20 Questions With: Ashlee Piper

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Ashlee Piper is the 35 year old eco-lifestyle journalist, blogger, television personality and creative copywriter. The Chicago based girlboss is an alumni of Brown University (B.A. Gender Studies/Religious Studies) and University of Oxford UK (MSW/MSc Evidence-Based Social Intervention) who kicked off her career in the political sector, working as a strategist and cabinet-level advisor to high-profile politicians (think Mitt Romney and Deval Patrick) and with governmental organizations like the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (think universal healthcare, child welfare and public housing). But when the call to serve the Earth in a bigger way became too loud to ignore, she shifted gears, and in a big ole way. Since then she’s been a champion of the eco-friendly movement, dedicating her talents, time, knowledge and words (her insight has appeared in many of our favorite outlets, like Thoughtfully Magazine, Apartment Therapy and Refinery29) to human and animal rights, and the environment. And for that we couldn’t admire her more. Ashlee is totally impassioned about everything she does, clever as hell (follow her on social and you’ll see what we mean), unafraid, and has a drive that we strive to achieve everyday. Plus she’s a dogmom (hi, Banjo!), vegan, and has pledged to not buy anything new (unless it’s secondhand) in 2017. From sharing the best career advice she’s received and how she stays organized to what she collects, we’ve charged Ashlee with 20 of our favorite questions. 

1. What was your first job out of college?
After grad school, I returned to the U.S. and set my sights on moving to Boston. I booked a flight and spent a week job hunting there. Thinking I’d be a social worker, someone at a non-profit took me to a hearing at the State House and I was like “holy crap, this is where stuff happens.” So, I went to Kinko’s, made 200 copies of my resume, and personally delivered them to every office in the Massachusetts State House. By miracle, moxie, or some combination thereof, I got a gig as the youngest fiscal policy advisor to the Governor, who at the time was Mitt Romney. It was probably the best, most fun (amazing people), and educative gig I’ve ever had.

2. When you were in college, what did you think you’d be doing today?
I wanted to be a public service attorney working with victims of domestic violence. The prospect of law school debt and my abysmal performance on the LSAT had me thinking otherwise, and I found social work as an avenue to help vulnerable populations.

3. What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
I received two awesome nuggets:

One was from my first ever adult-job boss, who continues to be a mentor today, who told me that if I can find fulfillment in my work and make my boss’ life easier, I can ascend the ranks and be successful anywhere. It’s true, and I often find when I work with younger folks entering the workforce, they sometimes struggle with thinking big and tackling the innovation that fulfills them with doing the minutiae that makes their higher-ups’ lives better. When you learn to balance both, your work satisfaction and performance are basically in the bag.

The second piece was from a former Commissioner of the Massachusetts Agency for the Blind. He was unfairly ousted during a political change-of-guard, was a visually-impaired elderly veteran, and was one of the coolest and kindest dudes I’d ever met. At his retirement party, he told us all that he plans to still wake and dress for the day at the same time he does now, because the key to work and life happiness is “keeping busy.” He said, “I’m not going to become some old man frittering away my time,” and that really stuck with me.

4. Can you recall the moment you felt like you hit a groove in your career?
When I was working for the Governor, at age 24, I created a program from scratch that provided career and life supports to youth aging-out of the juvenile justice system, which was kind of unprecedented for my role at the time. I got the chance to present it to the Governor and Lt. Governor, and I was beyond scared shitless/ The presentation and idea were so well-received, that they both committed $300K in state funding to pilot. The program still exists today and serves thousands of youth each year. Even though I’ve changed directions in my career, I went back to Massachusetts recently and met some of the kids (who are now adults) who went through the program a few years ago, and to see the positive impact it had on their lives, made me remember to never stop pushing my comfort zone, because making a difference makes me feel like I’m hitting my stride.

Also, I was recognized in Dallas one day at Whole Foods. The cashier said, “I saw you on TV and now I only buy cruelty-free beauty products,” and I, 1) wished I had worn makeup that quick trip to the store, and 2) was like Bless Up because it felt amazing to know the stuff I do reaches people and changes the way they think about animals and the environment.

5. What’s the first thing you do when you get to the office every morning?
I have a Panda Planner that I’m obsessed with (seriously, everyone needs one right now). So, after I say hello to my coworkers, I sip my iced coffee (that I bring from home in my jar), write out what I’m grateful for, and make a list of things to tackle for the day.

6. What’s one thing you do daily to stay organized?
The Planner helps a bunch. I also try to plan the logistics of the next day as much as possible the night before so I can be flexible without feeling crazy. Before I go to bed, I pack my lunch and lay out my clothes for the following day. It’s totally nerdy, but not being a morning person has shown me that if I don’t plan in the evening, I will basically be a hot mess by the time morning comes.

7. How do you sign off emails?
Depends on who they’re for, but either “xo,” “all best,” “rock on,” or “many thanks.” Nerd alert.

8. What’s the one character trait that’s vital for success in what you do?
Perseverance / Persistence. Now that I do journalism and television, I pitch all of my own stuff (which you know as a PR extraordinaire is a full-time job and so so so tough). You have to have confidence and a strong message, but the key element to success with that is just keeping at it. I like to tell myself that success is inevitable if I just keep going. And, generally, in my experience, I’ve found it’s right when I’m about to give up and I push a little harder, that stuff breaks through.

9. Can you share a career goal for 2017?
I have so many. I’d like to do more national television segments. I’d also like to get my book on stylish, sustainable living published and out into the world. I’m also exploring a run for public office, so I’m attending lots of trainings and conferences to network and research that.

10. What’s your favorite magazine?
I really like magazines, and I love writing for them, but oddly, I have zero subscriptions because I’m trying to cut down on paper and trash that I make. That said, I will always happily hunker down with a copy of DwellReal SimpleMother Jones, VegNews, Vegan Lifestyle Magazine, and Noveaux (the latter two are German ethical lifestyle mags that are so so so beautiful).

11. Do you have a can’t-live-without beauty product?
Dry shampoo (probably every woman’s answer?), jojoba oil, lip balm, red lipstick, and perfume (right now, I’m loving Twinkle Apothecary’s Duchess Fragrance).

12. What’s your go-to cocktail?
I’m embarrassingly Texas-trashy (my hometown is Dallas, TX) when it comes to alcohol. I adore (like, really ADORE) cheap flavored vodkas like cake batter and whipped cream (yes, the bottles that are dusty on the bottom shelf at the liquor store…). I get the most ridiculous flavor a bar has with soda water and a lime. If I know I’ll get side-eye for that selection, I’ll go with a Moscow Mule or red wine. No shame in my game, though.

13. Do you have a wardrobe staple?
I have four things I always seem to reach for: My old Levi’s jean jacket, my vegan leather moto jacket, skinny jeans, and a black blazer. I own other clothes, of course, but every outfit seems to feature one of these at any given time.

 14. Do you have a spirit animal?
It depends on my mood. My shelter dog, Banjo, is my soul mate, so if I was a mythical Game of Thrones-style cool witch, she’d be it (and she looks like a little blonde fox, which ups the cool factor). If I’m feeling like throwing shade, Rep. Maxine Waters is my choice. And if I’m generally crushing life and feeling myself, I definitely relate to a honey badger.

15. Do you collect anything?
Just memories. :)

16. How do you stay healthy?
I feel my most electric when I eat a nutritious (whole foods, plant-based, no oil or sugar) diet, drink loads of water, rest when I need to rest, do some walking and yoga, hang only with inspiring, kind peeps, and listen to lots of Chaka Khan. Much as I love late nights dancing in dimly-lit clubs, swilling flavored vodka and sodas, chain smoking, and eating late-night nachos, none of those behaviors ever made me glow or feel on top of my game. Such is the folly of life, eh?

17. What’s the best hashtag of all time?
These days, it’s #resist.

18. What’s your decorating style?
Minimalist, second-hand, Scandinavian (as in, I surround myself with things that bring me joy, are beautiful, and have a purpose – everything else is clutter to me).

19. What do you eat for breakfast most days?
Smoothie with greens, a frozen banana, almond milk, frozen pineapple, probiotics, Sea Buckthorn oil, and ground flaxseed. Or Ezekiel bread with avocado, Bragg’s Aminos, onion powder, and Texas Pete hot sauce (I love that shit).

20. Do you have any secret talents?
I consider myself (and have reports to corroborate) an excellent karaoke partner. I’m also double-jointed, which is probably more grotesque than cool.

Our Favorite Instagrammers for Stories

Oh boy there’s nothing better than taking a break to troll social media. And Instagram, specifically. And even more specifically, Instagram Stories. We like to think of them as the messy, “real” looks into the lives of those that we know (or don’t know, depending on who you follow). The true behind the scenes is what we’re all about. Because we know that life isn’t all about perfectly framed brunch shots, meticulously planned #OOTD and seamlessly executed makeup tutorials (it is sometimes, but you know). We’re not going to lie. While it’s fun to watch everyone’s Stories, we have our favorites. The ones that just so happen to show up first when we login (coincidence? I think not). And lucky for you, we’re sharing them here. Keep reading to learn who we love following (that sounded totally voyeuristic, didn’t it?!), and why.

13686958_1820368904844387_24641218_aKristie Dash, Senior Editor at Obsessee
@kristiedash

Kristie is a former Allure editor who’s now living and working in the UK. Talk about a true-life girl after our own hearts, and we can’t get enough of her hilarious unboxing videos (a one-handed unboxing of a Chanel handbag is no joke!), showing what really goes into one styled post, and what it’s really like keeping up with platinum hair.

16908011_1143816825745061_5868591868136128512_aCourtney Kerr, Founder + Editor in Chief at KERRently
@kerrently

Courtney (if you’re a Bravo TV fan, you may recognize her from the likes of Most Eligible Dallas and its spin-off, Courtney Loves Dallas) is a style blogger based in Dallas. She’s about as real as they come (bless her), and we can’t get enough of her adorable rescue dog, Fancy, #BTS videos of her travels and “getting the shot,” and her rants on a wide array of topics.

12907259_602089639947088_213984254_aEva Chen, Director of Fashion Partnerships at Instagram
@evachen212

Eva is a media maven (think the former EIC of Lucky, Beauty & Health Director at Teen Vogue, etc) who’s now in charge of fashion at Instagram. This alone makes her follow-worthy, and we can’t get enough of her videos of her kids (and the hilarity that often comes with them), backseat cab shots of her shoes and handbags, and peeks to what she receives (product-wise) on a daily basis.

10808754_874556152596318_1939675061_a

Emily Henderson, Stylist, Author and Interior Designer
@em_henderson

Emily is, dare we say it, the most buzz-worthy interior designer around who just so happens to dabble in product design, too (joke). We’re pretty much obsessed with everything that Emily touches, and we can’t get enough of the peeks into designing her own home (she has a playground castle in her backyard), shopping with her team for the coolest home furnishings, and of course, her project reveals.

16464414_636883889846770_878640769915682816_aMcKel Hill, MS, RD Dietician 
@nutritionstripped

McKel is a healthy living guru (you name it, she has the credentials) who makes living well look, well, damn good (yes, she even makes green juice look good). In a nutshell, if she makes it, we want to eat or drink it, and we can’t get enough of her pup Luna, recipes (yes even green juice), recipe development process (holy yum), and insider’s look into living in the ultra hip city of Nashville.

 

12120256_507516152755211_1641077116_aJoy Cho, Designer, Blogger and Stylist
@ohjoy

Joy is a designer (you may recognize her name from a little store we like called Target), blogger and stylist who’s vibrant, playful and fun (with an emphasis on the fun). Let’s just say we all need a little Joy in our lives, and we can’t get enough of her #OOTD videos (with sources), DIY projects, and her adorable little girls (one who clearly loves the beach).

Now it’s your turn! Who do you love to follow on Instagram Stories and why? Share in the comments!

Allyson roundBack to work,
Allyson

Photos courtesy of each individual’s Instagram profile

 

We’re Hiring: Summer Interns

ACPR is hiring! We’re seeking 1-2 go-getters to join our Fort Collins, Colorado team as Summer Interns.

This position will report directly to the Founder & Principal and Senior PR Coordinator. Applicants must be currently enrolled in a four-year college program at the junior level or higher with previous internship or work experience. Ideal candidates will have a solid understanding of PR, be polished communicators, self-starters, savvy in the beauty, home and lifestyle spaces, and interested in working in the communications field after graduation.

This position is unpaid or for credit. Interns are required to work 15-30 hours per week from May 15th to August 18th.

IMG_9714Job responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

Administrative:
• Support ACPR team with day-to-day requests
• Compile and submit weekly press hit sweeps
• Review and submit Google Alerts to ACPR team
• Updating internal Press Coverage document
• Manage the ACPR blog: What We’re Reading, regular posts, etc.
• Management of magazine subscriptions

Media Relations:
• Fulfill client product mailings
• Identify feature story opportunities

Social Media:
• Management of ACPR Facebook page
• Strategically write and schedule social media content calendars on a monthly basis
• Upload client press hits to Facebook

Basic job requirements:
• Be enrolled in a four-year college program at the junior level or higher
• Have a passion for beauty, home and lifestyle brands
• Have excellent communication skills—verbal and written and a strong understanding of both AP and creative writing styles
• Be a self starter, highly organized, have the initiative to start and maintain projects, be able to multi-task and work well with a small team
• Be a pop culture junkie! Know what’s hot in the press and to consumers
• Experience with Cision, Hootsuite, InDesign and WordPress a plus

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All qualified candidates should send their resumes, summer schedules, and a short description explaining why they want to work for ACPR to: allyson@allysonconklinpr.com. This position is open to local candidates only. No phone calls, please.

A Homerun For The Workplace

In my opinion, spring is the best time of year; cold weather begins to fade, snow starts to thaw, and the warm sun brings new growth and life. For me, spring is marked by three major components: beautiful flowers, baby animals, and most importantly, baseball.

Spring training in Scottsdale, Arizona signals the beginning of a new season for my beloved Giants and every year I am eager to head to land of warmth to catch a few games. This year, while watching an afternoon game against the Cleveland Indians, I realized baseball has a lot of connections to work life.

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 2.09.09 PM

The Mental Game
A major component of any sport is the player’s ability to anticipate their next move. In baseball, players are required to predict where a ball might be hit and know where the next play should happen. The same goes for the workplace. A hard working employee should be constantly thinking through the possible outcomes of their actions. If a project doesn’t get done in time who else in the office might be affected? Will your client miss an opportunity? Unfortunately, just like baseball, a mistake in the workplace can hurt the entire team.

Teamwork
Baseball, like other professional sports, requires teamwork. Every team has a star player, however, one person can’t win alone. A victory requires the combined efforts of the entire group. The star player needs the support of their team behind them to achieve success. Similarly, the best office environments encourage employee collaboration. On successful work teams it is important to have a good leader. This leader is the star player who motivates the other team members and helps secure victories. To be the team leader it is important to communicate well, listen to the ideas of other players, and prioritize the success of the group above personal gain.

The Coach
The success of any team would not be possible without a good coach. Coaches determine the batting lineup, the positions in which to place players, and who makes the team. It is also the job of the coach to ensure all players are well trained and prepared to play. Similarly, the manager of an office hires employees and places them in specific roles within the organization. Applicants are evaluated and hired based on their previous experience, skills, and ability to learn. A good boss is one that invests time to ensure their employees are well rounded and prepared for any project that may arise.

The Fans
Everyone loves a winning team. Fans rally around teams that are entertaining to watch, filled with talent, and bring home a win. The San Francisco Giants won their first World Series Championship in 2010 when they gained a rookie named Buster Posey. Buster quickly became a fan favorite because he was young, good-looking, and incredibly talented. As the Giants’ record improved and Buster became more popular, the fan base grew. People enjoyed watching a successful team with a leader they could believe in. In the Public Relations world, agencies gain clients based on their successful campaigns and the members on their teams. Just like baseball fans, clients choose an agency they believe in; one that will be successful and has a good leader.

Emma roundGo big or go home,
Emma

Photo courtesy of @allysonconklinpr

20 Questions With: Holly Perkins

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Holly Perkins is the 45 year old founder of Holly Perkins Fitness, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, author of Lift to Get Lean, leader of Women’s Strength Nation, and Promax and New Balance ambassador (phew…are you keeping up?). The Los Angeles based fitness professional is an alumni of Pennsylvania State University (B.S. Exercise Physiology) who was lucky enough to land her dream job at a preventative medicine center with a focus on fitness in New York City straight out of college. Fast forward several years and honing in on what actually worked, both for herself and for countless clients (a strategic strength, cardio, and nutrition plan backed by science), and she found herself about 2,500 miles away in California, living her best life as a celebrity fitness trainer and as the founder of her own fitness empire. As a trusted influencer in the women’s fitness space, Holly’s unique “brand,” which is heavily rooted in science, immediately caught the eye of editors at media outlets like Women’s Health, SELF and Redbook, executives at brands like Promax, New Balance and Westin Resorts and Hotels, and fans across the nation. And for good reason! Her track record of changing bodies and lives spans 20+ years. Her approach to fitness is refreshing (yes, you can eat carbs!), achievable (yes, you can have abs!), and best of all, sustainable for a lifetime. Holly is a natural born hustler (#alldayerrday), crazy intuitive, down to Earth, and a wealth of knowledge in more arenas than we can even begin to count. Plus she’s about one of the most real people we’ve ever met (can we get an amen to that?!). From sharing the moment she felt like she hit a groove in her career and the character trait vital to success in her line of work to her favorite hashtag (it’s a good one!), we’ve charged Holly with 20 of our favorite questions.

1. What was your first job out of college?
My first job out of college was my DREAM job! I was coming out with a science-based degree in fitness. At the time, there weren’t many real jobs that required my skill set. Thankfully, La Palestra Centre for Preventative Medicine had just opened in New York City and they needed someone with my exact qualifications. It is a truly unique fitness-focused center that unites medical screenings into a system that proves fitness can radically change your health and longevity.

2. When you were in college, what did you think you’d be doing today?
In college my mentor said that if I wanted a career in fitness, I should be prepared to be broke. He also said that if I planned to work with people, I should probably get a psychology degree instead of exercise physiology! I had absolutely no idea how I was going to navigate the world, or what kind of “job” I would find. All I knew is that I was obsessed with health and fitness, and that it would be my life in some form or another.

3. What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
The best piece of career advice I received was to under promise and over deliver. While Joseph Campbell didn’t hand down his “career advice” directly to me, I have always been particularly inspired by “following my bliss.” I know, without a doubt, that the reason I have an incredible career today is because I always trudged on because I was deeply passionate about health and fitness. I followed my bliss and it paid off.

4. Can you recall the moment you felt like you hit a groove in your career?
I received a call one day from a colleague at Exercise TV. At the time, they had a partnership with New Balance and were producing exercise videos. I had worked with Exercise TV for a while and knew them well. My friend called to say that New Balance had just selected me as their one-and-only Fitness Ambassador. I said: “Oh great; what do they want me to do for them for free?” because I had grown so used to being asked to do things for free. Turns out, the gig was legit and I would actually be compensated with real money! I said to myself: “Ahhhh, finally….I’ve finally arrived…”

5. What’s the first thing you do when you get to the office every morning?
Each day begins with a cup of very strong Japanese green tea and a meditation/prayer practice. I find that my days are near bliss when I start them this way.

6. What’s one thing you do daily to stay organized?
I keep my office, house and desk super organized. An orderly environment tends to instill peace and calm inside of me. Feeling organized on the outside seems to translate into organized work. I also keep many hand-written lists.

7. How do you sign off emails?
“In strength,”

8. What’s the one character trait that’s vital for success in what you do?
I believe that optimism and positivity is really important in health and fitness. It’s so easy for people to feel defeated in regards to their health, wellness, nutrition, and fitness level. I’ve always believed that being a cheerleader inspires people. I’m truly enthusiastic about what I do; and I believe that makes for a great trait in working with people.

9. Can you share a career goal for 2017?
My next big career goal is to finish my second book and have it be a NYT Bestseller. Lofty goals…I know.

10. What’s your favorite magazine?
Oh gosh! That’s so hard! I love all of the women’s fitness magazines!!! If I HAD to choose one it would be Women’s Health. They are truly committed to reporting fact-based stories and speaking the truth always.

11. Do you have a can’t-live-without beauty product?
I cannot live without eye cream. I have super dry, crêpe-y eyes and see a huge difference when I’m religious with my eye cream!

12. What’s your go-to cocktail?
I love a good gimlet. But I’ll always be partial to IPA’s.

13. Do you have a wardrobe staple?
New Balance sneakers. For sure.

14. Do you have a spirit animal?
Beyoncé is my spirit animal.

15. Do you collect anything?
I collect people. I truly love people and find myself with friends who are all so different. I love how unique each person is, and find the nuances of personality so fun.

16. How do you stay healthy?
I stay healthy with eating well and yoga. I stay fit with strength training and strategic cardio!

17. What’s the best hashtag of all time?
#SmokeShow!!!!! I guess some people haven’t seen this one, but I love it! To me it represents the smokin’ hot babe inside of each of us. Even if I don’t look like a #SmokeShow, I like the feeing of being one.

18. What’s your decorating style?
I have conflicting styles and sometimes they work together. I’m drawn to Indian and Balinese décor, and anything from Z Gallerie. Total conflict. My bedroom is a bit Z Gallerie and my living room is mostly Eastern cultures.

19. What do you eat for breakfast most days?
Gahhhhhhh, my Protein Perfect Breakfast Cake!!!! I just perfected a banana chocolate chip version that is my favorite!!!! It’s the perfect balance of protein, healthy carbs, and fat. Gluten free, sugar free and deeeeelish.

20. If you could only wear one color for the rest of your life, what would it be? 
Shades of orange! Anything that feels like fire. Love.