Alle Fister of Bollare Communications
"The best stuff, it's really worth working for!" It is with this mindset that Alle Fister, Principle at Bollare Communications, began her career as a founding member of the online fashion retailer Shopbop.com. During college Alle, like many others, had her heart set on landing a dream job post graduation–little did she know that dream job would take her from sunny Malibu, California to Wisconsin. Alle had the assiduity and determination to send the e-retailer a cold email telling principal owner Bob Lamey exactly why he needed her. Whether aware of it or not, he did need her. Alle's addition to the Shopbop team helped launch the online retailer to stardom, now making it a household name and go-to source for luxe goods.
After two years with Shopbop, Alle reawakened her entrepreneurial spirit and started Bollare Communications. Since 2006, Bollare has developed into a bi-coastal PR firm focusing on fashion, lifestyle, and celebrity PR, representing brands such as Nanette Lepore, Gilt Group, and Henri Bendel. Alle's astute personality and fashion foresight has made her a Fashion PR authority.
Today, Alle shares how her early internship and leadership experiences helped pave the way for her booming career as a PR maven. From surfing with clients to sharing her PR expertise at conferences, for Alle, no two days are the same and she is definitely one woman who's advice is worth listening to.
Full name: Alle Fister
Location: West Hollywood, CA
Current title/company: Principal, Bollare Communications
Educational background: Pepperdine University
What was your first job out of college, and how did you land it?
My first job post-Pepperdine was with online retailer shopbop.com.
As I was preparing for graduation, I was stone-set on landing THE dream job ALL of my girlfriends and classmates would be envious of! I spent much time researching careers and companies that were intriguing and would offer me the opportunity to have exposure to varied opportunities and brands.
I came across Shopbop and took to the web to cold email in a compelling 'pitch' on why I would be JUST what the business needed. My pitch was a success, namely because I thought about the recipient while drafting, and I soon found myself moving to Madison, WI to become one of the initial employees of the e-retailer.
During college you held quite a few internships. Tell us a little more about those experiences? Are those what ultimately led you to pursue a career in PR?
Interning is one of THE most eye-opening and shaping experiences of a college student when the opportunity to listen, learn and grow is kept front of mind!
In college I interned for two different types of agencies (one more Hollywood-driven and one more lifestyle minded) as well as in-house at a European label.
I learned a lot from my internships; what I loved, what I found less stimulating and the type of environment I found most elevating. The internships were tremendously shaping, and a large reason we focus so much on having a great internship program at Bollare and hiring from our talent-pool of interns.
You've mentioned that PR skills aren't necessarily learned in the classroom. What is the most important thing you've learned outside of your degree that has been instrumental in your success?
From a college perspective, certainly my time in my sorority (I was Social Chair and then President of Kappa Alpha Theta at Pepperdine–man, so much fun!). The sorority experience taught me social graces, how to motivate a large group and the importance of team work!
You were a founding member of Shopbop with a variety of responsibilities as PR Director. What was your favorite part of this role, what was the most challenging?
Bob Lamey, Principal Owner of Shopbop, is a wonderful leader and mentor and truly ignited my entrepreneurial spirit. We had the opportunity to try and test different initiatives; if successful we would double-down, if not we would assess why not and work 'smarter' the next time around. The ever-evoling opportunity for those who really were inventive and thoughtful was such a gift, and an energy I like to believe I foster at Bollare today.
When you first started Bollare Communications, Shopbop became one of your first clients. What led you to start your own company, as opposed to staying with Shopbop? Where did the idea of Bollare come from? Is there a story behind the name?
The entrepreneurial love outlined above. Shopbop became a part of a larger organization, Amazon, and I utilized the merge as a catalyst to start my own venture, while still working with a brand I love and had been such a part of building.
Bollare literally means 'to brand' or 'to put your mark on' in Italian. My mother is Italian and, growing up, Italy was always associated for me as a place of learning and growth...so the combination made for a perfect name. I wanted a name that was creative and story telling, signifying the type of agency we would hope to be. I had visions of a team as well and did not want a name after my own namesake. I always wanted it to be bigger than any one person, focused on a team.
Bollare PR has grown to be a bi-coastal firm. You're currently working at the Bollare West Hollywood offices, how do you manage the NYC office from across the country? What unique challenges come with managing a bi-coastal company? Does your role involve a lot of travel?
We have, and it makes me SO proud! Certainly there are opportunities and stressors that come with a bi-coastal agency. We spend much time and energy around our team, selecting people whom we trust in and believe in! Our NYC office is run by our VP, Sara Flores, whom is absolutely amazing, we've accomplished a lot as a team. We additionally have a senior team in both offices whom are all industry leaders in their respective areas of expertise, whom are the heart beat of our brand!
Describe a typical workday or week.
That's the best part...each day is anything but typical, bringing a chance to learn and experience something new! For example, in the past few weeks alone I have: taken a group of social media socialites out surfing with Quiksilver (and seven time world champion surfer Stefanie Gilmore), spoken at IFB Conference and compiled monthly status reports...never dull!
Your career so far is full of great achievements. What is the best moment of your career this far?
Seeing the 'A-ha!' moment in a team members eyes, one of my favorites things.
You've served as a contributor for Allure, Lucky, and Glamour, among others and have been recognized for being on top of key trends. What resources do you use to stay on top of tends and to find inspiration?
Cool sites and blogs such as The Everygirl, the team members at Bollare and my sister, Sarah (I love her personal style and hope to one day be that stylish)
Given your very demanding career, how do you find time for yourself?
I find the Bollare client base and team very personally stimulating! Last year I got married to a truly exceptional guy (and fellow entrepreneur so he 'gets' the Bollare energy!) and I cherish our time together so much that, more than I ever thought I would, I make a real point to carve time just for us to be 'us'.
Specifically, what kind of hours are you putting into the week or day now?
A lot. But the best stuff, it's really worth working for!
What skills or personality attributes do you think have led to your success, both as an entrepreneur and PR professional?
Being a hard-worker. It's funny, the harder I work, the luckier I seem to get....!
How have you seen the fashion PR industry change since you started?
A further appreciation for the awesome world of digital.The metrics and analysis that a cleverly curated digital campaign can offer are hard to find in other spaces.
Bollare and it's clients have a large presence on all social media platforms. Do you have any suggestions on how to use these platforms effectively, both for individuals seeking careers in PR and those who are already in the industry?
Cultivate a sense of voice and self on the web that is a privileged peak into your world and what inspires you!
Considering all you've done, do you have any goals you’re still striving to achieve?
Absolutely, I don't think there's enough room in the article to list them all. I constantly push myself.
What advice would you give to your 23-year-old self?
Enjoy the ride!