I’ve known and worked with wonderful Hannah Eichler throughout my career as she moved from publication to publication as a journalist and I shifted from brand to brand in Public Releations.
Hannah is the now the acting Deputy Editor at the MailOnline’s Fashion Finder feature and is an Associate Lecturer at Solent University. She is also a freelance stylist. She has worked in print magazines, such as The London Paper and Look Magazine, and in the digital space for Elle and others.
Hannah recently launched Finding Fashion, a YouTube channel where she interviews experienced industry professionals from across the fashion industry. The idea came from how she had to adapt course materials for her university students, who were learning remotely during the pandemic. She recognised that fashion can be a very difficult industry to break into and so uploaded these interviews to YouTube, where they could be viewed by anyone who has an interest in fashion.
I asked Hannah Eichler all about how she got started in fashion, what it is like to work for Mail Online and why she loves interviewing people for Finding Fashion.
NakedPRGirl: Where are you from originally and where do you live now?
Hannah Eichler: I am from Buckinghamshire, a tiny little village. I now live about 15 minutes away from there in Bedfordshire, in a place called Leighton Buzzard, but I did live in London for about seven or eight years. I moved back here around four years ago so I could buy my own place.
NakedPRGirl: What did you study?
Hannah Eichler: I studied writing, fashion and culture at Solent University. I graduated from there in 2008. I loved the course that I did, it was really varied and it gave me a taste of absolutely everything in the fashion industry from the communications side. It was more like PR, marketing, events management, including photography styling, writing, consumer culture and feature writing.
It was really varied and it gave me a taste of everything so I could see what I really liked. When I went to uni, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew that I really liked fashion. And I knew that I liked English. So writing fashion was a marriage of those two things that I really enjoyed.
When I was at uni, I did loads and loads of work experience with Glamour, Reveal, GMTV, Stella McCartney, loads of the weeklies as well, as an assistant stylist.
NakedPRGirl: What was your first job? What was your big break?
Hannah Eichler: My first job was at The London Paper and I was a style assistant there.
I loved it. I got to write my own pages and obviously assist on shoots. I think I would probably say that was my first big break because it was the first time that I was compiling my own pages and I got to see my name as a credit in a paper.
I left there to go to Elle online. I was offered a six month paid internship, but I was made redundant after six weeks. I decided to be a freelance assistant and I’d met quite a lot of stylists along the way, so I started to get some paid work. The London Paper also got me to come back and do desk cover.
I was freelance for a little while and then went back to Elle for a bit and freelanced for them.
When I was freelance, my previous boss at The London Paper got in contact with me. She asked if I would be interested in a position that was going at Look. The next week, I went for an interview. The next day, I was offered the job and the next month I started. I spent about four years at Look and for the large part totally loved it. I think it was just really me, because I was the target audience. I found it really easy to relate to everything that was going on in the magazine and the pages we were creating.
I loved it and was there for four years and then I got headhunted by the MailOnline, because they were launching Fashion Finder. That was in 2012, 2013. I’ve worked there on and off ever since.
NakedPRGirl: How did you go freelance?
Hannah Eichler: Going freelance was a pretty pivotal part of my career. It was a massive leap but I took a risk and it paid off – I regularly styled look books and in-store POS for Matalan and New Look, styled press days, worked for Now, Woman & Home, styled for Specsavers and ASOS as well as lots of advertorials like TU at Sainsburys and F&F and Revlon.
I loved being freelance as I was always meeting new people and working on different projects. Freelance is a different ball game now, but I learned so much about hard work and perseverance.
NakedPRGirl: Tell me about Finding Fashion, what is the idea behind it?
Hannah Eichler: I’ve always kept in contact with my old lecturer at Solent University, and she’s the course leader now. She offered me an associate lecturer position about three years ago. And ever since I started, it’s always been really important for me to give my students industry experience, especially because they’re in Southampton and they’ve got less access, so the industry is harder for them to get internships, not being in London.
It’s always been a really big thing for me to get guest lecturers down to Southampton. I had so many amazing people get involved. It was incredible.
But obviously, this time last year we moved to online teaching. Over the summer, I started thinking how I was going to get these students this industry insight. I started thinking that instead of giving them reading to do, I’ll start interviewing people over Zoom. And I’ll just give them the link to watch an interview and I’ll ask them suitable questions that relate to my students.
More and more people were up for it, so then I just started to think why am I keeping this private? Why don’t I just make it public? I just started putting them on YouTube, and the support I’ve had from it is amazing. Instead of me asking them, people are messaging me asking if they can help. The support has been incredible. I think that people are really keen to help because it is so much harder for people to break into the industry. And even though it isn’t as good as hands-on experience and the students being able to go into a fashion cupboard or assist on a shoot, at least it’s giving them that insight.
I’ve had such amazing feedback from the students saying how helpful it is and how inspiring it is because of some of the jobs. Some of the people who I’ve spoken to, they do jobs that a lot of my students wouldn’t know existed. It’s really beneficial for them to see another side of it.
NakedPRGirl: And name? Who did your branding for you?
Hannah Eichler: I thought about finding your feet, or finding our feet in the industry, so I thought ‘finding’ is a good word. And obviously fashion. I love a bit of alliteration. Also because I work at Fashion Finder, that’s quite a good little flip there. That’s where it came from.
NakedPRGirl: What’s your USP?
It’s still in such baby stages and I don’t think of myself as any kind of YouTuber/influencer. It’s just genuinely something that I hope helps people entering the industry, whether you’re a student or whether you’re having a career change.
The whole idea of Finding Fashion is that it’s not really polished. It’s not a really slick, curated interview. It’s more relaxed. It’s much more about being really honest and having a chat.
What I always do is get my students to contribute some questions so that I make sure what I’m asking feels really relatable to them and it’s what they want to know.
NakedPRGirl: You’re also Deputy Fashion Editor for MailOnline Fashion Finder, what does that entail? What is it like to work for such a big organisation?
Hannah Eichler: The main premise is you’re finding the exact item that the celebrities in the stories are wearing.
Every single day, the showbiz team will write up the showbiz stories. And it’s our job to go through those showbiz stories and identify what the person’s wearing. That can involve locating it via speaking to their stylist or recognising it from a runway show, Googling it…There’s loads of different ways, like speaking to their agent. Then we have to find it online, find an image and then write a story on it. The story can be about 150-200 words.
It’s just wondering about the trend and how to wear it and why it looks good. It’s really fun when it’s award season, or there’s movie premieres, or that sort of thing. It’s changed quite a lot in lockdown in that everyone is wearing loungewear, swimwear and lingerie.
The MailOnline is the world’s biggest English language speaking website. I remember my first shift thinking, oh my god I could literally crash this website if I do something wrong. I mean there was quite a lot of pressure there. I actually feel quite proud to work there especially in a digital space where as a writer, it is important to show that you’ve got skills and being able to write for an online platform. I feel really proud that I work for them.
I had the foresight to move into digital. Although I worked on the magazine at Look, I was also writing for the website. I just started to feel this movement. When I got offered that job at the MailOnline, I thought I can’t not take this because this is such a good opportunity.
NakedPRGirl: Do you have a particular career highlight that stands out?
Hannah Eichler: I learned so much from working at Look. And I’ve met some such amazing friends there who I still keep in contact with now. I built so many amazing contacts working there. I learned a lot about meeting deadlines and having a really strong idea of who your customer and your readership is.
I learned skills in not only working for the mag, but also for digital as well. So, in coming up with suitable ideas and then spin them into innovative content.
I think that was a really pivotal part of my career, and I’ve got to go on some amazing trips. The best one was to Cuba, that stuck out quite a lot. I do hold my time at Look in really high regard.
NakedPRGirl: What’s your personal style? Have you had to look at marketing yourself as a brand?
Hannah Eichler: My friends take the piss out of me a lot because I’m always wearing white t-shirts and jeans.
I’m always wearing boots. I absolutely love flat ankle boots. I have so many pairs it’s insane. I don’t think that I wear anything really fussy. Comfort is absolutely key for me. I can’t be one of those girls who can go out and wear really high heels and be uncomfortable, or wear a dress that they don’t feel comfortable in.
There’ve been times where I would feel really confident in jeans and white t-shirt and a pair of heels or heeled ankle boots and red lipstick. I’m definitely, in terms of style, low fuss.
And I love knitwear. I’ve always been quite big on fabric. I’ve never liked synthetic fabrics. I’ve always wanted to go for wool or cotton. I’ve never spent loads of money on clothes. Obviously I’ve got a couple of nice handbags and some nice shoes, but I’ve never been like a real designer. I would like to be, but that’s never been within my budget.
I love a bargain, but only if it really isn’t cheap! I don’t really like fast fashion. I’d rather spend more money, I suppose, pretty much my philosophy for everything.
I’ve not looked at marketing myself as a brand. And I think that that’s something that I should do. I recently got a video editor for my YouTube videos to put in intros and outros for me. I’ve never really been brilliant at the whole self-promotion thing.
NakedPRGirl: How do you use social media for your business? What’s your favourite social media channel? Do you have any social media tips?
Hannah Eichler: I’m not the best at social media. I don’t think I’ve ever preached to be any kind of influencer. But in terms of promoting what I do on YouTube, I literally just put a post up of the person on Instagram, do a Story, and also post on the grid. I put that across a Facebook channel – I have a professional Facebook page. Put it on Twitter. I need to get better at that!
NakedPRGirl: How have you seen your industry changing over the last few years?
Hannah Eichler: I think budget is the massive thing. When I first started out, there just seemed to be so much budget, especially working on a print mag. It has had a massive effect on what shoots we’re doing in the magazine. I think it’s really sad that a lot of magazines have closed and I hope that at some stage the magazine market will see a bit of a resurgence. I still love reading magazines and to me, there’s definitely still a place for them.
NakedPRGirl: How do you manage your blog/social media workload – are you a planner and a scheduler?
Hannah Eichler: I am really busy with work, so Monday and Tuesday, I teach for uni and the rest of the week I’m at the Mail. I record my interviews either in the week, at the weekend or in the evenings. It does get quite overwhelming.
I think a lot of people like my friends, my family, would be the first to admit that my work life balance isn’t brilliant. I could be better, but I do love writing lists because I just find that if I write lists, I know exactly what’s what and I can cross it off when I’ve done it. I can plan out when I’m going to do it and then that always makes me feel a bit clearer.
NakedPRGirl: How important is your Instagram grid? Do you plan everything in advance?
Hannah Eichler: I don’t really plan everything in advance at all. I will take some pictures and think I won’t put that up tonight, I’ll put that up tomorrow.
I’ve never had the desire to be like an influencer or anything like that. I didn’t think I’d be any good at it. I don’t really feel that my Instagram is particularly curated. I think the one thing that stands out about my Instagram is that I’m basically taking the piss out of myself 99% of the time.
NakedPRGirl: Who in the industry inspires you?
Hannah Eichler: All of the people who I’ve spoken to on Finding Fashion are so inspiring.
The last interview I did was with a woman called Muchaneta Kapfunde and she is the editor of a website called FashNerd. And she’s also a fashion tech consultant and she consults for a lot of big name brands. She was unbelievably inspiring because there were so many things about innovation, like digital retail, and consumer innovation, about the fashion industry that I didn’t know about.
When I was researching for the interview, I was finding out about all of these different innovations that are happening in the industry like wearable tech.
She said in the interview it’s not just about fashion tech being in and then there on the red carpet with a light-up Cinderella dress. It’s actually more about being more sustainable. How you can streamline processes to become more sustainable using technology, but also fashion as wearables. She was saying that you can get these earrings, which are like hearing aids. They’re a fashion item that actually helps people. She was really inspiring.
And I also spoke to Amy Simon who’s the head of PR at Pretty Little Thing and her career journey is just incredible. All of the places that she gets to go and all the projects that she gets to work on Pretty Little Thing. It’s such a digital first leading e-commerce platform. It’s just incredible the way they connect with the consumer is unrivalled. There’s so many different people I find inspiring.
NakedPRGirl: How do you split your time between business and real life?
Hannah Eichler: As I said earlier, I’m not very good at splitting it. I work a lot.
I wish I could be better, but I do really like working hard. I don’t really understand it when people don’t work hard. I’m a grafter, which I think sometimes means that I find it hard to switch off.
NakedPRGirl: Do you have a motto or mantra that you live by?
Hannah Eichler: Yes, 100%. There’s a graphic designer called Anthony Burrill and he’s got quite a famous print called ‘Work Hard and be Nice to People’. And I have it in black and yellow in my kitchen, and I look at it every single day. I just think that’s so true, to work hard and be nice to people. That’s all you do, it’s as simple as that.
Interestingly, so many people who I’ve interviewed, when I’ve said to them what’s your mantra, they’ve said the same thing. Just be nice to people and work hard and it’s literally as simple as that!
NakedPRGirl: Where would you like to be in ten years time?
Hannah Eichler: I think I would like to spread my wings a bit in terms of writing. I’d like to write for some different platforms. I think I would like to learn more about the digital space and I’ve definitely gotten more interested in consumer culture and the marketing side of it.
I just really like talking to people. All my time working at magazines for websites, when I got to interview people like celebrities, or what I’m doing now, that’s always my favourite part of my job. I would like to definitely do more interviewing.
Follow Hannah on Instagram (@hannaheichler) and her Finding Fashion YouTube channel here.