Alyssa Neilson – Curly Essence Chats
Alyssa, Alyssa, Alyssa – we really wanted her on our platform. As Glossier fans that we are as soon as we saw her face on Glossier´s social media, we had to dive in and find out who was she. Well, we didn’t find out everything about her but almost… And we have to agree – SHE IS AWESOME!
Curly Essence: When was the first time you thought to yourself that you should create your business? There was a point in your life?
Alyssa Neilson: I created LFNY after leaving university because I saw that there was a gap (in New York at least) between boutique PR agencies and small, emerging contemporary brands. I also noticed that there was no agency catered solely to women in business, so it was rather easy. That’s where the “la femme” in LFNY came from.
Curly Essence: What has been the most rewarding and challenging part of setting up and running LFNY?
Alyssa Neilson: Oddly, I think the most rewarding for me is getting big hits that do a lot for my clients. In PR, a ‘hit’ is a press mention or feature. Some are smaller than others. But the first time I truly felt like my work mattered and was integral to the success of my clients is when I started getting placements on their behalf in Vogue and they saw tremendous results. That matters to me.
Curly Essence: As you live in a multicultural country how it is for you to be a young black woman entrepreneur in States?
Alyssa Neilson: It’s difficult. I feel like along with my age, being black definitely affects your credibility when you are doing business with the wrong people. But there’s nothing that I can do about it. It also affects you in the diversity aspect. I would give anything to be able to pitch to more black editors, have more blackowned brands on my client list, etc.
Curly Essence: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Alyssa Neilson: The highlight of my career has been getting an office space. In New York, that’s very hard and securing one made me feel like I’m doing something bigger than me. My next big step will be growing my network and hiring fulltime staff across digital, art direction and PR.
“Be realistic. That’s the best advice I can give.”
Curly Essence: How’s a typical work day in your company?
Alyssa Neilson: I spoke at my alma mater last week. I flew across the country to do it. I always undermine myself, and I love to remain humble about what I do. But I used to be the worst student in university— I never felt adequate or as successful as my highachieving classmates. But being asked to return to speak to current students at 23 about founding my company so early, taking risks and securing highlevel press just 2 years after graduating meant a lot to me. It was one of those things I would have laughed at 2 years ago if someone told me I’d be doing that. It was nice to engage with so many curious students that saw something aspirational in ME.
Curly Essence: If you could have given yourself a piece of knowledge or advice when you started what would that be?
Alyssa Neilson: Email, email, email. As a publicist, I work on email as practically my medium. I’m always in communication with editors and my clients. I also attend lots of meetings with clients, do calls with my LA clients and send lots of samples.
Curly Essence: What’s the best advice you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to start their own business?
Alyssa Neilson: Be realistic. That’s the best advice I can give. My first client only paid me $100 and I didn’t discount it. You will not reap the benefits right away, especially with having a business working with clients. Your work is what will grow your client list. And that takes time.
Curly Essence: What’s next for LFNY?
Alyssa Neilson: I’m actively working to build on my design division. I only have 2 design clients at the moment and want a couple more. I would say what’s next internally is hiring a junior publicist, a graphic designer and a digital marketing coordinator. I want to keep my company small and about under 12 people in total and I want to excel in management before I put people’s livelihoods in my hands, so I’ll be doing this slowly.
Photos by: Anna Ottum