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Meet Trailblazer Elizabeth McLaughlin

Today we’d like to introduce you to Elizabeth McLaughlin.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My love for fashion stemmed from my earlier years when I wanted to craft the world around me. My dolls were dressed in outfits I hand stitched. As a teen, I began to alter my clothing to make the styles unique. At JMW high school, I focused on fine arts, especially acrylic painting. There, I won the Congressional Art Award for my painting of Historic Slater Mill, the first textile mill in the USA. After school, I would often watch Project Runway and be inspired by the fashion designers. Their pieces were truly wearable art. That is when I decided I wanted to pursue fashion as a career. For my senior project, I designed and promoted a 16 piece collection with the help of a mentor.

I then attended the University of Rhode Island and majored in Textiles, Fashion Merchandising, and Design. During my Senior Seminar class, I met handbag designer Kent Stetson. I was so intrigued by his designs and the story behind them that my first Kent bag was purchased right after the seminar. Around the same time I started my fashion & lifestyle blog Royale Diary as a way to document my life, the fashion events I was attending, my outfits and my fashion career. I always liked physical diaries but I wanted an online platform to show people my journey through life. I started to promote Kent’s bags on my social media, blog, and the events I would attend. In January 2014, Kent asked me if I wanted to work for him “Because it is like you already do!” From there, my fashion life took off and I have become the professional I am today.

I am the Public Relations & Account Manager for Kent Stetson Handbags. My days at work are never the same. I do a range of different tasks including sales, marketing, public relations, account management, website design, attending networking events, and social media. NYC, the center for USA fashion, is where I travel to often for sales events, trade shows, and high profile events including NYFW. I am happy to have the life where my work and play intertwine. My blog has been a platform and my golden ticket into industry events where I network with professionals as Kent’s PR girl. Some of my biggest PR projects include The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Nylon Magazine and Taryn Manning from OITNB. I truly have my dream job and dream life.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Sometimes, your dream job is not the first job you land out of college. Maybe you don’t know what really you want to do with your life and that’s ok. There are trial and error that happens in your early 20’s, especially entering a new industry. Going off into the unknown and building your life can be scary and rewarding.

During my time in college, I thought I was moving towards a career in Fashion Design. One of my first full-time jobs out of college was designing and creating computer renderings for a jewelry and belt manufacturer. I designed for a range of different brands including White House Black Market, Kohl’s, Nasty Gal, JCPenny, and Chico’s. It was interesting seeing my designs come to fruition and I learned a lot during my time there. It was a great job but wasn’t for me. I realized that I enjoyed the sales and promotion of fashion more than designing. I then began working for Kent Stetson Handbags full time and have been there since. I have been with his company for almost five years. The team there is like family to me and I am so grateful for them.

I enjoy inspiring people to follow their dreams. In my earlier years, I use to lay awake at night researching all the places I wanted to travel to before I died. I made those dreams come true when I backpacked Europe. We build the life we want to live with will power and ambition.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Royale Diary and Kent Stetson Handbags – what should we know?
I specialize in Public Relations and Sales. Sales are the foundation of the company. This will be our second year selling at the Grand Central Holiday Fair in NYC. I am very excited to be living in New York and selling. Kent started his company as a lemonade stand model and did not use venture capital. If he wanted to grow, he had to make the sales to back it up. He went from creating bags in his basement to a beautiful studio at Hope Artiste village and selling to over 200 stores. We are also selling internationally. I am very proud of Kent.

Aside from sales, a big part of my job is getting Kent’s bags into the hands of celebrities, on the red carpet, in movies, tv shows, and magazines. Building our press and media contacts has been both challenging and rewarding. I am grateful for the creatives who have collaborated with us to showcase our locally handmade designs to the world. Some of my biggest magazine placements are Nylon, The Irish Times, Pret-a-Reporter, and Grazia Magazine. Some of my favorite celebrity placements are Adina Porter, Billie Lee, Sharna Burgess, Phaedra Parks, and Gabrielle Ruiz. My top TV/Film placements are The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Insecure, Electric Dreams, Fox 10 Arizona and Murphy Brown. I have seen changes in TV and the way people view content. I have received placements for shows broadcasted through FB Watch and Snapchat TV. It went from fashion magazines and cable tv to social media influencers and Netflix.

Another part of PR is being Kent’s Brand Ambassador at industry events. Going to NYFW and other events help us build the brand by developing a rapport with industry professionals. I have gotten red carpet placements by meeting celebrity stylists at NYFW that really loved the brand. Putting on a genuine smile and being friendly can go a long way. One of my most memorable events outside of NyfW was attending the Simply Stylist Conference where I interviewed and gifted bags to Holly Nichols, Lauren Bushnell, and Vanessa Simmons. One of my favorite shows during NYFW was the Alexander Wang show where Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Kaia Gerber, and Joan Smalls walked the runway. Last season I attended Paris Fashion Week, my teenage dream. My life at these times is actually very glamorous. Those moments are what I live for!

Social media is another part of my job. Over the years, I have helped grow the online presence. I am responsible for making sure we have content 365 days a year. The PR pulls help generate content to share on social media. Our fans and customers can see our designs come to life in movies, with celebrities, and in OOTD’s with bloggers. It is important for the Kent Stetson brand to be a lifestyle brand that others see as fun and playful. They are the perfect ice breakers when worn out and about.

Which women have inspired you in your life?
I am inspired by my friend Bianca Jones-Pearson. She has a beautiful heart and tremendous drive. She has a lot of creative energy and even after a long week of teaching ceramics to high schoolers finds time to design and sell her clothing. She created her own vegan company called Clothes Horse Clothing. She has shown at Style Week and sold her pieces internationally! We met through a friend in college and she has been my inspiration ever since. We always lift each other up. I love her positive energy.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Personal Photo Image – Anthony Mcgill Photography instagram.com/anthonymcgillphotography

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