When you hear the word avant-garde most times you automatically think “fashion”, so it is only right for this PR firm that specializes in fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands to be named just that. I had a talk with the 24 year old owner of Avant Garde Public Relations, Annette Richmond and here’s what she had to say:
FBE: So I hear you’re from the Bay Area, where is your company based?
AR: My company is based in Marin County Ca.
FBE: What’s the concept behind AGPR?
AR: Avant Garde Public Relations specializes in working with emerging designers and brands. AGPR also works with established brands looking to reposition themselves in the market place.
Working with emerging designers requires creativity. Some of my clients have small budgets but amazing products. We are constantly looking for innovative and cost effective ways to create buzz, launch products and promote events.
AGPR prides itself on being a boutique pr agency. We have close relationships with all of our clients, touching base at least once a week. AGPR is very selective about the designers and brands we represent and TRULY love the products and services we promote.
FBE: Do you have any training in media relations or fashion?
AR: No, I do not have formal training in media or journalism. I attended the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising L.A. and graduated with an AA in Product Development.
FBE: What made you decide to launch your firm?
AR: People have always told me that I would be great in PR. From retail to trend forecasting, I’ve had a lot of jobs in the fashion industry. When I decided to move back to the Bay Area from Los Angeles, I found a job with a new fashion pr firm. It was a startup and I was the first employee. I soon found I had a knack for it, I was pulling in new clients, full of ideas and persistent-which is MOST important in PR. Very unexpectedly the owner of the firm and her family decided to move and that was all the motivation I needed. I wasn’t ready to stop, I’d fallen in love. For me AGPR is the perfect mix of everything I love; fashion, beauty, magazines, styling, event planning, fashion shows and so much more.
FBE: You must have a great team behind you. Who are they and what are their roles?
AR: I’m VERY blessed to have some solid people in my corner. For the most part it is a one woman show, but I lean on a few people for feedback and small projects. Eddy Smith is my graphic designer and one of my closest friends. From websites to postcards and promotional materials Eddy is always my go-to guy. Amy Malmgren who has a degree in Public Relations helps with press releases, strategic planning and events. Elizabeth Hall started as an intern and is currently enrolled at FIDM SF. From fundraisers to fashion shows Liz is almost always available and eager to learn.
FBE: What inspires the type of pr work that you do?
AR: I love fashion! I love every single one of my clients and their products, that’s very important in PR, to have a personal connection. People know when they are being “sold to”. My company keeps me busy with so many different types of things from contacting the press, photo shoots, fashion shows, trunk shows, writing- I love it all! I think I would get bored any other way.
FBE: Has your company been featured in any national publications or TV? AR: Some of my events have been covered in local newspapers and regional publications like Marin Magazine. My clients have been featured in national publications like Lucky, In Style, Daily Candy and Splendora.
FBE: When did you decide to go into business for yourself and why?
AR: I think I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. When I was a girl we used to have garage sales, I would look through my things and check if there was anything I could do without to make a little cash.
FBE: To date what is your biggest accomplishment and why?
AR: This January we hosted a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, The Power of Pink. The death of my best friend’s mother motivated me to produce this event. I dedicated The Power of Pink to Anne and all of those who have been touched by Breast Cancer. Models included survivors and the friends and family of those who have lost someone to Breast Cancer. My best friend attended the event with her husband and daughter, she was also a model. Not only did we raise money for ACS we were able to celebrate people who have both lost and won their battles with cancer.
FBE: Who or what gives you that push in the right direction?
AR: There are many things that inspire me to push forth with my career, I believe in my clients and I know they deserve someone who is willing to go the extra mile for them. It is also very rewarding to work for myself, to be able to set my own schedule and surround myself with the people and things that I love.
My mother is my ultimate inspiration. My mother is the backbone of my entire family. Drug addiction runs in my family, I’m SO proud that my mom has been clean and sober for nearly 18 years. She has worked incredibly hard to raise my two brothers and I as a single parent. My goal is to be able to spoil her, to thank her for all the sacrifices she’s made for us.
FBE: How has the financial crisis affected you and your company?
AR: Yes, the financial changes have affected me. My clients have had to scale back, budgets have decreased so I have to be creative regarding billing. I have offered partial trade to some of them and payment plans for most.
FBE: Do you have any upcoming events people should know about?
AR: Along with everything else I have going on, I have recently started a social networking group: F.A.B. short for Fashion & Associated Businesses. Once a month fashion lovers, models, stylists, publicists, retailers and photographers meet at a San Francisco lounge to mix, mingle and network. I also have a new fashion related blog- www.style-addicts.com.
FBE: As always, what advice can you give to young entrepreneurs?
AR: It is possible! It takes patience, hard work, determination and a little luck, but it is possible. There will be times when you feel overwhelmed, feel like quitting, feel like cussing people out…just remember as an entrepreneur you’re only as good as your reputation.
FBE: How can viewers contact you?
FBE: Lastly, where do you see your firm in the next five years?
AR: In the next five years I see significant changes happening with AGPR. As far as PR, the company will remain small and selective. However I am currently building a Talent Agency of models, stylists, makeup and hair stylist as well as photographers. As a publicist my clients are always in need of updated photos, models for fashion shows and photo shoots. In the next five years Avant Garde Talent will take shape and take off.