To kick off the series, beauty PR and brand specialist Nicola Nolan has kindly let us into her world. Nicola was previously Marketing & PR Director for Neal's Yard Remedies, but now runs her own business (Black Book Communications) that specialises in working with niche brands with great stories and ingredients.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF...
I was lucky to grow up in the Cayman Islands, which is where I think my love of sun, sea and all things sea shell related comes from. At school, I studied languages (French, Spanish, Latin and even sign language!) and went on to study International Management with French and Spanish at University. After Uni I moved to the big bright lights of New York City and worked in fashion sales and marketing; while I was there I met the Managing Director of luxury lifestyle PR agency Halpern, who offered me an internship. As soon as I got back to the UK, I packed up my bags and moved to London to give it a go. After two whirlwind weeks working on some of the most amazing events (including the Elle Style Awards and Sex & The City movie premiere,) I'd been totally charmed and convinced PR was for me! Luckily they offered me a job and the rest, as they say, is history. From Halpern I went on to an in-house role with Neal’s Yard Remedies, where I started as PR Manager; in my five years with the brand I progressed up the ranks, eventually becoming Marketing and PR Director - traveling all over the world to launch the brand in new markets and meet new international partners. Three years ago I bought my little flat in South West London, and two years ago I got the best flatmate ever: a rescue cocker spaniel puppy called Brodie!
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR CURRENT JOB?
Eventually I decided the time had come to take the huge leap from Neal’s Yard Remedies and set out on my own - so I launched Black Book Communications, a strategic PR and brand building consultancy. I wanted Black Book to be run differently to all the consultancies I’d worked with before, cutting all the white noise and nonsense out, to deliver results-driven campaigns for my clients that really work. It’s been a steep learning curve over the last few years, but I love what I do; every day is different and I wouldn’t change it for the world!
CAN YOU DESCRIBE A 'TYPICAL DAY'?
I start every day with a long walk with Brodie. After that, I head home and log onto my emails, ready for the day ahead. No day is really ever the same in my work which is what I love! My phone is by my side all day, every day, and I’m always on it answering calls and emails from press and bloggers, calling clients with updates and of course, checking social media to make sure I’m up to speed with all the latest news and reviews. I try and organise my weeks so I do two days in town for meetings and three days working at home, but that doesn’t always happen!
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACE?
Staying on top of everything when things are busy, and learning to switch off at the end of a long day!
CAN YOU PINPOINT ONE PARTICULAR HIGHLIGHT TO DATE?
There’s been a few things I’ve loved in my career so far, particularly all the traveling. I can’t pick one but there are two stand outs for me... The first would be the very first feature I worked on all those years ago, a three page Bare Minerals editorial in Sunday Times Style. I have it framed and on my office wall. The second would be visiting Downing Street to hand in over 100,000 signatures we collected as part of the Neal’s Yard Remedies Bee Lovely Campaign that I headed up. But also, opening up my favourite magazines, or logging on to read my favourite blogs, and seeing my clients getting great coverage is just such a brilliant feeling. It’s why I love what I do so much.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT WHAT YOU DO?
The flexibility, the chance to get great brands into the spotlight and the travel.
WHAT'S THE BEST PIECE OF CAREER ADVICE YOU'VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?
To love what you do! Liking the brands and people you work with really makes everything so much more fun and enjoyable; working in beauty never feels like work to me. Finding what you love and making a career out of it is definitely the best advice I've ever been given.
IF YOU WERE TO GIVE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE TO SOMEONE INTERESTED IN YOUR FIELD, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Network. It really is all about who you know and not what you know, so I’d say get out there and meet as many people as you can! Every day is an opportunity.
HOW DO YOU UNWIND AFTER A LONG DAY?
I call home and catch up with my parents, go for another walk with Brodie and head out for some food with friends.
CAN YOU LET US IN ON YOUR FIVE BEAUTY MUST-HAVES?
1. Water - and lots of it! Great skin starts from within.
2. Herbfarmacy Mallow Beauty Balm; I also use it as a cleanser.
3. KITA Metal Moisturising Serum Complex, which keeps my skin balanced throughout the day.
4. Pai Rosehip Oil - an amazingly rich oil that my skin really benefits from in winter.
5. Neal’s Yard Remedies White Tea Facial Mask; it the perfect weekend skin treat.
Find out more about Nicola, the brands she works with and Black Book Communications on her website here: www.blackbookcommunications.co.uk
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