Q&A with Kathy Benharris
Interviewed by Meghan Sapienza
Polished Magazine: How did your love for fashion begin?
I feel like I have always shared an infinite love for fashion and retail. Growing up, I felt like the ladies that work in retail stores were the most glamorous people in the world. As soon as I turned 16, I got a job in retail.
Q: Where was your first job?
A: By the end of high school, I was one of the assistant managers with a key at Lerners, now New York & Company. I continued to work in retail throughout college as well, eventually leaving Lerners for a manager position at TJ Maxx. Soon after, I realized how much retail blows.
Q: That must have been a rude awakening for you! What did you end up doing instead?
A: I went to work at Post-Tron Systems, testing software for about two to three years tops before a position as the manager of store systems opened up at TJX. I stayed at TJX for four years before I got pregnant with my first child. It was then that I made the decision to raise my children and be active in their lives, instead of work. However, I wasn’t a typical housewife and mom; I kept myself busy.
Q: How did you transition from a stay-at-home mom to a professional in the fashion scene?
A: One day, my husband suggested I get into modeling, so I did. I even wore lingerie on the runway at 45! Although I loved it, I started to realize that I didn’t have an interest in modeling. I really wanted to get out of the chair and instead be the person with the clipboard.
Q: What kind of fashion-related work do you do now?
A: Currently, I am doing event production and fashion styling under the name KB Productions. I love doing events, but I also have a very strong passion for styling.
Q: That’s awesome. What has been your favorite event to work on thus far?
A: Ugh, this is a hard question because each event has its own unique qualities. This question is honestly like asking me which child I like the best – it simply cannot be answered.
Q: What would you say makes you stand out among other fashion event producers and stylists?
A: I definitely give much more than what is required when I do events, and that is really my specialty. Making a good impression is extremely important to any successful event planner, in and out of fashion.
Q: What is the best part or most rewarding part of what you do?
A: I honestly feel so lucky in so many ways. I work with so many talented people in the industry, especially the [Lasell] students. I like to think of myself as a nurturing woman, especially since I do not have any daughters of my own. I know what it is like to be a young woman who is just trying to make a mark in the world. I am rooting for my students I work with. I want the best for them, and I also want them to take on opportunities that I was so nervous to take on at their age.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge?
A: Definitely not having enough time to pursue all open opportunities. Currently, I have three entities that want to do business with me, but I am just too busy with one major event right now to take on anything else.
Q: Do you have any suggestions for young girls who are interested in the production side of the fashion industry?
A: Yes, work with as many producers as you possibly can. Get your name out there, be a good contributor, and most importantly be ready to experience it all. It is important to take any job that you can, because that is how you learn.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: I began doing events and styling about six years ago, and I plan on doing it for many more years to come. However, you never know what the future will hold. Just know that the career you think you want to have in the fashion industry may not be what you end up doing. Nothing is set in stone. Your path is always going to be twisting and turning, so it is important to be open to anything. Even my story is still being told!
Check out Kathy Benharris on Facebook for more information!