Well first, thank you for letting me be a part of your #girlboss series! I’m Lauren Rich, Founder/Director of Underhaus, a fashion PR agency located in New York specializing in intimate apparel brands. Originally from Frederick, MD (D.C. metro area), I moved to New York in 2003 to attend FIT. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Advertising & Marketing Communications. I actually moved to New York wanting to be a writer, but quickly came to discover fashion PR as a career. After taking numerous PR internships during college, I landed my first two clients while still in school. I came out of the gate freelancing and 8 years later am happy to say I’m still here. :)
2. What brought you to a career in Public Relations and what keeps you there?
I essentially fell into PR through my time at FIT. (I didn’t even know PR was a thing before!) Between PR classes and internships, I found the field to combine everything that I liked: writing & story-telling, creativity, a fast paced environment, event planning & production, and of course the ability to work in fashion. But in my case, another element brought me to PR and has kept me in PR: the ability to work for myself. Through a combination of being in the right place at the right time and maximizing an opportunity, I landed my first client during my last semester at FIT. I picked up a second before I graduated, and decided to come out of the gate freelancing. Through a lot of hard work, persistence and perseverance, I’ve been able to build an agency of my own which is really fulfilling.
FW2015 Press Preview
For me the biggest challenge is trying to find that elusive work/life balance. It’s so easy to keep working 24/7 when you own a business, because you never feel like you’re “done.” There’s always something to do. This is especially challenging in fashion PR, a world of last minute editorial requests and “need it now” deadlines. I do my best to cut myself off in the early evening on weekdays, and have a strict no-work policy on weekends. Even still, if VOGUE wants a sample or an image late Friday night, I’ll stop what I’m doing and get it to them.
Starting out I was pretty intimidated. I felt that everyone else knew what they were doing, and I didn’t. I second guessed myself a lot. Come to find out years later, NO ONE really knows what they’re doing. There’s no “one right way” to do anything. Especially when running a business, everyone makes up their own rules and that is OK. Moreover, it’s preferred! You find what works for YOU and you keep doing it. If I could restart my career, I would have learned this lesson a lot sooner saved myself the early-on anxiety. ;)
Expanding on #3, for me it’s about setting boundaries. As an entrepreneur it’s so easy to let work & life blur together. I really try to “check out” of work on weeknights and weekends, and “check into” the rest of my life - spending time with my husband, friends, working out, traveling, etc. If I don’t make a conscious effort to establish a separation, I’d be working nonstop - which would be doing my work life a disservice. The value of taking time to reboot & recharge both mentally and physically is so critical in being able to truly be “on” when operating a business. Without it, you’ll run both yourself, and your business, into the ground.
An important question I sometimes ask myself is: Am I living to work or working to live? If at any point I don’t feel I’m achieving the latter, it’s time to take more time for myself.
6. Tell us one tip that you would give a young woman who is trying to advance in her career?
Maximize opportunities. A lot of success is about being in the right place (or having the right idea) at the right time. But if you don’t act, an opportunity will slide right past you. Stay alert for opportunities and GO AFTER THEM. Don’t wait for them to come to you.
7. Anything else you would like to share?
Being a #girlboss isn’t always easy, but it’s incredibly rewarding. Be fearless and don’t ever be afraid to take the road less traveled - you never know where it could lead.
Alexis here! One point of advice I definitely need to listen to is work and personal life balance. It is so difficult to step away when it is your own business. As Lauren mentioned, it always feels like there is more to do. I feel this is particularly true in the launch phase, it's like taking a leap of faith and you're constantly testing a new approach to see what works best until you find your fit. It's not easy, but it's definitely rewarding!
Stay tuned for next weeks issue!