Owning it: Bollare’s Alle Fister on making it in PR
We love featuring wise women in business who are great role models and display real drive and motivation, and Alle Fister of Bollare Communications certainly fits the bill. From being involved in the founding stages of retail giant Shopbop to founding her own business, Bollare Communications, in her West Hollywood apartment, to now ten years later, owner of an incredibly successful and influential PR consultancy. It comes without saying that Fister is a powerful example of a female entrepreneur who has paved her own way in a highly competitive industry, and let’s face it looking at her resume, she is major career goals.
Fister was a student at the prestigious Pepperdine University, in Malibu, California, and really made the most of her time there. Studying a dual degree in PR and Marketing, she also participated in multiple study abroad programs, swam for their Division One Swim Team and was an active member of the sorority Kappa Alpha Theta, serving as their social chair and then president. Clearly Fister learnt a lot from her degree and her time in the sorority, but we also asked what valuable experiences she had learnt outside the classroom and she told YCB, ‘Through my family upbringing and time at college, I learned so many lessons which I apply on a daily basis with my career. Through the swim team I learned hard work and dedication; with the sorority I learned the importance of working with a team and what motivates people; and from my family I learned that the harder in life you work, the more lucky you seem to get!’
After graduating from Pepperdine, Fister jumped straight into the working world at the start-up, Shopbop, one of the first online fashion retailers which has since grown into a global competitor. Fister described her time at Shopbop as ‘incredibly shaping’, citing Bob Lamey, the founder and owner of Shopbop as one of her most powerful role models. We asked about her role as PR Director, which initially involved being in charge of photo shoots, copywriting, pitching and appearing on TV shows as well as handling publicity and partnerships. The role quickly expanded as did the company, upon being asked about what she enjoyed most at Shopbop, she told us, ‘The growth. The business scaled exponentially, so my job and responsibilities did as well. The team at Shopbop was very good at being nimble: trying and testing different mechanisms and taking and applying key learnings.
I joined Shopbop very early on in that business, and as in any high-growth, start-up company, the most successful people are those that can go wide with their job descriptions and interests.’
As Shopbop grew and was eventually acquired by Amazon, Fister decided to make the big move herself and founded her own PR agency, Bollare Communications. Today, Bollare is an international brand with offices in Los Angeles, New York, London and Melbourne, 70 team members and a plethora of the most prestigious brands across the divisions of Fashion, Accessories, Beauty and Lifestyle. Some of those clients include: Vans, Timberland, Ken Paves, Olivia von Halle, Rachel Pally and Roche Bobois.
Bollare means to brand or to put your mark on, in Italian, which speaks to Fister’s own Italian roots. Her mother is of Italian descent, and Italy always had a sense of intrigue, exploration and discovery for Fister – A combination of the two concepts came to be the founding values of the company; discovery and making a mark.
Fister found her footing in the consultancy world with the help of both her parents and Shopbop mentor, Bob Lamey. She told us, ‘Bollare was founded in the value of connecting with a brand, hearing their goals and objectives and creatively thinking about who and how we (or should I say me, at the time, I was running solo!) would get it done.’
With the growth of the business it made sense for Bollare to become bicoastal. A New York office was established about six years ago in order to accommodate the growing East Coast presence of valued clients. Fister described the growth as ‘a natural extension and one that has been incredibly impactful.’
Starting her career at an online retailer meant that Fister already had a foot in the world that was the digital pool. With Bollare, she quickly became a consultant for some of most powerful e-commerce platforms: Gilt Groupe, One Kings Lane, Beachmint and Spring but to name a few.
‘I have equally been fortunate to build one of the best digital teams in the business, whom are selected to be members of our team at Bollare based on their authentic connection to the digital community and appreciation for the voice that they bring.’
When we asked her about a typical working day at Bollare, Fister told us that it is rare that two days are the same which is something she loves the most about her job. Struggling to answer the question about who she admires or looks up to in the industry (simply because there’s too many) she said, ‘I really admire professionals, sites, publications which have the strongest point of view and voice. Ones that can be a direct resource to a community. I love YCB for the inspiration merged with real talk and applicable advice for career women.’
When she’s not working away at the Bollare HQ she can be found with her family, fitting in a spot of yoga, or down at the beach like a true SoCal girl! Despite all her success Fister is still clearly very grounded and considers travelling her biggest luxury.
A truly inspirational woman, of course we had to ask if she had any titbits of wisdom for us about the world of PR and what she looks for when creating a team around her:
‘Know that the best things in life are worth working for. Everything looks more glamourous online. Real life is real work and that real work leads to real reward!
I look for drive. Skills can be taught, if someone wants to learn. A work ethic and a WANT is the secret sauce!’