Elizabeth Olson — not the actress — has been Senior Director of Brand Creative at Kate Spade for about two years. What does that entail, exactly?
“My job is to be the brand watch dog — I can’t think of a good, cooler word,” Olson says in this week’s UnStyled podcast. “The two teams that I oversee are the print team — any print collateral, and the digital team. That’s our emails, our social media.”
In other words, Olson is instrumental in shaping how the Kate Spade brand communicates with its customers. “It’s fun,” she tells Christene Barberich, Refinery29’s global editor-in-chief and cofounder. “It’s different every hour, so it’s really interesting.”
It’s also a crucial time for the global brand: last year, it both welcomed Creative Director Nicola Glass and, of course, mourned the tragic death of its beloved namesake founder and former co-owner.
For Olson, the newish role is both a career reset and a fitting distillation of how many media pros and content creatives’ jobs have dramatically evolved over the past two decades — from working in print, then digital, and then directly with brands in a retail environment. Olson, after all, has served as an Art Director, wrote her own fashion blog, Feels Like White Lightening, back in the day, and much more — and the focus wasn’t always just fashion.
“In my career, it’s been mostly publishing, but I’ve worked in publishing that does all kinds of things,” she tells Barberich. “I started at Details, which is men’s fashion. When I was at T, we did fifteen issues a year: food, travel, men’s, women’s fashion. I was a Creative Director at Afar for a few years, which was just travel. I’ve been in the mix of all these different things. Working primarily in women’s fashion I hadn’t done, and also working in a retail environment.”
Working at Kate Spade, then, “is so different. One day I might be talking about signs in a store, and then what the email is for tomorrow, and then what we’re gonna be shooting for our e-com photography for all of Spring 2020. Pretty wild.”
But Olson, as her cult-fave blog attested, has always had a sharp, unique point of point of view when it comes to fashion and self-expression. (Hint: She still loves the ‘90s.) Speaking with Barberich, she offered a crucial bit of advice about defining one’s style and expanding (or Marie Kondo-ing) your closet — particularly as it relates to self-care and comfort. “Recently, I tried to think back on moments where I felt really good or felt really confident,” she begins. “What was I wearing? Who was I then? Because I do feel like, in this period of [career] transition, I changed my style a little bit in the past five years. I’ve come back now, to where I was before. and I feel better in my own skin.”
Hear the rest of Olson and Barberich’s chat — they discuss the miracle that is Diane Keaton, the still-acute absence of Phoebe Philo and more — by listening to this week’s UnStyled and subscribing via Apple Podcasts today.
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