Though "starting-up" in the Big Apple (or anywhere) can seem nearly impossible, Gormley is doing so as she has done everything thus far — with confidence and style. Ahead, a business start-up guide, courtesy of one smart, savvy, and nice exec.
IVORY ROW SWEATER, DIANE VON FURSTENBERG SKIRT, CELINE SHOES, CELINE TRAPEZE BAG.
“I want to build an agency that isn't just one dimensional — I don't want to just be a PR machine. I have a very strong aesthetic and creative viewpoint and think that it plays a big role in a brand's perception and PR. How your website looks, your packaging, your customer communication are all part of 'PR' and I love being involved in all of it. If you have a strong grasp on that then the PR part comes a lot easier and more organically. We are moving into such a different world when it comes to PR and marketing. Social media is an integral part of these strategies now, so I want to offer clients one agency that can encompass all of those needs in one stop.”
What is the biggest lesson you learned from working at NEXT? How will you bring this with you to your new venture?
“Representing people is so different from representing brands. It tries your patience and in turn makes you have more patience.”
What has been the biggest hurdle in entering this new entrepreneurial phase of your career and how did you overcome it?
"Fear of the unknown. It's scary to go from earning a pay check every other week for nearly 15 years to having to balance the books on your own! I really didn't know who my clients would be — would I even get a client?? I was pretty petrified on the inside, but I signed my first client, Ivory Row, within the first week of resigning from my job, so that helped. And, on top of that, I have an amazingly supportive husband who stands behind me 100%, so anytime I had a panicky moment he knew just what to say, or in some cases, what not to say. He gave me the confidence that I could do this and be successful."
Who did you look up to growing up and how did this inform your career choices?
"My grandmother worked in fashion and she was always dressed to the nines — a red lip and leopard print were her signature — and I just always knew I wanted to be in fashion in some way, shape, or form."
ACNE LEATHER JACKET, BALENCIAGA TOTE.
How do you plan to market and brand your new company to the outside world?
"I'm a big believer in word of mouth. When I decided to set out on my own, it only took a few days for friends and former colleagues to start sending business my way. It's all been very organic, which is how I prefer for it to be. If people like what I do and how I do it, they tell their friends and so on. I want to stay a small and intimate boutique consultancy where my clients feel taken care of know, that they can always get a hold of me — not a coordinator or an assistant."
What's the trick to pushing a brand (or a model or an idea) without being overly aggressive?
"My first boss gave me the best piece of advice ever: 'Kill them with kindness.' I really think that when you're polite and nice you get a lot further than demanding things. I also really only like to work with people and brands that I believe in — it makes 'selling' them so much easier and more genuine because it's what I actually believe, not some line I had to draft for a press release."
What do you look for in new hires?
"This might sound horrible, but I look for people that remind me of myself when I was at that stage in my career. Not in a narcissistic way but more the hunger and drive that I had. There was no job that was too small or no area that I didn't want to learn. I think it's harder to find that these days. The kids graduating now have a different focus and work ethic. I guess it's the 'Google generation' thing people always talk about. I've been lucky in that every single person I have ever hired I have stayed in touch with and watched them grow. I always feel like a proud mom when I hear that they got some big new job. It's exciting, so I keep looking for people that I can see where they will be in five, 10 years."
What's the craziest thing you've ever done for a client?
"I had this amazing coat, and one of my previous clients had to have it. I got it from Matches Fashion in the UK and I had to call my good friend Tom Chapman, who owns it, and basically ask him to send one to this client. For free. Was slightly horrifying, especially since I knew she could afford to buy it."
What are your thoughts on the new, reinvigorated look at "leaning in" and "woman in the workplace?"
"I think people can finally see that women are able to balance it all. We can be running billion-dollar companies, while still being a good wife and mother. It's inspiring to see women like Marissa Mayer breaking down doors and showing the world that you can rise to the top, be strong, and still be a woman who likes nice clothes and shoes. My parents always raised me to be independent, to make sure that I was successful on my own, then five years of working with Diane von Furstenberg and having 'independence' be the theme of everything we did, it really became something second nature to me."
What are the best and worst parts of being your own boss?
"The best is that I get to choose who I work with. I love that part — it makes the job easier too, because I genuinely like all my clients and want to see them succeed. The worst is that some mornings I do a lot of work in my sweatpants and feel like a schlub. But I guess no one knows what I'm wearing when I'm emailing."
What's one myth or legend about this industry that is true and one you can dispel?
”That's tough...the easy one to dispel is that people are snotty — they really aren't. Sure, there are people that take themselves a tad too seriously, but i have met all my best friends through this industry and they are all the nicest people. As for what's true? I guess that people don't eat! I love to eat but, I always feel like I have to order a salad when I’m working.”
What is your personal mantra?
”Be happy. Life is short.“
RAG AND BONE JEANS, ACNE LEATHER JACKET, BALENCIAGA TOTE.
Photographed by Kristina Wilson