie PR
Curent City: Los Angeles
Education: Jill – Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Southern California; Sara – Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising
How did you get started in PR?
Jill – I realized my passion for PR while assisting in the public relations department for the Los Angeles Lakers. After graduating from the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Southern California, I went on to work for the local fashion houses St. John Knits and Guess. Seeing my enthusiasm in the industry, Paul Marciano reluctantly transferred me to the heart of fashion – New York City. I lived in the West Village and quickly moved into the world of “luxury” while overseeing PR at Escada.
Sara – Born and raised in Southern California, I developed a love for fashion at an early age. While attending the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, I began my career in public relations working at Hugo Boss in Los Angeles. Moving on to John Varvatos, I created a national studio services program while dressing A-list celebrities for events, premieres, fashion and awards shows. I then became the Director of PR for Stitch’s jeans and Da-Nang.
What’s your day-to-day like?
Jill – We really try to enjoy the fact that we get to work every day with great people & awesome brands. We’re working on promoting SS16 collections to short lead press, celebs and influencers and gearing up for fall 16. For our new brand Shifts, we are working on expanding the collection into more styles, colors and prints.
Tell us about Shifts!
Jill – We travel so much and need to look presentable for a morning meeting all the way through to an evening premiere or date night. So, we created the perfect dress out of love for fashion and practical needs as businesswomen. Our collection of shirt dresses pays tribute to our years of working with top designers, stylists and celebrities, as well as our personal needs; what we wear on a daily basis. We use fabrics that don’t wrinkle and colors and prints that transition seamlessly from morning to noon to night. Easy to accessorize, simple to dress up or down, Shifts is the one piece that every woman didn’t realize they needed.
Jill and Sara styling a Shifts dress
What is a recent success story that makes you especially proud?
Jill – We recently signed Henri Bendel for full service PR. We are huge fans of the brand and the products and so excited to partner with them!
Gallery walls make Michele Marie’s office pop
What’s your most memorable moment in your career?
Jill – When Sara and I resigned on a sheet of paper to Joe Dahan (of Joe’s Jeans) and said we wanted to start a PR firm. He asked for a business plan and we went back to our desks and Googled what that meant. We came up with a plan. It was a pivotal moment in my life. Joe’s Jeans was our first client and now we are entering our 9th year in business with dozens of spectacular clients.
What’s been your most glamorous career moment thus far?
Jill – Flying to Germany to pick up a one-of-a-kind dress from the design room at Escada. Then taking the first flight to Los Angeles in order to hand deliver it to Katherine Heigl for the Golden Globes. It felt fancy.
Bright sunlight pouring into the Michele Marie PR office
How about the least glamorous moment?
Jill – Most of my day isn’t glamourous. There is a lot of shlepping in PR. Packing trunks for shoots. Steaming dresses. Walking 20 blocks through snow during a subway strike to get a sweater to Conde Nast. Wiping puddles of spilled champagne off the floor at an event with people stepping over you…physically holding up one end of a step and repeat for 4 hours at an event because the poles didn’t arrive – not what I’d call glamorous.
PR can be stressful and full of rejection – how do you deal?
Jill – Rejection, for some reason, just drives me to want it more.
What are 3 must-have tools, apps, or products that are essential to your job?
1. iPhone email.
2. My alarm clock – every morning I set several alarms for every call and meeting throughout the day so that I run on-time. Some days I have 15 alarms set.
3. A great pair of heels.
What do you wish more people understood about your job?
Jill – Securing any type of press is very hard. It isn’t easy to land a handbag on a page in Elle Magazine or get into a denim guide.
There is a lot of shlepping in PR. Packing trunks for shoots. Steaming dresses. Walking 20 blocks through snow during a subway strike to get a sweater to Conde Nast.
What’s the biggest challenge facing communicators right now?
Jill – I think a big challenge is staying ahead of the trends and always making sure the outlets and influencers we work with are on brand for our clients.
What would you tell someone who wants to be you when they grow up?
Jill – It isn’t easy being your own boss. It requires a lot of decision making, pressure, drive, and risk. I don’t believe in luck – you have to create the right opportunities, at the right time, to make things happen.
Sara – Be ready to wake up every day and work. Success is not an easy road. Choose an industry that genuinely interests you. I absolutely love fashion!
Thanks, Jill and Sara!