Rosie Davies is the Founder and Agency Director of the London Fashion Agency (LFA), the UK’s first affordable PR agency dedicated to independent brands. The agency’s accessible approach to PR has earned recognition and numerous awards; in 2015 Rosie won Creative Fashion Entrepreneur of the Year. You can call them the “IT Agency” of fashion PR as they are doing things differently by reinventing the way small brands tackle PR and marketing. LFA has developed a collection of DIY PR resources which allows independent brands to run their own PR. They’re not only empowering independent brands but showing that you don’t have to spend a large amount of cash on getting good PR .
Read more about how Rosie started the agency from her bedroom, how she got through with no funding and how they are changing the PR game for independent brands.
Name: Rosie Davies
Current title | Company: Agency Director & Founder, PR Dispatch
Education: MA Textile design
Website / social media pages: www.thelondonfashionagency.com, @ldnfashionagcy
Can you give us brief outline about your background, the first job you landed and how you got it?
If I’m honest, I’ve never actually had a ‘proper’ job. I worked part-time in a kennel, McDonalds and offices when I was younger but my first job was freelancing for brands and then starting LFA.
I interned a lot while studying textiles at university. I wanted to gain as much experience as I could in as many areas as possible. I always did my homework on each company before interviewing and working there and went above and beyond what was asked of me, whether that be McDonalds or London College of Fashion print studio. I was never the most intelligent but I was prepared to work 10 times harder to land competitive internships.
Can you tell us about LFA?, how did you get the idea and how did you start?
In the summer of 2011, I started an internship with a small knitwear brand in South London called Lowie. I was given a pile of magazines on the first day and asked to call them to pitch product into their features. I didn’t have a clue if what I was doing was right but a few weeks later, coverage started to appear. I was hooked. I started to look more into how small brands gained coverage in publications. PR retainers cost thousands and were totally unattainable for small businesses. I realised the frustration that brands faced when trying to do PR and decided to cut all of the costs from traditional PR to offer affordable, honest services that produced results.
I built a basic website and requests started to come in for ‘affordable PR’. I never borrowed a penny to get the agency off the ground. I have never outsourced anything – we built the website, the office desks and the agency on our own. If I didn’t know how to do something I Googled it. We have no investors or loans to pay which means I can keep costs affordable for our brands.
We grew organically and went from just me working in my bedroom to the best team possible. We’ve outgrown 3 office spaces and worked with hundreds of brands.
I always did my homework on each company before interviewing and working there and went above and beyond what was asked of me, whether that be McDonalds or London College of Fashion print studio.
What makes LFA so different from the other PR firms?
Our affordable costs set us aside, I wanted to give brands with amazing products the opportunity for magazine coverage at a fraction of the cost. We are also the UK’s first and only agency to support brands with contacts and the know-how so that they can do their own PR. There is such a negative connotation around Fashion PR – I wanted to change that. We are a really friendly team who are willing to answer any burning PR questions brands may have.
What challenges have you faced since starting?
I faced so many challenges in day-to-day life but I think my biggest challenge has been my dyslexia. At the start when it was just me I found emailing clients and writing proposals crippling. I used to spend so much time toying over whether my spellings were spot on as I wanted people to take me and the agency seriously. I’m very upfront with it these days and the wonderful LFA team are always on hand to check over anything I am unsure on.
How did you start your business without any funding?
Looking back now, I always think how did that happen but at the time I think I was really careful with money.
I always worked part-time – Pulling pints, nannying etc until I could sustain freelance work. Once I had freelance PR work I very slowly grew the agency, I rented a desk off one of our clients to work from after being in my bedroom for a year or so. Eventually I took on one person one day per week, she eventually went full time and we grew from there. Last year we moved into our own studio, which I internally freaked out about but it’s been fine.
I never borrowed a penny to get the agency off the ground. I have never outsourced anything – we built the website, the office desks and the agency on our own. If I didn’t know how to do something I Googled it. We have no investors or loans to pay which means I can keep costs affordable for our brands.
What’s a typical day for you on the job like?
I usually wake up about 6.30, I check social media and emails and then drive to the office via the park as I take Milo for a walk.
At 9.30 am, we usually start the day with a meeting regarding our retainer clients, I then answer my emails and try to develop our strategy (even though I think this is more of a weekend task). In the afternoons I usually have meetings out and about with potential clients or partners.
I have a really close group of female founder friends so in the evenings we have dinner or I go home and curl up on the sofa (usually with laptop on knee).
What do you love most about your job and what do you dislike the most?
I love that we can enable independent brands to be featured in magazines. I dislike accounting – as soon as we can afford a bookkeeper, I’ll be thrilled.
What inspires you, what drives you to get up each morning and push despite all the other bigger PR agencies being there?
The brands and designers we work with, we have an amazing relationship with all our clients past and present. I love that we can have a really open and honest conversation with them and they understand that we pull out all the stops to get them the coverage they deserve.
What is the future for you and LFA?
Our subscription service that allows product based brands to do their own PR for just £28 per month. I wanted to ensure that we are helping thousands of small brands start somewhere with their magazine coverage.
What’s the worse that can happen? It’s okay to fail… Don’t dwell and move on.
Can you share a recent success story that makes you proud?
A brand that is signed up to our subscription service got their product into Stylist magazine – I was so proud I nearly cried! Not only was it an incredible achievement for the brand, but it also reaffirmed my belief that brands can do their own PR, and do it really well.
What advice would you give to young ladies wanting to go into Fashion PR, 3 key things?
1. Make sure your attention to detail is on point.
2. Find your niche.
3. Be yourself.
If you could go back and make any changes, what would they be?
To work on strategy more, creating a product is great but getting the route to market strategy right is crucial.
What’s the most important advice you have received that you would like to share with other ladies?
“People don’t care about what you do, but why you do it”
What would you tell your 20-year-old self?
What’s the worse that can happen? It’s okay to fail… Don’t dwell and move on.
One thing that makes you/ your business “Younique”
We’re the only agency of our kind making PR accessible for independent brands. PR is an extortionately expensive industry and it can be really difficult for emerging brands and designers to find their feet, but we like to think that our friendly approach to fashion and our accessible pricing structure makes PR a little easier for those starting out.