DETERMINED NOT TO BE AN UNPAID INTERN after graduating from Auburn University, Carolyn Rush ’13, dove straight into the workforce and moved to an unfamiliar city to kick-start her career.
Now, just six years later, Rush is a managing partner and interim CEO of Worn, a creative consulting agency in New York City that has worked with clients like Planned Parenthood, Revlon, Bumble and more.
“Being here for so many years can feel a bit deceptive,” said Rush. “For the first three years, it was really just my partner and me running the company. Now that we have some traction and have grown so rapidly, it feels like I’m running a completely new business. This is just the beginning for what we are going to do with Worn.”
To say Rush was driven as a student is an understatement; while at Auburn, Rush was president of the Public Relations Student Society of America’s (PRSSA) Auburn Chapter, an organization she used to get all three of her internships. She also was a project coordinator with IMPACT, Auburn’s year-round service organization, and led volunteers with the East Alabama Food Bank.
Rush’s first post-Auburn job was with Washington D.C. consulting firm the Corporate Executive Board Company. Around this time, Rush began reading “Worn,” a fashion, culture and music magazine that highlighted artists and trends in the D.C. area.
“I loved the magazine,” said Rush. “I would come home every day, and it just gave me this jolt of energy and inspiration. It was just a beautiful, large-format, gorgeous portrait-style storytelling issue of different cool people from D.C.”
Feeling bold, she contacted the magazine’s founder — former Vanity Fair photographer Nicole Corbett — to ask if she could get involved. When Corbett said yes, Rush worked part-time helping her get the agency off the ground, with no certainty of success and, in the beginning, no income.
“I consider myself to be pretty calculated and loyal, but I had nothing to lose, and I really believed in Nicole after meeting her one time,” Rush said. “She’s a really smart businesswoman, but she comes at it in this really thoughtful way, so I just wanted to be around her. I knew that following her would mean good things to come. It was blind optimism.”
Worn’s name carried over from Corbett’s magazine, derived from the outfits that subjects were encouraged to wear that Rush describes as “something that made you feel like your true, authentic self and makes you feel like the most badass version of who you are.”
Prior to her current position, she was Worn’s vice president of creative strategy, where she worked on projects like Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, encouraging physical activity in public schools, and women.nyc, a project dedicated to providing professional and career support for women in New York City.
Rush’s passion for the job earned her the nickname “Crush” by her coworkers.
That same dedication to helping women show their true selves is maintained today, as Worn describes itself as a “full-service, mission-based, creative agency on a mission to help women succeed,” and represents clients big and small. Worn recently launched a campaign for the women’s swimwear brand Andie with live events in New York, Chicago and Dallas.
“We worked to reshape the way that women are represented in swimwear advertising,” said Rush. “Another project that we are working on right now that I’m excited for is a groundbreaking new product for women going through menopause.”
Plenty of the work Worn does for their clients fills Rush with pride, but one project that stands out to her is their work with Promundo, a nonprofit organization based out of Brazil that promotes gender education and fights violence against women.
Video from Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign by Worn
Video created by Worn for Promundo, a nonprofit organization out of Brazil that promotes gender education.
“For me, it captures the essence of Worn’s mission — to help empower and advocate for women and to help more women be successful in whatever they want to do. [Promundo] is just something I’m glad exists and I’m really proud that we were able to work on a campaign for them.”
Rush said that Worn’s future looks promising and the agency has doubled its growth every year as it continues to gain new clients. Rush described her future at Worn as being in a position to help oversee the agency’s growth and success.
“My role is really making sure that we’re ‘stacked’ as a team, that they have everything they need to be successful, that we’re growing in a really thoughtful way, that we’re hiring the best of the best and that we’re working with people that are changing the world,” Rush said. “I feel very hopeful, blessed, lucky and excited about the future.”