The latest in our series on Inspiring Women is no stranger to most in the fashion industry, because Sara Larson is a powerhouse publicist whose work speaks for itself. A truly respected force in the worlds of media, PR, and fashion, the mom-of-two is as gracious as she is diligent and dedicated to the brands she hustles for. With the launch of her own boutique firm, this won’t be the last you hear of her name either! Meet the hard-working hero behind the Larson Project.
Where does your love for fashion stem from?
Fashion has been one of my greatest loves for as long as I can remember. From a young age, my mother and grandmother were always the epitome of a well-dressed woman. At 17, I visited NYC and knew it was where my future would be. Film was a major influence—Isaac Mizrahi ‘s Unzipped documentary revolutionized my view on fashion, I’d never seen anything like it. Growing up between Alaska, California, and Missouri in a conservative family, I didn’t really have the freedom to explore my own sense of style until living in London and Australia in my mid 20s, where I really had the chance to experiment with it and be inspired in a way I never dreamed. Marc Jacobs-era Perry Ellis and everything the late McQueen did, were extraordinary influences for me as well.
Tell us about the first role that introduced you to the world of fashion PR in New York.
I had my first internship for Rachel Antonoff at 27 and from there my career was born—it has been a wild ride, but I wouldn’t trade any of it because it’s made me appreciate fashion for the art-form it is and the designers that pour so much of their lives into it.
What was the very first thing about working in PR that had you hooked?
Rachel Antonoff had a presentation at the Lafayette house, and I helped with Front of House. When I left, I asked her then-publicist for her card. She didn’t have one, so she wrote her info on a party invite. Three weeks later, I took the train to NYC mid-week, and rocked up to a party at Los Feliz on the Lower East Side, not knowing anyone. Turns out it was a Gossip Girl party and EVERYONE was there! I bumped into Rachel and I even met two of my now best friends that night: Abigail Lorick (the OG ghost designer for Gossip Girl!) and Taylor Abess. After the party, I took the 3 AM train back to DC in time to be at work the next day! After this, I hustled to look for work in NYC until my interview with Honor…fast forward to today!
Ok so you were at Honor, Monse, and Galvan at pivotal early stages—what lessons did those experiences instill in you?
Resilience. I learned so much in a short time at each, which I’m forever grateful for! Each house had such a special way of creating and seeing design through their individual lens. I learned invaluable lessons in business, strategy, brand development, communication, teamwork, and most of all, the freedom of creativity; which I still very much reference today.
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Why is working with founder-owned and operated brands something that you’re passionate about.
I bring a personal connection and intuition to fashion. Each brand I represent is almost an extension of myself in a way—meaning, I work with and embrace brands that I really believe in and want to see flourish in the world. I work side by side to build each brand with a 360-degree approach, focused on the entire picture from sales to editorial features to celebrity to stylists to strategy and beyond. We map out where the brand has been, where they want to go, and collaborate on ways to get there in the most impactful and organic ways. My focus is to empower each designer, co-founder, and brand in a way they desire to do so through their collections.
Congrats on launching LARSON—did you always know you’d strike out on your own?
Eek, thank you! I have always dreamed of doing my own thing and you could say that the pandemic expedited this a wee bit. I’m grateful though, because it was the push I needed to leap!
You are launching with one incredible roster. What do our readers need to know about the brands?
The brands I represent each have a unique ‘nicheness’ that sets them apart, while also connecting them in a special way. I want to create a firm that values relationships and creates a space for the light to shine through. It’s important to me, to keep the curation specific and thoughtful, so each brand feels the desire to grow and be their very best.
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What services will LARSON offer?
A multi-faceted approach to supporting brands with communication, storytelling, brand building, and relationship cultivation. This is “PR” outside of the box: a place to be creative and collaborate in a landscape that is ever-evolving.
What’s the benefit for brands to work with a firm like LARSON, versus a heritage firm?
I love to work with each brand, like it’s my own. I also make it a point for each of my relationships to feel like they are the only one. We work together, side by side, to figure out where the founders and creative directors want to go—it’s a very hands on approach, which is why it makes my firm so unique and special. It’s a very curated list and I’m being selective with who I take on, because I really value the time I can spend with each one. It’s important to have the space to do the most for each.
How else do you think the pandemic has disrupted the PR industry?
The landscape has changed exponentially to a year ago and with this, brands are looking to change the way their PR has been done in the past. Now, they are more open to new ways of working. It’s really exciting!
What lessons did you learn about yourself over the last while?
I learned to be true to myself and hold the ones I love close—they are really all that matter!
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What are you most excited for in 2021, on a personal and professional note?
I’m excited to see brands come to life again with this new electricity of fashion and just getting to be with people in person…it’s so life giving! I’m really excited to take my kids to London for Christmas this December! It’s where I really found myself in my early 20s and later, and it’s where my husband and I fell in love. It’s a very magical place and I can’t wait for them to experience it.