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How She Got There: Dara Kaplan, Founder of Girlfluence


Name: Dara Kaplan

Age: 30
Job Title and Description: Founder of Girlfluence and Partner at Wunderlich Inc PR
College Name/Major: Syracuse University/Fashion Design and Psychology
Website: www.Girlfluence.com
Twitter Handle: @BelleDuJourNYC

What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?

Dara Kaplan: Where do I start? I don't even call it a job. My career is part of who I am and my life, it entails so many things and I juggle so much at once; meeting the women that Girlfluence works with, speaking with brands to connect our influencers with, social media strategy and management for clients, managing client relationships to media outreach and PR Strategy for Wunderlich Inc PR (where I am a partner), scouting my next travel destination and the latest new lipstick formula (I also am a travel and beauty editor for Bella NYC Magazine), and lastly, trying to squeeze in time to upload a beauty video to my YouTube channel.

The funny thing is, I don't think it is a lot, I love it all and it makes every day so interesting. I am excited to delve into my day every day when I wake up. It is definitely the way of the future, the "multipreneur.”

What is the best part of your job?

DK: The interaction I have on a daily basis with inspiring, intelligent, creative, entrepreneurial women. The excitement of what the day will bring.

What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?

DK: I was an assistant buyer at Kiki De Montparnasse, which then lead me to be head of buying and merchandising. I started as an intern for the design department upstairs for the creative director, who was Jennifer Zuccarini at the time (now founder of Fleur Du Mal, the ultra cool lingerie brand). I interned for eight months, which seemed like forever to my 21-year-old self.

One day, the buyer asked to borrow me for a day to help her. I remember working on Excel spreadsheets. I am very detail-oriented and remember going though it with a fine-tooth comb. She was so impressed that the following week she hired me as her assistant. Lesson to be learned here is persistence and attention to detail!

Who is one person who changed your professional life for the better?

DK: I have four people. Is that allowed? I have never been one to follow rules. The first is above mentioned, Jennifer Zuccarini. She gave me a chance and was always so kind. Kindness rules all.

The second is Kerry Diamond, who was at Lancôme at the time, but since then founded cool girl magazine Cherry Bombe. She took me to lunch (at Mercer Kitchen, I obviously remember it well) once after finding my beauty blog and encouraged me to start a YouTube channel. I took her advice seriously, as she is the one who put Michelle Phan in place for her Lancôme role, and is a beauty veteran. She launched Beauty Biz Under Women’s Wear Daily (I mean, hello?! Huge!). Before that, I would have never thought to do that. Without doing so, I would have never learned the inner workings of creating a beauty YouTube channel or have met the amazing girls and women that I have through it.

The third person is my co-founder in Girlfluence and partner in Wunderlich Inc PR, Gwen Wunderlich. She taught me to always go for it and continually shows me how she can talk anyone into anything. I recently watched her get a client onto the TODAY Show after the producer must have said no 10 times. I always say she can sell ice to an eskimo. Her charisma is something to aspire to have.

Last person is my dad. He instilled my entrepreneurial spirit into me from a young age and taught me to never take no for an answer (he still doesn't, especially from me).

What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?

DK: Listen to your gut. Be kind. Don't ever give up or back down, and stay true to yourself at all costs.

What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?

DK: Oh boy, I made so many. It is hard to count, but I think one mistake was staying in a job where at a certain point there was no one to learn from, and it was not a positive environment. Take the leap if you are unhappy! I think it’s very important to always surround yourself with uplifting and inspiring people whether in work or your personal life.

What do you look for when considering hiring someone?

DK: Motivated, resourceful, positive and detail-oriented.

What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?

DK: Dream big, and do not let anyone tell you that you can't do something. Intern! Intern! Intern!

I also think it is very important to dress for the job you want. It is a running joke that I always put on makeup, even with the flu and [when I] have no meetings to see anyone for that day. I believe it is always important to look your best, because you just never know what the day will bring.

Lastly, the world is changing so rapidly, especially my industry of influencer marketing and PR, so it is important to keep reading and learning on a constant basis.

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