DCFunemployment: Tell the people – Who are you?
Heather Shaw Menis, Principal, Fifth & Main PR, I’m a public relations consultant specializing in luxury beauty and fashion.
Bio: After 15 years of public relations and marketing experience, Heather Shaw Menis left the corporate world to pursue her entrepreneurial goals.
Her mission; to bring luxury know-how to fashion, beauty, lifestyle and design businesses looking to establish their brand in the DC market and beyond. From directing local marketing efforts for Saks Fifth Avenue to launching boutique hotels and fine dining restaurants in DC, Heather has built a vast network of contacts in the DC market and the luxury market nationwide.
She has added value to both for-profit and non-profit organizations by connecting these entities from different worlds that share target audiences and similar values, in creative and mutually beneficial ways. A passionate publicist, Heather has worked on award-winning campaigns while at two of the DC area’s top public relations agencies. She also maintained a 50 to 1 Return on Investment for local marketing events at Saks Fifth Avenue. Her work in-house for both the iconic international fashion brand and one of the fastest growing hospitality companies in the country taught her how to most effectively increase revenue via multi-lateral campaigns.
DCF: What does being funemployed mean to you & what was your path to funemployment?
HSM: I’ve always put enjoying what I do at the top of my career objectives. Work is a huge part of life, and what is the point of life if you aren’t having fun? When I had my son, my definition of fun at work started to change. No longer could I spend 15 hours a day away from home going from work to events. I needed more control of my life and my schedule but I didn’t want to leave the world of fashion marketing, of which there are very few opportunities in DC. After a year of working up the courage, I finally left my job and started my own company.
DCF: Who was your first cheerleader?
HSM: My husband was and is always my first cheerleader, when I doubt myself, he lovingly scoffs and puts my insecurities into perspective. I was also incredibly lucky to have a cheerleader in Mike Gilman, the Founder of the Grooming Lounge. We had a wonderful working relationship 8 years prior to starting my business and Mike encouraged me to start this endeavor and offered the safety net of becoming my first client.
DCF: What experiences in your life prepared you for where you are now?
HSM: I had an amazing mentor in Joan Hisaoka, one of the most lauded publicists in DC, whom many of us in the PR and hospitality communities remember warmly every day. She taught me so much about how to run a business professionally and positively. This industry can tend toward catty, but in never did in her office, she felt it a waste of time and counterproductive. The women in that office are still among some of my best friends and her philosophy really stuck with me. If we all play to our strengths, there is room in the sandbox for everyone.
DCF: Where do you get your inspiration and/or motivation?
HSM: I work with a lot of people that I consider friends and that is the biggest motivation. It’s a great feeling when you get to look forward to conference calls and meetings!
DCF: What does balance mean to you and how do find balance?
HSM: Balance for me is about control. Some weeks work takes 80% of my attention and some weeks, family needs more attention, but my life now allows me to adjust accordingly, thereby keeping my sanity.
DCF: What sacrifices did you have to make to get here?
HSM: I have turned down a couple of opportunities that would have guaranteed more financial security, but I have absolutely no regrets about those decisions. My work is a natural extension of what I enjoy.
DCF: What struggles have you faced as a women in your industry?
It’s no secret that having a baby changes your life. My husband is an awesome dad, but he travels extensively. While I was happy to do it, my work schedule had to change to meet the baby’s needs. I went from never taking a sick day to needing to run the baby to the pediatrician once a week and leave no later than 5:45 to get to daycare before it closed.
DCF: What is the early advice you didn’t listen to that you wish you had?
HSM: Live in the moment. I think a lot of us tend to let our to-do lists, emails and social media distract us from living in the now. I’m trying to be more mindful and compartmentalize more but I have a long way to go.
DCF: What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?
HSM: I think I interviewed at least 10 times for what I thought was my dream job – the position of PR Manager at Saks Fifth Avenue Chevy Chase and I NEVER got it. A couple of years later, Saks restructured their PR and marketing departments and I was offered the position of Marketing Director at Saks Tysons. I’ve learned to trust the journey and trust fate, what you think you want in the moment, might not actually be the best thing for you in the long run.
DCF: What is your proudest moment?
HSM: In my first year of business, I secured placements for my clients on The Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, Howard Stern, and major newspapers all over the country. I also won the Platinum MarComm Award, which is open to agencies and corporations handling all forms of marketing and communications.
DCF: So what are you doing now?!?
HSM: I’m excited about current efforts with Grooming Lounge – we are getting the word out about new products, franchise locations, and some really exciting partnerships, including one with the Mayflower Hotel which we will announce in the next couple of months. I’m working with the dynamic women behind Stylisted to let DC know that the network of vetted make up and hair professionals offering on-location services is here!
I’m also working with Tiny Jewel Box, a wonderful family business that recently expanded and is now one of the largest luxury jewelry boutiques in the country. The selection is so fashion-forward and almost all is ON SALE mid March through Mother’s Day.