Brooke Slade, a PR consultant and professional model, was once considered impractical for wanting to pursue such an unconventional career path. It took a lot of work to figure out how to marry her two passions, a process that she describes as both “challenging and rewarding.”
Today, Slade is the public relations & marketing coordinator for BOLON, a global design firm that recently entered the U.S. market. She is also still modeling professionally and is in the process of launching an event series for aspiring models that will teach them how to navigate the business side of the industry while building their personal brand.
I recently caught up with Slade to learn more about her role at BOLON, how design PR is different and to get some insight into her upcoming event series.
Hashtags + Stilettos (H+S): How would you describe BOLON to someone who was hearing about the organization for the first time?
Brooke Slade (BS): BOLON is an international, fashion inspired, design brand that creates innovative flooring, wall and ceiling concepts for interesting environments.
H+S: What are your responsibilities there? Describe a ‘day in the life,’ at BOLON.
BS: A day in the life at BOLON varies! Most days I am in constant contact with the press, creating opportunities for the company or planning an event. The company is new to the U.S., so right now we’re doing a lot of relationship and audience building.
H+S: How is doing PR for a design firm like BOLON different from other types of lifestyle PR?
BS: Working in the design space is different because we don’t just focus on one main audience or constituency. Every room has the potential to be styled, so it’s my job to have relationships with interior designers, stylists and tastemakers in various industries and to be able to move seamlessly from one to the other. Because one day I could be working with a record label, the next a clothing designer, etc. The possibilities are endless.
H+S: How long have you been doing PR?
BS: I have been doing PR for 3 years.
H+S: How did you break into the PR industry?
BS: I got my first break, literally the day after I graduated from Temple University. My senior project required me to create a PR plan for an environmental firm, the company was so impressed with it that they hired me as a PR consultant. And the rest is “history” as they say.
H+S: You did some professional modeling while you worked in PR. What tips would you give for someone who wanted to pursue dual passions?
BS: Time management is key. Allocate specific times to dedicate to each endeavor, if not, you’ll be a complete, stressed-out mess.
H+S: What tips do you have for someone looking to break into lifestyle/design PR?
BS: Be open and network, you never know who you’ll meet! But also study art, pay attention to architecture, lines and design in your everyday life. Get to know textiles, fabrics and materials. Pay attention to trends, follow PR blogs, get involved with PRSSA/PRSA. And if you’re looking for an opportunity, this summer for example, I’m looking for interns!**
H+S: What’s been the biggest obstacle so far for you in your career?
BS: Thinking I had to give up on one of my dreams. I BATTLED with myself, I really thought I was crazy (because people told me I was crazy) to try to do PR and modeling at the same time. Once I realized that I could find time for both, life made sense. When you have a passion for something, it doesn’t die, its like having kids, you don’t love one more than the other, you find a way to make it work and show them each that you love them equally.
H+S: You’re in the process of launching an event series for aspiring models to help them with the business side of modeling and to teach them about building their personal brand. Can you talk a little bit more about this?
BS: It is important to understand the relationship between marketing and modeling first, understanding what brands are looking for, times in the market when jobs will be more plentiful, etc. I want aspiring models to understand what type of modeling is best for him/her and work from there, learn how to sell your self as a package deal and how to be a well-rounded individual. Modeling is just like every other job–but with this industry you are entry-level for a lot longer so you have to show your variety, your versatility, etc.
H+S: Why is it so important for aspiring models (or anyone really) to work on solidifying their personal brand(s) in 2013?
BS: Everything is so accessible, everyone is online, everyone can be Googled. You have a presence even if you don’t want one just by having a Facebook or a Google account, why not use it to your advantage?
You want to capitalize on every opportunity you have to sell your goods because people are watching. In today’s world you are a product. We curate our lives via social media, we are creating a brand with each Tweet and Tumblr post. I think molding this into something appealing will totally give you the edge over the next person in today’s hyper-competitive world.
H+S: What is your personal definition of lifestyle branding?
BS: Lifestyle branding is creating a world. An engaging world that everyone wants to be connected to or affiliated with…hoping a little of that “something” rubs off on them.
H+S: Who or what inspires you?
BS: Being an inspiration inspires me. I inspire to be someone else’s inspiration.
H+S: Do you have any mentors in the industry? If so, what impact has their presence had on your career?
BS: I don’t have/haven’t had any mentors.
H+S: What’s the best and worst business advice you’ve ever received?
BS: Best advice: “do you”, as simple as it is, its so true.
Worst advice: “never quit a job until you have a new one”–i feel that those are the times when you are most hungry and most determined, you leave something because you know its not for you and before you find the next thing you have that period of struggle–that’s when you really find yourself.
H+S: What is one big goal you hope to accomplish in 2013?
BS: In 2013, I hope to push BOLON to its true potential. I truly believe in this brand and the NYC team (BOLON by VIIIR), there’s something special here and I won’t be happy until we are a staple in the design community and well known in the NYC area. That will happen this year. People will not only know Bolon, they will love Bolon!