Was it always a career in marketing? What and where did you study?
I have never actually studied marketing. I completed a Bachelor of Arts in English and Media at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand with the intention of becoming a journalist. I then enrolled in a post-graduate degree in Journalism but the bright lights of Sydney were calling so I made the move across the ditch not really knowing which direction I would end up in.
Were you always driven to have a career in beauty and fashion specifically?
Not specifically. My first job in Sydney was in business-to-business PR specialising in events and exhibitions. I hadn’t studied PR either and I didn’t really know what it was but the job advert said that copywriting would be a huge component of the role so I decided to give it a go. I wasn’t fussed which industry the role was in, it was just the start of what I hoped to be a beautiful future. While I loved the vibrancy of PR and threw myself into learning everything that I could, I was only allowed to wear jeans on a Friday at that particular company so after a year, I applied for a consumer facing job where I was able to express myself more creatively. It’s so important to fit in culturally with a company, you spend more time there than anywhere else so you need to feel comfortable and connected. This has been one of the biggest lessons in my career, you are the only person who can change your situation so if it’s not working for you, be confident enough to find something else that does.
You originally worked in PR with a range of beauty and lifestyle brands -can you tell us a bit about the industry as a graduate?
After a year in B2B, I applied for the role of Account Manager at Maxted Thomas PR. I knew the job was too senior for me, but I liked the culture, clients and overall feel of MTPR and I was committed to proving my worth. While I didn’t get that particular role, the Managing Director, Ian Thomas, created a role for me. I haven’t told Ian nearly enough, but his belief in me was one of the most significant moments of my career to date. Not only was I motivated to deliver above and beyond, it allowed me to adopt a ‘sink or swim’ attitude that has shaped me into the senior executive I am today. As a graduate, it takes self-belief, perseverance and drive to stand out in a saturated market. Every job I have had following this, I have contacted directly opposed to waiting for the opportunity to come to me.
Did you have any preconceptions about the PR industry that were changed once you joined it?
The industry is often spoken of as being glamorous, however, it requires a lot of hard work, a thick skin, being innovative and never taking no for an answer. I always made sure I was genuine, honest and never wasted anyone’s time. I have always approached business with honesty, integrity and perseverance. I’m not the kind of person who will talk ‘fluff’, (something that is a big no-no in PR but happens all too often); I’m all about what I can do for you in return for what you can do for me. A good publicist understands the value of someone’s time – don’t contact someone just to ‘catch up’, what do you want to catch up for? Be direct and get to the point.
Your next role was in a design and strategic services agency- can you tell us a bit about what this is, and the types of projects that you worked on?
Due to circumstances beyond my control, I moved home to New Zealand for a few years and it turned out to be one of the best things to ever happen to me, both personally and professionally. New Zealand is a pretty small place and my hometown, Tauranga, is even smaller. However, what it offers is the opportunity to work across many facets of a business opposed to just one. As Client Manager at a Design and Strategic Services Agency, I was the middle man between the client and the designer. The company focused on full service branding and my role included initiating and executing integrated campaigns, overseeing design and developing brand strategy. It taught me to think holistically and to work towards one central end goal instead of only focusing on one part of it.
In 2013, you worked across ModelCo’s biggest celebrity signing- Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, can you tell us about Rosie as a branding choice?
We deliberated for months over who to sign but the CEO and I both always wanted Rosie from the start. She epitomises everything ModelCo stands for. Signing a brand ambassador isn’t just about signing a pretty face; it requires strategic planning, excellent time management and event management skills, and the ability to juggle many things at once. You need to work towards a clear objective and ensure you’re delivering across many touch points. It was one of the busiest but most rewarding times of my career – and yes, Rosie truly is as beautiful in real life as she is in photos. She’s also incredibly genuine, humble and kind.
Within your role at Stylerunner:
No two days are the same. I head up the Marketing Department, which includes PR, Communications, Content and Digital so it’s always busy but never boring! My end goal is to sell product so this might mean working across a new social media campaign, a brand collaboration, business profiling, new homepage tiles or blog content, SEO or SEM campaigns, overseeing digital advertising, managing an event or activation or analysing customer behaviour and trends. We’re not a traditional company and I’m certainly not a traditional marketer. I’m always looking for new ways to communicate with our customers, fans and followers and love the challenge that my role brings.
Moving from beauty into fashion, as the Marketing Director for Stylerunner, has there been a difference in how you approach briefs and consider the customer experience?
It’s not so much because of the move from beauty to fashion, but the brand I’m now working for. It’s so important to understand the company and the customers you’re working for. The Stylerunner community is extremely loyal, savvy, engaged and interactive – in past roles acquisition has been a focus but with Stylerunner, it’s more about retention, customer loyalty and added value.
What’s an example of a day-in-the-life for you at Stylerunner?
First up, I work with my design, social and site merch teams to debrief on the day ahead. We chat through site uploads, deadlines, product arrivals, content and copy, photography and more. I then spend time analysing the previous day’s sales. Then, the day could veer into many directions – copywriting, analytics, research and development, responding to call outs and product requests, press pitches, developing advertising campaigns, initiating social or digital campaigns, working with the buying teams or developing brand activations. I love my job and am always thinking about ways I can push things further.
As an online retailer, how important is user experience for Stylerunner?
Because we don’t have a bricks and mortar store; the entire experience has to be seamless. We are meticulous about the process – from customer service through to UX on the site. We’re continually assessing, refining, developing and innovating the experience to ensure we’re exceeding customer expectations and meeting their needs.
How do you aim to stay on top with competitor information and market trends when building strategy?
I’m lucky enough to work with an incredible team who all have their finger on the pulse. We’re constantly across social media, marketing, industry trends and news as well as being consumers ourselves. I also read, a lot. I subscribe to a lot of digital newsletters and I am fortunate to have many friends in similar fields that I can bounce ideas off. I also work for two of the most inspiring, innovative and driven individuals [Cofounders, Sali and Julie Stevanja] who are always thinking outside of the box. Personally, I tend not to focus on what others are doing and look to what more we could be doing.
Are there any exciting Stylerunner initiatives coming up that we should look out for?
There are always exciting Stylerunner initiatives, so I suggest you subscribe to our database to ensure you’re always the first to know.
What advice would you give to young people that aspire to have a job like yours?
Be humble – you are never bigger than the business you work for.
Be prepared to go above and beyond what is expected of you. There are thousands of people just like you, but what can you offer that they can’t?
Be a great negotiator.
Network. With everyone. And never burn any bridges; you never know when you might need to call on a favour.
Be positive. The industry requires long hours and plenty of resilience. I can’t stress enough what a difference a positive mind can bring to your career and your life – Positive thinking breeds positive results.
Marketing is never stagnant so never stop innovating. Focus on what’s next instead of what’s now.