“My recruiter called me and told me she has this exciting opportunity that is something I’ve never done before. She wasn’t even sure if they would be interested in me but she wanted me to give it a try. My thoughts? Challenge accepted.” It’s this kind of moxie (plus a lot of hard work and persistence) that has enabled 27-year-old Patrice Batson to fill her resume with highly-coveted internships and jobs and eventually discover her true calling, creative strategizing and brand development.
While interning for Mercedes Benz in college, Patrice met an editor from Seventeen Magazine who invited her to interview for an internship. Despite knowing very little about the fashion industry (case in point: she showed up to the interview in a full suit), Patrice got the internship, which launched her career in fashion. Patrice climbed her way through the ranks of the fashion industry, working for companies like InStyle Magazine and DeBeers. She eventually landed her dream job and current position, marketing manager at ELLE Magazine. Through all of her many job experiences, Patrice was able to figure out both what she is good at and what she really wanted to do. “With each role, I learned more about the person that I am, what I can bring to the table and the kind of work that excites me.”
What Patrice refers to as being “nosey,” we like to call it being “information-seeking.” Whichever you like, it’s the attribute Patrice credits with being a successful marketer. “This innate curiosity will help you gather knowledge that make a product better or launch a new advertising campaign.” Today Patrice shares a wealth of insightful advice, including a gem of a website your future fashion career depends upon. We trust you’ll be thanking Patrice later.
Full Name: Patrice Batson
Current Title/Company: Marketing Manager at ELLE Magazine
Educational Background: International Relations and Economics at St. John’s University
While in college, you gained experience through internships at Mercedes Benz, Seventeen Magazine, Donna Karen, Chanel and Versace. How did you secure these amazing internships? What did you learn through these experiences?
In college, I started off as an economics major and quickly learned that I’m much better with people than numbers. I decided I needed to change my major but I had no idea what I wanted to do. I read a magazine article about internships and thought; maybe I’ll get one and see what happens from there.
I applied to Mercedes Benz online and eventually developed a first-name-basis relationship with the HR department because I called every single week to check the status of my internship application. I was terribly annoying and they probably offered me the internship so that I could stop calling them. Either way, my persistence paid off and I joined the marketing team there.
As the official sponsors of New York Fashion Week, Mercedes sent a few of us interns to the shows to help out behind the scenes. I knew absolutely nothing about the fashion industry. I just remember seeing so many glamorous people whizzing by me and it was amazing, I wanted to be a part of it. Through that experience, I met an editor from Seventeen Magazine who asked me to come in and interview for an internship with her. I showed up the interview in a suit. A suit! I looked like a modern-day version of Melanie Griffith in Working Girl. I didn’t know much about the fashion industry so dressing creatively for an interview never crossed my mind. I was mortified when I saw the rest of the girls interviewing in sky-high heels and very chic denim. I swallowed my embarrassment but it turned out that I actually impressed her by wearing a suit. I was hired and that was officially the beginning of my career in the fashion industry.
Apart from Seventeen magazine, every single internship that I got was through a website called, www.freefashioninternships.com. It was such a huge resource to me because I didn’t have any connections in New York or much fashion experience. Whenever I got an interview, I did tons of research on the company, memorized their key players and knew their competitors inside and out. I made sure to read recent articles and bring them up to my interviewer. I did my homework and it always paid off.
What was your first job out of college and how did you land it? What skills and knowledge did you gain while working here?
My first job after college was at InStyle Magazine in the advertising sales department. I landed it through a friend that I met while interning at Versace. The hours were long and my first boss was the devil in Prada, personified! However, if I were being completely honest, I owe my entire career growth to her. She would make me do the same tasks over and over until it was perfect. After it was perfect, she would make me do it once more. She was all about the details and that’s the way I am today. She also taught me that perception is everything. From the kind of flowers displayed in her office (white orchids only) to the type of folder that she carried to client meetings, she believed that she was a representative of the magazine and her demeanor confirmed the company’s stylish and high expectations. Absolutely nothing was easy at InStyle with her, but when I reflect back on it, I’m very grateful it wasn’t.
After working at InStyle, you worked as the PR and special events coordinator at De Beers. What were your job responsibilities in this position? What were your favorite and least favorite parts about working in PR and special events?
While at De Beers I learned two things: 1) I loved planning events and 2) I hated PR. You have to be a very special kind of person to excel in PR. It is a high pressure and often, thankless job. My favorite part of working at De Beers was doing special events. I loved coming up with simple ideas that turned into a beautiful event. The thrill of event planning for me was working behind the scenes, making sure everything went smoothly and the guests had a great time. Most importantly, I love making lists. My life resolves around random to-do lists both professionally and personally.
Some of my other duties involved managing the PR and events budget, developing relationships with magazine editors and liaising daily with the store directors. The headquarters of De Beers is based in London so it was definitely a 24/7 position. I learned a lot about time management in this role.
Following your time at De Beers you applied to and landed a job at Digital Brand Architects. What knowledge did you gain from this experience?
While I was working at De Beers, digital and social media became the thing and I was eager to learn more about it. I met with the owners of a boutique agency called Digital Brand Architects, we clicked and they brought me on board. My job was fast-paced, intense and constantly changing. I am still astonished at the speed of how quickly things happened there. While at DBA, I managed the luxury team, conceptualized and executed digital campaigns for brands such as Gucci, Brian Atwood, St. Regis Hotels, Juicy Couture and 7 for All Mankind. It was at DBA that I learned my true calling: creative strategizing and brand development. Almost daily we were working at a breakneck speed to churn out social media campaigns and this developed my brainstorming and strategizing skills. With each campaign I created, I got better and better. It was a rush of adrenaline for me to put together a proposal, present it to a client and then see the smiles on their faces as they contemplated how my idea would come to life. I lived for that.
I don’t believe in luck. Persistence and hard work haven’t steered me wrong yet.
You currently work at ELLE Magazine (an Everygirl favorite!) as a marketing manager for brand development. Please share the story behind how you landed an interview and the job.
The ELLE Magazine opportunity came to me by a recruiter who thought outside of the box. Most recruiters look at your resume and then try to find you jobs exactly like what you are doing. It’s very cut and dry. My recruiter called me and told me she has this exciting opportunity that is something I’ve never done before. She wasn’t even sure if they would be interested in me but she wanted me to give it a try. My thoughts? Challenge accepted.
The interview process was an eye-opener for me. I never knew about licensing or how it worked. I had to not only research the company but google questions like “what is fashion licensing?” I had to start from scratch which really humbled me. Luckily, my boss appreciated my enthusiasm to learn a new field and she took me under her wing. I interviewed twice with my boss and then once over the phone with our Vice President in Paris. I’ll be honest, I am not a fan of over the phone interviews because I like to see a person’s facial expression, but she completely put me at ease. This was probably my quickest interview process ever; within a month I was brought on board and my second week of work I spent training at our head office in Paris. Not a bad way to kick off a new job!
What are your primary responsibilities in your current position at ELLE?
A lot of people don’t know this but ELLE is actually a comprehensive lifestyle brand. We have the ELLE spa in Miami, an ELLE ready-to-wear collection at Kohl’s, ELLE cafes in Asia and that’s just the beginning. From stationery to even a car, ELLE is truly a unique brand that stemmed from a magazine.
At ELLE, I handle North, Central and South America. I work with licensees in the Americas to develop marketing, communication and visual merchandising to support the ELLE products. Another huge part of my role is to actively brainstorm with the internal team about ways to further develop the brand. The possibilities for the brand are endless and there is no limit to what it can grow into. Who knows, one day there may be an ELLE hotel. I wouldn’t mind doing the field research on that project, Caribbean anyone?
Marketing is a fast-paced, intense field. What skills or personality attributes do you believe are necessary to succeed in this industry?
I find the people that have the most ridiculous ideas make the best marketers. These kinds of people think outside of the box and don’t care if their ideas get laughed off the table because once you’re done laughing, they’ve already thought of another idea for you to consider. You have to be very visual and be able to make others understand your vision.
A great marketing manager is very nosey! I am constantly reading what our competitors are doing or questioning people I meet about their favorite products. This innate curiosity will help you gather knowledge that can make a product better or launch a new advertising campaign.
How do you balance your personal and professional life?
I don’t, haha. As much as I try to separate the two it just doesn’t happen. I’m at a point where I am ok with it because my personal life actual inspires my professional life and vice versa. For example, I went out to brunch a few months ago and while chatting with friends, I thought of a new product category for ELLE. I do lots of product and idea testing on friends and family. They’re great focus groups because they’re very opinionated and they’re free!
You initially entered college as an economics major and have held many different roles throughout your career. How did you narrow down your interests and ultimately determine what field you were most passionate about?
I’ve held quite a few positions to be so early in my career but I know it was necessary for me to get to where I am today. With each role, I learned more about what the person that I am, what I can bring to the table and the kind of work that excites me. It took me awhile to get to where I am right now but I am so happy to say that I have my dream job. My current role takes a little bit of everything that I did in the past and mixes it together. There’s never a boring day.
What do you believe are the most important things to look for in a company when job searching or making a career transition?
When job searching, try as hard as you can to talk to your future co-workers during the interview process. These are the people that you will spend most of your time with and it’s important that you connect with them to get a sense of how the company truly operates. Get creative with your thank you notes. I once hand delivered cupcakes that said, “thank you” after a job interview. I am convinced that is the only reason I got that job. Who can turn down sweets?
It will all work out in the end. If it’s not working, it’s not the end.
What advice would you give to Everygirls who want to pursue a career in marketing?
Perfect your 30-second elevator speech. If you can’t brand yourself then you shouldn’t pursue a career branding products. Leave nothing to chance. I don’t believe in luck. Persistence and hard work haven’t steered me wrong yet.
What is a typical work day like for you?
My day starts very early, I have a pretty long commute so I read on my way to work. I probably read 2 to 3 books a week. Once I get in the office, I check for any urgent emails from our headquarters in Paris. They are six hours ahead of us so I make sure to get Paris business done in the morning. Then I read WWD and the Wall Street Journal, remember what I said about being nosey? I am always tracking our competitors. After that, I check in with our licensees in the Americas. There’s always an event or project going on and I do my best to make sure everyone has what they need in terms of marketing, visual merchandising or communication materials. I also have my own projects that I work on daily from researching new categories to brainstorming about new tools that we can use to educate consumers about ELLE. This is typically a quiet day. I wish I could tell you about a crazy day but they are so hectic, I hardly remember!
Best moment of your career so far?
I’ve had a few tiny wins but the best moment hasn’t happened yet.
What advice would you give to your 23-year-old self?
It will all work out in the end. If it’s not working, it’s not the end.
Patrice Batson is The Everygirl
I wish I knew how to ________.
Sing. I would sing non-stop: in the shower, at work, on the train. Everywhere.
Favorite way to unwind?
Sleeping. People underestimate the power of sleep. I am fantastic in bed; I could sleep for hours. I solve some of my biggest problems and come up with my best ideas in my sleep. I leave my cell phone under my pillow so when I wake up, I can write down things from my dream. I now have a mini book of my dreams and if I thought anyone besides my mother would buy it, I would get it published.
Best part about living in NYC?
The food. I am not one of those New Yorkers who is constantly on a diet. I actually think a New Yorker on a diet is an oxymoron. There are too many amazing restaurants here to deprive yourself of new culinary experiences. The convenience of NYC is another fabulous bonus. At any given time, you can get anything you want. I have no patience so NYC is perfect for a person like me.
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and what would you order?
I am a hopeless romantic so I would invite Jane Austen to lunch, you know, if she were still alive. I love laughing so I would have Tina Fey join our date too. I would order a fabulously fattening meal with a side of French fries. All three of us would share the fries, of course. For dessert, I am having apple pie with homemade cinnamon ice cream and a tiny spoon of whatever Jane and Tina order as well.