Fashion is a fiercely competitive industry to work in, with roles spanning from social media to the catwalk itself. With the end of term approaching, applications for internships, graduate schemes and work experience will be flooding in to fashion brands. Young Academic decided to look a little closer at how a role in fashion might look.
Kelly Meade, PR Manager of Phase Eight, has risen from the ranks, from glossy magazine roles to a pinnacle position in the nation’s well-known fashion brand. From lookbooks to celebrity icons, Kelly has much responsibility on her shoulders. We asked her about how she made it to where she is, and advice for those looking to follow in her footsteps.
YA: What were the steps you took from graduation?
I graduated from Loughborough University with an English BA Hons in 2008. For the year following, I gained work experience at OK Magazine, Fabulous Magazine and New Look Retailers. I continued to progress in PR for four years as a Press Officer, Account Executive and then Senior Account Executive. It was in October 2013 that I became Phase Eight’s PR Manager.
In this role, I am mainly responsible for sourcing great press coverage for Phase Eight within national papers and consumer magazines, online and broadcast. I also work closely with celebrity stylists to dress their clients for public appearances and red carpet events.
YA: How relevant was your degree in securing your current role?
When choosing a degree, I wasn’t sure about what I wanted to ‘do’ as a career and felt quite anxious about picking a subject that might restrict those decisions in the future. I now realise that a degree equips you with skills that can be so useful in the future – better communication, time management, having to think for yourself and create your own ideas and opinions that are inspiring and fresh.
For PR and marketing, communication and creativity is so important. I have learnt so much in the last five years working in different environments and with a diverse range of brands, so I have never felt at disadvantage that I didn’t have a degree tailored specifically to my career path.
YA: Describe a typical working day as Phase Eight’s PR Manager
A typical day will start with looking through the latest papers or magazines to check for coverage or potential opportunities. Then I will contact press with our latest campaign, brand news stories or products, and we will send them samples or images for them to use for their fashion shoots and stories.
Each season we shoot a new lookbook to offer press a preview of the upcoming season. This requires thorough planning with the creative team. We’ll then have to plan a press event to showcase the product as well as meeting the press one-to-one to discuss our news.
As well as press liaison, we are responsible for organising customer events in-store such as new openings or fashion shows. So there is constantly something to be doing – time management is key!
YA: What advice would you have for other students and graduates looking to get into your line of work?
You must get as much work experience through internships as possible. Always try to stand out when interning so that your line manager places trust in you to take on further responsibilities and remembers you. When I applied for my first junior press officer role, the MD of the company knew my manager at not one but two of my previous internships. I had two instant recommendations without realising it and was hired after one interview.
You have to prove you are passionate, hardworking and enthusiastic – even when the tasks are less than glamorous or interesting! I always value those traits with interns we take on, having been there myself. I wouldn’t hesitate recommending someone for a permanent position if they showed potential.