While working at Ruuby, London’s popular beauty booking app, Sophie Elliott saw a gap in the PR market for emerging brands.
“I noticed that young brands don’t know how to access and approach networks, whether that’s influencers, press or buyers,” she said. They struggle with everything, from how to tell their story to how to get their products on the right people, she said.
It was this frustrating pattern that inspired her last year to start Smile PR, an agency geared toward assisting up-and-coming brands with marketing, design, strategy, sales and more. “Even though we call ourselves a PR agency, we really go beyond this and offer our clients as much feedback and guidance as we can,” she explained.
Based in London, where Elliott grew up, the company now has four employees and seven clients, including the Brazilian bag brand Nannacay and the Istanbul-based Misela. One employee handles the market in New York City, where Elliott graduated from Parsons in 2013. After four years, the “craziness” of New York had her rushing back to London, she said of her decision to set up shop across the pond.
Elliott walked us through one of her busy days during London Fashion Week (which ended Tuesday night), which involved gearing up to host a breakfast event for one of her rising clients, Tara Zadeh, courting an Australian client and still finding time to pop into a Portuguese class.
5:58 a.m.: I wake up in a panic that I’ve overslept, only to realize that I have two more minutes before my alarm goes off. I hop out of bed, brush my teeth and dry body brush. I do this religiously — the brush is funny, it looks like something you might comb a horse’s mane with — and I’m not even sure doing it makes a difference, but I’m now addicted and people swear by it [for stimulating the lymphatic system and improving circulation].
6:15 a.m.: I give Penelope, my Pomeranian, a cuddle and drink a mug of green tea – Tea Pigs makes the best one, I’m hooked. I love this time in the morning to drink my tea and scroll through Instagram, Business of Fashion and any e-mails that have come through during the night.
6:30 a.m.: Jump in an Uber to Equinox for a class called Adrenaline — Uber takes the longest route, as per usual. I finish reading Business of Fashion en route. I am on my phone so much that I often spend entire car rides without looking up at the streets, the buildings and the people around. I get annoyed when I do that, as it seems like a waste.
7:30 a.m.: With Adrenaline over, I feel ready for the week to begin. I decide to take the tube back, although I’m slightly freaked out as London is on high alert after Friday’s incident at Parsons Green.
I upload a photo to our work Instagram account – I’m not actually meant to do this — my colleague Mafe is in charge of it, and every time I do, I’m told I do it wrong! But we haven’t posted since Friday, and we have some cool pictures to show. It’s difficult as an agency to know what to post there: Should it be just clients or a mixture of inspiration and clients? Press features and quotes, as well as our office life? We have endless conversations about it.
8:15 a.m.: Back home, showered and in the kitchen ready for something more substantial than green tea. I make a smoothie and have a double espresso with a drop of almond milk. I catch up on emails from others and from myself. (I send myself so many email reminders over the weekend regarding what I need to do on Monday.)
We are preparing for a LFW breakfast event happening tomorrow for our amazing client Tara Zadeh. She designs the most stunning handbags, and her spring/summer 2018 collection is to die for. First things first, we need to round up the list of attendees. People always flake at the last minute.
8:45 a.m.: I take my first call of the day, with a potential client in Australia. We’re considering expanding the agency to work with beauty. It’s a huge industry and one I am very interested in, so it seems like a natural next step.
An image from Tara Zadeh’s fall/winter 2017 lookbook
9:30 a.m.: At the office, we have our Monday morning catch-up. We’re a small team, but extremely close, so it never feels like work. Priorities this morning include sending a basket bag that just returned from one publication to another, and getting a bag back from one editor who wore it to LFW to send to an influencer going to Milan. We also discuss which stories to pitch this week, what we should write in a proposal for a potential new client, and the goodie bags and auction prizes for a charity lunch happening next week. Once names for tomorrow’s breakfast are finalized, we send them to the calligrapher to make placement cards and chat with the florist to ensure everything is in order.
10:00 a.m.: It’s time for my actual breakfast, and I am starving! Today, it’s Greek yogurt, Elle MacPherson’s protein powder and raspberries. I start reminding people about the event tomorrow via WhatsApp, highlighting that it’s sit-down, not standing, to make sure people come as close to on-time as possible.
12:00 p.m.: I run to the hair salon around the corner for a quick blowout in preparation for tomorrow. I come out looking like I have ringlets, but those always fall out quickly. I then run to Daylesford to grab a soup and toast for lunch, and head back to quickly finish some work before my meeting.
I spend some time chatting with my colleagues about fashion week, including the looks we like and don’t like, and our favorite people on Instagram (including Lauren Santo Domingo and Elaine Welteroth). I start receiving emails from people who originally couldn’t come to the breakfast tomorrow saying they now can, and current attendees asking to bring plus-ones. You can never predict what the turnout will be for these events.
3:00 p.m.: I meet with The Photographers Gallery regarding how I might be able to help with their contemporary initiative; they are hoping to attract a younger audience. I love the gallery and am thrilled to help where I can. I try to put a rough seating plan together for tomorrow’s event on the way back from the meeting.
6:30 p.m.: After work, I head to my Portuguese class, something I do weekly and have done for a couple of years. I’m so in love with Brazil and swear I was Brazilian in my previous life. This Monday, it’s a struggle, however. I can’t stop yawning, and I feel so sorry for my teacher. He must think I’m terribly rude.
8:30 p.m.: My friends and I have a girls’ dinner at this new restaurant, Granger & Co. in Chelsea, on what has to be my new favorite street, Pavilion Road. I am definitely a girl’s girl and absolutely love getting together with friends.
11:00 p.m.: I’m back home and can’t wait to go to bed. My friends like to joke that I am the granny of the group. I check Instagram, which I always do before I sleep, and then put my phone as far from me as possible, on airplane mode to ensure I don’t check it during the night.