Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week we chat with MiMi Levine, an account manager at MML PR, a public relations, marketing, and event company. MiMi directly works with brands like Sole Society, Carbon38, and Jockey. She shares with us what it is like to be in the fast-paced industry and what inspires her on a daily basis.
Tell us a little about yourself and your career.
My first experience “working” in the fashion industry was when I was 8 years old. I walked into Limited Too with my mom and found nothing I liked! I went home and sketched some pieces and sent them to the corporate headquarters and received the most lovely note back along with a gift card! I felt so…heard!
From there – I shadowed an NYC designer during high school. I went with her all around the garment district – to JLo’s bedazzler (remember that?!) to pattern-makers and people who hand-dyed fabric. It was a nitty gritty behind-the-scenes look and I loved it! I then went to the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC – they seriously have the BEST shopping in that town! I was the style assistant at Charleston Magazine, Charleston Weddings & Charleston Home. I went around to all of the stores on King Street and borrow clothing for shoots – I assembled trend pages and styled fashion, home and bridal shoots. I was selected to assist during the second annual Charleston Fashion Week – training models and managing designers backstage. I thrived in that environment!
Finally – my long-anticipated move to NYC. I interned during Fashion Week at KCD where I got to work shows like Prabal Gurung, DVF, Marc Jacobs. From there I got my job at Ted Baker London. I was their first hire on the PR & Marketing Team in the US. I loved working on a growing brand like TB – and I had the unique experience of being able to contribute to the creation and growth of the communication team there!
I’ve now joined the agency world at mml pr. I was hired to manage their growing fashion division in their newly-opened NYC office. It’s been an enriching experience of juggling client work, learning to multitask and switching hats for different types of clients and projects.
I’ve worked hard to give myself a diverse range of experience within the fashion world. It’s always been my goal to be as knowledgeable as possible so I always have the best choices available to me.
Describe a typical work day.
My clients and the rest of my team are located on the West Coast – so I have the luxury of starting the day by really working on my projects and answering my emails. The afternoons are generally for client requests, calls, and incoming projects – but the mornings are when I really get a chance to follow up on emails, pitch my clients to my editorial contacts, and come up with fresh ideas for client projects and events.
My brain is fired up and ready to go in the mornings – so this set up works well for me!
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in the PR world?
There’s no room for divas. You need to humble yourself. I am someone who is never afraid to dive in to help – there is no job too small, no mountain too high. I pride myself on being a problem-solver. That means my clients trust me – they know I will deliver on time, no matter what they ask – and they respect my advice. I think my employers agree – they know they can count on me and that I’m adaptable. I have an ‘anything-for-the-team’ attitude which sometimes means I get offered the coolest task and opportunities! People trust and reward those that they can really count on.
How has the industry changed since you started?
I think the biggest thing would be the shift to a digital world. This has also changed the pace of the PR industry. Everything has to be considered in both long- and short-lead. And short-lead can now refer to a matter of minutes, and not weeks!
A print credit will always and forever be the ‘holy grail’ in PR – but at some point we have to ask ourselves where this PR-type exposure is more valued? A digital hit lives forever – it’s always searchable – and it’s literally shoppable, pointing readers directly to links to buy products. Seeing your wares on a truly influential blogger also has the added benefit of sharing, with your consumer, creative and diverse ways of using your product.
Who is your dream client?
My dream client is someone who understands the value of what I do. PR isn’t always so obviously related back to sales, in most cases. However, good PR can actually change the perception and value of a company.
Understanding the value of PR isn’t always easy – it takes effort and planning to get samples, images and collection information – sometimes 6-8 months before it’s for sale! It’s making yourself fully available to schmooze (sometimes!) and understanding the true value in my relationships and they doors they can open for a brand.
It’s not about what you’re selling – but how you sell it.
What inspires you and fuels your creativity?
Honestly, social media! I get so many great ideas from seeing what other people and brands are doing – and how they’re represented on social media.
Also – my friends in the industry. I have such amazing relationships with my colleagues – both new and old – and my friends in editorial. Socializing with my cool friends is not only so fun (obviously!) but also helps to keep my finger on the pulse, ensuring I know what’s “in” … from the best new restaurants to the coolest workout classes.
Who is a Boss Lady that you admire and why?
Can I be cliché and say “my Mom?” My mom is an accomplished OB/GYN in the DC-area. She practiced for over 30 years. A few years ago my mom decided to go back to school and get her Master’s in Public Health. At the time she was a student, faculty, AND staff at her university. Just a few months ago – my mom closed her private practice of 25 years to advocate for women’s health and reproductive rights. She fights for women everywhere who don’t have a voice – and does it with poise, dignity, and a bit of attitude!
I’m lucky – my parents have always supported and encouraged my career choices. They always say that between my brother and me, they’ve raised “two productive and contributing members of society!” I hope that always remains true.
What advice do you have for women in business?
Oh my – SO many things. I’ll start with the most important:
Being dumb is NOT cute. This is a complicated industry and the ‘silly girls’ get weeded out pretty quickly. There are career girls out there who want to work and become leaders in our field – and it’s a competitive field! – so if your heart’s not it in, get out of our way!
And – be kind, lend a hand. When you see someone in the industry that you admire – reach out. And conversely, if you work with someone that you see has real potential and a go-getter attitude – show them the way! We are women and we are members of a very special club and we need to stick together!
Behind the Boss: MiMi’s inspiration board