Industry Voices – Ali & Josie From Felicities PR

So a few weeks before LFW I decided that the perfect thing to do would be find some of the best people in my contacts book to come on the site and answer some questions about their careers, the lessons they learned, and things they could share to help people in their careers and ambitions. I thought who better to start with than Ali & Josie from Felicities PR. Not only do they run the agency, but they also offer mentoring services. Well my timing has been perfect. Ali has just been nominated in the Maserati 100 2016 .

“The Maserati 100 recognises entrepreneurs who are generously giving their time and resource to support the next generation of young entrepreneurs.”

So on with the questions, which may feature a picture of a cute dog, hope you enjoy the series as we have a few others lined up as well.

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Why PR?

Ali – I have always been interested in Public Relations in its broadest sense, as so many businesses see PR as just sending out press releases whereas they need to focus on how they speak to everyone press, public, clients, employees and suppliers. PR is an integral part of a business – it is a core element of the business plan, as no business can progress without talking to its public! Also every member of a business including the MD, the secretaries and the cleaner are part of the PR team – as they all represent the company and need to be aware of how they talk about the brand!

Josie – PR for me because everyday is different and I love fashion!

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What did you want to be as a child?

Josie – A VET. I was adamant that I had a career as a vet as I was always nurturing the dead mice next doors cat brought home – the fact that I never realised they were already dead was a good indication that this wasn’t the career for me!

Ali – I wanted to be everything, every week something new and as I have had a portfolio career in many industries from an actress and professional singer to running a courier business and now a fashion agency I have fulfilled many of my dreams!!!!

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What was the best lesson you’ve learned in business?

Josie – Make a boy scout and be prepared! I have learnt to always anticipate every eventuality so you can be prepared for any changes – particularly at fashion week

Ali – Learn how to run every part of your business so that when you get to the point of delegating or bringing in an external person you know what to expect from them, how you want your business to be run and what results you expect

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What was the hardest lesson you learned in business?

Ali – That people don’t pay you!  I have heard every excuse and then some and still get shocked at some peoples dishonesty.

Josie – The hardest thing I’ve learnt is how last minute things can be in the fashion industry and how quickly you need to adapt to new deadlines and changes.

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Every one of the FPR clients past and present that I’ve spoken to shows huge warmth and love for you, is it important to have affinity with clients?

Ali – That is really nice to hear. It is really important that we have a good relationship with our clients and also journalists, stylists and buyers. The business and development support we give our clients on top of the PR means that we know the minute details of their businesses, so it is important that there is a good level of trust, so we need to have a very good relationship with them. The fashion industry has a reputation of being bitchy, so when I set up Felicities my aim was to make us one of the friendliest agencies as well as a professional one – I work every day to make sure we try and achieve this!

Josie – I think its really important to have an affinity with the clients  – but its easy for us, as we work with amazing people.

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Is the best thing about being a Flix Chix getting to hang out with The Don, the cutest dog in fashion?

Josie – Don’t know that I agree with this, he’s cute but irritating, as he always wants to sit on me (preferably on my head!!)– or on my laptop – anything to make sure he is the centre of attention – it’s a Chihuahua thing!

Ali – The Flix Chix are very lucky that The Don comes and hangs out them. We have lots of visitors who come specially to see him and he also loves it when our visitors bring in their dogs too   – he has some very stylish fashion doggy friends

the don

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What pieces of professional and life advice would you give to someone who is just starting out?

Josie  – For professional advice I would say gain experience in lots of different things, as the broader your experience then the more knowledge and skills you can bring to any job. On life advice – wrong person to ask – in fact if anyone has any – please feel free to pass on to me!!

Ali – I agree with Josie (I do sometimes agree with her) definitely gain as much experience as you can in different business and industries. Also make contacts everywhere you go and maintain the relationships with people, a broad contact list can be immensely useful in life. Life advice would be do what makes you happy and surround yourself with positive people.

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You are surrounded all day by the most amazing clothes and jewellery, do you ever try them all on 80’s film montage style?

Ali – I wish!! My days of being sample size are long gone unfortunately.

Josie – I wish!! We are always so busy I never have the time and we have so many gorgeous things I wouldn’t know where to start

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You both always look so calm and collected, do you ever get nervous?

Josie – Yes sometimes I get nervous – that I’ll get in trouble (Ali has eyes everywhere and has very high standards !!)

Ali  – Not nervous per se its more that things can get very stressful at fashion week, however it is our job to remain as calm and collected as possible and make sure our guests are having a great time.

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Is Josie the toughest doorman in London to get past? I hear she learned from the best.

Josie lol! I’m the softer one – its Ali you need to look out for!

Ali – We have to be tough sometimes in order to make sure the event runs smoothly and that we get the right guests in at the right times. We also have to work with the security at the venue and if they say the building is at capacity, then we have to hold people back from the show – it is never our intention to exclude people as we are always thrilled to have people come along and support our brands. But there are also always people who try to freeload and blag their way in or who forget that fashion week is a business! I’ve been a fashion week door whore for over 12 years and I’ve seen it all and been sworn at, abused and even kicked once by a celebrity (who will remain nameless)! So our intention is to make the whole guest experience as smooth and enjoyable as possible, but sometimes we just have to kick butt!

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You’ve been involved with mentoring people, tell us more about it?

Ali – I love mentoring entrepreneurs and emerging brands and watching them grow strong, sustainable businesses. Through the mentoring we are able to provide some services to a much wider audience and help brands at the very early stages who struggle without a support network. Often young brands just need an outside view on where they are going, what they are missing and where to go next – so in a mentoring session we can cover a lot of ground and the designer/ entrepreneur goes away with an action plan of what to do next. I have mentored a wide range of brands from the one-man band to huge corporates and I have been widely credited for this work, probably because I am known for being brutally honest and sometimes this is what a person really needs in order to build their business further.

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Ali, you wore a white coat to SS16 at LFW, how do you run all over a rainy, dirty cold city and still stay so stylish and pristine, I need help with this one.

Ali – That coat is gorgeous – it is Ethologie by Jasper Garvida and I am so lucky to have it hanging in my wardrobe. It only comes out for special occasions as I’m a clumsy clot and I really can’t be trusted with white clothes – so have to be on my very best behaviour when I’m wearing it

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Who inspires you?

Josie  – Ali, as not only she is an amazing entrepreneur but she gives so much of her time and dedication to our brands.

Ali – Ahh thanks Josie!! everyone of my designers inspires me – as I totally admire the dedication, talent and tenacity they bring to their businesses to make them survive in such a tough industry.

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Does mother always know best?

Ali – Of course!

Josie – Unfortunately yes – though I hate to admit it.

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Big thanks to you both for taking part and sharing so many thoughts.

About Ross Pollard

Since starting writing on my 31st birthday in 2011 I have held a number of positions at magazines and websites as well as regularly producing articles for numerous publications alongside contributing to TV & radio shows as a freelance fashion journalist including Hoxton Radio & Fashion One TV. Alongside writing, I have worked in other industries helping to design & grow digital platforms, develop businesses and support operations practices. This experience has proved invaluable in building an understanding of how businesses work, and the landscape in which retail, B2B commerce and other commercial operations develop. Knowledge of commercial interests has helped shape my fashion industry insights beyond critiquing of garments

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