We had the opportunity to chat with Savannah Britt, a candid and generous mentor with expertise in PR and Branding. Savannah has helped shape the identities of major talent and brands across the fashion and music spaces. She got her start at age twelve, when she founded Girlpez Fashion Magazine, a publication focused on fashion, beauty, and self-empowerment for teen girls. The publication quickly shot Britt to fame, earning her a personal congrats from Teen Vogue’s then editor-in-chief Amy Astley. This also dubbed Britt as the “Youngest Magazine Publisher in the World.”
Whether pitching a news story or bridging social circles at Paris Fashion Week, Savannah Britt is constantly redefining the scope of social visibility in the 21st century. Her work has landed on platforms like Forbes, E! News, Daily Mail Online, US Weekly, Nylon, Revolt TV, The Anderson Cooper Show, Baller Alert, MTV, FADER and various other top-tier outlets and prominent brands.
M- How did you kick-off your career?
S- “I’ve always had a passion for writing. I got my first paid job at 9 years old. I was doing children’s book reviews for a local newspaper and eventually, the paper folded and I was unemployed and just naturally I wanted to keep going. So, for me, the natural progression was “I want to start my own company!””
M- Wow – and how old were you?
S- “I started my own publication when I was 12.”
M- When you’re 12, who are you writing for?
S- “My fellow girlfriends. The basis of the magazine was always “For girls, by girls”, so I teamed up with girls around the planet and they would send me articles and cover different stories and events. It was pretty much always ran by teens just like myself.”
M- You got recognized early on by the editors of Teen Vogue. With that recognition and hype around your career, did you keep pushing your career? How did you balance that with school life?
S- “To this day, I still don’t know how I did it! I was a competitive athlete as well, but my parents have always been super supportive of me so they treated my magazine like soccer practise or violin lessons. It was the same thing. I ran track as a kid, but at the same time I had my parents dropping me off at fashion week and taking me to concerts so, somehow I just managed. I treated it just like other pastimes.”
M- Did your relationships with large-scale celebrities and “The Scene” start at a really young age by going to fashion week? Is that how you started building relationships with people that you work with now?
S- “Yeah, I started building those relationships back then. Fashion was always the route I would go through. Definitely going to fashion week at a young age helped me build a lot of relationships and I still continue to. The model hasn’t changed.”
M- For people that may not be in that scene and want to break in, or break into PR, that relationship building is one of the hardest pieces because it’s organic and takes time. Do you have any tips for them that you can share as far as building these relationships with clients or potential collaborators?
S- “There are so many angles to a relationship. For me, I love real-life interactions like meeting someone in real life but also utilizing online platforms whether it be Instagram and Twitter… really going out of your way to look for the people that are in the demographic or arena that you’re trying to get into. The internet provides an amazing platform to do that. And also understanding that relationships take time. The more I nurture relationships over the years, they become really important. A lot of times people will meet someone and maybe they don’t follow up or check up on that person. Something as simple as wishing happy birthday to someone can really go a long way; just nurturing the relationships that you have and always following up and checking in on them. Some of the best business partnerships that I have help me because I’ve had a relationship with them over a number of years.”
M- Do you start off with a personal relationship and then as it evolves you think “we should collaborate” or do you pitch something to them directly. How do you do that seamlessly?
S- “There’s no one size fits all model. It depends on how I approach a particular situation. Some of my industry friends are really good friends of mine today, business aside. There’s nothing better than doing business with people you have genuine ties with and values to share. And there are situations where it’s very intentional that I want a specific opportunity with a particular person, but you always have to keep it organic and never transactional.”
Something as simple as wishing happy birthday to someone can really go a long way; just nurturing the relationships that you have and always following up and checking in on them. Some of the best business partnerships that I have help me because I’ve had a relationship with them over a number of years.”
M- What’s the toughest part of your job?
S- “The politics of everything? You know, you can be so optimistic and go into situations with bright eyes and amazing ideas, but you realize that there are barriers, super structural barriers, that are already in place that you have to try to defy at times.”
M- You’re very passionate about giving back and teaching what you have learned over your long-spanning career since you started at 12. You give something called “The Branding Workshop.” What are some of the recurring questions that people have in that workshop?
S- “A lot of people come to me and ask me how they should actually craft their brand. They might have an idea or an inkling of the direction they want to go in with their brand, but how do they actually craft and structure it and prepare a business plan or a branding plan as a matter of fact. There are so many components that go into a brand; it’s not just a logo or your demographic, there’s just so much that goes into it.”
M- Do you instruct people to define themselves first or do you look to their audience first?
S- “Again, there’s no one-size-fits-all model. I’m often asked “should I make a business page?” or “should I run my brand on my personal page?” Everybody is different. I have a business page and I also have a personal page and there are two different things going on for each. They’re similar but they’re not the same. Often times when people come to me, it’s really about taking a holistic approach, seeing what goes into their brand and figuring ourt what’s best for them.”
M- Do you think that people are getting smarter and pushing away these Instagram images and really trying to connect authentically to who they are? How important do you think authenticity is?
S- “I think authenticity is so key. Some examples would be Cardi B or Megan Thee Stallion where they literally maintain the same brand story since they jumped because they’re real, it’s just who they are. So, I think authenticity, more than ever, is key. Another example would be, if you look at the Youtube space, people are really gravitating to Youtube couples that are on trend now because it’s something that people can relate to; everybody wants to fall in love, everybody wants to feel part of something and I think authenticity more than ever is key or at least the appearance of authenticity. (…) Viewers will always resonate with something that’s organic.”
M- When you’re giving back through these workshops and Mentorly, what inside you told you “Ok, now it’s time to give back to the next generation?”
S- “Sometimes I just find myself sitting around talking with my friends and I have so much knowledge to give it’s not even fair that I just have this built up in me, so I just want to share it with the world. There’s so much to give and especially when the industry I work in is fast-moving; there’s always new methodology, always new technology, things are always shifting and we’re in a time that’s super transformative right now, so more than ever I can really help people out.”
M- It’s not what you’re learning in school. Business degrees are not moving fast enough to keep up.
M- You need to be our ‘real-life’ professor.
S- “I worked in a college. I would love to be an adjunct professor. That would be a goal of mine.”
M- Lucky students! How did you hear about Mentorly?
S- “I found Mentorly through a google search. I’m not even sure what I was looking at but I came across it and the world “Mentor” stood out to me and I looked into it, saw what you were doing and it’s such an amazing initiative. I don’t know any other platform offering that service.”
M- We’re so lucky to have you. What are you most excited to work with your mentees on?
S- “I’m most excited to work with mentees on developing their brand plans. I think that that’s a frequent question that most people come to me for: “How do I shape my brand?”, “How do I shape a plan?” and I love helping them through those steps so, I’m really excited to help them get their brand plan together and hopefully propel them to greater heights!