As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing, Giana Elenterio, Director of Public Relations at Artistix Fashion, a culturally driven clothing brand based out of New York City. Born and raised in New York, Giana began her journey at St. John’s University, obtaining a major in Communications as well as a minor in Business. After graduating, she began her professional career working at a boutique PR firm in NYC. While working within the industry Giana was introduced to Greg Polisseni, artist and owner of Artistix Fashion. Soon after, Greg would bring on Andy Hilfiger as Creative Director of the brand and Giana as their Director of PR. Artistix presents two collections a year, premiering each on the runway at New York Fashion Week. The events are fully produced in-house by Giana and the rest of the Artistix team.
Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me! I remember the first time that I considered PR as a profession, I was about 10 years old. I was watching MTV when a reality star mentioned their “Publicist,” I was intrigued so I did what any 10 year old would and I quickly ran downstairs to ask my dad, “What is a publicist?” He explained it to me the best he could, after all, I was only 10, and though my understanding was vague, it instantly became what I wanted to be when I grew up.
Later, I would declare a communications major at St. John’s University, which led me to my first internship working at a boutique PR firm in NYC. From there, I continued to network and seek opportunities to grow my professional career, eventually landing me at my current position, Director of PR for Artistix Fashion.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
Working at Artistix I have been extremely lucky to experience and create many memorable moments. Some of the most interesting moments occur during our NYFW shows. For our Spring/Summer ’19 show we had the amazing opportunity to work with Latin superstar, Natti Natasha. She is a major artist in the Spanish community and is currently the most watched woman on Youtube. We played her music as she modeled down the runway and closed our show. Meeting and working alongside her team enabled us to expand our reach in to the Latin press, and it also opened the door for us to work with other talented Latin artists such as Maluma and Brytiago.
What are some of the obstacles that you’ve had to overcome?
Hurdling obstacles is an inevitable part of producing a major event such as New York Fashion Week. While there’s been plenty of minor missteps throughout our time producing shows, there is one key moment that will always haunt me.
One thing a lot of people don’t realize about fashion shows is that there’s someone backstage telling the models when to walk out onto the runway, at our shows, that’s my job. While there are many techniques to sending out the models, I rely heavily on a backstage monitor that shows me the runway from the vantage point of the press pit. This allows me to see when one model has reached the end of the runway and when it’s safe to send out the next one. At our most recent show this past February, the monitor shut off in the middle of the show. If I could describe my emotions in that moment, the only word that I can think of would be panic; pure and extreme panic. Our hair team, stylists and assistants all looked at me as if to say, “Now what?!” In that moment I realized that I had no plan B. I quickly signaled to Andy, our Creative Director, who was stationed at the AV booth on the side of the runway about 50 feet away from me. I let him know that my monitor was out (in hindsight the “signals” could better be described as frantic flailing of my arms). Somehow through the chaos, Andy was able to make out what I was telling him and signaled to me that he would let me know when to send the next model. A quick thumbs up was my way of knowing that the next look could go down the runway. It wasn’t a perfect solution but it worked and no one ever knew about the stresses going on backstage… except for the poor models of course, who may have been more nervous than I was.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Right now, we are gearing up to participate in Live From Brooklyn hosted by Andy Hilfiger. Live From Brooklyn is a night of culture, music, and fashion taking place at the Dekalb Stage inside of the Dekalb Market. The event will include a performance by Andy’s band Sway and guest performances by three young emerging artists; Juani, H.I.M, and Nevermind. Artistix will be helping to produce the event in addition to sponsoring it and creating an Artistix pop-up where we will sell items from our newest collection. Art, soul and rock & roll has always been the driving force behind Artistix, making our participation in this event extremely special.
Based on your personal experience, what advice would you give to young people considering a career in PR?
I believe that for any aspiring professional, the secret to success is a passion for your work. PR is a profession that never stops. While most people are able to leave work and let go of their latest concern or issue, publicists are not as fortunate. For that reason, and many more, my number one piece of advice to any young aspiring publicist is to make sure that you truly love the field. Do your research, intern, reach out to working professionals that you admire and be honest with yourself. If attending an event on a Monday night with the minuscule hope of networking with a celebrity stylist that you’ve been trying to hunt down for months, doesn’t sound appealing to you, that’s okay! But Fashion PR may not be the right career path for you. There are so many exciting careers available within in the PR industry, don’t be lazy in the pursuit of finding the best fit for you!
You are known as a master networker. Can you share some tips on great networking?
Great networking, like most things, takes practice. Many people believe that you are either born with the ability to network or not, I avidly believe that isn’t true. When I first began my career, networking was not something that came naturally to me, I always felt like I was bragging and was petrified at the thought of rejection. However, the more that I continued to push myself to become a better networker, the more I realized that most people had the same hesitations that I did. It was my first indication that it would take time, practice and strategy to become a master networker. One key piece of advice that I always refer to when giving networking tips is to surround yourself with people whose networking styles you admire. I found that the best way to learn the ropes of networking was to be around those that I considered being masters of the craft. By trying out different techniques that I had learned from other professionals, I was able to create a hybrid style of my own that I found to be both successful and comfortable for me.
If you go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you tell her about life, career, etc?
If I had a chance to go back in time and speak with my younger self I would tell her about how wonderful life turned out. I would explain to her that all of the things that may seem chaotic now will later shape you into a person that you’ll be proud of. I would tell her to keep creating vision boards and to never stop writing in her journals because one day all of those silly dreams won’t be so silly. I would explain the power of manifestation and determination, reminding myself to always see the bigger picture no matter how uncertain it may seem at times. I would end by telling myself to listen to Nana, as dramatic as she may be at times, she’s right about pretty much everything.
If you could work with anyone either living or no longer with us who would it be and why?
Lucille Ball. Without hesitation. When I think of the ideal story to tell, I think of Lucille’s for many reasons. Not only was she extremely outspoken about being a successful woman in a male-dominated field, but she was the first woman to ever solely own a production company. One of my favorite quotes of her’s is, “I’m not funny, what I am is brave” and she truly was. Being a funny woman in the 1950s wasn’t the status quo but Lucille didn’t care, she had a dream and she chased it. I think so many young female professionals today could learn a great amount from Lucille and the path she paved for more women like her. I believe that if she and I were born in the same generation we would have been great friends and successful teammates.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
I try to read as often as I can because I strongly believe that to be a better writer, you must first be a better reader. One book that I’ve used as a sort of handbook throughout my career is called, “Pitch Anything” by Oren Klaff. It’s actually sitting next to me on my desk right now. The reason that I love this book so much is because it’s unapologetically strategic. Oren is a nontraditional businessman, eager to receive the recognition and in some cases the money, that he deserves, because… aren’t we all? The book is narrated by Oren, who deeply and passionately walks you through his process of pitching. A process that he believes could be implemented into any field of work by any type of worker. I’ve read the book a couple of times now and I still feel fulfilled, motivated and generally more prepared after each time I read it. By exercising Oren’s techniques with tweaks and adjustments of my own, I’ve been successful in my quest to ‘pitch anything.’
Do you have a bucket PR list, if so what is it and why?
- Go on tour — I’ve always had a great love for music and a great appreciation for the work that goes into putting on a great show. I can’t think of a better way to experience that, than on working alongside an artist on tour
- Fashion Week in another fashion capital — I have loved every second of each of our NYFW shows and think there would be nothing better than to bring the Artistix lifestyle to another fashion capital. I love to travel and have new experiences and would love to be able to accomplish that while elevating Artistix!
- Work with Cardi B — Because who wouldn’t, okurrrrr?
- Get invited to the Met Gala — The Met Gala is the mecca of the fashion industry. Between the attendees, the installation and the red carpet fashion, it is the breeding ground for all that is relevant within in the industry. It’s definitely a goal of mine to attend it in the near future.
- Meet Anna Wintour — And while I’m at the Gala, I could probably sneak in a meeting with Anna, right?
Because of the role you play, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
There are so many amazing movements going on in the world right now that I’m honored to be an ally of. One movement that hits home for me is the Women’s Movement. Being a woman has always been and will always something that I’m very proud of and I think that we live in a time where women need to be celebrated in our personal lives and within our workplaces. By acknowledging things like wage gap, appropriate workplace behavior and common respect, I think we can all make a difference in bridging the gender equality gap.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- You can never over prepare — From major Fashion Week events to weekly team meetings, preparation is the key to a successful execution. This is something that I learned a little later in my career as I always considered myself to be a person that “performed better under pressure.” Eventually, I realized that the “pressure” I was referring to was actually my lack of preparation which would often make my tasks harder than they needed to be. After some self reflecting I began to challenge myself to be better prepared for every project I worked on, big or small.
- ABP! (Always Be Pitching!) — I can’t tell you how many times an article has popped up and I thought, “Crap! That could have been us!” It’s one of the worst feelings as a publicist and the only way to make sure you never have to experience it is to always be pitching! Creating opportunities is a major part of a publicist’s job and pitching is one of the best tools to get you there.
- Enjoy the little moments — Working in a high-paced environment like PR, it’s easy to lose sight of how far you’ve come. If my younger self could see just 10 minutes of my day, she would be in awe. Try to look at life through the lens of your younger self and be present in the moments as they come.
- Never reveal all of your secrets — Every professional needs to have what I call their “Secret Sauce,” find yours and honor it like it’s gold, because for you, it is!
- Read rule 4
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