Working in PR is an interesting business. Sarah Schulten (28) has been hopping jobs in fashion and art for the last couple of years and found her dream job at IVY LEE, a PR agency that supports both upcoming labels as labels like Hugo Boss, Converse, UGG and River Island.
Sarah loves her job because she’s alway right in the middle of everything. As the industry can be uptight, and she has to remember herself to stay true. Sarah: “It’s easy to get lost in the fast life of the city and become a bit fake. In PR it’s important to get acquitted with loads of people and I see people losing themselves to become liked.”
The best part of the job:
Sarah: “Connecting young and upcoming brands or people to press and/or established brands. Brands such as Converse really make an effort to support local talent with all kinds of projects, which is great to be a part of. And IVY LEE supports upcoming labels such as Monocrafft, which is featured in so many amazing magazines now, I don’t know if I can even call it upcoming anymore. It’s nice that a part of our job is spotting talent in any field and after that, we can actually do something to help.”
What does your morning routine look like?
Sarah: “Routines used to be my biggest fear, but now that I’m at work every day at 9 I can see the benefits. I wake up pretty early, around 7. A bit lame, but then I do yoga sometimes and after that, I eat eggs with bread. During breakfast, I read the papers, that I secretly borrow from the neighbors. But I lay it back in time for them to read! I cycle to work in 10 minutes. When I arrive at the office I have coffee and a cigarette. After that, we all read our emails while talking a lot about anything! At 9.30 the routine is over.”
Was it always your dream to become a PR girl?
Sarah: “Maybe subconsciously. I didn’t have in mind that I wanted to work in PR, but I knew this much; I want to work with fashion brands, I want to work in marketing and communication, I want to work for a small company, I want to be involved in creative projects, Traveling is a definite plus, I like being in contact with people all the time and I don’t want to do the same thing all day. If you sum all this up, IVY LEE meets the requirements. It always has been my dream to go to work motivated every day to work towards a shared goal.”
What has your career journey been like?
Sarah: “I did an internship in a gallery in Shoreditch, London. Next, to hosting exhibitions regularly, we organized some catwalk shows during Fashion Week and I loved this. So when I got back to the Netherlands I started working for fashion designer Marga Weimans. For two years we worked side by side and did the coolest projects. In the atelier, the designer taught me everything in fashion you need to know and I was hooked. We did shows in Aruba, Amsterdam and New York; it was the best! After that, I freelanced for a while and worked on shows and exhibitions everywhere for several designers. Then I wanted something more permanent and the Witzenhausen gallery in Amsterdam/New York became my employer. Here we represented modern artists and also fashion designers such as Aziz Bekkaoui. Meanwhile, Leroy and Claudius were setting up IVY LEE and after they had grounded they asked me to join the company. I knew Leroy for a while so I knew this was an amazing opportunity. I started the same day Converse became a client; one of my favorite brands!”
What makes PR so special?
Sarah: “We’re in the middle of everything. In PR you’re always close to the end result because the impact can be seen immediately. How it usually works is that the brands want to communicate something, a new direction or a product release for example. Then it is our job to make that story attractive and newsworthy. In the gallery, we did the same thing with artists because the work should be interesting but it helps if an artist leads a rock-n-roll lifestyle where people want to talk about. After the story angle is clear we communicate this to press and influencers through activations, gifting or press releases. If the story was delivered well the results are visible at once; the event was packed, the product was worn by cool people and is shown in the best magazines and feature articles in newspapers or on websites. So successes can happen a lot!”
You certainly work with a lot of fashion labels and look flawless yourself. What do you wear on your day off?
Sarah: “Thank you! Definitely, Teva sandals, because they’re the most comfortable thing invented for feet, while still looking stylish. Mostly I see people answer this question with jeans and a t-shirt. I wear jeans all the time, but I can’t see how they can be comfortable on a day off at home. I prefer a legging and a Champion hoodie.”
The hardest part of being a business lady?
Sarah: “To not get frustrated if things don’t go as you hoped it would. Sometimes ideas are not implemented because of certain circumstances. If you know the idea was the best it’s hard to give it up. But it’s important to not think about it too much and to get over yourself so you can put all your energy into the next project.”
What opportunities have you created for yourself?
Sarah: “My previous jobs were small companies operating in the artistic field and I always wanted to learn more on the working ways of the big companies. With IVY LEE we work with a relatively small team, but because we have big clients such as HUGO BOSS, Converse, River Island and Ugg we also get to experience how it goes in large established companies as these. It’s interesting to see these structures and mechanisms.”
Any dreams for the future?
Sarah: “I think Belgium designers are the best. If IVY LEE could work for a brand like Margiela or Dries van Noten it would be a dream come true. And, as a side project, me and boyfriend started a platform ‘Almostnotdone’ from where we’re organizing online and offline exhibitions to introduce young artists to the world. The first exhibition is this month and I hope it’s going to be a big success.”
Biggest career lesson you learned along the way?
Sarah: “I’ve got a few: don’t complain too much and work harder than everybody else. Make a structured planning even if you don’t like it; it helps you and everybody you work a lot and last but not least: stay true to yourself. It’s easy to get lost in the fast life of the city and become a bit fake. In PR it’s important to get acquitted with loads of people and I see people losing themselves to become liked. I think others see right through this and therefore it never does any good. That’s why I think IVY LEE works so well. We only work with brands we honestly believe in and it’s always about quality and good stories and not about how much you can suck up to the right people.”