Megan Maguire Steele is the founder of Maguire Steele, a fashion PR firm in Soho representing Billy Reid, Shipley and Halmos, Timo Weiland, Richard Chai, and Doo.Ri, among others.
What led you to start your own firm? Where had you been working previous to that?
I was motivated to launch my own agency because I felt that I could attract the caliber of clientele that I wanted to work with and ultimately, I wanted to have the final say in terms of who I represented. Prior to launching Maguire Steele, I was a Senior Director at Tractenberg & Co., the PR Director at Williamson PR and a freelance PR assistant at Luca Luca. My first work experience in the fashion industry was via a summer internship in the wholesale division at Luca Luca while I was an undergraduate at Washington University in St. Louis.
Your clients like Billy Reid and Timo Weiland have recently been nominated for programs with the CFDA. Were you responsible for this in any way?
In 2012, Billy Reid was the first designer to win the GQ Best New Designer Award and the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund Award in the same year. Timo Weiland was selected for the 2012 – 2014 cycle of the CFDA Fashion Incubator program. I work very closely with each of my clients to develop their strategic trajectory, which includes awards nominations and programs. I work with them to determine which awards they will apply for and I guide them through the application process and nomination phases.
Most of the designers you work with design menswear. Do you prefer it to womenswear?
I am drawn to clients whose businesses are dynamic and creative and who have the potential to grow significantly. I do love menswear and I think that few firms specialize effectively in representing menswear brands. Given my personal client history, both past and present, Maguire Steele is definitely a destination for menswear representation and is known for representing the best menswear brands in the industry. Maguire Steele also has a well rounded roster of women’s designer brands including Richard Chai Love and Doo.Ri.
How does the pitch for menswear differ from women’s?
Men’s purchasing habits differ significantly from women’s, so I think you have to take the consumers’ tendencies into consideration when pitching, as they are ultimately the readership of these media outlets. Men respond more to the stories of how and where product is made. Quality and craftsmanship are big draws in menswear as they often view purchases as investment pieces meant to last for several years, particularly when buying suits or outerwear. Women tend to purchase more frequently and therefore are more driven by new aesthetic innovation.
How often to do you expand your client list?
I am always fielding new business inquiries and taking meetings. It is more about the potential client being the right fit for the roster than it is about aiming to sign a certain number of new clients each year. Maguire Steele presents a curated client roster so the emphasis is on quality of clients, not quantity of clients.
What is the selection process like? Do you approach the designer or do they approach you?
It works both ways but I will say that the best clients often come about via recommendations. For example, Ned Martel, formerly of Men’s Vogue and currently of The Washington Post, recommended me to Billy Reid. Then Billy and I met and we knew we had to work together. The fashion industry is a relationship driven business.
How large is your team now?
I have three full time employees (a Publicist, Junior Publicist, and an Assistant) along with interns and freelance staff as needed.
Having an art degree from RISD, do you have plans to represent artists at any point in the future?
I have a Master of Fine Arts degree in Painting from Rhode Island School of Design. My background in the arts makes me uniquely equipped to distill and translate my clients creative message to the media and ultimately to the consumer. I often work with my clients to create original content whose end use is media placement. I have worked with artists, galleries and art organizations on collaborations with my clients. Colleagues have often commented that I approach my business like a curator so I think it would be a natural extension to represent clients in the world art and design.
Who are some of your favorite artists?
Timothy Uriah Steele, Sheila Pepe, Carrie Moyer, Imi Knoebel, Blinky Palermo and Lisa Yuskavage
Is there an off season for a fashion publicist?
In the current media climate, if you are doing your job effectively, there is no off season.
Do you prefer the whirlwind of fashion week or the day to day promoting of your clients?
I don’t see these activities as separate. Many of the strategic partnerships or sponsorship deals that I secure for my clients are projects that I have been working on for six months to well over a year. It is true that during fashion week the events themselves take place in quick session but realistically, the planning and orchestration is worked on for many months so I do not see it as separate from the day to day.
In what way do you feel you provide the most benefit to your clients?
I most benefit my clients by being proactive. Maguire Steele employs creative innovation and business acumen to develop tactical PR initiatives that are brand building. We secure media coverage that increases global and domestic brand awareness, integral to both the short term and long term success of the clients, while playing an active role in initiating, managing and growing our clients’ social media presence. Via media placements, celebrity seeding, wardrobe services for film and television, sponsorship procurement and lucrative, calculated partnerships, Maguire Steele generates measurable growth for its clients. By creating and executing a comprehensive strategic plan tailored, specifically to each client, Maguire Steele generates brand awareness, increases momentum and drives bottom line revenue. Ultimately, Maguire Steele is a proactive, solutions oriented and results-driven agency.