Assistant is a bit of a catchall term. Sure, assistants schedule meetings, take notes, and retrieve coffee, but they can also act as a quasi-concierge, sending fruit baskets to top clients and buying gifts for partners. In an effort to unearth the highly specific material needs of powerful people, we sat down with “Wendy,” who’s been an assistant to a New York City–based fitness and wellness influencer and TV host since 2020. We spoke with her about the label-maker she uses to regift her boss’s unwanted PR samples, the milk crates she buys by the dozen, and the tequila reserved for close friends only.
After answering a job posting on a local Hoboken blog, Wendy was hired as the influencer’s first full-time assistant to help her deal with an influx of new followers and brands approaching her for collaborations. Wendy’s duties include managing her boss’s calendar, assisting with social media (writing posts and responding to comments and messages), coordinating travel, and occasionally styling.
Another major part of her job is regifting unwanted products from PR mailers to the influencer’s close friends and family. During her first month, Wendy took notes on her boss’s preferences on what to keep and give away as they sorted through mailers. To keep: slim water bottles because they fit in her bags. To give away: any makeup and hair products that weren’t from her favorite brands. Now, Wendy does this on a daily basis using her knowledge from that first month. “She gets so many PR packages that it’s overwhelming,” she says. “Like, she couldn’t use all this stuff in a lifetime.” At the same time, Wendy’s boss makes a point to send more personal gifts to loved ones for birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays.
“Because it’s just free PR, it’s not so serious,” Wendy says of deciding who gets what when she divvies up unwanted PR packages. Still, she keeps a Google doc of the recipients’ addresses and makes twice-a-week mail runs, during which she ships out about five packages each trip. To cut down her time at the post office, she always has a stock of USPS boxes at the influencer’s apartment and makes shipping labels by copying and pasting addresses into a program that’s linked to her label-maker.
As a way to show a bit more effort in sending these castoffs, Wendy regularly orders from the jewelry brand Little Words Project, which makes bracelets with beads spelling out “Love,” “Happiness,” and “Strength,” to include in the boxes to friends and family. Wendy marks her boss’s close friends’ and family members’ birthdays and anniversaries on her calendar so she can plan ahead (and order bracelets that match the occasion, when possible). Wendy says she’ll also look at their Instagrams to get a sense of which bracelet will align with the recipient’s aesthetic. And she buys a variety of colorways “so not everyone is wearing the exact same thing.”
Wendy says she’s gotten to know some of the influencer’s friends and family and tries to send items they’ll actually like. But Wendy’s boss likes to gift her closest friends — “people she’s known since childhood or college” — a bottle of Casamigos on their birthdays because it’s the influencer’s favorite brand. “It’s never sent to work colleagues,” Wendy says, because “not everyone is into hard liquor or tequila.” Instead, if Wendy is asked to gift alcohol to other influencers she’s familiar with, she orders Champagne from Parcelle because its shipping times are fast and it offers bottles at various price points.
A few times a year, when the influencer gets “hyperfixated on overhauling” her closet, Wendy will be tasked with buying organizational items. She also sometimes assists with one-off, last-minute tasks, like ordering custom T-shirts for her boss’s wedding or picking up an emergency phone case.
Wendy has purchased at least a dozen of these bins for her boss, which she uses to store her sweats, athletic clothes, and some shoes. These wicker baskets fit the influencer’s neutral home-décor aesthetic, but they would constantly snag on her clothes. So Wendy came up with a solution: torn-up pillowcases that she fit inside as liners.
Unless she’s working out, Wendy says, the influencer is always in heels. Wendy’s boss swears these foot pads make walking easier and more comfortable, so she has Wendy insert them in every pair of heels her boss owns. Every few weeks, Wendy goes through her boss’s shoe collection to replace worn-down pads and readjust any that have lifted or shifted. She also keeps at least one spare in her bag at all times.
Even though Wendy says she’s had to have her boss’s screen fixed at a local mall kiosk on at least three occasions, the influencer almost never has a case on her phone because she likes the way it looks without one. “It gives me major anxiety,” Wendy says. After the first repair, Wendy immediately ordered one of the first cases she could find on Amazon that matched her boss’s style and would arrive the next day. “I was like, We’re going to nip this in the bud right now,” she says. While Wendy still hasn’t persuaded her boss to use the phone case on a regular basis, she brings it on trips. “It would be my worst nightmare to run around a random city to get her phone fixed,” she says. “Thankfully, I haven’t had to do that yet.”
Given the influencer’s rise in popularity, she now regularly does TV hosting, guest-teaches fitness classes, and attends back-to-back brand-sponsored events on a weekly basis. She also throws monthly women’s networking events at her home, for which Wendy organizes the catering.
For the influencer’s networking events, Wendy typically orders from Chipotle for about ten people: a build-your-own bowl buffet of chicken, steak, and fajita vegetables, and tortilla chips and queso on the side. This would normally cost about $200, but the influencer suggested that Wendy reach out to the chain’s PR team to see if it would sponsor her events. Now, Wendy emails the team any time they have a gathering planned, and the brand takes care of the rest. “Sometimes I’ll tell them ten people, and they’ll send over so much food that they have to bring it up on a cart from my boss’s apartment building,” she says, adding that the leftovers usually last her at least a week.
Last Halloween, the influencer was on the fence about attending any brand-sponsored parties. “I knew she was going to end up going,” Wendy says, but she didn’t want to buy her a costume until it was confirmed. The day before, her boss decided to go and tasked Wendy with finding her a “cute, fun, and flattering” costume. Wendy went to a local Spirit Halloween and dug through the remnants. “It was totally empty, just a joke,” she says. But she did find this cowgirl costume with pink fishnets and silver fringe that matched her boss’s bold, colorful dress sense. (She also bought a couple’s Bob’s Burgers costume for the influencer and her husband as a backup.) The cowgirl costume was a hit on Instagram, with followers commenting and DMing to ask where she got the costume. Wendy answered on her boss’s behalf, despite being “slightly embarrassed” by how it was “literally just the last thing left in Spirit Halloween the day before.”
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