Liz Owen is a 40 something, early 90’s ex fashion student, mother of two, with a strong love for a beautiful pair of impractical shoes! Liz fell into Public Relations by chance after a realisation that this type of work was going to probably pay a little quicker than a design job, of which there were slim pickings during the recession in 1992!
Can you tell us how you started out in PR?
I approached a local wax jacket firm called John Partridge back in 1993, presenting them with an illustrated collection of men’s sporting jackets, even walking into their cutting room and taking samples of fabric for swatches. Sadly there were no design jobs at the time, but they did have a PA/ Public Relations role to the CEO who admired my audacity. I was hired on the spot – this job led me to all sorts of hunting, shooting, fishing, sailing and historic car racing events- it was enormous fun!
From there, a few hit and miss attempts at other PR/ Marketing roles within dot.com start-ups back in the late 90’s, agency work and finally landing a fab role at Laura Ashley back in 2004 until 2010, where I felt it would be time to start my own micro company here in Marlow. I looked after ACHICA.com, the Indian Ocean Outdoor Company, Lisa Stickley, V V Rouleaux and Home Barn, all of whom I still have a great relationship with.
Then late last year, I decided to persuade a fellow creative friend, who is an awesome graphic designer and photographer, with a love of fonts and creating beautiful websites, and with my illustration and PR skills, we decided to start a company for other little brands who are starting out, and called ourselves Little Shop of Brands.
For those who aren’t familiar with the PR world - Can you tell us about a normal work day for you?
We are a brand new company, so we do have to work around the children – my day starts with either bootcamp 3 days a week first thing and yoga 2 days, then the morning madness kicks in with organising the girls and somehow feeding them and taking them to school fully dressed! Then its either straight off to meetings with clients or back to our office at the end of the garden until 3pm.
During this time we’re pulling plans together, writing releases, creating, illustrating, designing, making calls, emailing frantically…! Then the school pick-up deadline beckons, and it’s back to the gate to pick up the little ones, feed, force homework, wash and bed – 5 until my own bedtime varies pending on how much we have on – at the moment, it’s quite full on!
What do you love most about your job?
The people, the variety of the work – rather than just doing PR, I now have a hand at creating something for small businesses that make a difference; drawing one day, meeting clients and press another, attending shows, helping Mel create a concept for a brand. The beauty of PR is that I can use this skill to help the brands we work with get off the ground. It’s also a useful skill to have in terms of confidence and lifestyle trends, knowing what will work and how it will be perceived.
I also have a lovely network of great friends who I have known for years in the business, journalists, stylists, retailers and PR’s – all of whom I feel blessed to be able to turn to when I’m unsure about anything, or just need someone to catch up with who knows my world!
Did you have to do a course or are you self taught? How did you start off on the PR ladder?
Hmmm – I admire those who do courses in PR, but I never did one – I enjoyed my fashion course instead which took up enough of my late teens and early 20’s – I’m sure there are some amazing courses out there. I could never claim to be self taught either. I worked for those who were slightly nuts, who taught me that being unique in this industry is a blessing, not a curse.
Wallflowers rarely make it in the world of PR, and I was a wallflower at the beginning, but I was also personable and passionate, so once the confidence kicked in, and the experience was more familiar, all of it became second nature. I’m still a little nervous at picking up the phone sometimes, but I love nothing more than having a good chat with my contacts – it doesn’t feel like work until I have to write the report and invoice my clients!
What area do you specialise in?
Homes, interiors and lifestyle
Where do you find your inspiration for campaigns?
Attending London Fashion Week, London Design Festival, New York Fashion Week, Galleries, travelling, reading and film – Social Media has had me gripped since 2009, (I’m a part time blogger!) and it’s a lot easier to see the direction trends are taking via all the usual platforms, namely the most powerful of all…Instagram!!
What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?
It didn’t seem like advice at the time, but I once threw a press release after the fourth attempt at my boss’s head out of utter rage – he merely told me to pick it up and walked out of the room. It made me realise that no matter how hard you seem to work, always respect people who are trying to teach you something until you get it right – it makes you a better person in the end!
What is your favourite style?
I’m a huge fan of the 40’s – I don’t fully wear from that decade apart from indulging at my wedding – my engagement ring is from that era, so I went to town with the accessories and had a rural country wedding on the farm I grew up on – My father and me drove to the church in an old Austin car, my sister wore a 40’s skull cap from Steinberg and Tolkien from the Kings Road, and jewellery from the vintage part of Butler & Wilson.
I’m also a huge fan of Vivienne Westwood, and have a few pieces of hers – I want a whole wardrobe of her pieces, it’s just all gorgeous!
How would you describe your home?
Very Home Barn…no seriously, everything’s from Home Barn – ‘vintage modern’ if that’s a style?! I have an eclectic mix of homely pieces in warm tones – I love my copper Original BTC lamps with an old kitchen table surrounded by Ercol chairs, a cow hide rug with a Chesterfield style sofa in ticking.
What is your favourite Danetti product and why?
Clearly the Eames style chairs – they’re classics and Danetti do the most gorgeous colours – actually I have a few pieces in mind like the simple but shapely new Eva table - perfect with the Eames Style Chairs!
What is your favourite shop?
Oh don’t do this to me….can I merge my 4 favourites as one – Liberty/Selfridges/Henry Bendel NY/Merci Paris –they have THE best interiors, THE best candles, ALL the perfumes, ALL the fashion, ALL the beauty, ALL the quirky bits and pieces you’d never find anywhere else …STATIONARY …ALL the STATIONARY – love them!
Who is your favourite designer - dead or alive.
Vivienne Westwood…full stop!
The Quick Fire Round:
What is your favourite colour?
Elf – I could watch it all year round!
What’s in your bag?
Notepad, purse, a million pens, sunglasses, Laura Mercier lipgloss, diary, mobile phone – oh and reading glasses now, I’m going blind!
What is your favourite book?
The Tools by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels
Where is your favourite holiday spot?
Sablet in South of France
What is your idea of the perfect weekend?
Socialising with friends, and Sundays usually kept exclusively to my amazing hubby and my sometimes well behaved girls – at the moment it’s all about family movies on the sofa with a roast later
Favourite paint colour?
Manor House Grey by Farrow & Ball – seriously, is there nothing this colour doesn’t work with?