A. | How did you become interested in your field?

I have been in Public Relations and Marketing Communications in fashion for over 24 years; I began working in the industry in 1991 at Nordstrom in Media Relations.

A. | What is your work routine? What does your job entail? 

As the president of Engstrom Public Relations I am the head of marketing and communications for national brands. For each client I plan everything around their specific marketing campaign: planning media brunches, showrooms, independent designer shows, etc.

A. | What do you do outside of your work routine? 

Every day is different...I do spend the first 30 minuets of day scanning whats being talked about out there. It is important to stay educated in your field. I love to get up into the mountains. I love to do neighborhood walks. I love to sit out and about. I love to try out new restaurants. I also have two two teenage kids.

A. | Where do you feel at home?

Seattle—I was born and raised in Minneapolis, lived in Hawaii for a short time, and moved to Seattle in 1983. Here is home.

A. | What's your vision for the future of your work? 

I’d like to shift my work by bringing back the cache of local designers and to build something that will help designers stay here. They used to own the market in the 80's and 90’s, now this industry is lost. My experience comes primarily creation and promotion of brands and products. My kind of experience can really help young designers who are struggling through these stages. I’d now like to be on an advisory and a supportive role for this.

A. | Where are the major challenges in public relations and marketing?

The greatest challenge is much broader than that. It is getting our arms around what going on in social media. There are so many opportunities for social media to accelerate and draw attention to brands. The challenge is digital companies who are coming in trying to “promise hits” without necessarily aiming to build a lasting legacy. No credible brand has built their whole presentation on only a few hits. Even big brands are being swamped by this. We need to wrap media around the fundamental reflection of a brand. 

A. | How do you define success?

Success starts at the beginning of a project. It is whether or not the goals are achieved. Success is different for every single project based on what is needed. Sometimes it is achieving wholesale goals for the season and sometimes it is a little less tangible, such as just getting the attention needed touch the eye of a retailer. It will vary from campaign to campaign. The keyword of success is sustainability, which comes back to the sometimes threatening social media.

A. | What happened to the fashion industry in Seattle?

We started losing the cache as we moved into the 90’s and times started to change. Seattle was loosing its strength of style and its ethos. We become vanilla if we don't hold onto our strength of unique style. If we stay true to that original strength we as a city and as a region can regain that Seattle sensibility. The loss had a lot to do with the large economic struggles that the major retailers were going through at that time, which resulted in a loss for support for smaller designers and the popularization of discount fashion.

A. | For what goals should Seattle's fashion industry strive?

The number one goal is to keep designers in Seattle. We have to rebuild the industry here so designers will not only stay but new designers will come. We’ve had it once! We just let it slip away, but I do think we can get it back. We used to be a mecca for designers.

A. | For what kind of unexpected events should one prepare in the fashion industry?

There is something unexpected all the time. Everything can fall apart last minute backstage or with media events. Be prepared for how people talk about you online and be prepared to respond to that quickly. If you are going to use social media, and it is hard not to, you have got to stay on top of it. It is like trying to stop a moving train and if you linger too long it is already gone. Stay on top of your brand by being really responsive to what is happening online.

A. | What are the biggest challenges in fashion production? What suggestions do you have for handling them?

I have seen many designers go down because they cannot afford the orders they get. They cannot deliver or produce because they just do not have the money; they get big orders and then they cannot afford the fabric for the big orders. Designers need to find a way to line up fast cash that is needed, from loans or investors, to do their job right. It can be just 3k or 4k if it is a designer just trying to kickstart something.

A. | What makes Seattle fashion industry unique?

The fashion industry in the Seattle area is fascinating to me because it is mirroring what else is happening in the arts scene in Seattle. The music and fashion industry have merged-it blends urban and outdoors. We live in a beautiful places but we also live in a place that has its weather challenges and this is a factor in where our sense of style comes from. It is very ethereal.

FAVORITE QUOTE | We become vanilla if we don't hold onto our strength of unique style