In the world of fashion, Mia Abadi is almost an institution; someone who burns with extraordinary passion for her chosen line of business. Who guessed that she had very different plans at first. We spoke to her about how her career developed.
Prag Agency is not only a classical PR Agency. Founder and CEO Mia Abadi offers designers and brands an all over concept, which also includes Sales and the planning of shows. With success. In addition to representing established Berlin labels like Kaviar Gauche or Malaikaraiss and founding Prag Agency (Prag PR), she represents top-flight international brands such as Pallas Paris, Vivetta, Preen by Thornton Bregazzi, Ganni, & Other Stories and the Arket project. And yet Bosnia-born Abadi, who grew up in Frankfurt and studied there at Goethe University, originally had very different plans.
Ms Abadi, Prag PR is one of the leading agencies in the world of fashion PR and you are considered an absolute expert in your field. Did you always know that you wanted to work in fashion?
To be perfectly honest: no. I came to fashion by chance. I originally wanted to go into politics, which was why I studied political sciences at university. But, as is the way for so many students, I needed to earn a bit of money as well, so I helped out on reception at the advertising agency Kastner & Partners. And that was where I discovered my passion for copywriting. In those days we only had one computer, and that was at reception. All the copywriters had to come to me. It was such a good training ground. Through a contact there I got to know the designer Romeo Gigli. It was love at first sight. Even then, it was not just all about beautiful clothes; I was far more interested in the stories behind the designs. Romeo was a philanthropist who just loved travelling in the Middle and Far East. He was a man of integrity who really inspired me.
Interaction with art and culture is very important to you. How does this affect the way you talk about fashion?
I'm not a fan of publishing day-to-day banality on Instagram. I prefer to promote my customers, rather than myself. I look for substance. For beauty. Good stories. Humour. And, if I can put it this way: for collections that reflect a meticulously thought-through overall concept, in which the design itself is not the predominant factor – all this, but please with content, professionalism and talent. I've always been interested in literature and art, and it's against this backdrop that I look at collections and labels to include in my agency's portfolio. It must be something special, something that really appeals to me. It's a very subjective decision.
Failure is nothing to worry about. There's always a way.
You've worked in advertising for a long time and lived all over the world, including in London, Paris, Vienna, Barcelona and Hong Kong. Has this influenced and impacted the way you work in some way?
It meant that I grew up very quickly. It showed me that taking on responsibility can be something positive. I was, however, always lucky enough to have great (male) mentors and I learned a lot from these alpha figures. More than anything, however, I realised that you just have to keep pushing forward. There are no limits. I try to convey that to the women on my staff too. Giving up is not an option. Recognise your own creativity and intelligence and make use of them. Failure is nothing to worry about. There's always a way.
When did you decide to set up on your own agency and why?
I can't actually ever remember being a proper employee as such. It wasn't a conscious decision. I realised quickly that I'm at my most successful when I'm allowed to make my own decisions. I'm not afraid of challenges and I love doing things in unconventional ways. It's not a path that suits everyone: there are stumbling blocks along the way and you need a lot of strength and self-confidence. And sometimes a really good sense of humour.
And what makes good fashion PR? Is there a secret recipe?
I don't think there's a recipe for it. In my case it's often about instinct. Experience, of course, is also important. And a certain level of emotional intelligence. Sensitivity. All this adds up to good PR.
I draw a lot of strength from literature and from meeting people who are special.
The collaboration between an agency and a designer is normally very close. How important is it that there’s also personal chemistry? How do you find the labels that you collaborate with?
It's a relationship. Trust is very important. The brands have to trust me. And creativity; inspiration. I love talking through ideas with my designers and working towards the future. But I also learn a lot from the bigger companies, such as & Other Stories. The PR boss of & Other Stories is an unbelievably strategically-minded woman and a tremendous role model for me. It's nice when people can learn from one another and provide creative stimulus.
Where do you personally draw your inspiration and strength from?
I love life. That sounds rather like something from a soppy novel, but it's the way it is. I've been very happily married for 23 years now. My husband and my family are the most important things in my life. So I'm surrounded by love. I'm also quite an undemanding sort of person. I draw a lot of strength from literature and from meeting people who are special. Preferably people with strong opinions, but intelligent at the same time. I went to a concert by the band Fehlfarben recently with my husband. When I hear the song 'They're all stories' (Das sind Geschichten) it puts me in good mood.
In Germany in particular, fashion often has to fight for recognition. Do you try to counteract this with your work?
I have always done so and will continue to do so. Quality will always shine through. With Prag Agency I have discovered a lot of talented people and positioned them successfully in the market. I understand my craft and recognise very quickly if someone has a gift. The art is to promote this gift and develop it further; and it's here that PR has an important part to play. I'm not talking here about sending out collection pieces or issuing a news story. I'm talking about the strategic development of a brand. To make sure that this functions even more effectively, we have a Sales Unit alongside our PR Unit.