A View From The Top: We Talk To Kelly Cutrone
Fashion PR Guru Kelly Cutrone shares her success secrets with Your Coffee Break
There is no doubt that Kelly Cutrone is one of the most powerful women in fashion PR. She is the owner of People’s Revolution, a public relations firm that has had some of the biggest names in fashion on their books, from Vivienne Westwood to Valentino, with offices in New York, Los Angeles and Paris. In addition to being a successful publicist, she is the author of two books; If You Have To Cry, Go Outside and Normal Gets You Nowhere, the former earning her the status of New York Times Best Seller. She has also appeared on The Hills, The City, and her own show Kell On Earth. Kelly Cutrone is the inspiration behind thousands of hopeful publicists, and she rightly deserves this role; she is an incredibly hard-working woman and mother. Your Coffee Break had the honour of speaking with Kelly, and pass on her pearls of wisdom to our readers.
Being a publicist, especially one who represents such fabulous and eclectic brands and designers, isn’t easy. The idea of a 9-5 job doesn’t exist in fashion, as Kelly demonstrates when telling us about a typical morning at People’s Revolution.
“I live and work in the same space, so my usual day starts at 6.30 when my huskies wake-up. I’ll take them for a walk, and when I get back my daughter Ava gets up. We’ll have breakfast together, and then her nanny or I will take her to school. After some cardio, I start working between 8.30 and 9.30. Then I’ll spend the morning talking to clients,” says Kelly.
One benefit of owning People’s Revolution: being able to work wherever she wants.
“‘The best part of owning my own company is the fact that I can work from my bed if I want to. I’ve done this long enough to know, your work is beyond the office. If you are disciplined enough, you can work from anywhere, your bed, a spa, your car. Sometimes I’ll drive around in my SUV listening to music and make calls and see what’s going on in the street.”
If you’ve read her first book (if you haven’t you definitely should), you’ll learn that Kelly didn’t study PR or Communications. Young people today are definitely encouraged to travel down the expected degree-internship-entry level job route, however is this really the only way?
“‘I think it’s different for everyone. One person’s idea of how to get there is horrendous for another. It’s a very personal journey. In my book I stress the importance of listening to yourself and being yourself. Of course the opportunity for education is great, it’s a gift. But a lot of people are too young, don’t know how to act, and think ‘Wow I want to work in fashion.’ Studying art history is great because art always has influenced fashion. But people don’t think like that at 18. I think internships are definitely important but if you can access education, it’s a privilege.”
Refreshingly, Kelly has hired staff at People’s Revolution who do not have a degree, and will continue to do so. “I strongly believe you can’t learn to do PR in college. They teach you the theory yes, but the teachers haven’t done PR in years. Education is great, but I’ve never seen a person come out of a communications degree and be fully ready for PR.”
Her TV Show Kell On Earth introduced us to her no-nonsense approach as a publicist, that no doubt contributed to her becoming one of the most successful women in the fashion business. However, sometimes honesty has a negative effect.
‘Of course I’ve been in trouble. When you put yourself out there in the industry and media, you have to adapt to that. Attention isn’t only positive. Every day has a night, and every sun has a moon. But if you don’t like people staring at you or listening to you, don’t become powerful.’
Although Kelly has been surrounded by powerful figures for most of her adult life, the best advice she has received came from her Mum, who said, ‘When things suck and everything is falling apart and you feel you can’t take one more second of it, you get back up and go back to work the next day.’
Kelly herself is full of helpful advice for women in all stages of their careers. If you are entering the fashion world, Kelly says it is important for you to represent the brand, especially starting out. “It doesn’t matter if you aren’t the skinniest, prettiest or smartest, you have to draw attention and point out your strong points. It’s important to be willing to take on the energy of the brand you represent.”
In an industry that is all about who you know, once you get your foot in the door, you have to be willing to work your hardest.
“The fashion industry is full of productive people, full of people who work too much and too hard,” says Kelly. “They are all perfectionists, always making something beautiful and searching for perfection. It’s not the kind of industry that will wait for you, they will just ask you to leave.”
For those of you ready to start your own business, it is important to find a business partner “who will be respectful to brand, manage themselves and a team of young people well and be within their own scope but still be on point with brand,” says Kelly. “For example, Westwood only hires ‘Westwoody’ people, you wouldn’t find a ‘Dolce person’ at Westwood, it just wouldn’t work.”
Kelly, often rocking studs, black, and brands like Margiela, has the same philosophy when it comes to choosing clients.
‘I’m a little different because I’m good at what I do so I can do whatever I want. But when I was young I was very brand centric. All the brands I represent are very similar, run by eccentric women and are cool and quirky.’
Despite the volume of work she has at the moment, Kelly is always looking towards the future. Currently working hard on developing her clothing company, scheduled to launch next year, whilst getting ready for the summer at People’s Revolution, Kelly is hoping to take a summer vacation too!
After speaking with Kelly, we left feeling inspired. Her incredible energy, enthusiasm and positivity are contagious. Filled with experience and confidence, Kelly Cutrone really is the goddess of fashion public relations and the epitome of a strong-minded business woman. Go Kelly, keep rockin’ world!
By: Melanie Richtman & Jade Bailey-Dowling