When you think of the top ranking execs at DKNY, neurobiology and physiology degrees aren't exactly the first things that come to mind. Nevertheless, that's exactly what the brand's senior vice president of global communications got—before deciding that fashion was her true calling. For Aliza Licht, switching career paths from plastic surgery to high fashion was a whirlwind decision, and has brought her to the top ranks of the fashion biz.
Want to know more about the DKNY exec and Leave Your Mark author? Then read on!
What was your very first job?
My very first job in fashion was in the accessories department at Marie Claire magazine. The road to get there though included a degree in neurobiology and physiology and taking the MCATs. It's a long story.
How did you get started in your career?
After deciding that I didn't want to be a plastic surgeon (although as I get older, I'm beginning to think that I really could have benefited from those skills), I decided to pursue my childhood love of fashion. I applied for several internships and ended up landing one in the accessories department at Harper's Bazaar.
Who are some of your career heroes? Any mentors?
Patti Cohen is my boss and mentor. She is a fashion industry icon and I have had the privilege of working with her for 16 years! She is responsible for who I am professionally— well Patti and lots of coffee.
Of course, Donna Karan has also been inspirational to me. Her career story is one that I will never get tired of hearing. I am very fortunate that she graciously wrote the foreword to my book, Leave Your Mark, which comes out in May.
What's a typical workday like for you?
My email inbox is a frightening place. It always makes me think about that movie with Michelle Pfeiffer, What Lies Beneath. I basically think about that bathtub scene with that scary hand every time that I¹m about to check my email after I¹ve been away for a few hours. Between email hockey all day/night and my passion for social media, my fingers type at Olympic speed. I really wish that typing burned more calories.
Describe your office décor. What was your inspiration? Did you decorate it yourself?
Décor? That's a bit of an overstatement, ha! It's a tiny white office with tons of DKNY PR Girl paraphernalia everywhere, about 20 shades of red Essie nail polishes (for quick touch ups obviously) and tons of makeup. I have a beauty box where I keep my stashes of Maybelline, Nars, Frederic Fekkai hair spray and my curling iron. A girl needs her stuff handy, just in case.
List five things that are on your desk right now:
Iced coffee, various phone chargers, my Samsung nx wifi camera, my "SHIT LIST" notepad (for jotting down voicemail messages) and many, many markers. I love a good marker.
What do you typically wear to work?
Fall is my absolute favorite fashion season. It also means the return of hosiery, which is an event to me because I generally hate looking at my pasty-pale legs. I always start with the hosiery and then build up from there. Generally, I'm in a dress or a skirt and top. I rarely ever wear pants.
What's your favorite go-to fashion/accessory?
My DKNY capes! Nothing makes a bigger insta-statement than a cape. I also love a good fishnet stocking. Sexy, but also professional when paired with a very tailored dress or blazer.
What's the best piece of career advice you've ever received?
Say thank you sincerely and often.
What celebrities/models do you want to work with or most excited to work with?
We love working with people who genuinely love the brands. We are all about growing organic relationships. With people like Cara Delevingne— she loved DKNY from the start and you can feel it and see it in her ads for DKNY. The capsule collection she designed with us was a natural progression of that. Same with Rita Ora. She Instagramed herself in a head to toe DKNY look that we had lent her for an appearance and we were like, wow that looks like an ad! Let's do it!
For Donna Karan Atelier, it's very important that the client understands the process it takes to make a custom made-to-measure gown. You really want to make sure they can be available for multiple fittings to get it just right. Most recently, working withViola Davis for the 2015 Golden Globes was pure magic.
What inspired you to write a book? Tell us about it.
Leave Your Mark is my way of grabbing coffee with everyone who asks to. It's a mentorship in 288-pages and will hopefully (if I did my job well) be a go-to book for anyone who wants to kill it in their career, rock social media and master their personal brand.
You're a social media superstar (aka @DKNY PR GIRL on twitter). Top social media dos and don'ts?
Keep it social- engage with people, give voice to other people¹s content and mind your own words. I think everyone who plays in social media needs to be cognizant of what their timelines look like to others. You're putting your reputation on the line.
Finish the sentence…
Today for lunch I had a… kale salad with 75 veggies in it and Thai Chili dressing on the side.
The first website I log onto every day is… Twitter (@DKNY PR GIRL).
The beauty product you can always find in my purse is… red lipstick!
My must-have work gadget is… my iPhone.
My usual Starbucks order is… a tall skinny vanilla latte.
If I need a quick break during work… I usually Tweet/
If I wasn't doing this job would be… a plastic surgeon
The best part of my job is… my team!
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