Societygal Feature with Kelly Helfman the VP of WWDMAGIC
Kelly Helfman is the Vice President of WWDMAGIC, FAME, ACCESSORIES THE SHOW and POOL TRADESHOW, four of UBM Fashion’s top performing events. With 15+ years of experience in fashion sales, marketing, and design, other career highlights include starting Kween, a celeb-favorite, vintage-inspired clothing brand, and launching Playground (now Children's Club Las Vegas) and FWD New York (now merged with FAME.)
Tell us about yourself and what you do?: I oversee 4 of UBM's women's fashion events which include WWDMAGIC, POOL TRADESHOW, ACCESSORIES THE SHOW and FAME (a whopping total of 12 events a year both located in NYC and Las Vegas). I have been with MAGIC/UBM now for almost 12 years and am still loving what I do. I started out 12 years ago as a Customer Service Rep helping the Designers who are our exhibitors prepare for the shows. Twelve years later I oversee the four show brands from messaging, experience, décor, value, floor merchandising, marketing, social media to producing the event, show revenue, show strategies and so forth. Plus it helps I love fashion and get to work with some of the most respected clothing and accessories Designers in the world. At our shows, the designers take a booth with us to show the buyers (retail stores) their collections in hopes to write business. We connect the brands to their buyers. Our shows are where new brands come to be discovered and where buyers go to discover.
What do you like most about Societygal?: It is such an inspiring platform that encourages women to pursue their passion and support one another. I especially love all the features on major boss babes who are following their dreams.
Who do you look up to and why?: OK, ready for it. I immediately think of Betsey Johnson. Old school, I know. But she is one of the original society gals in my mind who inspired many upcoming fashionistas by allowing her individuality to reimagine the fashion game. She took risks throughout her career while always staying true to herself.
What advice do you have for our readers?: Be patient. Being successful at what you love takes time. It took me 11 years at the same company to get to where I am now. I wanted this career in fashion so bad, but I had to work hard for it. Now in my mid-thirties, I have a great career and am showing my kiddos you can be a working mom and have it all.
What new things are you up to?: MAGIC has traditionally always been an apparel and accessories tradeshow, but with the indie beauty business hotter than ever, we have decided to launch a new concept area at WWDMAGIC called GLAM. Glam will be launching this February in Las Vegas and will feature 10 beauty brands curated by myself who will be selling items at the show you can walk away with in addition to the traditional wholesale ordering. Our retail stores shopping MAGIC are always looking to us to let them know what is hot and what they should add to their store line up. It is important for retailers to have some gifts and beauty now in addition to the clothing and accessories.
What books are you reading?: Kabbalah for Dummies, true story. I had a Bat Mitzvah when I was 12 years old and lost total touch with my faith after that. Life got busy and I just stopped going to temple. As I get older, I find myself getting more spiritual. I want to see whether or not the Kabbalah is the way I can get back into Judaism as it is a more modern, spiritual way of practicing. We shall see....
When did you launch your business?: MAGIC, which stands for "MENS APPAREL GUILD IN CALIFORNIA" was launched in 1933 as a non-profit out of Los Angeles, later moving to Las Vegas . MAGIC originally started out with menswear only, however is now that largest destination for women's fashion and footwear as well. MAGIC was most recently acquired by one of the largest events companies in the world, UBM.
What are your offerings in your business?: Our shows offer the fashion industry the most comprehensive fashion marketplaces, where you will find the latest in apparel, accessories, footwear and manufacturing. We offer brands space to display their collections where they will have the opportunity to sell to the best retail stores in the business. Retailers from all over the world come shop the shows to discover new lines for their stores, order from their favorite brands and attend networking events. We also offer a great line up of educational seminars and panels to help the fashion community stay in the know and evolve.
How do you manage a work / life balance? Do you set any specific boundaries?: Work/Life balance is my everyday mantra, swear. Being a full-time working mom is not easy. You must set boundaries where allowed. For example, I have to travel a lot for the shows and really cannot get around that. So when I am working out of the office, I make sure to leave on time and be home by dinner time. I never open my lap top on weekends. It can wait. Getting date nights with the hubby or time with my besties is so important for me as well. It is like free therapy and keeps me feeling supported. However, there are Sundays where I do not get out of bed. I just need major downtime. You have to take care of yourself.
What is does your morning routine look like? Do you stick to a schedule?: Currently it is a wake up by 5:15 am to get a work out in (ask me if I'm still doing this in a month) , then off to work by 7am. Oh, and did I mention my commute is about an hour and 30 mins each way! So I stop at Starbucks for a coffee on the way, make some east coast calls and listen to 90's hip hop or Ryan Seacrest...I love his bit called "Ryan;s Roses."
Favorite food +/or drinks?: Lover of sushi, pizza, escargot and box cake. My Starbucks order is a Venti iced skinny vanilla latte with an extra shot. I also love La Croix, iced green tea and rose.
Where can our readers find you?: DM me on instagram! I love talking fashion or business with anyone. Let's connect @greydahl, and I apologize in advance for kid pics but my feed is all about that work/life balance.
Any other thoughts?: If you ever want to come check out any of our shows in Vegas or NYC, we would love to have you see what we do. When you think fashion careers, one mostly goes to designing or retail, but there really is so much more in fashion you can do. Fashion tradeshows are super exciting and inspiring.