The A List's Ashlee Margolis Looks Back on 15 Years in the Biz
Her best advice: Work hard, be nice to everyone, stay positive and let's have fun.
Ashlee Margolis can be called a lot of things: boss, brand expert, events guru, Hollywood insider and the list goes on. But she's also just a mom of two who runs her own diversified fashion and events company, The A List, which recently celebrated its 15th year in business — a lifetime by L.A. standards. Her super chic Beverly Hills showroom is a hot spot for celebs on the hunt for new looks for big events or the everyday. We recently caught up with the Tinseltown vet to talk about the milestone, to recount major advice she gives her staff and to peek into her crystal ball about what the next 15 may look like.
The Hollywood Reporter: The A List does so many things. How would you describe what you do to someone who may not know the business?
Ashlee Margolis: In a nutshell, we help brands work with celebrities and influencers in organic ways. That can come in the form of an event, a campaign, a red carpet look and even every-day dressing. We have great relationships with talent and they trust that we have their best interests at heart and only present opportunities that make sense for them.
What's one of your favorite parts of your job?
On the event side of the business, I love working on projects where a client lets me pitch the concept and see it through completion. Often times we are just booking talent, but the event conception, creation and execution is really fun for me.
What's the biggest challenge in what you do?
Managing the work/mom/wife balance. Yes, this is a major cliche.
MOM DUTY: Margolis with her sons, Oscar and Isaac. (Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for The A List)
The business has changed so much in the last 15 years. Today it's common knowledge that you have to pay celebrities a lot of money to turn out to events, to wear gowns and to advertise products. That hasn't always been the case. How has that dynamic changed what you do?
We tend to encourage the client to take budget dollars out of the production and put it into the talent. If they want the guarantee, they have to pay. There are exceptions of course, but for 70 percent of the events we work on, we are working with incentives in one way or another.
What’s the most outrageous amount of money you’ve seen exchange hands to a celebrity for an event or a branding opportunity?
There was a large sum exchanged from a royal to have an actor attend a (charity) dinner of his. There was no press attached to it, just to attend … but the best part was the actor donated it all straight to his charity.
Pretend you can go back and speak to yourself on the very first day of starting your company. What would you tell yourself 15 years ago?
Breathe deeper, meditate more, hydrate, sleep and don’t kill yourself! It will all work out.
The Ask Me More campaign, sparked by Reese Witherspoon at the Oscars earlier this year, got a lot of attention. What do you think of that movement?
It gives actors a great opportunity to share a message important to them. I loved it.
POWER PLAYERS: Margolis with CAA partner Kevin Huvane (Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for The A List)
What’s the best advice you give to your staff?
Work hard, be nice to everyone, stay positive and let’s have fun. [And maybe do a little dance.]
You're involved in events all over the world. What is your favorite city?
I love London and New York. Recently we went to Dubai and I loved the people so much.
Dubai has really grown in prominence recently, from celebrity events to styling trips and personal appearances. You recently visited the city. What can you tell me about doing business there?
Everyone is eager to do business — that’s what feels fun about doing business there. I can also tell you that I loved flying Emirates.
You’ve hit a great benchmark with your 15 years with The A List. What are you goals for next 5? The next 15?
In the next five years, I want to continue to sign more great brands for the showroom. I also want to have more lifestyle clients on retainer. On the event side, for it to grow as well and do more endorsement deals. In the next 15, I hope it's been sold and I’m hosting a late-night talk show and taking some amazing vacations with my husband and boys while on hiatus.
PARTY PALS: Margolis with Pepper and publicist Sue Patricola (Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for The A List)