Kari Feinstein is an entrepreneur and public relations specialist, born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She is Founder and CEO at Kari Feinstein Public Relations, a full service agency offering PR Product Seeding and Celebrity integration for fashion, beauty, lifestyle, beverage/food and Electronic brands. She is also known for founding Kari Feinstein's Style Lounge, one of the first and longest running "gift suites" catering to celebrities and major entertainment award ceremonies. Feinstein graduated from Oakwood High School in 1994 and then went on to study communications at Boston University.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I was raised with three brothers, being the youngest and also being a girl, I had to be as strong as they were. This taught me how to preserver as well as how to interact in an all male environment. As I got older my family wanted me to be a leader and they guided me to be one, in all facets, school family and all life interactions. My mother was a business woman and every so often she would take me to work with her and I would see all the effort she would put in to making her business successful. She wasn't always able to be at home to make dinner, or tuck me in, but I learned what it takes, and what sacrifice must be made to succeed. since both my parents were business owners being a leader was in my blood I didn't expect to be anything else, when leadership is what surrounds you its not only expected of you but its what you expect from yourself.
How did your previous employment experience aided your position at KF Style Lounge?
My first job in the industry was at CAA. This was an ideal blueprint for my future business interactions. Agencies are a crazy, fast paced environment where you either sink or swim. I definitely felt I could make it in that environment, however, I always knew I wanted to do it on my own. At 23, I started my own PR company and through trials and tribulations I figured out what I had to do to make my business work. My partner at the time and I, convinced, coerced, a hollywood reporter to write an article on our new company, you have to be creative to make it work. My first call after that article was E! Entertainment to do celebrity outreach and concepts for their Sundance event , the second was frederic fekkai to book celebrity appointments during the Cannes Film Festival. I parlayed the appointments with Federic into make-up appointments with Dior that paid for the ticket to Cannes that I didn't have in the first place. I learned that you must for sure be creative the beginning, but what stuck with me is that is vital to always remain creative with yourself and your contacts to really move forward and succeed in any business.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I work really hard to make sure I have time to check-out I believe that If you don't have time to check out you will burn out before you can enjoy all the work you have done. The reason I work hard is so that I can enjoy life. I use to work just for money, I think a lot of people work just for money and I found that I never really enjoyed just the money. I travel as much as I can, I feel as if travel is the reward I give myself for working constantly. I travel a lot to surf and I kite board, I learned to refresh life and really live it to the fullest, which only pushes me to work harder.
What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at KF Style Lounge?
Great events, great talent showing up more than I ever expected. At my Style Lounge during the Sundance Film Festival last year, not only was the talent phenomenal but my clients couldn't have been happier. It is always a highlight when my company is doing what it should be doing on both ends, making everyone happy clients and talent.
Some of the challenges include constantly working with different kinds of people, new companies every week. In this industry People's expectations are generally very high and it is not always easy to meet those expectations - it definitely is a challenge but I feel like I always deliver and probably do better when the pressure is on.
It is constantly a mission to find, secure, and interact with exciting and diverse brands, interesting products that celebrities will love and will be interested in, I love the hunt.
What advice can you offer women looking to start their own business?
Persistence. Not giving up, some people get discouraged by the ups and downs. There will be high highs but you have to prepare for the low lows, Don't jump off the boat when that happens, and it will. It is not going to be easy at the beginning, in the middle or even in the end there will always be obstacles, you have to see how it turns out. Follow through. that's the best advice I could give anyone but especially women in business.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
In my opinion the biggest issue for women in the workplace is Definitely dealing with male clients. Not always of course, but in general men respond to a male perspective more often and its a definite challenge to get your perspective across. In these instances as a woman, you must prove yourself more, work harder, and perform better. Use this to drive you to be more attentive to clients, to be the better company, better CEO, and all around better choice. There are always going to be issues, its not the issues that matter its the way in which we use them to motivate us to be better in our careers that will be the thing that propels us into the future.
What are your thoughts on Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In book and movement?
I fully support what Sheryl Sandberg is trying to do with her movement. Although, it saddens me that it is something that still needs to be done. Women aren't well represented in the work place and knowing this is why I hire mostly woman. It is important for me to do what Sheryl is doing with her movement to encourage to lean into their ambitions and truly become leaders. In a way, I'm hoping that soon there will be no need for this kind of movement to where people will take notice that woman are natural leaders and are currently are under appreciated in corporate America.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
It is always good to have a mentor. As much as I consider myself a pioneer in my field, I don't know the answers all the time. In business, it is constantly important to have a sounding board. It is great to always have someone with experience to lead you in the right direction. Everyone in my family owns their own company, I would consider each of them a mentor. Over the years, their separate advice has been invaluable, especially the advice of my mother who is also a strong female perspective on being a woman in the leadership position.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
It sounds cliché, but watching my mom work in the clothing business for 15 years touched me. The way she ran her business in a time that was even harder for a woman to preserver was definitely something to admire even if I hadn't been her child. Everything I know about business, about balancing life and work, and being a leader stemmed from those childhood trips with my mother to watch her work.
What are your hopes for the future of KF Style Lounge?
In the future, I would like to see the style Lounges taken to another level where they are at every high profile event not just the ones I am capable of doing now. More man power and more programming is necessary. I am doing Coachella this year, but I would like to do Style Lounges coinciding with Fashion Week, South by South West, Cannes Film Festival, Olympics just to name a few. Getting all the cutting edge companies that press and celebrities are excited about and undiscovered companies to take them to these platforms. It is definitely on the horizon to garner new brands from other countries such as China and Australia and Brazil, that want to break into the US market and take Style Lounges global.
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