Fairygodboss of the Week: Sarah Evans Thelen
Photo credit:Sarah Evans Thelen
Sarah Evans Thelen Partner J Public Relations Sarah and Romy (co-founder of Fairygodboss) met clutching their 7-week olds, sleepless and unshowered in gym clothes on the floor at Gymboree. They had an instant connection when they realized their babies were born on the same day, and also that they were both high-achieving professionals who would be heading back to work soon. Sarah has always impressed Romy so much because she runs her own business and does it with such aplomb. She balances work and motherhood so gracefully (her daughters are regulars at her office) and she has fostered a great team of women employees, and an extraordinary client list to boot.
FGB: Tell us about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
SET: I've been doing Public Relations for 15 years. I was lucky that early on in my career, I made the decision to specialize in Hotels and Travel PR which I love. I started my career in Southern California with Allison & Partners and moved to NYC in 2004, having never even visited before. Through a client in California, I was introduced to Jennifer Hawkins of Hawkins International PR. She hired me and I spent years working for her, and handling PR for some of the best hotels in the world. In early 2009, I partnered with J Public Relations (my best friend from college, Jamie Sigler, was a founder of the company), and I launched our New York City office out of my apartment. Through a ton of hard work and relationships, Jamie and I now run a 50 person team in NYC, San Diego, Los Angeles and London. We're working with travel and hospitality clients all over the world.
FGB: What is an accomplishment you are proud of?
SET: There are several things in my career I'm most proud of. First, our team: 18 of our team members started as interns and have grown with us over the years. We've created a happy place to work where success is celebrated and people genuinely care about each other. I'm also proud of our clients. Many of our clients have been clients for years -- they're true partnerships which is success. And, the days I signed brands like The Ritz-Carlton, Jumeirah and Relais & Chateaux were definitely monumental career moments. But hands down, my daughters Stella and Sloane are my #1 accomplishment.
FGB: What was a challenge you overcame?
SET: Being a working mom is a constant, daily challenge. I commute to NYC from Connecticut, and I travel frequently for work, which adds another layer of complexity. It's a constant juggling act! My daughters see me working hard and they see me doing something I love, which is important to me. There's never going to be perfect balance and I realized that early on, so I don't stress over it. We call it work/life blend at JPR. I'm constantly prioritizing and organizing - and I do my best to be in the moment wherever I am.
FGB: What do you do when you’re not working?
SET: When I'm not working, I spend as much time as possible with my husband and two girls. We love eating out and traveling. I'm always planning our next trip! We recently moved from the NYC to the suburbs so we're still exploring our new town, and getting settled. It's important to me that I make time to work out, because that helps me to keep my head clear. Boxing has always been my go-to and hot yoga is my new favorite.
FGB: If you could have dinner with one famous person - dead or alive - who would it be?
SET: Is it cliche to say Oprah? She's a self-made woman who's created one of the most successful brands in the world, and she continues to reinvent herself. She's continually branching out into new verticals. Not to mention, she's interviewed most major world icons from politicians to celebrities, so the stories she has must be insane.
FGB: What is your favorite song?
SET: Oh, that's a tough one. I have a lot. "I Love Rock n' Roll" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts is definitely an all-time favorite.
FGB: What is your favorite movie?
SET: Pretty Woman. Hands down.
FGB: What book would you take with you on a desert island?
SET: The Happiness Project. I've read it several times and I always learn something new. It's one of those books that provides a lot of clarity.
FGB: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
SET: Shopbop is my shopping vice. If I won the lottery I'd buy a plane so I'd never have to fly a commercial airline again!
FGB: Who is your Fairygodboss?
SET: I’ve worked with many strong, powerful women throughout my career, and many whom I admire. But, my #1 Fairygodboss is my Mom. She was a working mom and taught me so much about having a strong work ethic and prioritizing. She’s always been my #1 call throughout my career, and has always listened and supported me — and at the end of the day, that’s what being a Fairygodboss is all about.
Fairygodboss is all about women helping other women - so each week, we celebrate a woman who made a difference in another woman’s career. Is there a woman who has made a difference in your career? Celebrate her and thank her by nominating her here.