With an infectious positivity and an unapologetic drive for success, Carolina Gahn is the mastermind behind Gahn Fishing, a PR agency focused on fashion and lifestyle brands with a purpose. As a Residus collaborator, we sat down to talk candidly about what it means to shape your own destiny, work-life balance, and what uncompromised style looks like.
Tell us a little bit about your story and what you are doing now?
I was born and bred in a big loving family where all of us have quite big, zany personalities. Since I was a little girl, I’ve always been very social and curious, so I knew from an early age that I wanted to work in fashion and with people. When I was twenty, I started working at a lifestyle PR firm and worked there for four years until I felt I wanted to do something on my own. Then for two years, I started freelancing and launched a premium dog food brand called Wonderboo, which was quite successful. But I left that venture because I felt like I was still missing something. Often, it’s not always clear to you (or others) what that might be, and it takes time to find that clarity. So I took time to learn, discover, and I figured out exactly what I wanted to do with my life, and that was to carve out my own corner in PR. Once you know what you want, it’s easier to go for it. Since then, I only work with brands and with people that I want to work with. And may I say Gahn Fishing is still floating.
What is the most difficult aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Balance. There’s always work to be done, ideas that need to be cooked and polished, problems to solve, goals to reach, the list goes on and on. Eventually, you find your work and personal life melting into one pot and your calendar becomes your reminder that you need to eat and sleep. It’s exciting, but also exhausting.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being an entrepreneur?
The hardest part of being an entrepreneur is also the best part: I get to map out the road that I want to drive along. That also means that I’m always planning and then working towards those goals that I set out for myself.
You’ve been in the lifestyle PR game for a long time now, what do you think has been the biggest changes in the industry in the last few years?
Social Media. With the millions of apps, websites and other platforms that people can communicate through these days, this is truly the golden age of social media. Young people are among the top users of most social media platforms on the Internet. When I started, only a couple of blogs were active and nobody knew how powerful these bloggers would become. Social media is such a huge part of our culture and will only continue to be more influential in the industry.
Who would Gahn Fishing’s dream clients be and why?
My dream client would be to work with the eclectic New York style icon Iris Apfel. She is my idol and I would love to do something with her. Her confidence is so inspiring to me. And if you look at all the larger-than-life personalities in the fashion industry, no one can quite compare to her level of consistently zany personal style. And I absolutely love that. I would also love to work with Sir Richard Branson who founded the Virgin Group, which controls more than 400 companies. Everything he touches turns to gold.
In PR, perception is everything. How did you build your brand, and how close is it to the ‘real you?
I am blessed to have a very curious mind and a genuine love for meeting new people. Getting along and understanding people has helped me open many personal and career-related doors. Having the confidence to start a conversation at a work-related event may lead to a new job offer and a smile and ‘hello’ in a social situation may lead to a friendship being formed. With these tools, I started to build my brand. I noticed people really liked the “real” me and my style, and then things started to get rolling. I also like to be in the spotlight so that always helps.
How does your fashion sense and personal style fit with your business?
My business is dependent on a good reputation and how I conduct myself as a business woman. Having a good sense of style have helped me a lot I guess. I am very grateful that there have been several articles written about me and my personal style, which have led to people discovering me and my little firm. My fashion sense and personal style is very important to me and I only dress in what makes me feel confident. I try not to set any limits and I´m not afraid to experiment. I think people like that kind of attitude.
What does the ‘luxury of consciousness’ mean to you?
For me, it’s about understanding and taking responsibility for our natural resources, and making informed, conscious choices. It is a very luxurious feeling to be able to buy a beautiful piece of clothing and know that the product’s life cycle has been taken care of; from design, raw material production, manufacturing, transport, storage, marketing and final sale; to use, reuse, repair, remake and recycling of the product and its components. I worked with a hand crafted jewellery brand that uses only sustainable materials. They source their raw-cut diamonds from remnants left over from the diamond-cutting process, making use of the entire precious stone so there is no waste. To me, that is the luxury of consciousness.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
In ten years, I see Gahn Fishing as the leading PR agency when it is coming to sustainable fashion and working with a roster of great brands. I also hope to be Karla Otto´s worst nightmare.
If you could choose anyone, dead or alive to be your mentor, who would it be and why?
Sir Richard Branson. Just because everything he creates, he does it with the biggest heart. I really believe in killing with kindness.
Finally, if you could give advice to a 20-year-old Carolina, what would that be?
Calm down, enjoy life and be proud of yourself.