Sarah Kagan, a small but powerful woman, is an ambitious public relations professional with a passion for fashion, beauty, music, food and philanthropy. Her hard work ethic, relentless ambition, positive energy and bubbly personality are what sets her a part in her personal and work life. Sarah tells Canadian Women in Public Relations that balance has been key to a healthy, successful lifestyle. When she isn’t at the office or creating content for her fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog, curlychronicles.com, she spends her time socializing, indulging in some R&R or planning her next family vacation.
“Life is meant to be enjoyed and that is exactly how I plan to live it.”
Name: Sarah Kagan
Business: Revlon Professional & Blogger for personal fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog; Curly Chronicles
Title: Public Relations & Marketing Intern for Revlon Professional Brands
Describe yourself in 3 words: Ambitious, Passionate, Bubbly
Education: Honours BA Communications Studies – Wilfrid Laurier University (graduated May 2015); Public Relations Postgraduate Certificate- Humber College (graduated May 2016)
Location: Toronto, Ontario
What inspired you to start your own business?
While completing my public relations postgraduate certificate, I was assigned a “blog post” project. Instructions were as follows: create a “fake” or “mock” blog, write a blog post that demonstrates your ability to communicate with an audience online, submit assignment, wait for your grade and demolish your blog. Well, the last step never happened. I fell in love with blogging and knew that this was something I needed to continue. Today, I post about my passion for fashion, beauty, food, philanthropy and have received incredible feedback that confirmed I was doing what I should be doing. Almost one year later, my blog has taken off and I am still surprised how much it has grown in popularity in such a small amount of time. I believe my blog has received such positive feedback as my content is honest, helpful and reflects my personality.
What was your first job in public relations/communications/media and what did you take away from the experience? How did you discover your passion for working in the field?
After my first year of university, I worked as a communications intern for the Government of Ontario- Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. I spent the summer networking with some of the province’s most elite, planning and attending top events and creating communication material for the province on behalf of the ministry.
You can imagine it was difficult not falling in love with that job. It got me thinking about what career I wanted to pursue. Luckily, I had spent most of my time working closely with the Minister’s communications director who inspired and guided me to pursue a career in communications. I haven’t looked back.
How do you prioritize and start your work day?
I am not a morning person, but I do know that a scheduled morning routine can make or break your day. Here is a break down:
- 6:30 am: wake-up
- 6:30 am – 6:45 am: skim through all social media platforms to ensure I am caught up on the day’s news and pop culture (& friend’s fun Instagram pics I missed)
- 6:45 am- 7:45 am: Shower, get ready & grab coffee on my way to work
- 8:15 am: Arrive at the office and begin checking all my emails from the night before/ that morning
My day is usually determined by what’s waiting for me inside my inbox. I grab a sticky note and scribble down all the things I need to do that day and tackle them in priority. Having my “to-do” list written on paper really helps manage my time and thoughts.
Have you had any challenges in your career? Any specific challenges as a woman in the industry? How did you overcome them?
Being a 23 year-old recent graduate, the challenge is being taken seriously by yourself and by seasoned professionals in the workplace.
As a woman working in a predominantly female dominated industry, it’s important to stand out from the crowd and offer an edge that will allow you to rise above. It’s important to know your worth and prove yourself in your organization. There will always be challenges in life but hard work, determination and passion will trump anything.
What is one of the greatest misconceptions about the field of public relations/ communications/ media?
PR is anything but glamorous. Sex in the City, specifically Samantha Jones, glamorized public relations and positioned it as a career that requires little effort but grants big rewards and many perks. This could not be further from the truth. PR is a niche, fast-paced and demanding industry. PR professionals are expected to be masters of their trade: they need to be intelligent, creative, have strong communications skills and have strong interpersonal skills. Working in PR is no walk in the park and until I began working in this industry, I was fooled myself.
What is your greatest achievement in your career so far?
One of my greatest accomplishments is being recognized as a powerful influencer in such a saturated market in a short amount of time. I am still amazed and humbled when people reach out and tell me how blown away they are by my powerful voice and my ability to create such a strong personal brand. I have worked very hard and will continue to do so because it is who I am, but it is important to stop and celebrate the little victories.
What are your tips for setting yourself apart in the workplace?
Working hard and proving myself to be a valuable asset to the company, being kind to everyone and simply being myself are ways I stand out in the workplace. I wish I could take credit for this advice, but this is something I learned from my parents and continue to live by. Work hard and try your best because hard work does pay off and you will be noticed. Be kind to everyone whether they are a Vice President or a warehouse worker. You never know where life will take you, who you will be working with and who’s assistance you will need in the future.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
- Put 100% effort into everything you do. If you are going to do something, do it right.
- Be prepared to learn A LOT because you don’t know everything.
- Be kind to everyone regardless of his or her job title.
- Don’t burn bridges because everyone in the industry knows everyone. You will, at the very least, run into them.
How can a new graduate set themselves apart in the hiring process?
- Create a resume that echoes your personality and speaks for you without being too casual. This can be challenging, but when done properly it can work magic.
- RESEARCH. RESEARCH. RESEARCH. Find out everything you can about the company, it’s philosophy, employees, competitors, etc. Blow them away with your knowledge.
- Dress the part. Your first impression means a lot. Even if the office culture is casual, come dressed to kill.
- Go the extra mile. Create a portfolio, format your resume in a creative way or brainstorm great questions to ask the interviewer. Do something that will set you a part from all other applicants.
What’s next? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Plot twist… I am moving to the UK this fall and will be attending law school at the University of Leicester! This is something that I have always wanted to do and figured it was now or never. With so many things falling into place, I could not have picked a more perfect time to study, travel and continue growing as an individual. After school, I plan on returning to Toronto and to find a way to merge my passion for PR and law. Familiar with Scandal’s Olivia Pope? 2.0 coming right up.