Style Series Featuring Portia Shaw – Learning About Fashion PR

On a mild Thursday afternoon The Restory managed to tear Boss Lady Portia Shaw away from her busy schedule to grab a coffee and learn a little bit more about Portia, POP PR and PR Life. 

Hello Portia would you like to tell us a bit about yourself?

I started POP PR nearly 6 years ago, I like to think of myself as a full time Patron St of lightbulb moments in the office however I think my team (a.k.a the Popettes) deserve a lot of credit. We are a fashion, beauty and events agency in the heart of Oxford Circus known for hosting awesome runway shoes during London, Milan and Paris Fashion Week.

I have a Chihuahua called Rocky and live with my partner Brian who has 2 Labradors called Wellington and Watson in Kensington. I have a deliciously unhealthy habit for purchasing shoes and bags even when I really shouldn’t, simply because I love the craftsmanship and appreciate the time effort that have been put into the process of their creation.

2. How did you break out into the PR world?

PR happened totally by chance, I always wanted to be a fashion designer however I scraped through my GCSE’s and A Levels just were not an option. I have always worked in fashion and beauty however PR was a chance internship which happened many years ago. PR is a difficult industry that has a very high turnover of staff as people enter it thinking it is something it really isn’t. I’ve done everything in order to get what I have built today and still nowhere near finished – I launched my own business thanks to the support of some amazing industry insiders and POP has escalated into what you see today. Personal dedication from the get go has played a massive part, an honesty policy is essential and just being a nice person to people in fashion and beauty has paid dividends in loyalty and exposure for our clients.

3. You have defined yourself as a total Girl Boss, what has been key to achieving this title? And what advise would you give others looking to follow in your footsteps?

I’m probably too old to be defined as a girl boss but I’ll take that title and wear it with ripped denims and a smile. Ultimately don’t be a shit, I met assistants when I was interning, we are now all at a totally different level within our work and still support each other. I believe that the only way you get what you want is by keeping your head down, never compare what you are doing to other people, otherwise are sheep copying each other, be a black swan and do something different, disrupt and make people talk. Also always make sure you have good shoes on, in this work force people make shoe contact before they eye contact.

4. Starting your own company is such an incredible achievement, what have you learnt from opening your own business?

I guess it is and to be honest we are so busy in the office I don’t really have time to think about that. The best bit of advice I was given was to invest in a good accountant which I did, he has been amazing. On a personal note you should always look after yourself, you might think you are Wonder Woman (I probably have the outfit somewhere) but we are all only human. In the early days I used to work 18-20 hour days which just wasn’t sustainable. Eat, sleep, slay repeat.

5. We love your style at Restory HQ – what is your wardrobe go to for when you are in the office?

I spend a vast amount of time in ripped jeans and t-shirts, always teamed with a banging heel, the only porn in my life is shoe porn and its explicit. My favourites are my Isabel Marant “Blackson Boots”, I have a few pairs in different colours that I circulate with almost everything. Logo’s don’t do it for me, I tend to buy pieces that are quality but not obviously branded, if you don’t have the money to do this buy Zara or TopShop but nothing that resembles a “Now Bag”. Fakes are my pet hate, they are always obvious and are a bit of an insult to fashion houses that created them.

6. Your social media has shown us that you have been in a Fashion Month flurry… How does Milan differ from London and how does your style change when you hit the continent?

Milan has 2 very distinctive styles. . . rock chick vs high maintenance. I learnt quickly on one of my first PR trips to Paris that copying their style is never hot, Brits will never do Milanese or Parisian chic the way the woman (and men!) do. What we do well is masculine tailoring, we do a good messy blow dry, a short polished nail and we know how to throw out a some fuck off footwear. I actually have nick names for some of my looks, these vary from “Armless Bear” (referencing a fur gilet) to “Escaped Hospital Patient” (last summer’s poplin maxi dress, fluffy trainers with a biker jacket). Ultimately have a bit of fun with your look and be prepared to laugh at yourself. But for goodness sake avoid flesh coloured trousers, nobody looks good in this.

7. Do you have a favourite Fashion Week anecdote?

I occasionally host the front door for shows during the various Fashion Weeks, effectively your managing anything between 200-600 journalists with security. Your job at that moment is to make sure guests are in the right queue and rushing celebrities in quickly and efficiently. We work from guest lists, we have a tight system however I know most the people either by site or name. A couple of seasons ago someone came up to me and said they were “Best friends with Portia and went to university with her” . . .  apparently I had told them they could go straight in on the front row. I’d never met this person in my life and had to sadly break it to them that they were indeed looking at Portia.

8.Tell us about something you really love and that you would love to see carefully restored, and why is restoration important to you?

To be fair The Restory has salvaged a good chunk of my shoes and bags, the most amazing restoration was to a pair of Zanotti spike heels which I took to Berlin and went clubbing in, I thought they were beyond repair but SJ and Vanessa returned them to me in the same condition I first bought them in. I believe in restoration as longevity in investment pieces is key. I also believe in supporting all female business’s, “Team Restory” for me is a service by woman for (not exclusively!) woman who understand fashion because they live, eat and breath it like their consumer. I have had many cobblers utterly butcher shoes and have been on waiting lists to have bags restored with companies which have waiting lists longer than some peoples marriages. I have never thrown away a pair of shoes since discovering these ladies.

Photography: Stacy-Jayne Archer