AUTHOR. FASHION PR VET, NEW YORK
If you’re going to interview anyone in the fashion industry, Aliza Licht should be at the top of your list. Licht is a driving force. Like many of her fashion counterparts, she was a fashion obsessed young woman on the route to a career in medicine. Specifically plastic surgery. However, after interning at a hospital one summer, she realized her passions lied elsewhere. Fast forward through years of hard work and various magazine internships to the present, and Aliza is the CEO of LEAVE YOUR MARK LLC—formerly SVP of DKNY and voice behind DKNY PR GIRL. DKNY PR GIRL was the fashion realms very own "gossip girl," without the malicious gossip of course. Day after day, she gave us a look into the exciting life of a PR girl living and working in New York City. Her Twitter persona made social media history as her idea set a precedent that has been duplicated time and time again.
The red lipstick enthusiast has transformed into what I'd like to call social media's career guru—as she has made history once again—this time mastering the role of "virtual mentor." Don't believe me? Tweet or email her with any (career related) question your heart desires and she'll have an answer. Her best-selling book, LEAVE YOUR MARK has become the go-to guide for a plethora of women looking to stand out and succeed in their respective industries. The book is full of first-hand knowledge and stories that will be valuable in the years to come. Believe me I know, I’ve read the book front to back and I refer to it constantly.
No matter the medium, it is clear the CEO never shies away from the opportunity to lend a mentoring hand. After all, The New York Times did designate her as "America’s Next Top Mentor." Fitting. I picked her brain with 8 burning questions about her life, her career and her best-selling book, LEAVE YOUR MARK.
Krav: You went from plastic surgeon dreams to becoming the SVP of PR for DKNY, one of fashions most emblematic brands. Looking back at how much you loved fashion, how important do you think it is for someone to take the time to realize what their passion is and relentlessly pursue it?
Aliza: It's truly a blessing to know what you want to do early on, but it's not a must. One of the most amazing gifts we have is the freedom to change course when we need to. I don't believe in setting long-term goals. The idea of a 3 or 5 year plan has always stressed me out, so once I changed course in college from pre-med to fashion, I realized that my strategy didn't really matter. Instead I live by the concept of giving 200% to what I'm doing right this minute while keeping my eye on my next goal. Then once I reach that goal I repeat the process. When you have shorter term goals you are more likely to see the many different doors and windows that have opened. There are many different paths one can go down and I believe that the most successful people are open to many different ideas.
Take me through what a typical day as the SVP of PR at DKNY was like, in combination with being a mother and wife.
Coffee. Twitter. Email. Getting kids ready. Drop off at school. Arrive at work at 9 am or prior. Email hockey, Twitter, email hockey, meetings, more meetings, email hockey, Twitter. Home: homework with kids. Quality (no electronic device) time with family. Bedtime routine. Email hockey. Twitter. Online shopping. Twitter. Repeat.
Your best-selling book, Leave Your Mark is the most informative and delicately raw career book I've read in a long time. What influenced you to go in the direction of creating a guide that highlights your career experience, opposed to going with more of a biography style?
Thank you! For me, the book had to serve a purpose that I believed in. I had been doing a lot of mentoring on Twitter and I realized that what I really wanted to do was help people in their careers. Once it hit me that LEAVE YOUR MARK could be a virtual mentorship, it was easy for me to dive in. I think people need to understand where the advice is coming from though in order to take it seriously. I wanted people to get to know me in an intimate way, to see that I did the work, paid the dues and got to an executive level in fashion the old-fashioned way.
As of late, countless interns have been suing companies for having to do hard work and even not being paid. More often than not, I think it comes from a sense of entitlement. How do you feel about this generation's sense of entitlement and why is it important for them to shift their mindset?
You can't paint one paintbrush over everyone. I have worked with amazing people who take the tasks seriously and learn a tremendous amount. We work hard in my office and anyone who works with us sees that. I have packed a million garment bags in my career. I would still pack one today if I needed to. You can't ever be above the work.
You've been working for Donna Karen International since 1998. How have you been able to find and create variety while staying focused, although you've worked for the same company for over 16 years?
It's been an incredible journey and I have been blessed with a constantly evolving career. My mentor and former boss Patti Cohen believed in my growth. Throughout the years I got more responsibility and faced new challenges. It was exciting! I am finally at what I call "a good stopping place". I'm excited for my next journey and I have the book to thank for that!
What is the most common thing you find people don't focus on or give ample attention to during the application process that they should?
Researching the company and the person you are applying to! You must tailor your resume and cover letter. It needs to sound informed and passionate about the brand. One size does not fit all.
When it comes to fashion, what is your personal style philosophy?
Feminine and polished. I want to make an entrance and exit every day of my life. Fashion gives me the energy I need to face the day. Well, that and coffee.
Leave Your Mark's success has merely grazed the surface. And though it's a bit early, I can't help but admit that I'm looking forward to another book from you. Can we expect something else?
Publishing a book has been an amazing learning process. I never realized that so many people actually don't write their own books. Not only did I write every word but I even recorded the audio version! It was a ton of work but well worth it. That said, I don't currently have a desire to write another book. I imagine it will be like childbirth though, you always forget the pain!
PHOTOGRAPHY: C/O Aliza Licht