Bret Shuford 0:00
Hi Preston, welcome to the podcast.
Preston Konrad 0:03
Hi, Brett. Thanks for having me.
Bret Shuford 0:06
I'm just so excited to have you here because I have followed your journey for a very long time and listened to an earlier version of your podcast, but it was morning people. And, and my dad's name is Preston. I don't mean Preston's. Yeah.
Unknown Speaker 0:23
I don't know any other presidents. That's the smallest world I've really never met another president.
Bret Shuford 0:28
Are you serious?
Unknown Speaker 0:29
Yeah. But you're southern. It's a southern thing. So I feel like Preston's like a sweet tea vibe down there. It just kind of rolls off the tongue.
Bret Shuford 0:36
But you're not southern. Where are you from?
Unknown Speaker 0:38
I'm not I'm from Philadelphia. Originally. Well, I'm from outside of Philadelphia on like a very small little town and is pressed in the family name or where Dustin was my grandmother's maiden name. Last? Yeah. Last name.
Bret Shuford 0:52
Name. It's really good name. You know, when you're a little kid, and you're like a little closeted gay, and you're like, can I just be like, Steve? Why does it have to be president?
Unknown Speaker 1:04
And then now that I'm older and very old, I love it. So shout out to my mom for hooking that up. And it looks
Bret Shuford 1:10
really good on a store window. I gotta say. It does. Yeah, we'll get to that. We'll get to that. But I so I find what I love about your journey, as you've really found this with your online journey, at least is you've really found this really cool way of being an influencer or a style lifestyle influencer. But you're still real and authentic. And I don't feel like everyone always nails that I think there's a lot of people who kind of hide behind their social media, and I still see you, I still see you as a person and everything that you do. And I'm really curious how how you were able to discover that balance.
Unknown Speaker 1:50
Thank you, by the way for that. Because, I mean, you're like, I'm like you at heart. Like you're much more professional than I am as a performer. But like, I was like a theater kid growing up and made my way back to performing with television. And now it's but it's always kind of like, been in me to share and be kind of like, on. So when stories came about on Instagram, in particular stories, I felt like I was like, because I think it was a story was knocked off of Snapchat, right? Yes. And knocked off. And I was like, wait a minute, this is a really good way for me to show who I really am. Because people would for a while would see my instagram at the time, which was like, just static imagery. And they'd be like, Oh, it's so nice to meet you. I thought you were like an asshole. I thought you were snooty. Or I thought and I'm like, why? And they're like, Oh, well, you like posing these like outfits on the street? And I'm like, No, oh, my God, that's so the opposite. Like, I'm actually just a really goofball. And stories, it was a nice place for me to feel like I was like, speaking to my audience directly. And I found a lot of traction, like from the jump there. And I figured I would just kind of keep rolling with it. And you know, it's weird, because people, I'm sure, like, you could come up to you guys on the street or like, Oh, my God, I feel like I know you or see you at the barber shop or something. And you're like, oh, and it feels nice, but they do know a lot about you. And I love that. I love that they know so much about me.
Bret Shuford 3:17
Yeah, I think that it's so tricky. It's one of the things I talk to people about is like how do you make the person you see live and in person match the person you see online? And that's that's I don't think everyone nails that. And I think you really do and I'm really curious like I you know, you're openly gay, but your your whole platform has really started through working in this corporate environment, and especially national television, like being stylist and making guest appearances. Talk a little bit about your journey in that world, to building your personal brand, this idea of Preston Conrad, because I imagined there was a delicate balance on what you could put online, totally, especially as you know, being married or being married to a man and living that life. And then also trying to book these national television gigs. Totally what have been sort of the challenges for that
Unknown Speaker 4:12
good question. I still like, Oh, someone said to me the other day, I said, so I was like, does that sound super gay? And I'm like, I'm super gay. And I said it out loud. Like, it was like a recording or it was me on TV. I was watching something back. So it is a fine balance, because what's making my personal brand sing right now is that I am really honest and open with my following and so that they want to become part of my product line, and they want to engage and they want to support me. So it's like a real connection we have. But then for television, it's split, right? So like, the fashion lifestyle guy role has always been kind of gay, so it's fine. Like I'm never worried about it, right? It's like the Carson quest leads and just got like, I know these people as friends and I know them on TV. So I'm like, Oh, we all are in the same game. Oh, but then sometimes when it's like on a larger scale, like if I'm on the Today Show, if I do something on a network, I sometimes question myself, I'm like, Oh, do I need to be more buttoned up right now or a little more mainstream. But at the end of the day, I always shake it. And I'm just like, let me be me. Because what's gotten me success so far, is just being authentic. And moving my hands around a lot and tapping the host on the shoulder and being like, I mean, don't you think like, you know, engaging with them. And it's just, I think they always get a little like, surprised by it. Because I'm not just like, talking like, and this product will do this for you. I'm like, I want to be the will to your grace lady, whoever's hosting this segment, I want to help. Now. I'm here to be your buddy. So as the older I've gotten, you know, it's less of an issue. But you know, getting into the business. It was like, I don't want to be too gay. Yeah. Everyone's a little gay now. Well,
Bret Shuford 5:49
everyone, yes. But then, like, Do you ever feel restricted to what you can post online because of this side of your business?
Unknown Speaker 5:59
No, no, I mean, I have like a clear my partner and I don't like he doesn't choose to be on social media and doesn't wish to be so like, we've made that like, respectful decision that like, our life is our life. And it happens in real life. And it doesn't happen on the phone. And it's been off. I think it's I don't know any different, honestly. And it's just like, awesome, so I can shut off this at the end of the night. And then we just like exist, you know, he uses the social media, like your app does, like just stalk people and watch videos not like actually be on it. So which I love but no, that's the only real like, hard line is that I just keep that private. But other parts of my life. I you know, when my stepdad passed away last summer, I shared about it or when we buy a house I shared about it when I have a big issue or a problem or I'm feeling a certain way or Black Lives Matter. And I want to speak out like I'm very I share it, like fuck it. Like I I think it's important because so many people you said kind of hide behind their fake feed life. And feed life is not real life.
Bret Shuford 7:07
Feed life. There's no shirt. Feed life is not real life. Yeah. Okay. But let's talk a little bit about being a part of the gay community, especially in New York City. Does there tend to be I mean, just from your experience? Is there a stigma related to having an online business and especially somebody who comes from the theater background? I know I've had experiences in the theater world where people kind of think having a social media influencer like having that even be a brand and building your brand people just automatically have a judgement around it and I feel like everyone does it's so no judge it's so judged. I think it's because I've seen a lot of people do it so poorly. Totally.
Unknown Speaker 7:50
Cringe it can be cringe watching people you know, professionally like do shit on an Instagram it can be like cringe sometimes for sure. So I know what you're saying. Like people are very quick to judge they are
Bret Shuford 8:00
so and I think that you know, Queens love to bring out the the knives and yeah, but I think it's so important to be open and talk about your sexuality, especially today. Because the more we normalize it the better. Why do you think it's important for you to be an influencer? Who is part of that community? And what do you think we can do to help the LGBTQ plus community as influencers?
Unknown Speaker 8:26
I mean, I just don't really know any other way. Like my public life on social has always been like, incorporating that part of me, whether it's like at an award show, saying, like, how gorgeous I think, a celebrity looks that night or talking about, like a real issue around marriage equality or pride. Like I'm always just talking about that stuff. So I don't really know any different but the reason why I think it's so important is we very much whether you're it's media or social media, or influencer or entrepreneurs, we all live in a little bit of a bubble, or New Yorkers, we all live in a little bit of a bubble. And I really pride myself on being in the DMS like in the weeds as much as I can be. And there's some really thoughtful stuff that comes through somebody struggling with family or coming out or being themselves at work. So and they're appreciative of seeing someone like you or me or you know, living their life to the fullest online as much as they want to share about it and it inspires them often. And so I love a love the messages and be take time to write back and tell them how much I appreciate that and then offer some advice. And because the bubble mentality is real, you know, I mean, it feels like we're more connected than ever right now. But we're also miles away and live a very different world than a lot of other people who follow us online.
Bret Shuford 9:46
Right? It's so true. And I think that's why what you're saying it's so important to to be able to like really connect with people outside of the comments like going into the DMS listening responding. I think it's so important
Unknown Speaker 9:57
you don't my favorite trinkets or my favorite trick is sign up trying, I just know that if there was someone I followed for so long and really admire them, whether it's their business or their humor or their comedian, I just want to make contact, right? Like you just want them to acknowledge you in the DM somehow, I like responding with a voice note. And imagine someone you just like look up to or that you for some reason, just keeps you entertained, writes back to you like, with their voice. It's such a fun treat to get from someone that just makes you smile. And so I've been trying that more lately. And, um, and it like, the lights, people, whether it's like your mom on DM, or like someone that follows you, it's fun. And it's so easy to do while you're walking on the street. Well, exactly. If you want to just be like, Oh my god, sorry, I was gonna hit my cat button. Yes, get the jeans, they run a little tight. You know? And like, you know, like that. It's a fun new format. So everyone listening, try it.
Bret Shuford 10:50
I love that. Okay, how did you go from theater kid to stylus to now this, you know, business owner talking talk, talk to me about that journey.
Unknown Speaker 11:02
Man. That's so loaded. I wanted to be like a performer at like, I quit Boy Scouts to be in The Sound of Music. Okay, like, let's be clear. So I was like it was in my blood was in every high school show. And when I got into college, I got into Emerson and Boston, which was heavy into performing arts and television and theater, and I had to pay for school. You know, myself, my family's like, This is amazing. You can totally go with just it's not in the cards for us to pay for it. I've worked since I was like 13 on a farm. And I was like, I'll figure it out. Don't worry. So I worked retail, the gap in college and I was recruited when I worked at the gap by the Chief of Staff at Ralph Lauren to come work for Ralph Lauren at this new test store. And he's like, we just love your energy when watching with these customers. It's such a so fun, like, you should come work for us and like you're gonna get me fired. You have to leave. I'm here to be on TV. That's why I'm in this school. I don't want to like make a career in this. And the next day he came back and I quit my job on the spot and went with this random man and was a manager of this Ralph Lauren store Hall. Rugby was like an offshoot of Ralph Lauren. And I was a manager of this test concept store. And then the chain took off. They asked me to move to New York when I graduated. And I was like, Well, I guess I'm not going to work in TV like I'm in fashion. Now. Ralph, Lauren's recruited like I have a career here. And then I stayed there for 10 years. And I you know,
Bret Shuford 12:29
was there any just sitting in that spot for a minute? Was there any process of like, letting go or grief or like a whole idea that you had to go through before you own that? Yeah,
Unknown Speaker 12:42
I mean, there's a performative element to fashion that I really like loved, which is getting dressed and doing window displays and going to fashion shows and like, there's a glossy side of it that feels very entertainment. But at the end of the day, and folding sweaters or talking about sweaters, right? So I'm like, okay, cool. I'm talking about fucking sweaters. I want to be on TV. This is like not right. So I went through a bit of a grieving process. I was like, maybe I'll move to Los Angeles and quit this great job, and really pursue what I went to college for. And at that time, is when a friend of mine in PR in New York reached out and was like, Hey, I'm helping my friend cast this pilot with Joan Rivers. And Andy Cohen for a talk show and they need a fashion guy. You work in fashion for what Ralph Lauren, right. Can you do any interest in TV? I'm like, Oh, my God. Wait a minute. Maybe this both the worlds coming together? Yes. And so I auditioned and I booked the show. It was like my first experience on television. It was like me, Billy Eichner, Joan Rivers, and Andy Cohen at a live talk show that ever got picked up was for Bravo. It was a late night talk show was supposed to be it's, I guess what, watch what happens is now like this, that format, and it just got me the bug again. And I was like, Okay, I'm going to use my credibility and fashion, to bring TV back into the picture and speak on things that I know from work. And I know, I'm a good performer, and I know, I know, fashion. So why not combine them both and try to be on TV because of my job? Ah, what a
Bret Shuford 14:07
beautiful way of like, finding your strengths, right? Yeah.
Unknown Speaker 14:11
It was wild. You know, it's like that dream never left me right. Like you're, you know, it never I always wanted to be performing in some sort of way. But I, I wasn't one to turn. I mean, I need money. I needed money. I need to work a job I needed. They were offering me a job and benefits and at this American lifestyle brand that everyone dreams of working for. Like, totally, I'm gonna take it but yeah, that's how it came back. And then I just took it and networked the shit out of it and met magazine editors who ended up having TV agents and I met with TV agents who were like, Hey, we could maybe sign you you're pretty credible. Maybe we can help you get on it, you know, so just kind of like always keeping both wheels turning next to each other.
Bret Shuford 14:52
So that hustle was still there. The Hustle of like being an actor was there even when you were working in in re Till for 10 years.
Unknown Speaker 15:01
Totally. I mean, if you talk to a lot of people in retail, there's a lot of performers there, right? Like, yeah, exactly. Like it's
Bret Shuford 15:08
I've worked with a guy, I've worked at the gap. I know I worked at structure. Oh,
Unknown Speaker 15:15
structure, I always felt like it wasn't cool. And infrastructure. I was like, I'll just a gap through a hometown. And, you know, didn't certainly couldn't work at Abercrombie. But yeah, it just, it was wild, you know. And then I ended up getting continuing my career in fashion, I finally left Ralph Lauren, I worked for a British luxury brand running creative, based out of London in New York. Then I was fashion director at American Eagle Outfitters, which was my final corporate job. And then I hit my wall. And it was actually TV related. So I was working there. And I had an opportunity to come across my desk, I guess, through my phone to be one of the judges of Project Runway, Junior, our kids are teen and I was like, Oh, my God, this is great. It's coming back into my life again, here we go. And they were like, what would be great is if we could bring American Eagle in as the sponsor. You're the fashion director, you can be the judge. It's a great branded deal. So I took it to the executive team and American Eagle, and they were like, knocked out like, Project Runway is like not our brand, sorry. And I was like, wow, like, that's more important to me than this job. Combining both then I'm actually going to quit, and I had like no money in my bank account. And I just quit when I first started my own companies.
Bret Shuford 16:25
Wow. Yeah. I love that. You hit a wall. Like when you're when what you know. And I think that's something that most people feel like, and I'd love you to speak to this. I think a lot of people feel like you have to it's very black and white, what you have to choose to do with your life, right? Like, I'm either going to be an actor, or I'm going to do fashion, or I'm going to be a blogger. And what I hear in all of this that I love is it was very much in that gray. It's like I can do it all like, and I will live in the season that I'm that I'm in like, I feel like doing TV. So fuck you American Eagle Outfitters, I'm gonna do this.
Unknown Speaker 17:04
It's so true. I mean, now more than ever, if you have multiple disciplines or multiple passions, it's like, you can do them all. I mean, you can be a violinist on tick tock and sell insurance nine to five, right? Like, you can literally do both. And then on the weekends, you can sell your your nut butters at the farmers market, because you're also an entrepreneur, right? Like you can do all of those things. All those things were always in me, like I always was entrepreneurial. So I always wanted to start a brand. I always wanted to be on TV. And I always wanted to work in fashion lifestyle and making people feel stylish and not break the bank while doing it. So I like those three things are always on my pot, or those three pots always on my stove, excuse me. And I kind of have to like salt them all equally. But now because of these tools, like you can be a blank on YouTube and a blank on Tik Tok, but you're on your Instagram, your ex. And you can just diversify your outputs, like however you want. I mean, all of these other hosts, like when I was a host on Amazon live like the chef who's one of the chefs on the show with me who now is on the Today Show. They found her on YouTube. They're like looking for cool. young chefs found her on YouTube. Never been on TV, put her on Amazon live. Now she's on today's show, like because she just put the content out, you know?
Bret Shuford 18:15
Yep. Yeah. So for you, do you ever deal with this idea of imposter syndrome? I mean, I can only imagine seeing your full name on window glass on a street front store. That there must be a moment of like, Who me?
Unknown Speaker 18:35
Like, oh, my God, I still feel that. I still feel that how do you
Bret Shuford 18:38
move through the imposter syndrome to continue to show up to continue to allow them to fit that vinyl on the glass? Like, how do you push through that?
Unknown Speaker 18:47
That's such a good question. So I opened my store, I opened my brand in COVID. It's a home fragrance brand called Preston Conrad home, I was like, we're not gonna do this. There's this pandemic. We're fucked. I've been planning this for years. And I'm like, let's just do it turned out to be such a blessing. Everyone was stuck at home, they wanted their space to smell better. It was a calming moment, was great for us had this opportunity to open up this store. Because the guys down it fine and dandy. knew the guy that was leaving. I was like, Oh my God, we are friends. What if I take the store next to you? This is what just happened very fast. And I had that impostor moment, quite literally, when they took the vinyl down, you know, the application and I was like, I'm, who am I to put my name on the night on the corner of 10th and 49. Like, um, I'm just like a little hustler. Like, I'm the Lisa Rinna of the west side. Like, I'm just out here like, like, I'm just out here selling things like, you know, like, and I was just like, Well, we did it, didn't we? I mean, now we gotta just, we got to decorate it. We got to make it cute. We got to find someone to work here with me. We got it. You just kind of push through it. And I also I just do like, I don't know, I've gotten to be more confident. I mean, part of the imposter syndrome is also with outside noise. So like haters and DMS or nasty comments like I just I'm just a blocker like I'm like you came into my room to move throw some China around Fuck off, like you're being blocked you can't throw China in my room. So I blocked them. But so like without the outside noise I feel pretty confident in my decision making but, you know, when someone like a magazine editor comes in, and I'm like, oh, embarrassing, like, I still feel that I'm like, what does she think? Is it cute enough? Smell good enough that I vacuum nice enough like, I don't know, you know, like, you just wonder. But I, I just I shut up the outside noise. And I think about the end goal. And the end goal is you know, to create a brand that people of all ages and walks of life can feel better about their home with so that helps me block out the imposter. Little devil
Bret Shuford 20:48
sits over there. It's yeah, it doesn't mean it goes away.
Unknown Speaker 20:51
No, she just kind of hides it. And then she comes back and she's like, really good. Again. You could do that. Like, oh, we're good. We did it. What do you mean? Yeah. You know, like I put this awning up on the outside, like I'm like, you know, the dry cleaner down the block has an awning. I want an awning. So I got an awning. And I had my name. The logo is like bigger than that. It's probably like three feet wide. And I was like, when I put it up. I was like, What did I do? Like knowing who am I? Like, no one knows who I am. That's insane. But I was just like, You know what? They will if I can keep it up, they'll know who I am.
Bret Shuford 21:27
You are so inspiring. I love it. And I'm gonna put it in the show notes down here. Everyone could check out the fragrances follow you listen to brand me your podcast, which is amazing. I have followed you for years.
Unknown Speaker 21:41
I'm so honored probably husbands was like my I love I found you got like that. Like I just I'm just like, I didn't even know you were behind it at first. Like I didn't I didn't connect the dots like you know, and I was just like, it's just what uh, you know what this Instagram brands of people live in the atmosphere that you just know. And I just it's one of the brands that I always connected with.
Bret Shuford 22:00
Oh, thank you. Yeah, we we have fun and I and I have to say my skin when my skin looks the best which it doesn't at this moment because I was gonna say it. Thank you. But when it's looked the best is because I learned from you. Oh my god. Thanks. I mean,
Unknown Speaker 22:17
I want to be like an esthetician.
Bret Shuford 22:21
I've come to you every week. Oh my god. All right, well, thank you for joining us and I will put everything down below everyone go follow Preston really means a lot that you came here.
Unknown Speaker 22:31
Right. Thanks. I'll see you on my podcast soon. Okay.
Unknown Speaker 22:35