Ashlee Margolis is founder of The A List - a brand building agency that leverages relationships in the entertainment, fashion and digital industries to gain its clients celebrity placement and seeding. Launched in 2001, the agency works with brands such as Armani Exchange, Madewell, Vince Camuto, Veuve Clicquot, InStyle, Swarovski, and many more.
What does your company do?
Our agency specializes in the juxtaposition of influence and authenticity. We create and nurture relationships between brands and influencers. We also work in tandem with traditional PR agencies to help develop organic opportunities for their clients.
Our showroom in Beverly Hills showcases our fashion and lifestyle clients for actors, stylists, bloggers and other social influencers. The showroom focuses on influencer product seeding for both everyday dressing and red carpet events.
In addition to product seeding our agency plans and executes events with a focus on creating guests lists with a diverse group of tastemakers, often focusing on celebrity procurement.
How did you start the business? What were you doing at the time?
I was working for Lara Shriftman at Harrison & Shriftman as an event publicist. I loved it but left to focus on a talk show career. I was shooting a reality / talk show hybrid that Fred Durst was producing. During that time, Bragman Nyman Cafarelli (Now PMKBNC) would hire me freelance to wrangle talent for their events around Oscars, Superbowl, Sundance and other large scale events. At the time, my old colleague and now one of my best friends, Raina Penchansky, (DBA) had started at COACH as the head of Global PR and began sending me bags to give to my actress friends. Soon after I started bringing them into COACH stores and that ultimately led to opening my own showroom. I was still doing a lot of work for Bragman and slowly stopped focusing on TV as I became consumed with my new clients.
What have been some of the highlights of your career thus far?
My second client was the brand EXPRESS. I loved taking a brand that didn’t have a celebrity following and coming up with great event ideas and curating great product for our showroom. By doing so, we had a lot of success with great talent who started to wear the brand. For one of my favorite events we partnered with the store Resurrection in LA and created buzz for Express’s denim with a fashion show curated by Resurrection that was all about “LEGS”. We booked Pharrell and Robin Thicke to perform and all the models wore EXPRESS.
What are some of your current projects that you’re excited about?
We have been working for six months on renovating the salon next door to our current showroom. We are connecting the two spaces and will be moving our entire office to the new space. I'm really excited about the expansion. It's going to have an area to house a few luxury brands. We are looking forward to rounding out our client list of primarily contemporary brands and having a higher end moment. We also created a small entertaining area within it and will have some small intimate events there.
We are working with some great charities right now including the Los Angeles LGBT Center, Environmental Media Association, Communities in Schools and No Kid Hungry. We also work on the Veuve Clicquot POLO Events in New York & Los Angeles. We recently finished New York and are already planning the LA event for November. It’s definitely one of my favorite events.
On the lifestyle side of our business, I’m obsessed with The Ranch 4.0, a health and wellness retreat that involves serious hiking each day, located in Westlake Village. We are continually booking celebrities and influencers and then work with the Magrino Agency to leverage the bookings as they push out the PR. I went a few months ago and lost 5 pounds in 4 days. I'm already planning my next visit back.
It can be an intense, competitive industry – how do you stay calm and centered?
I definitely have a lot of stress and unfortunately its manifests itself with serious nail picking. I’m headed back to my hypnotherapist (Kerry Gaynor) for some more therapy! I try to consistently meditate, do yoga (I'm in love with Kyle Miller who I practice with at home) and indulge in “treatments.” I definitely love to pamper myself and am hooked on a lot of health and wellness. I have a natropath (Dr. Matea) who I see regularly. She gives me Vitamin Drips and I have a ton of vitiamins I take daily. I also go to Surya Spa in the Pacific Palisades once or twice a year and do a week of detoxing there. It’s a treatment called Pancha Karma, which is a very healing experience that detoxifies the body, strengthens the immune system and helps with over all well-being. It's not a client of mine, but I am obsessed and have sent about 40 people there.
Highlight a few key pitfalls you’d advise against in creating a thriving business and your tips for success
Keep your expenses low and stay focused on what you are good at. Build on your strengths and don’t try to do too many things. I also think it's important to manage expectations and really communicate clearly so everyone is on the same page. We are big on “constant feedback”.
What are some of the biggest changes you predict for the industry in the next 5-10 years?
Social media has definitely changed a lot of things for us, on both sides of our business. In terms of our events and the showroom clients, we are now looking at a celebrity's social following more and outreaching to social influencers who aren’t celebrities, but have a huge reach. It's opening us up to a wider range of people to work with, which is nice and fresh.
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