Elizabeth McLaughlin Is Starting A Conversation About Bags
Elizabeth McLaughlin and Kent Stetson: two names we hope will be etched in your mind by the end of this feature. Elizabeth is a 24-year-old PR & Account Manager actively chasing her dreams and Kent Stetson? He's her employer who also happens to design the coolest bags ever. They look like art but are really handbags--except wait, merging art and fashion is what a designer's job is anyway, right? Sure, but Kent Stetson Handbags takes it one step further. These handbags are statement conversation pieces you'll be proud to carry and Elizabeth is the one making sure the entire world knows how amazing they are.
Name: Elizabeth McLaughlin
Location: Rhode Island
Education: Bachelor of Science in Textiles, Fashion Merchandising & Design (Fashion) at the University of Rhode Island
What you are doing right now:
I am the PR & Account Manager for Kent Stetson Handbags. We are a designer handbag company based in Rhode Island with a mission to blur the lines between art and fashion. Our work is a form of play and tells a story. Most of our work is channeling the 80's, which is the designer's favorite decade. We love to push the envelope with our out-of-the-box designs that become the best ice breakers. All of our products are proudly handmade in Rhode Island with USA sourced materials. We have been featured in many publications including InStyle, Nylon and seen on celebrities such as Michelle Williams and Hanna Beth.
I love being the PR girl and Account Manager. I perform a wide range of tasks including managing all of our accounts around the world, networking at special fashion events, acting as a brand ambassador at NYFW and sales representative at Trade Shows, as well as collaborating with industry professionals and sending celebrities and magazines samples of our bags for press placement. I find many events that are beneficial for our brand, so I travel to NYC often.
What is your passion?
I am passionate about being involved in forms of creativity and enhancing my curiosity. I enjoy fashion design/promotion, painting, graphic design, blogging, website design and astronomy.
How do you live out your passion?
I believe some fashion is a form of wearable art, which is why I was so drawn to Kent's bags. I live out my passion every day by working for Kent Stetson Handbags, blogging, and attending fashion events. Fashion events are a way of building key relationships and collaboration opportunities. I am inspired by the beauty and imperfection of nature, so in my spare time paint landscapes of my favorite places in the world. Astronomy has always spiked my curiosity and is seen in my artwork. As a side gig, I manage social media, design websites, and graphics for a range of different clients around New England.
What motivates you to get up in the morning?
Having the ability to put my best talents to use in a company I am extremely passionate about motivates me in the morning. I am here building a dream with a team of highly ambitious, dedicated, and creative minds.
How do you stay productive amidst so many distractions?
I have always been extremely focused on my work and my passions. All my life, I made creative projects for myself, whether it was website coding, painting, or creating doll clothes out of fabric remnants. Since senior year of high school, I knew I wanted to pursue fashion. I got inspired by the creativity on Project Runway and started to sketch my own designs. I went to sewing classes and worked with a mentor that year to help jumpstart my dream of working in fashion. For my senior project, I designed a 16 piece collection, planned my own fashion show, designed my own website and social media, and created my own jewelry. I try to always keep my eye on the prize and not get distracted by my surroundings. A lot of people waste their time by drowning themselves in TV marathons while I rather be building my future. Despite living a busy lifestyle, I find a way to balance work, blogging, fashion events, travel and a social life.
What have you learned from working in the industry?
I have learned that not every opportunity unfolds to how you envisioned it, but the journey may take an even more interesting path to a better outcome. Always try to stay positive and remain dedicated to your work.
What advice would you give to other girls who want to pursue their passion?
If you want it bad enough, you will pursue your dreams. It does not come easy and it will not be handed to you on a silver platter. I am an extremely hard working person and will not sleep at night if I have more important things that need to get done. I feel I lived a different college experience where instead of just being a part of the party scene and studying, I advanced myself in my career path by networking with industry professionals and being a part of many events, first in Rhode Island, and then in Boston and New York City. I started my own fashion blog called Royale Diary about two years ago to document all of my accomplishments, fashion designs/outfits and events I have attended. I live for fashion.
What does your typical day look like?
For the most part, I am located in our "Design Lab" at Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket, RI. This is the Kent Stetson Handbags Flagship Store where our work is displayed in a gallery-like form. Behind the gallery walls is where the magic happens and customers get a first hand look at how our bags come to life. We have our own digital printer, heavy-duty sewing machines, work areas and a really fun swing--yes, I said swing! Throughout the day I work on many different tasks. I am never bored. I manage all of our global accounts, sales and orders. I am also in charge of expanding our reach, whether that is through social media, blogger collaborations or media placement. On not-so-typical days, I am running to NYC as our representative at trade shows, meeting with industry professionals/celebrities at special events, or acting as our brand ambassador during NYFW.
What made you decide to work for a rising designer?
I built my dream job over the past few years and every move I made was a stepping stone to where I am now. I have always found networking important, no matter what the setting is. A few years ago, Kent Stetson was a guest speaker for my seminar class at my university. I networked with all the speakers but was very intrigued by his story and edgy designs. My first purchase was Splash, his signature design which is a physical representation of his transitional story from digital art into handbag design. From then on, I saw Kent at many other fashion events I was involved in, including the the Sunflower Soirée Annual Fashion Show. Here I was a swimwear designer and fashion show event planner.
As an artist, I love expressing myself through fashion that resembles wearable art. I bought more bags and became a #KentCollector. I started wearing and promoting his work on my social media platforms and blog. He saw all my promotional work and asked me to work for him as his PR girl. I started working part-time at special events such as StyleWeek and trade shows, managing his social media and designing the brand website. Over the years, I have grown his online presence and networked with many industry professionals. Recently I just got offered a full-time position here as his PR & Account Manager. I feel it is important to have pride and passion in your work. You live one life; love what you do.
What does your favorite day look like?
I would have to say I enjoy the promotional aspect of my job the most. My favorite day is either at a trade show, photoshoot or fashion event, most likely in NYC.
What is your favorite thing about working in the fashion industry?
I have been actively involved in the fashion industry for about seven years now. My favorite thing about working in the fashion industry involves promotional work, networking and attending special events. I enjoy building relationships between our brand and the public. I love that I get to travel for my work and how it meshes perfectly with my blog. My life makes sense; my life is fashion.
What has been one of your favorite opportunities or learning experiences while working for a rising designer?
My favorite opportunity is being a part of the growth. We are all here building a company, using our best skills for a very exciting future. We make goals for our company and strive to hit them. Here I have the ability to bring my ideas to fruition.
Who was your first girl crush? Who is your current girl crush? Why?
My girl crush is Adriana Lima--she is gorgeous, ambitious and exotic.
What have you read or watched that has been the most transformational for you?
As stated briefly before, Project Runway was a big part of my interest into fashion as wearable art. I saw how creative some designers were given their time restrictions and sometimes limited materials. It inspired me and sparked my curiosity into the crazy world of fashion. Over the years, I discovered that I enjoyed fashion promotion and management, which is where I am today.
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