I was twelve years old when Project Runway first aired in 2004, and like many creative kids at the time; I thought I wanted to be a fashion designer. I always had an interest in fashion, but after watching Project Runway week after week, I began experimenting on my very own sewing machine and was intent on becoming the next Coco Chanel. Once I started college though at eighteen, and was officially studying fashion design and merchandising, I quickly learned that design wasn’t actually my calling. After several internships with Anna Sui, Marie Claire, and Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, I’ve found my place working in fashion editorial. Below, 13 important lessons I’ve learned (so far) from working in this exhilarating, life changing, and fast paced world.
1. Be Determined
When I gradated college I had my sights set on working for a major fashion publication. But, after several months of numerous emails and interviews, I still hadn’t found a job. Thankfully, I didn’t let this get to me, or use it as a reason to throw in the towel. Think of everything as a stepping-stone, and remember everything happens for a reason.
2. You Have to Love It
In September 2015, I interviewed Betsey Johnson before her Fall/Winter 2016 show at Fashion Week and I asked her what advice she would give to the next generation of fashion designers. She told me, “you have to love it.” And she is so right.
3. Don’t Forget to be Humble
Remember the feeling you had walking through the doors on the first day of your internship and keep that with you for the rest of your career. You never know where the people you encounter will end up, so it’s important to build good relationships and to be kind to everyone.
4. Never be Afraid to Speak Up
At my first internship with Anna Sui, I worked in house in her production department and was eager to learn as much as possible. After several months into the internship I asked my boss if I could assist in a few other departments. My boss was thrilled that I wanted to take on more and started giving me more important assignments because she knew I was capable and cared.
5. Stay True to Yourself
I LOVE color! When it comes to my daily uniform, the brighter and sparklier, the better. But, when I started working in the industry I often found myself gravitating toward all black outfits to fit it. Find out what makes you different and use it.
6. Always Dress to Impress
You never know who you could run into on any given day, so always dress to impress. That doesn’t mean dressing in $1,000 labels. You can always find great pieces from places like Zara and Topshop, as well as vintage stores, and, of course, sample sales.
7. It’s Not Always Glamorous
At your first few internships and jobs, you will probably be asked to take on the more administrative tasks. But no matter what you’re doing, do it to the best of your abilities. If you’re making copies or getting coffee, do it with pride!
8. Network, Network, Network
Going into my junior year of college, I decided that I wanted to intern with a fashion magazine over the summer. Though I didn’t know anyone who worked at a magazine, I was determined (see rule #1) to break in. I soon found an upperclassman at my school that had interned at Marie Claire, and I made it a point to go out of my way to meet her and ask her about her experiences. She then put me in touch with the intern supervisor and I went on to intern in the fashion department that summer. Always take time to meet people and learn about their experiences, you never know where it could lead.
9. Do Your Research
When it comes to an interview, you want it to be clear that you know your stuff. If you want to work at a magazine, be sure you actually read the magazine, if you want to work for a designer, be able to reference their last few collections.
10. Don’t Be Afraid to Follow Up
After an interview you should always send a thank you email, as well as a handwritten note. If you don’t hear anything after that, feel out the situation. Think about your past interactions with your interviewer to determine if you should follow up; I always say that after a week or two sending one last follow-up will show your persistence.
11. Always Write Things Down
After Anna Sui, I went on to intern at Marie Claire. There I worked as a personal intern to a fashion editor, so I always kept a notebook on hand in case she asked me to do something. The absolute worst thing you can do is to forget to do a task for your boss, whether it is booking a car or taping down expense receipts.
No one is going to hire the girl with a pout on her face.
13. You Don’t Always Have to Know Someone
When I was growing up, I didn’t personally know anyone in the industry, not one person, so don’t let that stop you from following your dreams. Always be persistent and keep your goals in mind.
Have a question or just want to say hey? Shoot me an email.