New York City, the Mecca of the fashion industry, has always been home for Coach PR Director, Carolyn Angel. In the city crawling with fashion icons, design houses, and name-brand flagships, she couldn’t deny that her surroundings were ideal for breaking into industries de la Mode.
From an internship at Bloomingdales to a full-time position at Harper’s Bazaar, Carolyn gained insight into the business of fashion and quickly learned that hard work pays off. When Coach was looking to hire a new Director of PR, they wanted someone with an editor’s eye and strategic focus. With ten years of editorial experience, Carolyn was the perfect fit.
Now Carolyn Angel is at the helm of one of the country’s most well known brands. As Coach’s PR Director, no day is ever the same. Carolyn’s affinity for the evolving industry and challenged focus as a publicist has helped catapult Coach to its current position of fame.
Name: Carolyn Angel
Title: Coach PR Director, North America Media
Hometown: New York City
Educational background: Tufts University
What was your first job out of college? How did you land it?
My first job was a paid internship at Instyle Magazine working with Janice Min, who at the time was the Editor of Special Issues. Her husband was a history professor at my high school and when she asked about me one of my teachers gave a glowing review. Barry Beinstock taught an amazing class on race relations, and he and I had kept in touch. I’m still grateful!
What internships did you do to help you prepare for your career?
Growing up in Manhattan, I was surrounded by fashion. Since I was a little girl I wanted to be in the fashion industry in some capacity. My first internship was in public relations, in the PR department at Bloomingdale’s, the summer after my freshman year of college.
When did you land the position as PR Director for Coach?
I was working as an editor when a former colleague of mine from Bazaar called and asked if I would ever consider joining the Coach PR team. It seemed like a great opportunity to learn about the business from another perspective. PR has really evolved over the past few years, so the job is very varied and very interesting today.The fashion industry is a difficult work to break into.
What was your first job in fashion?
My first full-time job was as the accessories assistant at Harper’s Bazaar. I worked with the accessories director and pulled accessories from every brand you can imagine. It was fun to be surrounded by such amazing product and so many inspiring stylists and editors, but it was hard work and long hours.I still remember my first day on the job. I had a meeting with the legendary stylist Polly Mellen to pull accessories for her upcoming story. It was a dream come true.
Did you always know this was the industry for you? What qualities would you say are essential to do the job you do?
My mother is a practicing Freudian psychoanalyst and my grandfather was a psychiatrist. They shared an office in the city together, so I grew up thinking I would work in their field. But when I was a senior in college, I wrote my honors thesis on the history of fashion during the 1940s and the 1960s. I always found it fascinating how fashion magazines reflect the world around them, especially during such important moments in time. It was interesting to understand the psychology of fashion and that added to my interest in the fashion industry. I guess you could say I combined my love of fashion and the family business. Being around a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst for so many years has come in handy. You deal with a lot of personalities in the fashion industry!
How did your position at the fashion editor at W Magazine influence your role as Coach’s PR director?
Having worked as an editor, you understand what editorial needs and when they need it. You can be very strategic and helpful, which is what editors want from PR people at the end of the day.
Take us through your responsibilities on any given day as PR Director?
It’s true what they say about PR—no day is the same. You are brainstorming story ideas for magazine features, discussing digital initiatives, working on events, fielding press inquiries and meeting with editors, bloggers and stylists. And while all of this is going on, you need to be strategic and focused.
Has being PR Director of a major fashion company changed your outlook on the industry? Are there aspects of the business that would come as a surprise to young women with dreams of getting into the industry?
Definitely. It’s been fascinating being on the inside of a company as big and successful as Coach. As an editor, you learn a lot about the industry but being at Coach has allowed me to understand the industry from a brand perspective and see the bigger picture. As for aspects that would come as a surprise? Probably the amount of hard work you need to do to succeed. Fashion looks like fun, and it often is, but it requires a lot of hard work to be successful.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned as a professional woman in New York City?
Everything comes down to hard work!
What is your favorite part of working in PR? What is your least favorite part of the job?
I love the unpredictability of it. Each day is different and you learn something new every day. I can’t say I have a least favorite part.
Where do you see your career in 10 years?
The great thing about fashion is that it’s always changing and evolving. That is the nature of fashion, after all. I know I will always be a part of it somehow, but it is hard to say where my career will end up. I’m okay with that.
What advice would you give to your 23-year-old self?
The advice I would give to my 23 year old self would be don’t give up. And it’s best to peak later in life.