Stephanie Scott is a renowned publicist and branding guru who always has her thumb on the pulse of the beauty industry. Small in stature but with a large presence, Scott has worked with some of the beauty industry’s most influential, including Creme of Nature and Kimble Beauty. Though now she is one of the top names in PR, Stephanie recalls humble beginnings that influenced her current trajectory.
“I always tell people, you never know where an opportunity may lead. Even if it’s just carrying clothes, take the opportunity.”
From internships while at Spelman College, to becoming a beauty editor at major magazines like Seventeen, and now running her own successful PR Firm, Stephanie Scott is the definition of perseverance and Black girl magic.
Talk about your background and how that molded you into who you are today.
Growing up, I was aware of certain careers – I thought that I’d be a teacher or lawyer – but I wasn’t aware of careers in the beauty industry. When I was at Spelman, I did an internship for Essence magazine in the fashion and beauty department. So I had an idea of careers in the field, but I wasn’t fully aware of all the specific opportunities. The more I became immersed in the beauty industry, the more that I loved it. I did a lot of internships early on in my career. I think that this field isn’t something you can learn from just books and courses. It’s something where you have to practice what you’re doing to hone in on your skills. When I first started off, I was in fashion. I got a job working for Tommy Hilfiger and then Kenneth Cole afterward. Eventually, I gained the opportunity to work as a beauty editor and writer for amazing publications including Essence, Seventeen for Natural Health, and then my last publication I worked for before switching PR was Life and Style magazine. The more exposure I had, the more I learned what were my strengths and how I could use them, and hone in on my creative ideas and how they shaped what I wanted to do in the future.
As a former beauty editor, what inspired you to enter PR?
I found that I love brand stories and seeing people or companies grow. I loved meeting with the founders or marketing teams when I worked for publications and would do interviews. I loved ingredient sourcing and how products were made. I would find myself at events wondering if brands thought about marketing themselves or products one way, or thinking of ways how to cut a brand’s budget. I always had ideas in my head but I never specifically thought I wanted to go into PR until I actually got a job offer for it. That changed everything.
What’s it like being a powerful woman in PR?
I think we all have superpowers and mine is storytelling. I am passionate about beauty PR and grateful to have found my professional calling. I can say that I truly love what I do. But with every gift comes immense responsibility. I feel a sense of obligation to always give my best to my team, clients, and this industry. That passion is what gets me up and going in the morning no matter the weather or task at hand. It also moves me to give back which is why I started the First and Last PR Foundation (www.firstandlastprfoundation.org) to help empower and educate women and men entering or working in the cosmetics and communications industries.
What campaign or partnership are you most proud of?
I’m proud of a lot of the things we do. The most recent thing we’re working on is now is working with a skincare brand, Urban Skin Rx. It’s an entrepreneurial business owned and run by Rachel Roff, who is also a single mother. She’s an amazing medical aesthetician, and she’s built her company from scratch. She started a medical spa about ten years ago. Then she launched her clinical skincare line which works for all skin types including melanin-rich skin. We are in the process of launching at Target stores nationwide this January. I’m very honored and proud to be working on this because you hear about skin problems, but from people of color, it’s often ignored. If you use the wrong products on your skin, body or hair, it can lead to damage and discoloration. Rachel’s a big proponent of education and using the products the right way. So working with her on this launch is exciting to make this brand grow and reach other people who are looking for products within reach to address their concerns of hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone.
What’s your current favorite beauty trend?
If I can pick two, I’d say a strong statement eye. Maybe that and hair accessories. It’s really interesting because I don’t wear a lot of makeup, but I like to see it. I like a lot of color on the eyes. I’m really big on natural, clean looking makeup and letting your personality show. I’m not sure if this is a “trend,” but people are talking about it more than ever as our lives get busier- self-care. I love the act of self-care and live for a good body product with high-grade natural ingredients to slather on and chill out with. Or zoning out at the gym or going for a long walk just to recharge and enjoy life. I hope that’s not a trend – trends fade.
What personal attributes do you think are the reason for your success?
Focus, determination, and hard work. Those are three things I’ve learned how to hone in on over the years. I’m very focused on what we need to do for the client and where things need to be going. But also trying to keep in mind not to be overly focused so I can still see what’s around me and be creative. With determination, my team and I are very passionate about what we’re doing, so we’re always going to come up with really innovative ways to reach the masses, that won’t be seen over and over again. We like to add personal touches. You have to love what you’re doing to see the best results. Hard work goes with everything you do. You have to be open to being better and learning new things. And, you have to be smart and humble enough to know that you have to know you don’t know everything. Like life, PR is always evolving.
Some would say PR is a tough industry to penetrate. What tips would you suggest for someone wishing to follow in your footsteps?
The reason why PR can be challenging to get into is that you have to have experience in what you’re doing. But the double-edged sword is, well how do you get experience, if you can’t get your foot in the door? It’s really hard for an agency to gamble and take a risk on someone new. One thing we did was start the First and Last PR Foundation to help educate people who are new to the industry, and what they can do to advance their careers. Another thing if you’re looking for experience; every opportunity is an experience. You can’t think you won’t get experience from something just because a place isn’t the most popular. If you want to be in this industry and are committed to it, you have to roll up your sleeves and dive in and let things grow from there. Everything in life isn’t free and doesn’t come easy, but the rewards are sweet when you’re following your dreams.