Questions & Answers

Mela Stevens

She would be nothing without gin, and loves Kathie Lee Gifford (that'll be the gin, then - Ed). Meet Mela Stevens, president and creative director of 823 Productions and New York's chief proponent of starting 'em while they're young.

Describe the company you work for 823 Productions is an agency that markets consumer products with trade and consumer programs through events, media relations and promotions. Our products range from premium spirits to toys, two of our favorite pleasures. Depending on the day of the week, we're normally a group of eight, and our newest employee is a one-year-old named Morgan, who comes in with her mother and takes naps in our storage room.

What do you do there? I try as hard as I can to get the group out of the office to 'play' as much as possible. We feel it's important to enjoy our clients' products, so sometimes it calls for lots of Tanqueray gin and Johnnie Walker (oooh, the hardship - Ed).

How do you make a difference? We've got a small, hard-working, very diverse team and we all believe we can make a difference with everything we do. Last summer, we began to work for Kids Project Muscular Dystrophy and launched its new CD featuring Kathie Lee Gifford. Believe it or not, it became our favorite office music. (Although now we're onto Lenny Kravitz's greatest hits. I said we were a diverse bunch.)

What is your proudest moment? When we launched Olympic Skater Barbie a few years ago with skater Tara Lipinski. I'll never forget this one moment when she was skating to Gloria Estefan's 'Reach,' and I looked out to a sea of top media.

What is your most embarrassing moment? This is an easy one. When I was just learning the ropes of dealing with paparazzi and got spat at by a photographer, as I was standing between him and The Who.

How did you get into PR? On my first interview I called myself a 'people person' and had no idea what I was in for. After all these years, I no longer consider myself that, nor do I hire anyone else who does.

How did you get to where you are today? Tanqueray gin. Literally.

What is the best invention of all time? Definitely bungee cords. For the longest time they were part of our tool kit because no matter where I was or what kind of event we were producing, bungee cords always saved the day.

With which historical figure do you identify? Winston Churchill, who said, 'Never, never, NEVER give up.' Good words to live by.

Name one thing about your past that people would be surprised to learn I was a great baton twirler in high school.

What will you do when you retire? As a rule, I try to do it all today.

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