Chelsea Simunovich’s life changed before she graduated college. When a PR internship at Valentino turned into a full-time gig, she was juggling classes and schoolwork with her job of corresponding with editors across the globe making sure samples got into the right hands. Or as she likes to call it, “Running around like a chicken without its head.” Having also worked for Dior on the editorial side and helping launch Dada Daily, she’s taken what she learned and brought it with her to her current job, working as a partner for Ashe Agency. Now, at 29 years old, she’s juggling commuting to Brooklyn four days a week for work while living in Jersey City and planning her wedding. Read on for Hoboken Girl’s Q&A with Chelsea Simunovich.
Hoboken Girl: When did you know that PR was the career for you?
Chelsea Simunovich: In high school, actually. I always thought I’d want to be a fashion designer. I went to high school at the Immaculate Heart Academy in Washington Township, and on the weekends I would take classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and try different sketching classes, textile classes, and whatnot. I realized I’m not creative in that sense, so I started doing more business classes and ended up enjoying learning about PR and marketing. That was the major I had at LIM College.
HG: What was your first job?
CS: At LIM, each year students are required to do an internship, so I took advantage of those every single year. Once I had one internship in fashion PR, I knew that that was what I wanted to do. I started my first official job before I graduated college. One of my first ever bosses who I interned for at Fendi was also my boss at my senior-year internship at Valentino. Before I graduated, she ended up hiring me full-time at Valentino as a PR assistant.
^ Flipping through Harper’s to see samples sent being worn on models
HG: What was your job at Valentino like?
CS: At Valentino, I was working on Valentino runway, couture, men’s, and REDValentino so I got to work on a variety of the brands. My main role was working with print books and digital outlets to get editors samples for photoshoots and hi-res assets for any articles. I was at Valentino for a few years and then I went to do a PR coordinator role at Dior doing the same with couture, men’s and women’s ready-to-wear.
My role at both jobs was basically corresponding with either the Paris or Italian offices because that’s where the headquarters were, and speaking to all of the fashion editors, accessories editors, and market editors at all of the publications that were calling samples for photoshoots. I handled all of the logistics for all of the samples (such as suits, gowns, and beautiful dresses) that got shipped out across the world.
The process starts with a request from an editor, then I would check on the sample’s availability and if it wasn’t available, I had to figure out how to make it available to them. It was like a puzzle because I would juggle hundreds of requests at a time from magazines like Vogue, Allure, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Marie Claire, Esquire, and GQ. And everything had to be orchestrated on a certain timeline in order to accommodate all of the editors’ requests.
^ Valentino’s wall of magazine covers in 2015
HG: What was the most exciting part about working for Valentino and Dior?
CS: Being able to be on the other side of what I would see in the magazines because I would always read magazines and I never understood how it all came together. It was fun being able to be a part of dressing celebrities and talent through the editorial side. It was also exciting being able to work on a request for the cover star and work so hard to get that sample, and then it being shot and seeing [the piece] on the cover.
HG: How and when did you transition to and from Dior?
CS: I worked for Dior from 2016 to 2018. I had been referred to the Vice President through a few editors. It ended up being the right timing for me to change roles. 2018 was the time where many direct-to-consumer brands were launching and coming to life, so I thought it would be an interesting route to take.
I wanted to get that experience of building something from the ground up rather than being on a large team with a headquarters. The job was with Dada Daily and I was connected to the founder through an old colleague of mine at Valentino.
I helped launch the brand, was with her for a year-and-a-half and I learned so much, but ultimately I realized that I really wanted to focus on PR. I’ve stayed in touch and am close friends with Virginia [Ross], who was my co-worker at Dior. She had started her own brand consulting agency, Ashe Agency, that specialized in PR, and so I joined her in 2020 and became a partner.
^ Valentino showroom pre-fall 2016
HG: What’s it like working for Ashe Agency?
CS: I joined team Ashe three days before pandemic-related work from home went into effect. I had to do everything remotely, so I jumped in without having met any of the clients in person. A lot of the brands that we work with are within or under five years of being founded. Some brands we started working with before they even launched to help craft the right language to tell their story and create a strategy before launching.
Other brands we worked with have already launched and have been around for a year and we’d take them on. I love being involved with the growth and the success of our client’s brands through the press placements and awareness that we bring through our strategy and gifting efforts.
HG: What are some brands you work with now?
CS: We don’t specialize in one category per se as we like to have a diverse portfolio. Our clients include Clove, which is the first of its kind sneaker brand for healthcare professionals; Color&Co, a L’Oréal brand that creates customized at-home hair color; Jaxon Lane, which is a men’s grooming brand based in San Francisco; The Collective Child, which is a luxury children’s wear, personal shopping, and subscription service; Agua Mágica, a mezcal brand; and July, which is a direct-to-consumer window air conditioning company.
^ Behind the scenes of a photoshoot for Dior
HG: Did you live in Jersey City your whole life?
CS: I grew up in Bergen County. I mostly lived in Old Tappan because my dad’s in real estate and he builds houses, and every two years we would move. I lived in New York City during college and lived there up until the beginning of the pandemic. Then with Covid, I ended up moving to Jersey City because I found a place with more space for about the same price, and I fell in love with my apartment at The Regent and the area. My fiancé and I (set to tie the knot in June 2022) moved together to Jersey City in February 2021. During Covid, we ended up getting a car so it was the best option for us.
HG: What do you love about living in Jersey City?
CS: I love that it has that suburban feel, especially in the area that I live in. The Regent is owned by Liberty Harbor so it’s like a private community type of environment. There are a lot of families and a dog run. On the weekends I do love going for a walk at Liberty State Park and listening to the How I Built This Podcast.
^ Chelsea with her fiancé
HG: Where are your favorite places to go in Jersey City?
CS: I just started training at F45 on Bay Street. I absolutely love it because of the team who works there. It’s super personable in the sense that everyone remembers you and knows your name from the first day that you walk through the door and they always continuously check in with you. I already feel stronger!
I love Two Boots Pizza — that’s my absolute favorite. I get the vegan slice that’s absolutely delicious, even though I’m not a vegan. Corto in the Heights has amazing Italian food. It’s insanely delicious, I recommend it to everyone. Our favorite place to order sushi for delivery is Itto Sushi that just opened in June — it’s delicious.
HG: What advice would you give for someone wanting to get into the PR industry?
CS: The greatest advice I could give to anyone is you can never plan things. When you try to plan and control things, you limit yourself. You should approach each opportunity that you’re faced with. Try to avoid always trying to plan ahead because you never know where life could take you. Learn as much as you can in everything that you do and be open to change and learning new things.
To get in touch with Chelsea Simunovich, reach out to her on her Instagram @chelseamilena.