BABE #106: DAKOTA KATE ISAACS,
Senior Account Executive @ KFD PR
Dakota is a Louisville, KY native and NYC transplant who works as a Senior Account Executive at the intersection of beauty and wellness for brands like Juice Beauty x Gwyneth Paltrow, bkr, Onomie, SHOW Beauty, Immunocologie and more. She worked 12 internships in college (see: Birchbox, Alison Brod PR, New York Fashion Week) and graduated with over 1200 hours of community service. She also won a championship for Chinese Dialogue in 2011. Did we mention she's only 24? You're a freakin' babe, Dakota. Thanks for chatting with us!
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Current city: New York, New York
Alma mater: College of Charleston
Degree: B.A., Communication
Very first job: I started my first “business” at 10 when I set up a spa in my sunroom and would charge my mom and her friends for mani/pedis and facials.
Hustle: Senior Account Executive @ KFD PR
Babe you admire and why?
Hillary Clinton. Politics aside, that glass ceiling looks pretty cracked to me.
Must-have item in your purse?
Without a doubt, I always end up finding matches in my bag. Every restaurant has them somewhere and I end up collecting them as little mementos (I also go through an obscene amount of candles annually).
I have been loving Stuff Mom Never Told You recently.
Go-to coffee order?
Extra-hot soy matcha latte.
Go-to adult beverage?
Favorite beauty item?
This will probably be the hardest question. Currently, it’s Eve Lom’s Daily Protection SPF 50. While a tan is nice, wrinkles aren’t.
What would you eat for your very last meal?
Oysters and rosemary truffle fries.
Three things we can always find in your fridge?
Tabasco, Prosecco, and last night’s take-out.
The Real Housewives franchise. Is it not everyone’s?
Tell us about your hustle:
I’m a beauty publicist KFD, at a boutique public relations firm based in New York City where I handle the media communication (and the strategy that goes behind it) on behalf of clients within the beauty and wellness space. I’m also intern coordinator and company cheerleader and party planner, amongst other things. Fun fact: KFD PR recently won Startup Agency of the Year award!
What does your typical workday look like?
I start my day around 8 a.m. or so, skimming The Times and peeping through my Instagram feed for client coverage while in bed. I’ll typically take a cruise through my inbox for any urgent matters that can’t wait until the office, and then saunter into my bathroom for my mildly over-the-top skincare routine. Once I walk out the door, it’s anyone’s guess. It could be breakfast with an editor in Tribeca (Tiny’s is my favorite), a fragrance launch event uptown, or a meeting with a client at our office. Once in, the first thing I always do is review the press coverage that's been compiled of our clients, which typically gets to our inboxes by 9:30 AM or so (I’m lucky in that I live within a 10-minute walk from the office). From there, it could be strategy planning, client calls, pitching editors, or target list development. Event planning is a part of PR just as much as reporting and client management–for me, I’d say it's a 50/50 split on the internal versus external communications front. There's always someone coming into the office (an influencer, editor, client, makeup artist, etc.), a package that needs a handwritten note, or a press-win to celebrate. This week was bopping around from ELLE to Marie Claire with my client who was sharing a sneak peek of her upcoming September launches. I tend to leave the office around 7 p.m.
Have you always had a love for beauty + wellness? Where do you think that stems from?
I’ve always had a penchant for beauty, starting when I was little. I loved watching my mom get ready at her vanity with curlers in her hair—I thought she was so glamorous (and still do!) I used to decorate my room with empty perfume bottles and Chanel compacts in an effort to emulate the enchantment of it all.
When and why did you decide to focus your PR talents on the beauty industry? Are there any other industries you’d be interested to dabble in?
I’ve always known what I wanted to do, which is both a blessing and a curse. I’m hyper-focused and lucky that my skill set matches my interests. It can be daunting, because growing up people tell you: doctor, lawyer, blah, blah, blah. I always figured I’d end up going to business school or getting a master’s degree, but then I realized, for what? I know what I want to do and I’m good at it. The PR skills—being able to write well, think creatively, not settle for ‘no’—are adaptable to any industry, whether that’s beauty, music, fashion or sports, so it’s really about what you’re passionate about. I personally have a penchant for travel, beauty, interiors and philanthropy, so I wouldn’t be shocked if I ended up touching upon those industries in my career. For me, I’ve always seen beauty as attainable and relatable. You can feel like you own a luxury item without buying a $3,000 bag or Louboutins. People are fiercely loyal to the brands that work for them and that to me sounds pretty recession-proof. Plus, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t kind of glamorous.
What is your work environment/office culture like?
Crazy, fun and dynamic. It can be a lot, and working in a startup environment is definitely not for everyone—nor is a corporate cubicle—so it helps to know your personality. We’re extremely lucky in the fact that we have an in-office studio for yoga, meditation, boot camps, etc., “Whine Wednesdays,” and work-from-home Fridays year-round. It’s pretty hard to beat in the culture department.
What valuable lessons did you gain from keeping yourself so impressively busy in college (with 12+ internships?) Looking back now, would you have done things differently?
I’m one of those people who finds myself always “on.” I think for a lot of people, being that way is totally draining. For me, it’s the only way I really work. My philosophy on the past is that you can’t regret or wish to change things because at that period in time you did exactly what it was you wanted to do. That being said (this might sound crazy), but I wish I’d done more—interned on the editorial side, tried my hand at TV producing, etc. The greatest lesson I learned was that you’ll never get what you want in life if you don’t ask for it. Having a great support system is invaluable, but at the end of the day, the only one who can make you take a chance or go the extra mile is you.
What role has networking played in your career development? Do you have any advice for babes who are unsure how to grow their own networks?
In PR, your connections are everything. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. Use even your weak ties, as it's rarely going to be your mom who gets you the job at Vera Wang. It's a lot more plausible that you know someone, who knows someone, and so on. Use LinkedIn to find where these weak ties are. During college, I kept a running excel document of dream companies—some I had interned for, and some at which I was hoping to just find the right HR contact. On the contact tab, if I didn’t have a name I’d figure out who I knew who could get me a connection. It’s a bit of digging, but if you know what or where you want to ultimately be, this works.
How do you manage your time between so many demands?
To tell you the truth: I have my laundry sent out, I rarely ever cook at home, and if I work out, it’s only happening before I get to the office, since I never know what they day will hold. You can’t do it all. My personal and professional lives are completely intertwined, and you have to sacrifice for your sanity at times. There are things, of course, that help; Google Keep and the Google Calendar app are lifesavers. I used to be a huge planner person, but, frankly, my life moves at too fast of a pace to have a day-to-day planner the way I once did. Instead, I keep my Hermes Ulysses notebook (which was a gift for my one-year work anniversary) in my bag at all times for big-ticket items.
What are some common misconceptions about your job(s)?
That it’s all parties and fashion week.
What kind of support system do you have behind you and your work?
My parents taught me that I can have anything I want in life, but only if I go after it—and they were right. I’m lucky, and I know that. I’m surrounded by an unbelievable group of women who support, challenge and inspire me daily. I’m rarely told “no,” and I use that to my advantage.
Do you ever feel like you’re at a disadvantage because of your age? How about an advantage?
I feel an incredible advantage being 24 and having these unbelievable opportunities in front of me daily. I work fast and I love a challenge, and as someone in finance recently told me, I have "nowhere to go but up." That being said, you’d be surprised to find out how many ageists there are out there and what they deem you capable of based on your age. An easy example is a recent one: I took the year I graduated college off my LinkedIn profile, and the jobs I’ve gotten poached for have dramatically changed. When they read what I actually do, they stop categorizing me as “fresh out of school.”
How has New York City impacted your career?
I couldn’t have this career anywhere else, which might come as a surprise for some people. You can’t have a couture gown messengered in minutes to a shoot when you’re in Louisville, or pop in for drinks at The Plaza with a Vogue editor when you’re in Charleston. I used to have a map on which I’d dot with cities I could see myself living in post-grad: Boston, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco. But as I learned more, it quickly became apparent that it was always New York or nowhere for me.
Are you involved with any other community organizations or side projects?
A pillar of my education has been through nonprofits and community organizations. I held my first philanthropic event at 16, and during my collegiate tenure I had the opportunity to complete 1,200+ hours of service work within the local community. This eventually led to my first “big girl” job in communications at the organization Darkness to Light, where I served as a coordinator for the organization's marketing and social efforts. When I began life in New York I felt an unbelievable void but deemed myself “too busy,” as so many of us do. Eventually, it became clear that if I wanted to get involved, I needed to stop wasting time. So, I started searching through some organizations locally. Currently, I’m a member of the New York Junior League, which offers me the opportunity to work with all types of communities and populations within the New York City area. I serve on The League’s external communications committee, through which I have the opportunity to interact with a variety of New York City nonprofit organizations and support their overall mission.
What does success look like to you?
A glossy print placement, being a person of value to others around me, and not having to look at price tags.
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
Read voraciously: the glossies, the blogs, the trade pubs. Learn to be scrappy if you aren't naturally. Trust your gut, don't take any shit, remember who you are and, if nothing else, be kind. Forgive yourself when you fail, as you inevitably will, but do it fast and keep your eyes on the prize. Learn to let go of the things not meant for you; they have a funny way of manifesting themselves naturally. Remember that you are what you do, not what you say you'll do. And finally: Never, under any circumstances, drink cheap tequila.
In partnership with:
Rent the Runway is a woman-owned company giving women the opportunity to rent, wear and return designer dresses, outfits and accessories for any occasion at an extremely affordable price! Check out their collection here and save 20% on your first order using promo code 'FIRST'. (You're welcome.)
*This is an affiliate partnership. That means when you shop using our link and/or codes, a portion of your purchase goes right back to us, so we can then roll out some awesome new things for you. Of course, we only promote brands and products we genuinely stand behind and know you babes will enjoy. Click here for more info.