Full disclosure: We’ve known Pamela Kennedy since we were wee beauty editors figuring out the pulse of print media (AKA, the good ‘ol days). She has a rich background in corporate PR working for major beauty brands like Oscar de la Renta, Alfred Sung, Royal Doulton, Smashbox Cosmetics, Estée Lauder and Dr. Roebuck’s skincare. Some she worked for full-time and others are part of her client roster at PK Communications, a PR shop she started over 12 years ago. What we were always struck with, especially once we had our own littles, is that her commitment to her daughter is equal to her commitment to her work. Although she’s been wooed to come back full-time by luxe-minded companies, she’s never been tempted to make the switch because as she’s learned over the years, climbing the corporate ladder isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition.
How do you measure success?
“Everyone has their own parameters for measuring success and for me, the main one is flexibility. Having control over my priorities is a huge benefit and I’ve figured out that’s possible working for myself. I like to strike a good balance between my work and family and keeping my shop small but mighty, allows me to do that. I could always expand however I don’t want to lose the personal relationships I’ve cultivated with my clients. I love spending time with clients, collaborating and bringing great ideas to life together. Of course I wonder what it would be like to have a bigger agency with a few people working for me, but I’ll take that step when and if it feels right.”
Why did you leave your corporate job working for fragrance houses like Nina Ricci?
“I suffered the tragic loss of my sister and I felt like I needed to resign to process everything. That valuable time gave me a chance to learn that adversity truly builds resilience and it also inspired me to go out on my own. I signed up for a government assisted program called SEB for Entrepreneurs. It was a full-time 8-week course that made me explore the marketplace, assess my competitors and write my business plan. It felt less restrictive than being in an office job because I was being guided by my own interests and passion. I was also fortunate that I was contracted to continue working on some of the brand contacts I developed during my previous life.”
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from being your own boss?
“I know what my capacity is. I know how much I can take on as an independent consultant and when I need help to get me through a busy stretch, I’m willing and able to ask for it. I love being busy doing what I love, however stress is sometimes inevitable. I try not to let it get to me or in the way of family. I go to yoga a couple of times a week—that’s truly a happy place—and most of all, my husband is my rock. Whenever I’m worried about something, he always reminds me that I’ll work it out like I always do.”
How do you ride the inevitable ebbs of having your own business?
“I believe ebbs happen for a reason. It gives you the time and opportunity to ask: What do I need to do next to grow my business and attract more clients? I’ve also taken ebbs as a chance to upgrade my social media skills especially because technology and software is constantly changing. Instead of always doing, I enjoy the chance to learn and figure out how to make my next flow even better, which is exciting.”
“Right now it feels right to assess and figure out what my business needs to evolve. My daughter is almost 16 and she doesn’t need as much time from me so I have extra hours to learn and grow. I find I’m providing her with a lot more emotional support and I still try to be home when I can so I can help her navigate the teen years. I nurture her as much as my business and I know I got that from my mom. I watched her raise four children while running her own interior design business for over 40 years and she always did it with a big and willing heart. I’m doing my best to follow her lead with my clients and my family.”
What’s in her closet?
Pamela is a well-edited shopper who only buys key pieces she can depend on. “I try to find items that have longevity and usually in a neutral palette (so grey, white and black). Keeping things simple makes getting dressed so much easier.” While she shops, she keeps her clients in mind knowing that a polished look will make the best impression (that means no jeans allowed) and she’ll add one or two seasonal pieces (like this season’s embroidered satin bomber jacket) to update what she loves. The brand that’s got her attention right now? “COS. It’s well-made with good bones and their pieces are so versatile and interchangeable.” Chic and unfussy, we’re sold on it too.
Her go-to scents are chosen with heart, including Coco by Chanel which she wears in memory of her sister Kate (who adored the scent) and Alfred Sung which was one of the first fragrance brands she ever worked on. About choosing a great scent for yourself, she says it’s all in the dry down (or how it smells after you wear it for a few minutes). “The right composition of notes will always settle and linger on the skin and never smell overpowering.”
A reading corner is dedicated to her parents. “This French Bergere chair was my mom’s and the artwork was a career milestone for my father who received it to celebrate his long career in commercial real estate.” From her dad, she says she gained tenacity (which has served her well in the PR biz).