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My Fashion Career: Sian O'Flaherty, Fashion PR & Communications Manager UK & AU at Stylight

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Whether you dream of being a designer, fancy yourself as a photographer, or are made for marketing, we’ve spoken to individuals currently working in various areas of the fashion industry to find out how they made themselves stand out from the crowd in this increasingly competitive industry, and what their job is really like!

Sian O’Flaherty is Fashion PR & Communications Manager UK and AU fashion tech company, Stylight,where you can find fresh fashion inspiration and shop online for new products from the hottest brands, all on one website. She spoke to The National Student about her role within the company, and how she got there…

‘I took a bit of an untraditional university route and went to Parsons Paris, which is a branch of the larger university, The New School, in NYC," Sian says.

"I loved every second of it! Moving to Paris at 18 was an incredible experience and definitely taught me a lot; the university was amazing as it was full of international students from all around the world and, as we were all in a new city, we became a close-knit family.

"I studied Fine Art Foundation there, so worked on everything from sculpture and life drawing to photography and pattern cutting. It was there that I knew I wanted to move into fashion.

"After my Foundation I moved back to London and went to Central Saint Martins to study Fashion Textiles. I finished my BA there and specialised in woven textiles for fashion design. It was incredibly fun but definitely challenging and hectic!

"I pretty much always knew I wanted to go into fashion; my mother was a fashion designer, so it was really all around me even when I was growing up. I used to obsess over magazines and then, with the rise of blogs, street style, and online shopping I soon became addicted to keeping up with fashion digitally as it fed my insatiable appetite for trends and fashion imagery.

"After university, I started out in the industry by doing a lot of internships and learning on the ground. I interned at more traditional fashion houses such as Antipodium, but I quickly realised I wanted to get into the digital ecommerce field. I was lucky enough to land an internship at LYST which soon became a full time role, and I stayed for two years looking after social media, email marketing and retailer & blogger relationships.

"After that I moved to US-based site ShopStyle where I managed the UK market and content for the Australian site too. I then moved on to Munich-based Stylight at the beginning of this year, where I manage PR and content for the UK and Australian markets.

"Recently, Public Relations has gone through a huge shift thanks to the rise of digitally savvy brands. I had been creating a lot of creative content for brands across a range of platforms and quickly saw that PR was becoming much less about creating stale press releases to mass mail merge and more about creating innovative, tailored content for press, so it seemed like the next logical career step!

"I love the fast paced world of fashion PR. Every day is a new challenge and it really never gets boring. You have the chance to meet loads of interesting new people and try out new ideas. It’s a competitive field but I think that, with the right experience and lots of ambition, you can break into it.

"When it comes to Stylight I had a lot of relevant experience for the role, and I think my passion for the company really shone through. I also produced an example project for them with concepts and ideas of what I would do if I got the role which really gave them a good idea of how I would fit into the position.

"I would say that keeping ahead of trends and keeping your finger on the pulse is really one of the most important skills to have for PR; read everything from news to blogs every morning to stay relevant. Creativity is also essential, so try to think outside of the box to stand out from the crowd; fashion PR is such a popular field so it’s important to stand out and offer a fresh perspective. Networking is also a fun part of the job and really helps to build lasting, meaningful relationships that often leads to jobs or new leads.

"My role is mostly about spreading the word about Stylight in the UK. I do this in a variety of ways: writing articles for publications, working with bloggers, sponsoring events and creating innovative content for fashion sites. I really enjoy creating campaigns for magazines as it allows us to be really inventive and work closely with top publications.

"I’m based in our London office, which is quite small and still growing at the moment, so I split my time between here and the Munich HQ, which is in an amazing warehouse space in the city centre with over 150 employees.

"A normal day for me starts with a soy flat white and catching up with blogs and news on the commute to the office. I check to see where we’ve been published overnight and if any new sites have mentioned us.

"I then usually spend the morning catching up on emails and speaking to freelancers and the team in Germany about our upcoming campaigns and projects. After lunch, I usually spend the afternoon writing articles for press and then often end the day with a press event or drinks with journalists.

"When I first started at Stylight we had a lot of success with two big campaigns we ran, and that was super exciting as we were just starting out! We ran a campaign about the Apple Watch which got placed in the likes of Stylist and Glamour, and we also ran a piece about Cannes vs. The Oscars which did phenomenally well globally – it’s always so exciting to see features going live!

"For anyone looking to get into fashion PR, the most important advice I can give is not be afraid of hard work! You may have to intern for a while but, trust me, it’ll be worth it. Try to meet as many people as possible and keep coming up with new ideas that you can share with companies – be proactive!"




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