For this edition of Creatives That Inspire Us we’ve interviewed Lara Eurdolian and James King. Our long time friends, partners and ex roommates from 20 years ago, now well established professionals in their own respective fields.
Lara needs no introduction, her brand, Pretty Connected is well known in the world of fashion. And James King is more known among digital experts. Learn how they’ve met each other, what’s keeping them going after 15 years, and how they complete each other both professionally, and privately, as a contemporary Creative Power Couple.
Living Proof Creative: First, the mandatory question – How did you two meet?
James: We met at a rooftop in Brooklyn at a barbecue. Through a mutual friend 15 years ago, at least.
Lara: And then we started dating a year later. We just met really casually, and then a year later we ran into each other twice within a week. And then James asked me out.
Living Proof Creative: Way to go, James. So, you’re both very successful in your own creative careers. We know Lara is crazy busy, you’re crazy busy. Does this focus on your careers, bring you closer together or is that a challenge that you have to work through on a daily basis?
Lara: You know, we’re such independent people and we’re great apart and great together. So I think we give each other the creative freedom to do what we need to do. I think anyone who values their relationship, you have to make time for it.
When James has to go to Korea for two months for a project, I support him. And when I have two weeks of craziness or have to really focus on work, he supports that. So I think it’s just nice to be in a mature relationship where we know there’s a deadline to the busyness.
I think one thing about being in a relationship with James is he really is very supportive of me just running with things and ideas.
Even if it is going to make me busy there isn’t that, you know, guilt. At the same time, when we need to spend time or take a vacation, we communicate our needs.
James: I think we compliment each other pretty well. Our personalities are not opposing, but they’re different.
Lara’s a very great networker, social butterfly, super creative, and I’m more in a full-time job that’s advertising. So I think our skills and our personalities help to not just support each other, but you know, balance a bit as well.
Lara: And we’re both really low key. So I think that helps, like at the end of the day, we’re just super happy being together, watching TV, spending a night in. We definitely love going out, but I think that’s really nice.
Especially at the time of COVID, that’s the first time James has ever been home every day and it was really great. Weekends are our sacred time where we don’t even like to make plans so we can just spend that time together.
James: I would probably never go out if it wasn’t for Lara.
Living Proof Creative: That does sound mature. You guys feel like you’re kind of a natural fit. You said James was traveling to Korea, how frequently do you guys travel for business? And how do you stay close during that time apart?
James: I mean, it’s in waves, with COVID it’s a lot less now. But before that I was probably traveling 40, 50 percent of the time to offices in the US or Korea. I love traveling and bringing Lara with me is a great bonus if it works.
Lara: And vice versa. For me it’s usually press trips or just a quick trip for a gig. Monthly, probably one week out of the month.
There’s a lot of trips where I get to go and James gets to hang at the amazing hotel and experience the city, whereas I’m working full time.
There’s something so nice about at the end of your job to go back to your hotel and have your partner there and be able to wake up and have coffee and breakfast.
James: We took a trip to Australia when I took a year off of work for a sabbatical, which I recommend to anybody thinking about it.
Lara: Yeah, during that year you were able to come to all my gigs and then we could extend the trips and do a lot of tourism type things and partner with different tourism boards or brands. So that part’s really fun too.
I mean, a lot of times with his trips, I’ll try to figure out something I can do
Living Proof Creative: So you guys own a dog. What breed is it? What’s his name?
Lara: We actually rescued Charlie when we were out at Coachella.
I had a gig and we were partnering with the Westin in Palm Springs and they have a beautiful pet adoption program where they will let one local dog from the shelter live there and guests can sign them out. And when they get adopted, they put a new dog in.
So I was like, let’s walk this dog. And he was having a tough time getting adapted because he was 10 years old.
I fell in love with him. James is a little bit of a late bloomer. He thought I was crazy, but I was like, we have to take this little boy home.
Now, James is like his super dad. He cooks for him. I’m like, number two,
He rules our life and we’ve had him for five and a half years. So he’s almost 16 and he’s a little Pomeranian and he’s the cutest.
Living Proof Creative: Does Charlie travel with you guys?
Lara: Yeah, he does, he’s a great traveler. He loves going places. He just goes in his little carrier and naps and is just happy to be with mom and dad.
Living Proof Creative: So, share with us some of your proudest “Lara and James moments,” what makes it worth it?
James: I always feel grateful looking back on all these amazing experiences and times that we’ve had. Whether it’s traveling or accomplishments, like her chain business, or me getting promoted. There’s those small wins that you look back on but I’m always really appreciative of those key moments that really stand out, whether it’s standing in a different part of the world or feeling that sense of accomplishment for a job well done.
Lara: We always joke because this whole influencer world is so crazy now. Everything’s all about “Instagrammable” moments but I was so lucky to get into this world so early, before Instagram existed.
Back then, brands or tourism boards really wanted you to just take in the experience. It wasn’t about being on your phone the whole time and just content content content. It was about experiencing something.
I remember one New Year’s, Cover Girl invited us to the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square. I never understood why people waited all night in Times Square but when the ball drops, it’s like you’re in a snow globe. All this confetti goes up and it was just so magical. I just felt really grateful to get to have this amazing night and to get to share that experience with someone special.
We get invited to so many cool things but when you have somebody to share it with you really enjoy it and kind of appreciate it.
A lot of these experiences that brands or people create aren’t ones that are for sale. So I think that’s really fun too, getting a totally different experience. So, I would say those are pretty much my proudest moments and we’ve had a lot of highlights.
I’m always proud of James. He’s always getting promoted or getting cards from his employees about how great he is and what a mentor is. I’m always proud of the person he is.
Living Proof Creative: James, you briefly mentioned Lara’s business. So I want to ask Lara about your trajectory so far? You’ve been doing this influencer thing for quite a while now. We’ve seen you and your chains featured all over the place.
Lara: I started a beauty blog well over a decade ago.I came from the beauty world with brands like NARS and Keihls and I was always sort of fascinated by digital marketing. Back then it was still all about print magazines and conventional in-store marketing.
There were definitely no influencers. I always used to joke that I started the blog because there wasn’t enough good information on the internet and now there’s too much information on the internet.
So I just started writing about things that people were always asking me for advice about certain products. It just started very casually and within, I would say five years, we started to see this growth of this whole influencer blogger world.
I actually helped Keihls launch their social media. So that was a great learning opportunity and ultimately I went full-time with it. With anything, I think you get a platform and you have to grow it and learn to do things.
You kind of have to really self motivate to kind of parlay it into other things because it became such a competitive landscape. I started to do more TV and then I started to work with magazines. I currently, you know, work with a new beauty magazine, which has been a really amazing opportunity that ultimately helped me launch my chains.
I was able to use my network to kind of get a lot of press and partnerships. It’s just another level of evolving because when you launch something, you know, 13 years ago, if you do the same thing for that amount of time, you just kind of lose your creativity.
So I just look at it as an opportunity to try new things or meet the people and grow my brand accordingly. That’s what Pretty Connected has been all about, is just sort of an evolution if you will.
Living Proof Creative: I mean, now you introduced a product that’s become a big revenue stream for the brand. That’s awesome.
Lara: It’s so challenging as a small business to do anything. What this industry has taught me is it’s one thing to come up with mask chains, but if you’re going to really make something big, you have to make a big noise.
I had so much time during COVID. I had seven trips and all my gigs canceled. So it really was such a great learning opportunity to just sit and focus on this brand and to use my social media to explain the product, and to get other influencers and Editors excited about the product.
It was a great distraction from everything that was happening in the world. It was so much work. I don’t even know how people do it. It’s so challenging, but it’s been so rewarding to really invest my time taking it from a hobby to an actual business.
Living Proof Creative: Yeah, we have worked with quite a few beauty brands and your growth just seems so organic. It seems natural.
Lara: That’s the distinction now too. Brands are a lifestyle, but a lot of brands are doing these like very manicured model shots and it just doesn’t have any heart.
When I launched all of this, I really wanted to build the community aspect. I want people to love the product. One reason that we got upwards of a hundred major press hits is because we were heavy on gifting in the beginning.
And I know what it’s like, people send you so much stuff but when you get them to actually use your product, especially with a mass chain, it’s on your face and suddenly you’re at brunch and you’re getting all these compliments or people are recognizing it, there’s a sense of like, oh wait, this is actually something that people want and I should talk about it.
So I was noticing that that was part of my strategy, getting that authentic customer engagement. ‘m super lucky. I have a product that people are always shooting and talking about and wearing. It’s very visual, which helps with my storytelling.
For the shop, most of the images are generated from different influencers and people and customers who wear our product. And even when I get my model shots and my flat lays, half the time I don’t even end up using them on my social media because there’s something so much more impactful like these everyday people who are loving and wearing and posting.
Content wise, we’ve been so blessed because there’s a lot of pressure on you to tell the brand story and it doesn’t always translate.
Lara: We’ve been so lucky too, with the collaboration and Kesha. she basically gave her own spin on two of our top selling chains and she was such a big fan and that was so exciting.
Then to have all of her fans be so excited about this product, it’s been really fun to do these partnerships. So now I’m the brand, and I’m using a lot of my past experience, but in a totally different way, which keeps me very inspired.