Canadian public relations guru, John Mackay, founder of PR firm Mackay & Co., and his associate Joshua Norton, are fashion industry veterans who count Tiffany and Co. and Hermès among their clients.
As a way to give back to the community they love, the pair has launched an innovative mentorship program aimed at equipping up-and-coming designers with the communications skills necessary to make it in the fashion biz.
“Initially, we thought we’d do their PR for them free of charge,” explains Mackay. “But then we thought, if they’re going to build a business in Canada, they may never have the money to promote themselves effectively using agencies. They may have to do it themselves.” And thus, the Mackay & Co. mentorship program was born.
Their first “student” is Chinese-born, Toronto-based womenswear designer Paris Li.
“English is not my first language and sometimes I have found it difficult to express what I am trying to do in a business situation,” says Li, adding that since beginning her mentorship with Mackay and Norton, her confidence has increased and she’s more comfortable with buyers and the media.
“They have helped me develop my marketing communications skills, and also reinforced some things I knew but was not confident about,” she explains.
Aside from helping designers develop communication skills with buyers, the press, retailers and banks, Mackay and Norton also work with them to execute unique public relations plans.
Mackay & Co. are currently searching for their second designer “student.” For more information, go to mackayandco.com.