Friday, April 5, 2013

First Look Fridays: Marketing & PR Director Lori MacGregor of LATHER

I've long been a fan of LATHER. From body wash to eye cream, candles to sunscreen, the brand's products and packaging always keep me coming back for more. A few years ago, during a trip to Los Angeles, I had the opportunity to meet the brand's publicist, Lori MacGregor. And, while I was already a longtime devotee of LATHER, her enthusiasm for the brand and her generally fabulous attitude made me love it even more! Lori is just one of those people you hope to work with in your career -- smart, interesting and generally all around fantastic. Read on to find out how Lori discovered her calling, the body scrub she can't live without and so much more.

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I grew up in Sharon, Massachusetts, a suburb about 25 miles south of Boston. I knew I wanted to study something in the field of communications, so I attended Syracuse University which has one of the top journalism/communications schools in the country.

How did you first become interested in beauty, and what led you to work in beauty PR -- and more specifically, for Lather?
I didn’t even know that beauty PR was a “thing” until I started working in it. I studied advertising in college, intent on becoming a copywriter. After graduation, I worked in an NYC ad agency for a year, but didn’t love it, and didn’t really see myself pursuing that path. People had always told me I would be good at PR, and I ended up moving to beauty firm Behrman Communications. Within three months -- the time it took for my first placement to go from pitch to published -- I knew I had found my calling. PR let me continue writing, but was much more fast-paced, think-on-your-feet, every-day-is-different than advertising. I loved thinking of ways to position brands and products to get press, and I worked with amazing clients, plus a great group of women who really challenged me and let me thrive.

I worked at a few different PR agencies over the next six years in New York, and learned so much from each of them. In 2004, however, I took my first trip to LA, and was smitten upon first sight. I had been getting tired of NYC living for a while by that point, but never had thought of LA as an option for me. A few business trips sent me back that year, and as I continued to meet new contacts, I realized that the idea actually made a lot of sense. I moved in March 2005 and started working at LATHER a month later.

What is your favorite part about working for LATHER (or about beauty PR in general)? Any highlights throughout your career?
At the risk of sounding trite, I love beauty PR because it's FUN. Beauty products uplift and make people feel good, the industry is constantly innovating, and the individuals creating the brands are so passionate, they motivate me to push harder for them and inspire me in my own career. PR in general is a great industry for me: I’ve always been a pop culture junkie, and now I have an excuse to voraciously consume media and stay on top of cultural trends. Plus, as a naturally social person, I love that I’ve built relationships with editors, bloggers and other professionals that have spanned years! (Except when that makes me feel old.)

LATHER has just been a fit for me from day one. I heartily believe in the products, as every single one has been personally tested and approved by our Founder and President, Emilie Hoyt. We draw on high quality, plant-based ingredients, pure essential oils, and never use synthetic fragrances or colors. We're also extremely environmentally minded and involved in our communities. The company's values line up with my own, so it's been a natural fit and a lot of fun.

As for career highlights, so many! When I lived in NYC, I worked a ton of red carpet events and Fashion Weeks, which terrified me at the time, but were great learning experiences. Since I’ve been at LATHER, I would say spearheading various cause-marketing initiatives, such as our projects supporting City of Hope, the National Headache Foundation, and now, with Pasadena Community Gardens to help establish the first community garden open to all residents of LATHER’s home city of Pasadena. Also, I would say developing relationships with TV makeup artists, who have introduced our skincare products to their celebrity clients. Overall, one of the best parts of my job is the ability to help shape the creative direction of our brand. I think that’s what I’ve always wanted for myself, career-wise, even before I knew what to call it.

What are your 5 favorite LATHER products?
Bamboo Lemongrass Foaming Body Scrub. It is simply the most effective body scrub I’ve ever used. I’ve literally gotten compliments on my skin after using it.

Honey Moisture Mask with Propolis Extract. It smells SO good, and is the best product to use before a long flight or any time my skin needs a little TLC.

Ultra Mild Face Wash and Ultra Light Face Lotion. They are my daily go-tos because they provide the perfect amount of moisture and balance for my skin.

AHA Facial Therapy With Copper & Borage Extract. My 3 times per week night treatment, which keeps my skin glowing.

Are there any other beauty products or brands that you absolutely love? What makes those products stand out for you?
Absolutely! What makes the products stand out for me is simply the fact that they WORK. I've never cared too much about packaging. One thing I've learned in my career is that packaging may make someone buy a product once, but if it doesn't perform, they won't buy it again. These products I will, time and again, go back to spend money on. My everyday makeup essentials include:

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20 and Laura Mercier Secret Concealer.

I love pretty much anything Smashbox makes. Their Full Exposure Mascara is the best I've ever used.

Working in PR must be fun, but what do you do in your spare time?
I've always been into exercising. Running, lifting weights, doing yoga, playing tennis, hiking -- I try to work out almost every day in some way, especially since a lot of my free time is spent sitting in LA traffic, or drinking wine ... though never at the same time!

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