Lauren Kucerak, the founder of Kucerak + Co, sits down with her client Steve Madden, the founder, creative and design chief of Steve Madden Ltd.
With a portfolio of leading fashion, beauty, and lifestyle clients, Kucerak has built her company into one of the sought-after agencies in New York. Now, the woman known for arranging the interviews is getting the Q&A treatment herself, courtesy of her biggest client, Steve Madden. The self-made entrepreneur and designer famously turned a small investment and a trunk full of shoes into a billion-dollar fashion dynasty that spans the globe, and he hired Kucerak two years ago to look after his personal publicity.
Lauren, you’re responsible for arranging interviews for me, right?
Yes, along with other projects.
And I’ve been good, right?
So, I’m turning the tables and am going to interview you.
This should be interesting!
Ok, here we go. How do you handle a client like me?
You’re fantastic. The trick is letting Steve be Steve. You’re a natural, but it’s in the preparation. Making sure you know everything you need to before. Who’s interviewing you, what the topic or angle is, what they’ve written before, what they’re likely to ask, and anything you have in common with the interviewer — family, background, your interests.
I’m a good client, huh?
Yes, for many reasons. The media like you because you give them good material. And you’re honest. What’s great is that you and I speak shorthand. I know how you’re going to answer a question before I ask it.
What’s your favorite project at Steve Madden?
There are a lot, but I really like Self Made. Mentoring young entrepreneurs with collaborations, roundtables, and networks is really at the heart of Steve Madden, given your path.
I’m glad you brought that up; it’s very important to me. You know, I began Steve Madden with just $1,100 and look at us now. I can’t take all the credit as you have to surround yourself with the right people. Because of that, I thought it would be great if we could identify entrepreneurs in all fields and provide them the opportunity to tap into each other’s talents, ideas, and networks through our program.
It’s one of many reasons I like working with you. You have a knack for spotting talent and nurturing and mentoring that talent.
So, what about you? What’s your path?
I can honestly say I paid my dues. I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years, starting in the agency side at Rogers & Cowan, when I did publicity for talk shows like Ricki Lake. This was that time when everyone had a talk show. It was insane, but the best classroom you could imagine. Thankfully, over time I moved into lifestyle, entertainment, and fashion, working with clients like Tommy Hilfiger, the TV show Gossip Girl, and celebrities like Molly Sims and Bruce Willis. And, of course, you. My favorite.
I bet you tell that to everyone.
Because you’re all my favorites! I have the best clients, who are also friends.
And now look at you, running Kucerak + Company.
It took a long time and a lot of hard work to get here, but I love every day of it. And like you, I am so fortunate to work with a team of smart, unique individuals whom I get to mentor, but who also mentor me in a way. They keep me on my toes. That is super exciting and makes me love my decision to open my own agency.
Kucerak + Company