Patrick Clayton is the founder of Patrick J. Clayton Productions, a full-service event planning and production company with offices in New York and Los Angeles that produces events across North America. Having spent 15 years in the luxury fashion and lifestyle industries, Clayton works to “seamlessly integrate” a creative vision with a brand’s own aesthetic sensibility.
Specializing in product launches, some of the firm’s clients include QVC, Mercedes-Benz, Target Corp., Cosmopolitan, L’Oréal, Polo Ralph Lauren, Clinique, Panera and Hain Celestial. Clayton also served as a volunteer at the Obama White House as a decorator for the 2016 holiday season.
Clayton, who graduated from LIM College in 2003, launched his company in 2007. He’s also worked in merchandising and visual direction for Lacoste as well as event design for Robert Verdi Inc. And he has also taught courses in fashion show production and event planning at LIM College. Here, Clayton shares insights about his career path.
WWD: How did your coursework and your experience at LIM help inform your career decisions?
Patrick Clayton: LIM put me right in the thick of the fashion industry. From Day One, I was immersed. From professors who were still working in the industry to internships and volunteer experiences, I was able to see firsthand what a wide variety of jobs looked and felt like. This helped me make the right choices and put me ahead of the game when I started my career.
I loved both the business classes such as finance and creative ones such as color and design. Color theory is still one of my most memorable and useful classes and a background in finance has certainly helped me grow my own business.
WWD: If you could go back in time and give career advice to your younger self, what would you say?
P.C.: Be more patient. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Do the right thing every time, even if it means more work and less money. And spend all your money on travel, not stuff. Traveling the world gives me so much inspiration. Another pair of jeans doesn’t. I wish I’d have prioritized experiences more than things in my 20s.
WWD: How would you describe your career path? What were some of the challenges you faced?
P.C.: I always wanted to land in a job that contained both creative and finance elements. I love making, creating, building — and combining it with the how-do-we-pay-for-it. I started off in retail, then went into window display and store design, then into p.r. and events, finally ending up with my very own event planning firm — where I combine all of those things every day. I love showing my creativity in our events, but my team makes fun of how much I love an excel spreadsheet, too.
WWD: Have you had mentors at LIM or in the industry? If yes, how have they helped you?
P.C.: I’ve had many people help me along the way. At LIM, my favorite professors were truly inspirational, both from a business and a design perspective.
LIM was also pivotal in helping me meet and secure a job with Robert Verdi. He was a huge inspiration to me, both personally and professionally. Robert showed me so many ins and outs of p.r., design and, especially, events. He taught me that it’s all in the extra move, the extra detail, the giving the customer more than they asked for — and then following up and keeping them happy as a long-term client.
WWD: What advice would you give someone considering a career in the retail and fashion apparel market?
P.C.: Be prepared to work long, hard hours with little thanks and even less pay. You must have a passion for it. And the rewards will come. Put in your time and realize that everyone whose job you want put in their time, too. Go after what you want and don’t let anything stand in your way.