The business of fashion is one of money, success, fame and glamour, that much is true. However, it can be a challenge to make it big, let alone make it at all. And let’s not forget that fashion is fleeting, that one grave error is all it takes to send all of one’s work into the dustbin of history.
This week is devoted to business owners from the world of fashion and related industries. If you ever wanted to have an idea of what it takes to make it in fashion, no matter if you’re a designer, a retailer, a blogger et al, then this week is for you.
Want to know what it is to be a successful hardcore multitasker in the fashion game? Kelsi Smith knows. In the fifth profile of this year’s series, the British ex-pat shows us just what it takes to promote fashion and style in a city known more for being plastic than being a viable fashion capital, an image Smith is working to change one project at a time. Make the jump for my profile on Kelsi Smith.
Name: Kelsi Smith
Name of businesses: Stylesmith (PR/media agency), Dedicated Follower of Fashion (blog), Two Point Oh! LA (hyperlocal fashion blogger network), Fash Mobs (fashion-based flash-mobbing), Los Angeles Fashion Council (hyperlocal fashion incubator)
Dates of founding: May 2007 (Stylesmith), January 2009 (DFoF), July 2010 (TPOLA), July 2011 (Fash Mobs), October 2011 (LAFC)
Your elevator pitch: I work in fashion. Let’s have lunch (this sounds incredibly obnoxious, but you just can’t elevator pitch everything I do)!
You call yourself a “multiple career disorderist.” How did you come to adopt this title?
Smith: Well… I do a lot. I wear many hats, from PR to producer to photographer to community organizer. Any given day I’m doing a different job – hence the title.
Smith: Los Angeles has pretty much the most disorganized fashion stage in the world. It’s simply embarrassing. Devon and I are setting out to do two things: A) Launch a “world tour” for Los Angeles fashion – in essence doing a publicity trip for L.A Fashion as a whole; B) Develop an infrastructure so that once we create all this publicity for Los Angeles fashion, we’re able to maintain a level of professionalism that just doesn’t currently exist.
It will, effectively, be a localized version of the CFDA, providing support, funding and a platform for designers.
You began Two Point Oh! LA as an organization for beauty, style and fashion bloggers in Los Angeles. As TPOLA approaches its second anniversary in March 2012, what have you learned from the experience?
Smith: Organizing 120 fashion bloggers to do something is hard work. Seriously though, I’ve learned that something will always go wrong, and that if you want something doing well, do it yourself and that funding can go a long, long way.You’ve recently become fashion editor at L.A. Centric Magazine. How did you come upon the role?
Smith: Very randomly actually. I had a meeting with the hair stylist who was working on our first ever Fash Mobs. We held the meeting whilst he was cutting the hair of a magazine publisher who was launching a new magazine!
Will there be any new Fash Mobs in the future?
Smith: Absolutely. But we operate under a strict blanket of secrecy.
Stylesmith began as a millinery before evolving into a PR agency. What brought about this evolution?
Smith: Actually it started as personal styling and photography business, which evolved into PR with a millinery hiccup in the middle.
What sort of paperwork/red tape did you need to go through before establishing each business?
Smith: I have a best friend who is a lawyer and am incredibly uneducated in this arena, so that’s all been up to her!
What else did you need to do to get each of your businesses off the ground (investors, loans, materials et al)?
Smith: Good spirits, hard work and gumption. I’ve never started any of my businesses with a plan other than to make something great. I call it the Facebook model. Haha.
What was the best/worst/weirdest/funniest aspect/moment during the time you’ve been a business owner?
Smith: Best: LA Times profile. By far.
Any advice for someone wanting to become an owner of their own business?
Smith: Just do it! Probably the worst advice ever. But it seems to work for me.
Kelsi Smith’s latest endeavour is sending five Los Angeles fashion designers to London for London Fashion Week in Feburary 2012 in order to represent the best Los Angeles has to offer to the world of fashion, and is using crowd-funding site Kickstarter to help pay for the project. The goal is $10,000 USD by 10 January 2012; $9,425 is still needed as of this writing. To learn more and to contribute, visit their campaign page on Kickstarter and their page on Facebook; banners related to the project are in the sidebar.
Photo credit: Kelsi Smith (upper and lower images).