Real Women Doing Real Things: Erin Kelly, Founder of Erin Kelly PR

If you know me, then you know I love to support small business owners, especially when they’re female-run!  Erin Kelly, founder of Erin Kelly PR, is definitely a beauty PR powerhouse.  I’m always inspired by the way Erin and her team take on their clients (Sonya Dakar, Jenna Hipp and Mariah Carey’s makeup artist Kristofer Buckle, just to name a few!), and I knew she’d give us some amazing words of wisdom :)  Here’s what Erin has to say about beauty PR and running her own company…

Tell us a little about your background and how you got started in beauty PR.

Before the start of my senior year of high school, I stopped at my salon, chopped off all of my hair, and dyed it a color that could only be described as a dark cherry red.  I also got offered a job to manage the front desk.  Before that job, I didn’t style my hair or wear makeup but afterwards, I slowly started to add some glam to my grunge.  Not much has changed since then! I still describe my personal style as Kurt Cobain meets Gwen Stefani.

Career-wise, I thought that the best way to channel my inner beauty queen was to become a writer. After a few editorial internships and writing for Boston magazine, I knew it wasn’t a fit for me.  I wanted to write, plan events, entertain…in short, I can’t sit still so I gave beauty PR a shot. And it stuck.

Erin with client Mimi Dakar Berry of Sonya Dakar Skincare
What made you want to start your own beauty PR agency?

I saw an opportunity after the recession in 2008.  I didn’t have the overhead that the bigger PR firms had so I was able to offer clients my “big” agency experience at a price that wasn’t going to kill their bottom line. This also allowed me to build my own team and work with the people and brands of my choice.

What has been the single most rewarding moment of your career thus far?

That’s a tough one to answer as I’m fortunate enough to say that I’ve had a lot of rewarding experiences.  The most rewarding moment of my career was starting my own corporation, but a career highlight was when we started working with hair stylist Orlando Pita.  In college, I was obsessed with Kate Moss, particularly with her asymmetrical bleached blonde bob from the 2001 Gucci SS show.  That look inspired me in an unexplainable way and was a huge reason I pursued a career in beauty.  In fact, the first thing I hung up at the desk of my first job was a picture of Kate.  Orlando did the hair for that show – it felt like everything came full circle when we began working with him and his product line. It was a very cool and almost surreal moment.

What’s one thing you know now that you WISH you knew before starting your own company?

That I would never have another day off in my life.  It’s not a bad thing when you love what you do and the people you work with but when it’s your baby, you’re never able to fully turn off.

What’s your day-to-day like?

I can honestly say that every day is completely different but if I had to give you a “sample day,” it would look something like this:

Coke Zero

Real the Journal.  Read the Times.

Session with PJ Stahl at Lock Box.

When I get to the office, I make sure to take care of our NYC client and editor requests since they are three hours ahead.

Morning meeting with our director, Holly Clarke.  We brainstorm upcoming launches and events, new trends, client needs, etc. These meetings are one of the highlights of my day. I’ve worked with Holly for the past eight years and we still laugh at everything.  Her loyalty and friendship mean the world to me.

Pitch, Pitch, Pitch.

Check in with important social media accounts like @Curbyourlarrydavid.  Larry David is my hero. But seriously, I make the social media rounds.

Research – it’s vital to be on top of the industry, trends, etc.

And on Fridays, you can add office mimosas to this list.

If you could give one piece of advice to women who want a career in PR, what would it be?

Have an opinion and don’t be afraid to share it.  I’ve seen assistants and interns come and go throughout my career, and it’s the ones that have an opinion who go far. Be respectful, know your place and more importantly, know what you are talking about, but speak up! Nobody needs a “yes woman.”

Who are your female business idols and why?

Elle Kaplan, CEO + Founder of LexION Capital – an investment firm in NYC.  Elle set out to financially empower women and change the way Wall Street works. Speaking from personal experience, I can’t begin to express how much she has helped, motivated and inspired me.  And I know that’s true for many.

Lien Ta, Co-founder of Here’s Looking at You. I see a lot of people rush into starting a business without the proper experience, and that was not the case with Lien. Prior to opening her LA-based restaurant, she took various positions at top restaurants in order to cover and learn about every inch of the process. She’s taken that knowledge and successfully opened up one of the most buzzed about and renowned restaurants of the year. On top of that, she never compromises on her vision (which is so easy to do), and it’s evident.

For more information on Erin Kelly and Erin Kelly PR, visit her website and follow her on Instagram!

Images one and three: Shelley Som

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One Comment

  1. it’s very nice Thankyou Kate