“Assistant”Is a somewhat generic term. Sure, assistants schedule meetings, take notes, and fetch coffee, but they can also act as a near porter, sending fruit baskets to top customers and buying gifts for partners. In an effort to bring to light the highly specific material needs of powerful people, we sat down with “Leah,” 25, who has spent much of the past two years working as an executive assistant to one of the most powerful and recognizable magazine editors in the world. fashion that work today. We talked to her about price-on-demand stationery, exclusive Milanese pastries, and the famous hair-enhancing dry shampoo that her big boss kept in large supply.
Leah’s boss is very adept when it comes to maintaining relationships, and “the gift is part of that,” he says. Leah quickly learned that the size of the gift was always influenced by the importance of the connection. In practice, this meant spending more time and effort on gifts for people in her boss’s life who might have come in handy (like a “tough celebrity who might want to be on the cover”) than those she simply felt compelled to stay with. in contact . This latter group would receive the still beautiful but standard flower arrangements, and not the “let me do three hours of research” gifts.
Most often, Leah says she would order white roses or peonies from florist Michael George, spending around $ 200 per arrangement. If flowers were for someone even more special – cover stars, actors, musicians, models, designers and guests of the publisher’s reality show – Leah she would call floral designer Nicolas Cogrel. Cogrel’s staff would tell her what was in stock, put together a deal, and then send a photo to the publisher’s team for approval. Sometimes her boss gave feedback on the color or position of the flowers, but in general she trusted Cogrel’s judgment, because “they are very good at their work for a reason”.
Leah’s boss sent handwritten notes as standard practice, again on Cartier’s special order monogram cards. A spokesperson for Cartier told us that the house only sells bespoke stationery from its Fifth Avenue flagship and that the service involves partnering with the customer on the appearance of the letter-writing materials. A traditional set of ten standard engraved cards and envelopes costs $ 230, while a custom job can vary in price based on the chosen paper weight, embossing, and so on.
One season during Milan Fashion Week, the publisher brought back a box of these pastries, asking Leah to send them to one of her good friends. Leah says the publisher carried the box by hand and managed to avoid breaking the cookies by asking the hotel for bubble wrap. (Impressive, considering the 12-type variety of pastries weighs nearly 20 lbs.)
[Editor’s note: Pasticceria Marchesi lists its prices in euros, so this is an approximation to U.S. dollars.]
During the holidays, Leah’s boss occasionally hired her to ship panettone from Sant Ambroeus, the legendary Milanese restaurant in New York City. Described as “a delicately sweet leavened bread traditionally filled with candied orange, citron rind, and raisins,” the party-wrapped dome treat would be picked up by Leah and delivered to friends and acquaintances via the publisher’s private messaging service. Leah says no more than three panettone would be given for the holiday season (the only time they’re available), as her boss liked to diversify the gifts. According to Leah, the Sant Ambroeus office on Madison Avenue was also a popular spot for publisher power breakfasts, usually with industry contacts (and always with a definite agenda). “I don’t think it would waste time if there was no possibility of a deal going through,” she says.
As part of its virtual fashion show during COVID, Gucci gifted guests with CSA boxes from New York’s food supplier Farm to People. After that introduction, Leah’s boss occasionally started sending products instead of flowers. This exchange reflected the pandemic-induced changes the publisher made to his gift-giving habits. While Leah’s boss has always wanted to show that he thought of a gift, during COVID “there was definitely a greater importance attached to it,” says Leah, adding that the editor stepped up his game of even more. personalized notes when it came to checking friends. This also meant selecting relatively affordable and “safer” gifts that he knew the recipient would enjoy (he didn’t want to go out on a branch and order something crazy “), versus a higher priced item that might not be the easiest to get. exchange or return, especially if it was sent to Los Angeles or the Hamptons.
Despite having access to an endless supply of beauty giveaways (and a steady stream of branded gifts), Leah’s boss required that only one hair product (plus one non-grooming item) be available at all times.
Since Leah’s boss is known for her hair, the only personal styling product she needed to keep on hand was this Oribe dry shampoo. Leah says the publisher tried to stash at least one can in every single bag he carried to add shine and keep his outlet fresh between dates. The publisher chose a color and cut every three or four weeks and worked with two or three stylists for important events.
Leah says she kept Hershey’s Kisses and mini Reese’s Cups in stock so her boss could grab a handful when she walked out of her office. And since Leah herself became very in tune with the aesthetic while working with the editor, she would stick to the original silver kisses rather than venture into the seasonal colors.
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