Welcome Season 5 of our series This Is How I Get It DONE, where we take a moment to interview members of the PR In Canada & Profectio community members to find out more about the person behind the desk, how they got their start, their current role (and everything in between). For our fifth episode of Season 5 we talked to Laurie Zakreski, President of Zak Communications [TCO].
President / Founder Zak Communications
Tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.
I grew up in Saskatoon and moved first to Toronto, then to Montreal when I graduated from university. I didn’t have much of a plan at the time and was making a living doing modelling and waitressing. I met the owner of Buffalo Jeans while getting my hair cut (he was in the chair next to me) and he offered me a position as a receptionist. At the time, they were just starting to expand into the US and to do some advertising and because I had a background as a model, I was put in charge of organizing a campaign shoot which morphed into me heading up all marketing in both Canada and the US. It was an incredible opportunity to learn everything about marketing from a-z, from the ground up.
What made you decide to launch your own agency?
I never really decided to launch ZAK, it kind of just happened. I had 10 years’ experience already in senior marketing roles in the fashion industry and became aware at some point, having participated in agency searches, that there was a lack of talent agency side in terms of understanding and responding to the unique needs of the fashion industry. After being Director of Marketing at Tommy Hilfiger, I started doing consulting work for Swiss Army / Victorinox as they were launching apparel in Canada. This mandate grew into managing the entire PR and advertising strategy for all divisions from my dining room table. I was then asked to do more consulting with a prominent Montreal based fashion importer which then led to me incorporating, hiring my first team member and from there, landing Michael Kors, Hudson’s Bay and then Sephora as clients. The rest, as they say, is history!
One word to describe your work style AND what you do:
Elevate – whether its people, brands, or strategy!
What is a typical workday like for you?
As the sole owner at Zak, my days are pretty full as I’m quite close to all aspects of the business; internal meetings, brainstorms, clients calls etc. while supervising all the admin functions. The most exciting thing for me these days is seeing the agency continue to diversify into different categories like food and beverage. I’m also really excited about our new digital and social media service offering which we have a very high demand for!
How do you balance family-work?
I live with my partner, part-time teenage stepchildren and cats – they are all pretty self-sufficient and don’t seem to mind that I work a lot 😊
What was a moment in your career that really helped define how you work today?
There are a couple of interactions I’ve had with some very senior people in the industry who completely impressed me with their very human approach to PR and to work. For better or worse, I’ve always tried to keep things humble and real. There can be a lot of pretense in our industry, and I’ve come to appreciate that its way too small to act like a jerk.
9-5 is LONG gone, what is one shortcut or life hack that works for you?
Bullet-proof coffee and meditation