Thursday, October 16, 2008

Kick PR Alumni: Leanne Marshall

Last year I contacted Tito Chowdhury of Portland Fashion Week and expressed my interest in doing their PR, pro bono. Why you may ask? You are not alone. As a small business owner, I often get told that working with designers on trade, or offering lower rates to struggling designers won’t get me anywhere. And as often as I hear this, I can’t resist my instinct, which tells me to go with my gut, and stand behind what I believe in.

Portland Fashion Week was the first and largest sustainable fashion week in the world. Ever. It was to be held in October 2007 out in Portland, Oregon. The designers participating were from Portland, but not limited to. Designers such as naturevsfuture ( NY), Lara Miller ( Chicago), Izzy Lane ( UK), Stewart Brown ( CA) agreed this was a fantastic platform for their collections, and happily signed on to be part of it. I wanted to be part of this fashion week because I am a big supporter of emerging fashion and now there was an event that celebrated eco friendly emerging fashion. I couldn’t resist.

Part of my PR efforts for PFW before the event was to chat with the designers and get a feel for their line and their collections up to that point. I would create email campaigns with designer profiles and send out to editors to let them know that this was no hometown granola fashion show ( I believe Fern Mallis of IMG said something in the Oregonian about Portland Fashion Week including granola and flannels). So my mission was to prove them wrong, which I did.

The whole point of this post is to point out one of the designers I was obsessed with, and told her I would do her PR. I knew she didn’t have money at the time, and it was another case of going with my gut and supporting a designer I feel could make it big. The designer was Leanne Marshall, and if any of you watch Project Runway or read the papers, you will know she was a contestant on the show, and just claimed the winning spot last night. It was a tough night for me; the stress of the debate and watching the show had my stomach turning into the wee hours of the am!

A funny note about is that this summer a magazine had asked to use Leanne’s pieces for a photo shoot when I asked her to send samples, her response was very sweetly, “ I cant, I am going away for a long time and I don’t have the time to get samples out.” I was a little confused because that’s what a designers dream is, to get press, so you can imagine my being thrown. So, she did was she said, and went away. For a while. And then, in August I read the Chicago Tribune article listing the contestants of the new season of PR. I nearly fell off my chair! I texted her and emailed her right away, and we got big kick out of it. Obviously she was bound to secrecy and wasn’t able to tell me where she was going. She told me she was dying not able to tell, but my god that girl can keep a secret!

Leanne is one of my all time favorite designers. I come in contact with so many new faces (hence the Kick PR tag line ‘Fresh Faces. Stylish Stories.”) and her collection has continuously had me swooning. I have a few custom made pieces from her, in exchange for my services and even in tough financial times, I refuse to sell what is now a Leanne Marshall original! I knew the minute she started designing on that show; Michael, Heidi and Nina were going to see what I saw; A fun, sweet, humble girl and one of the best designers to come onto the scene in a while. Pictures on the right and below are from her show at PFW, Spring and above is one of my favorite looks from her most recent collection which contributed to her win on PR. I am SO proud of you Leanne, you deserve the moon and the opportunity to design it!

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