Here Are 10 Of The Most Powerful Women In New York Fashion PR

Jennifer Meyer

Photo: Spencer Wohlrab

This slideshow originally appeared at StyleCaster.After spending two straight days shooting back-to-back at various locations throughout the city, I caught a glimpse into the elusive world of fashion, beauty and entertainment public relations. There were no velvet ropes to pass, private jets to board or celebrities to gawk at, but I was sure I entered foreign territory.

Throughout most of our photo shoot, there was a consistent hum of iPhones buzzing, emergency calls and the occasional client making an impromptu drop-in. It was enough to make my head spin and I was merely watching. How these women managed to perform such unforeseen damage control completely unfazed, clad in stilettos and designer duds, was nothing short of spectacular. Now this was fabulous.

In keeping with the New York lifestyle, this job never sleeps. I learned that for these hard-working, scary-smart ladies, PR is something you have to love, live and breathe (and still look like a million bucks while doing so).

I had the pleasure of digging a little deeper and learning about each individual’s bumpy path to success and happiness. And while it’s not an easy road to the top, the fruits of their labour are not scarce. Watching one of them tear into a gift with the mouth-watering “Barneys” logo printed across the black box, I didn’t feel an ounce of jealousy — I felt content. It was well deserved.

With A-List client rosters and navigating normality in what could seem like a pressure cooker, it’s no wonder these PR power players have to work in the shadows of fame, controlling all what we perceive as fantasy as just another day in the office.

Photographs by: Spencer Wohlrab; Produced and written by: Marni Golden; Hair and makeup by:  Brit Cochran

Kerry Diamond, Vice President of Public Relations for Coach

HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE BUSINESS?

I got into PR by accident. The head of the luxury division at L'Oréal USA asked if I'd like to head the Lancôme PR team and rethink the brand's approach. At the time I was the beauty director of Harper's Bazaar and I was ghostwriting books. I was happy at Bazaar, but I also knew opportunities like that don't fall into your lap every day.

WHAT'S THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF YOUR JOB?

Staying on top of tech trends. You never want to be the executive in the room who looks lost when someone starts talking about Tumblr, Pinterest, Spotify, etc. Or who has to confess they haven't a clue how to Tweet.

HOW DO YOU COPE WITH THE STRESS OF BEING 'ON-CALL' 24-7?

I don't think it's the stress of being on call as much as the stress of missing something. There are so many media outlets today and Coach is a very popular, very global brand. Did I see the young woman carrying a Coach men's bag on The Sartorialist? Did I see the vintage Coach bag in that one picture on The Selby? Did I see the character carrying the new Coach Willis bag on Revenge? Did I catch that WWD online story that referenced Coach in China? Now multiply that by a thousand.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A RECENT COLLEGE GRAD WHO WANTS TO GET INTO PR?

Actually, I'd rather give advice to those entering college who want a career in PR. Don't major in PR -- major in English, history, art, etc. It will make you a well-rounded, interesting person when you graduate. And that will serve you well throughout your career.

IF YOU COULD DISPEL ANY MISCONCEPTION OR MYTH REGARDING PR, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

That all PR people are flighty, shallow, etc. As an editor, I was on the receiving end of some dreadful PR. I remember being sent a live Japanese fighting fish along with some products once. And then there was the big bag of dirt filled with mud-inspired hair care. But I was also privileged to work with PR people who are extremely smart and strategic. I learned a lot from them.

BEST ADVICE YOU'VE EVER RECEIVED?

Only the paranoid survive and fact check, fact check, fact check.

Mona Sharf, Director of Communications & Celebrity for Theory, Theyskens' Theory and Helmut Lang

MOST TRAGIC / EMBARRASSING 'LEARNING CURVE' ANECDOTE OR LESSON?

Be very careful before you click 'reply-all.'

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A RECENT COLLEGE GRAD WHO WANTS TO GET INTO PR?

My advice would be to those who are still in college: intern, intern and intern some more.

WHAT'S THE BEST WORK-RELATED GIFT YOU'VE EVER RECEIVED?

I received the most beautiful ring for a lot of hard work, and it's something I treasure.

BEST ADVICE YOU'VE EVER RECEIVED?

As long as you're healthy, nothing else is the end of the world -- via my mum.

BIGGEST/MOST-IMPORTANT GOAL SET FOR 2012 - PERSONAL OR WORK-RELATED?

Learn to cook!

IF YOU COULD DISPEL ANY MISCONCEPTION OR MYTH REGARDING PR, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

All the rumours are true ;)

Jana Fleishman, Head of Media & Artist Relations for Roc Nation

Jennifer Meyer, Vice President of PR and Marketing for alice + olivia by Stacey Bendet

Kari Talley, Fashion Director, BPCM

Julia Wideman and Beatriz Cardenas, Bumble and bumble Assistant Manager of Editorial and Production, Director of Global Communications

HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE BUSINESS?

Bea: I worked for several years as a styling assistant and loved the creativity of the profession but craved a more structured working environment. I'm Cuban American and bilingual and a PR friend of mine needed someone to join her team to do Hispanic media outreach for a major oral care company. I then transitioned to beauty PR working on a mix of clients: makeup, skincare, home accessories. By far, my favourite beauty category was and still is haircare. I was a Bumble client way before I even joined the company so the fit was incredibly organic.

Julia: I studied in the business school at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and they have you choose your major very early in your college career. So that's when I became immersed in the business of fashion, and it's something I find really interesting. The fashion industry is this massive, highly globalized industry, which is also one of the largest employers in the US. There's a lot of glamour and so much talent and creativity that is celebrated, and then there's this big machine behind-the-scenes that makes it all happen.

WHAT'S THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF YOUR JOB?

Bea: We take a team of our best hairdressers each season to Paris Fashion Week to support our Editorial hairdressers like Neil Moodie and Laurent Phillipon who do shows like Ungaro, Sharon Wauchob, Guy Laroche, and more. I coordinate the day-to-day production logistics and host the beauty press backstage so it's a hectic two weeks for me. However, it's a hectic two weeks in one of the most culturally rich and artistically inspiring cities in the world so I am not complaining! We all come back completely inspired and infuse that back into the brand.

Julia: We sponsor over 30 shows during New York Fashion Week each season, so I would say the high volume of work that comes along with that. Though it's also the most rewarding!

WHAT'S THE BEST PART OF YOUR JOB - ANY PERKS?

Bea: The constant hair complements, I never get tired of them (Thanks, Zoe and Travis!!).

Julia: When getting your hair done can be considered work…

Liza Bychkov, Vice President, Shadow PR

WHO ARE YOUR CLIENTS?

I manage the Fashion and Beauty Division at Shadow PR, with a client roster than spans American Eagle, aerie, 77kids, Armani Exchange, Gap, Superdry, Linea Pelle, Sir Alistair Rai, Isaay.com, DavidBartonGym, Dior Beauty, black 15in1, Refresh Body and others. I work with an incredible team of publicists to conceptualize and execute client strategies, which include media pitches, special events, celebrity activations, buzz-building initiatives and more.

WHEN DID YOU JOIN YOUR COMPANY?

I've worked with Shadow PR Principal, Brad Zeifman since 2003. So when he and his partner, Lisette Sand-Freedman, opened Shadow PR in 2007, there was no question my career would continue with them.

HOW DO YOU COPE WITH THE STRESS OF BEING 'ON-CALL' 24-7?

I don't look at being on-call 24-7 as a stress, just simply a way of life. It's about being available. It's a lifestyle choice.

WHY DO YOU STILL DO IT?

Simply, I seriously love what I do. I consider PR an art form, and I'm never without inspiration or passion for what I do. Every day is an opportunity to finally get a 'yes' after endless 'no's,' change a business, influence a decision, make a new contact with an incredible media outlet, learn how to finally wear red lipstick or style a belt over a dress after listening in on an interview, and so on. Being in PR allows you to experience a confluence of so many different industries and personalities -- it never gets dull. And… I work with my best friends every day.

WHAT MAKES THIS JOB REWARDING?

It's not about the 'thanks,' as PR can be a thankless job. Our clients are our partners in every way. We immerse ourselves in their business, from wearing their clothes and makeup, to working out at their gyms and using their hair products. We hear and see things first, before consumers or the press. So a win for them always feels like a win for us.

WHAT'S THE BEST WORK-RELATED GIFT YOU'VE EVER RECEIVED?

Hmm, how do I choose? It's definitely a tie between the following treats: drawers full of Dior Beauty makeup, denim, a facial at La Prairie at the Ritz Carlton and La Perla loungewear (my first gift in PR).

BIGGEST/MOST-IMPORTANT GOAL SET FOR 2012 - PERSONAL OR WORK-RELATED?

I just got engaged, so I would be lying if I didn't admit that I dedicate a portion of my weekly conference call with David Barton to my bridal bootcamp. A slimmer self is of course a goal. But beyond that… a few cover stories never hurt.

Carrie Byalick, Senior Vice President of Talent, ID Public Relations;

Stephanie Horton, Head of Global Communications, Shopbop

HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE BUSINESS?

I started out in publishing at The New York Times and later Vogue in marketing and promotions and made the natural transition to PR.

WHAT'S THE BEST PART OF YOUR JOB - ANY PERKS?

The ability to meet and work with the most interesting people around the globe.

WHY DO YOU STILL DO IT?

I love the variety of the job. Some days I'm working on public relations; other days I'm working events, promotional campaigns or global strategy.

WHAT MAKES THIS JOB REWARDING?

I work with the one of the smartest, innovative teams.

IF YOU COULD DISPEL ANY MISCONCEPTION OR MYTH REGARDING PR, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

It's much more than one big party. It's branding, it's analysis, its execution.

BEST ADVICE YOU'VE EVER RECEIVED?

Be consistent.

Julia Sloan, Vice President, Global Communications, NARS Cosmetics

HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE BUSINESS?

My love affair with beauty and fashion started at the age of five when I discovered my mother's bright blue Dior eye shadow. By the time I was eight, I had acquired more makeup than she had ever owned and would regularly have friends over for makeovers and photo shoots. I started working in PR after an internship in the beauty department of Cosmopolitan magazine peaked my curiosity about the other side of the business. I went on to work at Tractenberg, a small beauty PR agency, followed by a move in-house at Bumble and Bumble and, later, LVMH where I worked on Givenchy, Guerlain and Pucci. I finally landed at NARS, where I am today.

WHAT'S THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF YOUR JOB?

Prioritizing! There are always many projects happening at once.

WHAT'S THE BEST PART OF YOUR JOB - ANY PERKS?

Being passionate about what I do is a big plus -- and working for a brand like NARS is a perk in itself. I have access to the season's newest colours before they're available on counters and have the most incredibly range of colours and textures at my fingertips. travelling is another great aspect of my position. I love exploring new countries and have been fortunate enough to visit Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, Australia, Mexico and Brazil in recent years for NARS.

WHY DO YOU STILL DO IT?

I believe in the power of PR and feel it contributes greatly to a brand's success. I personally get a great sense of accomplishment when I see one of my projects succeed and generate a strong return on investment. One of my greatest accomplishments was leading the 15X15 project (a celebration of the brand's 15th anniversary) with our Founder and Creative Director, François Nars. It entailed working with and photographing 15 celebrities for charity. The project received an unbelievable response in the press, among consumers and with retailers.

WHAT MAKES THIS JOB REWARDING?

I have the great fortune of working with many industry icons such as François Nars, Fabien Baron, Isabella Rossellini, Daphne Guinnessand Amber Valetta. I also work closely with many of the designers we partner with during New York Fashion Week including Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte, Thakoon Panichgul and Phillip Lim. It's very exciting to be backstage with them at fashion week and see their inspirations come to life.

WHAT'S THE BEST WORK-RELATED GIFT YOU'VE EVER RECEIVED?

The best work-related gift I've received was learning to listen to my intuition.

IF YOU COULD DISPEL ANY MISCONCEPTION OR MYTH REGARDING PR, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

PR/Communications is not just about event planning, sending out press releases and socializing. It's instrumental for a successful business and can massively increase a brand's awareness and desirability. The right placement can drive sales and increase a brand's profitability overnight.

BEST ADVICE YOU'VE EVER RECEIVED?

Don't assume. Ever.

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