Good jeans are everything—your go-to bottoms, the staple in your wardrobe that you can wear a million times and never get tired of, the one clothing item that never fails. But Beth Newman already knew that. She's the global public relations director at J Brand, and works every day to deliver the best denim on the market from cutting edge styles to classic cuts. It's not just playing dress up though; the girl's got plenty of work to do keeping J Brand one of the premier denim label's on the market!
So what's a day in the office like for this jeans guru? Read on to find out!
What was your very first job?
I've had many internships in both public relations and in the entertainment industry; my first job right out of college was assistant to the president of production at DreamWorks— he was running all of the film development at the company. I worked my tail off! I answered/"rolled" his calls, read his scripts, wrote script coverage and had one-on-one daily interactions with Steven Spielberg. It was pretty incredible to work at Amblin, on the Universal Studios lot, right out of college. That set the bar very high!
How did you get started in your career?
Moving from Detroit, Michigan to Los Angeles when I was 15, I always knew that I wanted to work in media, and have always been fascinated with reading magazines. At age 16, instead of going to camp, I interned at Teen magazine in Los Angeles. I worked in the fashion closet, assisted on photo shoots and had great exposure to the magazine world. After that, I had other PR-related internships at celebrity PR agencies around Los Angeles, and also interned at a few movie studios, and a management agency representing talent and writers.
I went to University of Southern California and majored in public relations, and minored in entertainment industry, and French. I have always known what I've wanted! To this day, I use all of those skills.
After leaving DreamWorks, I worked as an assistant in celebrity PR for many years—at an agency called Wolf Kasteler, and another called BWR. While at one of the agencies, I started working on fashion clients and knew that I wanted to work in-house with a fashion brand. I've been at J Brand for 6 years. I started the global PR program from ground up and hired 10 agencies globally, an in-house team and created a global PR strategy for the brand. Every day I am thankful to come to a job that is not only work, but also a lifestyle. I love my job— it makes me very happy!
Who are some of your career heroes?
I owe so much of my career development and stamina to Nanci Ryder, the founder of BWR and legendary talent publicist. She taught me to have a thick skin, to always speak to truth and to give your career 100 percent of your all. She's a best friend to me. I have some amazing fashion fairy godmothers around the world; women who know me inside-and-out, and have helped me develop as a person and as an executive. Laura Brown, executive editor at Harper's Bazaar; Polly Vernon, UK-based journalist at Grazia & The Telegraph; Ali Bird, director at The Wall Group N.Y.C.—these women are heart and soul to me.
What's a typical workday like for you?
I travel about 40 percent of the year, so no one day is the same! When I am home, I wake up to check my work iPhone at about 5 a.m. (and then of course look at my Instagram), and then continuously check my phone until I get out of bed at 7:45 a.m.— looking at my phone before I get out of bed is a bad habit of mine! I get into the office around 9:30 a.m. with a venti soy latte from Starbucks. I usually have morning conference calls with our U.S. and U.K. press agencies, and then attempt to get through all of my morning emails, but always get distracted and pulled into other meetings, or sit and regroup with my team. My PR coordinator and PR assistant and I work very closely, we all sit together and spend the day constantly dialoguing and going through our work together. I couldn't function without the work that they do! We're in very close contact with our president, our head of design, the marketing team and many of the other creative departments at the company. I'll always be running around chasing a sample, looking at new designs that pop up around the design space— or bouncing off an idea with our incredible VP of branding and marketing. The office is like a family.
Describe your office décor. What was your inspiration? Did you decorate it yourself?
The J Brand corporate offices are right above our factory; the space is an architectural loft, converted from an old factory. Exposed brick, exposed beams and our space is an open floor plan. My area has a bit of clutter— but it's all organized clutter! I know where every single thing is.
List five things that are on your desk right now:
1) Tea can from Fortnum and Mason in London, 2) a ‘Feu de Bois' Diptyque candle, 3) a can of Diet Coke, 4) Comme des Garcons fluro change purse, 5) lots and lots of jeans! 6) Speakers – I listen to Spotify all day through.
What do you typically wear to work?
Always, always J Brand jeans— typically a high-rise skinny, or a high-rise cropped— if wearing boyfriend jeans I'll always make sure that I'm wearing a low heel so that I'm not too casual. Depending if I have meetings or not, I'll either wear my Adidas Superstar sneakers, a pair of Saint Laurent kitten heel booties or grey pointy toed Acne Studios suede pumps. I live in my LnA t-shirts and sweatshirts so I'll typically dress them up, and match either blue jeans or high-rise grey jeans, or if I have a meeting with our president I'll put on a leather jacket or a blazer. I always accessorize with Jennifer Fisher chokers, bracelets and lots of little rings from Cat Bird in New York.
What are your favorite stores to shop for work clothes?
Since I travel frequently for work, I am always shopping in other cities. I love COS and & Other Stories in New York, and Selfridges and Dover Street Market in London. Zara is always great for fast fashion and quick trend— it's easy to walk in and buy something! For shoes and purses, I'll always order online at Barney's or Saks— never, ever a heel above 2-inches for work! I need to walk around the office!
What's the best piece of career advice you've ever received?
My first boss, president of production at DreamWorks, told me on day #1 when I started, "Be nice to each and every person who you encounter. The agents' assistant on the phone, the janitor, the CEO of the company— it doesn't matter who they are; they are important, and your reputation will take you everywhere." To learn that wisdom so early on in my career was a blessing. I try to run my business with this exact principle— you stand out when you are nice, never when you are not.
What celebrities have walked the red carpet/out and about in your pieces?
We've had about every single celebrity in our jeans. We've also created exclusive custom concert tour jeans for Madonna and for Mick Jagger. Our celebrity fans range all across the board and include: Kate Moss, Angelina Jolie, Katie Holmes, Rihanna, Dakota Johnson, Margot Robbie, Bradley Cooper, James Marsden, Cara Delevingne, Sienna Miller, Heidi Klum, and the list goes on and on…
Finish the sentence…
Today for lunch I had… a burrito bowl salad from Zinc Café in downtown Los Angeles.
The first website I log onto every day is… style.com, but I log onto my Instagram the moment I wake up.
The beauty product you can always find in my purse is… Labello ‘Pearly Shine' lip gloss that I get at the supermarket in Paris, and black liquid eye line, in case I have a meeting right after work.
My must-have work gadget is… I don't know if I'd call it a gadget, but my Rhodia notebook comes everywhere with me, I'm a furious note taker. Also my Mophie charger when I travel. Essential!
My usual Starbucks order is… venti soy latte, triple shot.
If I need a quick break during work, I usually… go to Stumptown Coffee in the downtown Los Angeles Arts District.
If I wasn't doing this job, I would be… probably doing the same exact job, but in New York or London! I love what I do— I wouldn't trade it!
The best part of my job is… an endless wardrobe of denim— always!