Novella Paghera | Beyond The PR Lens

In conversation with an independent creative

Written by

Mariam Bagdady

Photographed by

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Photographed by Michael Beauplet

Fashion can transcend the physical world and shape our very lives – connecting us to our deeper selves as well as the billions of creative minds that walk among us. Fashion is independent, delicate, and most of all, it is a rich, expressive medium, allowing us the freedom to be who we choose to be. The importance of luxury clothing in the modern world lies deep in its intricate embroideries, the cultures it represents, and the innovations its fabric creates; yet, without well-crafted marketing, the values behind fashion become less personal and expressive. Embarking on her own journey towards independence and expressive freedom, Novella Paghera branched into a new world of fashion PR–one where personal agency becomes the central foundation of business growth. 

Having started her own Fashion PR Firm–Novella Paghera PR (NPPR)–to intertwine her creative vision with that of the client, Flaunt converses with Paghera about fashion, the ever-growing industry, and the role she hopes to continue playing as an independent founder. For Paghera, personal connection and consistent involvement are key in creating an organic clientele relationship; and in keeping a hyper-focus in attention to their brands, NPPR can step beyond the weaved textiles of fashion and into the vast world of media.

Can you talk about your experience in the first year-and-a-half of owning your own firm? How has it differed from your experience at larger agencies/what have you learned in this year as an independent founder?

My experience of opening and running my own agency has been incredibly exciting, rewarding, and challenging. I like challenges. I have been very focused on building the right foundation and a value system that reflects my personal path and many years of experience in the industry.

Building our team and the business structure was my priority, I believe in a dynamic organization that organically grows together with the business.

There are many differences between running your own agency and being an employee, first of all, you have a lot more freedom to express your vision and on the other side full responsibility for the results. Less boundaries, so you have to be able to create a solid and healthy organization that is able to last and expand over time. One of the main things I have learned as an independent founder is that you have to be very flexible and have more opportunities to be agile and closely connected to your clients, which allows us to truly understand their needs and provide tailored solutions. This level of involvement and personalization has been a key differentiator for us and has helped us build long-lasting partnerships.

I am very proud of the work we have been able to accomplish in the short time we have been up and running.

We have been able to secure several high-profile clients and deliver consistent results for them. Being an independent founder has also allowed me to have more control over the direction and vision of the agency. I have the freedom to pursue projects and clients that align with our values and expertise.

Your career has spanned so many places across the globe. How do you think the fashion PR industry differs across various cultural hubs—specifically from Italy to New York?

We live in a global world, but the local culture and history still play a critical role. Consequently, there are differences between doing PR in the US market and the Italian market. In Italy, fashion is deeply ingrained in the culture and heritage of the country. Italian fashion brands are renowned worldwide for their craftsmanship, luxury, and attention to detail. As a result, the fashion PR industry in Italy tends to prioritize traditional values, such as elegance, sophistication, quality, and a strong emphasis on the brand's history and heritage. Italy is very focused on the excellent craftsmanship and heritage of its products, the real “Made In Italy” feel. This tends to play a primary role for Italian brands while marketing is secondary and a supporting tool.

On the other hand, New York is known for its fast-paced, dynamic fashion scene. The fashion PR industry in New York is characterized by its innovation, trend-setting, and constant evolution. PR professionals in New York are often at the forefront of new technologies and digital strategies, leveraging social media and influencers to create buzz and engage with audiences. The focus is on staying ahead of the curve and adapting to the ever-changing landscape of the fashion industry.

I like to take a bit from both and use the brand’s DNA and heritage to help craft tailor-made marketing and PR strategies to effectively tell their story.

Photographed by Michael Beauplet

There seems to be a delicate balance struck in the marketing world between being attentive to hot-button trends and developing ideas that have longevity. How do you navigate the trend cycle while also ensuring a brand has an enduring legacy?

As the landscape is constantly changing, I feel it is incredibly important to stay informed and on top of trends as they are happening–as we identify trends, we make sure to match them to our clients that would align best with that trend ensuring it is a natural fit so the narrative is cohesive and allows for the activation, partnership or project to have a lasting legacy. We feel the key to striking this balance requires a thoughtful, strategic approach that closely looks at the current trends and their potential impact on our brands. The nice thing about NPPR is we work as an extension of our clients so we really have a strong idea of what they stand for and what they want to say.

Speaking of trend cycles, what are some trends (in fashion or in marketing) you’ve seen in the past year that you think will pass quickly?

Similar to the ever-changing landscape of the industry, trends are also rapidly changing–there have been a few trends on TikTok that are over before people have had the chance to catch up on them. A trend I feel might not have long-term potential is the viral fashion challenges, they often gain immense popularity quickly but fade out just as quickly. On the other side, I think it is interesting when we look at the “Get Ready With Me Trend”–this trend seems to not only still hold relevance but continues to adapt with new ways of doing, keeping the trend at the forefront of both fashion and marketing.

A lot of your clients have a sustainable ethos. How do you think sustainability is going to manifest itself in the mainstream fashion industry in the next couple of years?

I think sustainability is a very important pillar, and as you mentioned, a lot of our clients have a sustainable ethos–I think now more than ever it is important to stand for something and use your work to highlight pressing issues we are facing not just in the fashion industry but in the entire world. I am passionate about creating value for my clients, and being able to enter important conversations such as sustainability and eco-responsibility allows me to bring real value to them. I do think sustainability is going to continue to be very important throughout the entire fashion industry over the next few years and into the future. Responsibility is the future.

What kind of space would you like to see your firm occupy as it develops over time? Do you have any short or long-term goals you'd be willing to share?

I would like to continue creating exciting moments and value for my clients through an innovative approach that merges the lines between PR and Marketing. As we continue to grow, I would also like to expand the services we are able to offer our clients. The PR and communication landscape is getting more and more complex, and we want to add tools to continue to deliver effective and successful strategic results.  Digital work is a key focus for us–we understand the importance of having a strong digital presence that helps our clients connect with their audience and eventual consumers. But we like to tell stories and while the digital aspect will grow, we will continue to nurture human relationships and the storytelling approach of traditional PR. Solid traditions and a forward-forth vision are our perfect recipe.

Photographed by Michael Beauplet

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Novella Paghera, Novella Paghera PR, People, Mariam Bagdady