From sheer determination, Marina rose from PR assistant to JR PR Manger at Loewe in under one month. In her current position, she represents the brand to the media, manages press coverage (including a Vogue Paris cover!), and also works on Loewe's shows.
This interview took place between Tate and Marina at Hotel Grand Amour in Paris
Editor: Christel Langue
TVPS: So do you want to start off with how you got to where you are today?
MB: My career is eclectic. At first, I wasn't sure what sector of the fashion industry I wanted to be in, but I at least knew that I had to be on the luxury end of it. So I decided to try out an internship in sales.
I wanted to be a part of what first caught my eye in the industry, and I was also interested in how the bigger houses operated.
I think when you start your career, especially at a brand, you have 2 choices. The 1st you can start at a smaller company and have a lot of responsibility but not as much visibility. Or you can start at a bigger company and have greater visibility to important people but less responsibility.
I ended up choosing the latter and starting my career at a bigger company. But I ended up getting really lucky because I got more responsibilities quicker than I expected. Maybe I was lucky, but I believe it’s about what you bring to the table. If you work hard and go beyond your missions/tasks, people recognize your efforts.
So before Loewe you were at Christian Louboutin for a bit?
Yeah. I was a PR intern there.
Yeah, it was really great. I liked how the PR team was set up there one girl worked with VIPs, one girl was dedicated to France, one worked for the rest of Europe, and another one worked for men. Each of them had their own intern, so it was a pretty big PR team.
When I saw that they were looking for an intern, I thought “Ok. I have to apply.” And then they called me 20 minutes later, so it just worked out really well. At that point I had already graduated from university, so I wasn’t thrilled about being an intern again, but I had very little experience in PR.
I feel like sometimes you have to put your ego aside and do what’s best for your career. It was worth it; everything went well, the girls were amazing, Christian is amazing. His office was right next to us so it was a really special experience.
Did you learn anything in particular?
Organization. It was key when I was there because we were constantly receiving requests. So you have to be efficient too and work well with everyone.
How is the PR team at Loewe structured?
My boss is the PR manager, and then there’s me, and I have an assistant, so it’s just the 3 of us since we only handle the French market.
The headquarters are in Madrid, and they handle Spain, Germany, digital, and international. Then AIPR handles us for London, Karla Otto in Milan, then in NY it’s PRC. We also have an office in Tokyo, Shanghai and Hong Kong, so we’re in-house for most of our Asian markets.
What’s your day to day?
I handle most requests, which means a stylist or their assistant will request looks and say the location, magazine, and photographer that their shooting with and then I see if we can make it work. The challenge is that all of the markets only share one collection, so we have to coordinate with that. I also tell the press about Loewe’s news to manage how the brand is shown in the media.
So how do you make sure that the looks are available for the most important magazines?
It all just comes down to communication, and we all really try to help each other out. We have an amazing international coordinator based in Madrid.
Do you all use Fashion GPS?
We're about to. I know it’s going to help out my assistant 200%.
How’s the company culture?
It's honestly the best company that I've worked for. The house has a very strong heritage and a lot of creativity to show. It's both huge and very small. We really work like a family.
Is Jonathan based in the Paris office?
His office for Loewe is based in Paris with the studio team. He always travels between Paris, Madrid and London.
He works so hard, has tons of ideas at the same time. I think as a team, we have the right balance between experienced craftsmen and the energy of young designers. It's easy to get along with each other, and everyone is so funny.
I also think we have such a strong team because everyone gets along so well so the communication is really great. We’re not a company where everyone's working for his little thing and only thinking of his tasks. You have to be open-minded and see more than your desk, and your phone, and your emails.
Yeah, and the team in Madrid is amazing too.
Oh, have you gone there?
I went there for the first time back in November for the 170th anniversary of the brand and the re-opening of Casa Loewe. We had the “Present, Past, Future” exhibition, which is also the name of the book we launched that same day, and a still life flowers archive from Steven Meisel, who shoots our campaigns. It was very powerful.
So why PR?
Well, I love marketing, fashion, and people. I think it’s really fun to work in a job that revolves around communication.
I saw you studied at fashion school. Do you think that gave you a leg up to make it in the industry?
Absolutely. I learned so much. It was 3 years in total, and it was a business school that’s directly specified for fashion. I took history of fashion classes, law classes, English that specified in industry vocabulary, and marketing which I find so interesting because you learn what makes people buy. For me, it was just the best, and most of my instructors worked in the industry as well.
What does it mean to be a good boss?
One of the first bosses that I had really inspired me. She’s been in PR for over 15 years, and she’s still so passionate and dedicated. She's a lot of fun and teaches her interns so much; she always shares what she's doing too. She still remembers what it’s like to be an assistant which I think is very important.
As a boss, have you ever found it challenging to separate a friend/work divide?
Yes and it's hard. It's hard.
I mean it's a family, absolutely. You see these people over 8 hours a day, more than your boyfriend. So obviously you have to get along and the more you get along, the better you work.
But because of that it's tricky, the boundaries are thin. I always feel bad when I have to tell my assistant or whomever, "Okay, this is wrong. I told you before not to do this, but you're still doing it,” etc. But it’s my responsibility to make sure they learn a lot and understand why they are processing this way.
How do you get the most out of the positions that you've had?
I love what I do, so dedication comes with that. It's a small world. People are fighting for jobs. You have to be dedicated. You have to love it.
Who do you look up to?
Jonathan. He is, at the moment, the number 1 person that I admire. He's young. He's 33. He had the chance to come to Loewe because he's so talented, and look at what he did here. It's crazy. Same for his own brand, J.W. Anderson, dealing with 2 brands at the same time is mega powerful.
He's so talented and so passionate about what he's doing. And he loves art, he loves craft, not just fashion which I think is important. He doesn’t limit or pigeonhole himself in that sense. He recently created the Craft Prize since he’s interested in what other people are creating. He wanted to give people a chance who are working on artisanal things, which I think is amazing because there aren't many prizes in that sector of art already. The winner, Ernst Gamperl received his prize in Madrid just one month ago.
What's the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Well, I'm always very happy when I see Loewe in print. It’s something that I can show for my work. Because you work so hard for things that people outside of the industry view as trivial. Or you work so, so hard for a show that only lasts 10 minutes. And those 10 minutes are 6 months of work. So this is why I cry all the time at fashion shows. Like, ah, this is so beautiful.
It’s like everyone that I couldn’t see or canceled on, look at this.
Also, it makes my day when friends who don’t work in fashion say things like "Hey, I saw Loewe in this editorial. I love it. Who's the photographer? How much is that sweater? I need it." You know?
I think my biggest accomplishment here was when we were at the office and received a text, saying “Congratulations on Vogue Paris!!” and I was like, “wait, what?” So I quickly scrolled my Instagram and there it was, Loewe was on the Vogue Paris cover
! Major !!!! And I thought: Wow. I made it, we made it.
How does your role expand during high season?
For the show, we have to do all the guest lists, but I think the most complicated thing is the seating. We spend a lot of time on it. For instance, Loewe has individual seats which means we need to be very focus on not missing anybody, following the number of seats the venue allows. So it’s like "Okay, the Asian market needs to be here, the American press has to be here, the American buyers need to be there. So no, the model's going to come like this, but no this person works for accessories so we have to put her at an angle so she can see all the bags.” Then it’s all about creating a coherent seating. So, ah, it's crazy!
Then it’s working with the show production company, for all the seating requirements, the guest list for photographers, organizing the backstage and makeup artists, the models, etc. Just making sure all flows well. Yeah, and our time slot is normally in the morning which means no sleep because the day before you’re working until 12 AM at least. Then you have to be at the venue at 3 AM so you maybe get 45 minutes of rest and you don’t get out of the office until late the next day either. But even though it brings a lot of stress, we’re having a lot of fun. The best moment is actually when everything is about to happen.
What does the work after the show entail?
So right after, the collection goes back to the office and we set up the showroom for press. It’s for people who were not able to see the collection, or want to see it again. In this way, they can see the looks. But at the same time, you have shoppings to send out because the rest of the work load doesn’t stop just because it’s high season. So you do your usual work too, send pictures to press, and all the relevant information about the show. Then go to the restaurant to party. It's exhausting, but it's great.
What do you like about working in the fashion industry today as opposed to a different time?
Well, I will add something to your question. What’s interesting about working in the fashion industry today at 26?
Ah. That's good. I like that.
It’s growing, specially thanks to new technologies. it’s becoming a lot faster because we can move faster, like Fashion GPS for example. And with technology there’s also a lot more visibility. It is a real opportunity.
I mean at Loewe, we don't advertise in French publications.
Instead, we communicate a lot on Instagram and we put our campaigns all over Paris on the side of newsstands. So right before the shows, it gives people a taste of what the show was going to look like before the show even started!
But anyways I just think our time’s about taking advantage of what’s changing and that we have to work with social media, not against it.
How would you like to see this industry evolve?
I would like to see more and more young designers have the chance to be a part of this industry and to get more visibility. There are so many talented people and it’s worth seeing what they have to offer. I think we’re off to a good start though with social media, look at all of these small brands that we discover via Instagram!
Is there an impact that you’d like to make?
I don't really want to have an impact. I just want to do my job. I want to keep loving what I'm doing. I want to be a good boss. It’s not that I especially want people to remember me, but I would like my assistants to remember me, like, "Well, that was cool working with that girl, and she taught me so many things, and now I know how to do this, and I know how to do that." I mean, wanting to have an impact on the fashion industry is pretty selfish.
I mean, I was never that kind of girl who wanted to be famous. I just wanted to do what I loved, follow my passion. I think I'm an example of how you can be a very shy person, absolutely not self-confident and deal with it and achieve what you set out to do.
But yeah having an impact... I don't want to be that girl who's like, "I want to be famous for this, I want to be famous for that." No. I just want to be remembered as the girl who was especially good at her job, and who helped out a lot.
What advice would you give to someone who looks up to you?
Be organized, follow your dreams, trust yourself, and never give up.
Life is going to put obstacles in your way. Just go through them. Fight for what you want to do, even though it's hard. Even though sometimes you want to give up, never give up, because there is someone behind you who will not.