NERVE ONLINE STYLE X CAREERS: Fashion PR

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As part of Nerve Online Style X Careers, we speak to Bella Sharpe, who works as a Press Assistant for River Island.

Hey Bella! Thanks so much for answering these questions. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your current role?

Hi! So I’m the Press Assistant at River Island and have been working in PR for around two years. I count myself pretty lucky having worked for some of the largest high street brands in the UK – previously I worked for Arcadia.

I’m pretty into style, I love looking at the trends styled in the likes of ELLE and Grazia and think I can pull it off myself… luckily this is totally acceptable in the world of fashion! As long as you feel confident, right? What else can I tell you? Well, I have a French Bulldog and am currently saving for a pair of Balenciaga Ceinture boots.

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Men's shows yesterday. 📸✨ @wmag @bleumode

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Sounds great! How did you get to where you are now? Have you always been interested in a career in fashion and PR?

I’ve been obsessed with fashion ever since I can remember –  my father works in the industry so I suppose it runs in the blood. I used to work for him part-time when I was in college as he has a sales agency, and found that it wasn’t really for me. I wanted to do something a little more exciting, but at this point, I still had no clue about the range of different jobs within the fashion world. I studied at the Fashion Retail Academy for 2 years and during my time there I did a lot of work experience to figure out what suited me best, which turned out to be PR. It’s funny because you get an image of what you think PR is in your head… glitz, glamour and parties – however, once you start interning you realise that this is not entirely the case!

I studied at the Fashion Retail Academy for 2 years and during my time there I did a lot of work experience to figure out what suited me best, which turned out to be PR. It’s funny because you get an image of what you think PR is in your head… glitz, glamour and parties – however, once you start interning you realise that this is not entirely the case!

And how did you apply for your roles at both Arcadia and River Island? I’m sure there’ll be people interested to know!

I actually got my first job at Arcadia through studying at the Fashion Retail Academy. Each year they take on one student to do a placement year in PR and fortunately enough that one person was me. Arcadia takes on two Press Assistants per year, the second Press Assistant role is through the sandwich year options at university. I’d definitely recommend checking it out, as it’s a great way to get your foot in the door. From Arcadia I was put in touch with the PR Manager at River Island who was looking for a new assistant, so one thing led to another and now here I am! I feel extremely grateful to have two high street brands under my belt.

What would you say are the qualities that those hiring in Fashion PR look for?

They definitely want experience, but more importantly, someone who is willing to learn and will go over and above what is asked. The key is to make a lasting impression in order to stand out from the rest of the candidates. Do everything you can to be helpful, and when you run out of jobs – ask for more. Don’t be shy, there is nothing worse than someone who quietly stands in a corner!

Thanks for the advice. What’s been your most memorable PR experience to date?

It would probably be when River Island held a party with the BFC (British Fashion Council) during London Fashion Week. I got to hang with the Brit ‘It’ girls who were pretty cool – plus there was unlimited pizza and gin so you can’t complain! I can’t pretend I didn’t fangirl over Nick Jonas at the Topman show or being on set with Jordyn Woods… (Kylie Jenners’ BFF). I could write a list of memorable moments! It all sounds pretty fun but it’s important to remember that with all these highs there is a LOT of hard work put in behind the scenes! (garment bagging for hours, working until midnight, I can go on!)

What is the best thing about working in Fashion PR?

The excitement! The incredible friends and contacts that you make, the events you get to plan and go to, press days, seeing amazing coverage… it all just gives you a sense of achievement. My friends always say to me that I’m lucky to be able to work in an industry where my job is also my passion and it is so true.

Lastly, do you have any advice for people looking to gain the necessary experience?

Don’t be afraid to send an email. Attach your CV, write a kick ass cover letter and send it off! What is the worst that can happen? At least you are putting yourself out there, giving yourself more opportunity – don’t give up just because you don’t get immediate responses. Keep pursuing, someone will notice you and life always has a way of working itself out.

Thanks Bella!