Hi ladies, it’s Anna from Fash Boulevard here again with another edition of our Ladies Who Laptop interview series. This month’s spotlight is a pro when it comes to mastering the digital world. Thanks to 10 years of pounding the PR pavement, some old school work ethic, and a passion for giving back, it’s easy to see why driven women looking to connect with elite tastemakers are rushing for a spot in her inbox. Sarah Boyd, the impressive girl boss behind the hugely successful Simply Stylist, has made it her mission to elevate the networking game for “like-minded fashionistas, beauty babes, and tech whizzes,” eager to work, conquer, and succeed. Not only has she grown her brand and network to include a bevy of A-list celebrities, but she was even named Forbes, “Female Founder to Watch.”
Impressed yet? Let’s dive into Sarah’s inspiring world and learn more…
For readers who aren’t familiar, what is Simply Stylist?
Simply Stylist is a platform for connection within the fashion and beauty industries. We aim to showcase the true trendsetters in the industry—editors, stylists, bloggers, designers, makeup artists, and hair stylists are really the ones who start trends, but they don’t nearly get as much credit as they deserve, which is why I wanted to showcase them and create a means for up-and-coming influencers to learn the things they need to know before going into a major meeting that could make or break their career. You can think of us as the bridge that connects you with other like-minded fashionistas, beauty babes, and tech whizzes, and allows you to tap into the minds of major style influencers. We currently hold three annual conferences in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, and offer monthly 3-hour workshops on different topics, including blogging, social media, monetization, and more!
You worked in fashion PR for 10 years, before leaping into the entrepreneurial world. How did that jump come about?
Making that initial jump and leaving my job to start Simply Stylist was a huge risk, but it was totally worth it! I went to school for fashion merchandising at Philadelphia University because I wanted to be a buyer at the time. I quickly found out buying wasn’t for me—I knew fashion was my calling, I just didn’t know where I fit in. My sister, who is about 10 years older than I am, was living out in Los Angeles and in the process of starting a Fashion PR Agency. So, I moved out to LA to help her start the company, and we grew the company from the ground up. I worked there for about 10 years, made tons of great relationships, and really built an amazing career, but I saw a missing link between influencers and the industry, which is where Simply Stylist came in.
What inspired you to start Simply Stylist?
I saw a need for it! I’ve always been a “connector” for as long as I can remember and when I was working in Fashion PR, I found myself connecting people on a daily basis. I came across so many people who wanted to become stylists, editors, and makeup artists, but really needed that connection to succeed. I was constantly putting stylists in contact with new interns or bloggers with fashion designers. I thought to myself “How can I do this all the time and do it as my job?” I was lucky enough to have a sister that helped me get my foot in the door, but not everyone has that opportunity. Our goal is to connect and help these men and women to get that handshake they need or that foot in the door of the industry.
What are Simply Stylist sessions and how did they originate?
Simply Stylist Sessions are monthly workshops that are expanded versions of the breakout sessions we have during our annual conferences. Each Session is based on a different topic and is taught by experts from the fashion, beauty, and tech industries. They’re also an opportunity to network with the speaker and other attendees afterwards.
What is a typical day like in the Simply Stylist office?
We have a good mix between work and fun. We are a small office, so it’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day tasks without even realizing it. The key is to incorporate aspects of start-up culture with small tidbits of corporate structure. We have company lunches and meetings on a weekly basis, but we aren’t afraid to share our opinions… or skip a day of work to attend a taping of The Price is Right!
What’s one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned since launching your own company?
It’s better to give than to receive in business. For instance, if you’re meeting someone for the first time and they say “Hi, I’m the producer for E! News,” and you’re DYING to be featured there, don’t pitch them right away. Just say “Amazing, how can I assist you with what you need?” When you’re starting out with new relationships, you should never ask for anything; you should always give and look at it as helping instead of taking. It will come back in the end tenfold.
What is the best part of your job? What is the most challenging part?
Let’s start with the most challenging part first: Finances would have to be the most difficult part of my job because we are 100% self-funded and have zero financial backing. It isn’t impossible, but we’ve definitely come across a few hurdles due to it. As for the best part, I would have to say that waking up and doing what I love is something I can’t complain about. I thoroughly enjoy connecting people, so the fact that I can make a living doing it is a bonus! I never feel like I’m truly ‘working’ since I am so passionate about what I do.
You recently welcomed a beautiful baby girl. How has it been juggling motherhood and business owner?
It is so hard to leave her cute little face that’s just now starting to smile back at me! Currently I’m part-time back at the office and part-time working from home. My husband keeps me in check in terms of balancing as well. He always makes sure that I keep a balance between family and work. I check emails between feedings, make calls when she’s down for a nap, and never interrupt family time with anything work related.
You’re very passionate about helping connect people with their dream jobs. Can you share one story that has had the biggest impact on you?
Jamie Chung… I previously knew Jamie through my PR background and one day she expressed interest in starting a blog, and we were able to turn that vision into a reality very quickly. We launched her blog, What the Chung, and she has since become a serious force to be reckoned with in the digital world. But the reason her particular story had such an impact on me is because it gave me the nudge to start Simply Digital Network, which is a platform that bridges the gap between influencers, tastemakers, and brands in the fashion and beauty industries. Since our launch, we’ve been able to grow alongside Jamie, and we now have a client list that includes Alessandra Ambrosio, Catt Sadler, Ali Fedotowksy, Audrina Patridge, Cara Santana, Olivia Culpo, Louise Roe, and more. But, none of this would have been possible if it weren’t for Jamie’s interest in taking on the digital space with us.
For all of the dreamers out there—the fresh-out-of-college future entrepreneurs—what advice would you give them?
I think my most important piece of advice is to be ready to work hard. I see so many kids that don’t have the work ethic we used to back in the day. You can’t just walk in and expect that everything is going to be handed to you. It takes hard work. If you’re just starting out, always remember that you have to put in the time if you want to succeed. This means no clocking out early and no taking off. There are 50 other people behind you that will take your job in a second.
What’s in store for Simply Stylist for 2016?
We are doing A LOT in 2016! We have three conferences–L.A. on March 19th at The Grove, Chicago on July 16th at the Dana Hotel, and NYC in October—and our monthly sessions. Plus, we’re announcing a new (international) city soon so stay tuned by signing up for our weekly newsletters (www.simplystylist.com). We love connecting like-minded entrepreneurs and can’t wait to continue hearing stories of how Simply Stylist helped someone get their foot in the door.
Who would you like to see me interview for my next Ladies Who Laptop?
Let me know in the comments below.