Profiled: Meet the Entrepreneur Who Started an International Fashion PR Firm

Nicole Kliest

Having the opportunity to pick the brains of the fashion industry's finest is one of the major perks of our jobs. We've chatted with career moguls like Eva Chen and Sophia Amoruso. Today we're spotlighting PR entrepreneur Alle Fister who is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of her company, Bollare.

Fister began her career as an early team member of a little company called Shopbop in Madison, Wisconsin. She secured the job after graduating college, and during her time there scaled the company's press exponentially. Once the company was acquired by Amazon, Fister took the leap and began her own consultancy with Shopbop as her first client. Fast-forward 10 years and Fister runs an immensely successful business with offices in Los Angeles, New York, London, and Melbourne and clients like Vans and Disney. Pretty impressive, no? 

We recently caught up with Fister to get her insight on everything from breaking into the fashion industry to what she looks for in an employee. Scroll down, and don't forget to take notes!

How important is your first job out of college?
"I think anything in life is what you make of it. I see people who see things as everything is an opportunity to learn. I see people who see things as everything is a burden and why me? And your first job, if you’re lucky enough, might be your last, but it probably won’t be. So going from what you can, listen, look around, hear, watch the people who are successful. Mimic them. See the people that aren’t; avoid them. Learn! Enjoy it, enjoy the ride of it."

What was the scariest aspect of starting your own business?
"I think the scariest thing, or the most intimidating thing, is the unknown and this perception that when you’re a young kid that there’s some sort of training program or manual that other people have read that you haven’t yet found that gives people life answers. There’s not. There’s nothing that’s going to teach you lessons—the lessons you’ll learn like dollars and cents and time. So I mean that the unknown is quite intimidating."

Do you think that breaking into the fashion industry as an entrepreneur is harder than going a more traditional route?
"Everybody’s path is a challenge, and I think it’s a perception of young people that somebody lucked out and they have no problems and it's just me, why me? Everyone’s got hardships, whether it looks like it on Instagram or not. We all have a burden to bear. I think as an entrepreneur, you have to have an incredibly high-risk tolerance, and you have to bet and believe in yourself in a way that is just unyielding. To this day, every day, every week, something could get me down that could throw me off the horse, and I have to limit the amount of time I have to feel bad for myself. And I have to get right back up and get ready to take another punch. As an entrepreneur, you can't waste time saying woe is me. You have to have this unyielding belief that you can get it done because there will be people all day everyday, some other business is bigger, better, stronger, faster, and you have to consistently bet on yourself and be tolerant of taking risks and know that you can create solutions in a way that can move you through."

What do you look for in an employee and what stands out to you in an interview? 
"I look for people who want to work and want to learn. I think you can’t teach that to somebody. I can teach you skills if you want to learn them, but you have to have that inner fire. You have to have that interest, and if it's not at Bollare or if it's not at whatever I’m interviewing somebody for, that’s ok. And again, I think that’s something that comes with maturity. I don’t take it as a personal punch, I take it as I want people on my team who want to be here so bad because this is a path that can see for themselves and with that want comes hard work, excitement. When that happens, the solutions tend to percolate a lot faster."

How important is goal setting to you, and do you have any processes in place for that?
"We have a lot of processes in place for that. I do this thing with my hands that I say if somebody’s expectations are here, and somebody else’s expectations are higher than or lower than that, all the space between your two hands, that’s problems, right? So if a team member doesn’t know what do a good job means, that’s a problem because then they’re stressed out because they don’t know if they’re doing good, you’re stressed out because you can’t decide if they’re doing good, and that creates challenge.You have to be on the same page as people. So early days, especially when I managed everyone, I would set numeric goals over different time frames with people. And of course, assets affect results so you've got to help your team get the assets and [they] need to hit their goals. But people say 'Well, you can’t set goals in PR, you can’t control things.' Yeah you can, because if you’re not hitting your goals, then you find another lane to get there. So I tend to be very goal-oriented with my top executives now that I get to manage because I want them to know when they’re doing good or if they’re missing the mark."

Fill in the blank: If you want to work in fashion, you have to ____
"Work hard!"

Want to learn how to take your career to the next level? Our co-founders, Katherine Power and Hillary Kerr, are spilling the secrets to stepping up your professional game in a brand-new book, The Career Code: Must-Know Rules for a Strategic, Stylish, and Self-Made Career ($20). Decoding all the lessons they learned while building their fashion company from scratch, the rule book will put you on the fast track to achieving your career dreams.

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