Jessica Kaplan: Today’s Notable Young Professional

Today’s Notable Young Professional, Jessica Kaplan, always knew she wanted to work in public relations. She’s now the Brand Director for Mendocino and M for Mendocino, responsible for ensuring that both brands are represented properly in all avenues of business as well as in the media…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
As Brand Director for Mendocino and M for Mendocino, my job is to ensure that both brands are represented properly in all avenues of our business as well as in the media (traditional and social). I oversee and work closely with my team on various aspects of marketing and PR. This is includes managing our social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), creating in-store signage, packaging design, event planning, customer service, and much more.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
My parents, Norma Caron and Jan Kaplan, co-founded Mendocino in 1987 (we just celebrated Mendocino’s 25th anniversary), so I’ve essentially been involved in the company for 26 of my 29 years! M for Mendocino opened as a separate division in 2009, and I’ve played a role in the business ever since. 

Public Relations was always an interesting career to me, and I found that my role as Brand Director for Mendocino and M for Mendocino offered me the best of both the PR and fashion retail worlds. I’m a pop culture junkie, and learning that the stories and products we read and see are placed in the media by someone made me want to be that person! Now, I get to see and be a part of the process that inspired me from the beginning.   

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part of my day-to-day is getting to work with an amazing team! Being surrounded by people who you get along with makes everything better. I work closely with our Social Media Coordinator, Niki, and we’re usually on the same page (so much so that we even dress the same!) From our social media strategy to selecting what Mendocino Loves each month, it’s a mutual understanding of the brands that keeps our entire team in sync. Most importantly, I get to do what I love every day. Each day is different, which always keeps things interesting.  

The most challenging part of my job is developing Mendocino and M for Mendocino into two distinct brands. When I think of Mendocino, I think aspirational. The boutiques offer designer style and the most sought-after brands of the season, whereas M for Mendocino is the place to find the latest trends at incredible price points. While building distinct brand identities can be challenging, it’s also a very exciting opportunity for me. 

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Since the first M for Mendocino location opened less than five years ago, we’ve expanded with nine new locations across the GTA. In the next five years, I’d really like to build on that momentum and elevate the Mendocino and M for Mendocino brands to the next level. 

What does success look like to you?
For me, success is about setting a goal and achieving it. It’s also about being happy at home and at work and taking pride in everything you do. 

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
After a few years of working on the agency side of PR, I realized how valuable having an internal PR position would be at Mendocino. My position at the company was in no way handed to me, and I wasn’t necessarily interested in taking the position if the fit wasn’t right (business and family have always been separate in my home, except of course for the fact that my parents are business partners!). I had to work very hard to illustrate the value of my position to my parents and a trusted circle of employees who have been with the company for 20+ years. I went through a formal interview and presentation process, so it was a huge accomplishment when I convinced everyone that I was the right fit for the job!  

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
It’s really simple: “Do what you love and love what you do.” It’s so true; if you love what you’re doing, you will be happy, motivated and inspired to break the mould. It’s also important to make sure that you’re constantly learning in this ever-changing industry, whether it’s from the people you surround yourself with or by taking a class in an area that is outside of your field – it may lead you to new and unexpected opportunities. 

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Personally and professionally, I support women’s cancer charities like the Canadian Breast Cancer Society as well as women’s shelter charities. We frequently host in-store events to support the charities that are close to our hearts. As a company mostly comprised of women, there are far too many of us that have been affected by cancer, and we try to do the best we can to help.  

What to you is notable?
Working hard and being true to yourself; stand apart and don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Fashion gives you the opportunity to have fun and be creative. Don’t be afraid to express yourself in all aspects of life. 

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