By: Caroline Vazzana
With the industry changing so quickly, it's no wonder many editors are branching out beyond the traditional print world. Introducing Brittany Kozerski, the former fashion editor turned designer and entrepreneur. I first met Brittany when I was 20 years old, and an intern at Marie Claire Magazine. She was my boss and a total inspiration. I often speak here about how having a great boss can really make the experience, and Brittany did just that for me. She taught me pretty much everything I know about the editorial world and solidified my love for magazine journalism and styling.
Now five years later, Brittany is the founder and designer of JADE swim. When she realized a gap in the swim market, she decided to create her own company. "I created the line for girls like me, who have a minimal style aesthetic and need a go to destination for high quality swim in a variety of cuts and styles which can also easily translate into ready to wear pieces." Seen everywhere from VOGUE to Harper's Bazaar, and on celebrities like Kendall Jenner and Elsa Hosk, let's just say JADE swim has completely changed the swimwear market. Read ahead as Brittany shares her advice, insight, and how she's #MakingIt.
When did you first realize you wanted to work in the fashion industry?
I first realized I wanted to work in the fashion industry when I was around 16 years old. I was in high school and my prep school allowed for Independent Study classes so I asked if we could create a Fashion & Textiles art class. The class was only me and my 3 best friends but from that point on, I was hooked on the idea of working in the fashion industry one day.
What was your first internship or job in the industry, and how did it impact your career?
My first internship was at 19 years old in the fashion department of Elle Magazine. I was an intern in the fashion closet which meant unpacking all of the photoshoot samples that came in and organizing for the editors. I loved every minute of it, I loved seeing all of the runway looks in person and also seeing how much creative freedom editors had.
If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before starting your career what would it be?
To enjoy it more, it’s such a fast paced industry where you’re always on deadlines and always running around to appointments, on trips, etc. I had the time of my life but I don’t remember many details because it was all such a crazy busy time. I would tell myself to relax, enjoy it and keep a diary to remember all of the amazing…and of course crazy moments.
What did you wear to your first interview?
I wore a black/white tweed skirt with a button up white skirt which is so embarrassing to say now. I was 19 and coming from my prep high school and University of Michigan, I always heard to wear business clothes or some type of suit to interviews so I followed that advice. I’m sure it was a cute look but I would NEVER do that now, I can’t even remember the last time I wore a suit or button up and skirt. The industry is so relaxed and much more about personal style than other industries.
Who have been your biggest mentors in this industry and what is the best advice they have ever given you?
Nina Garcia for sure has been my biggest mentor. It’s pretty crazy because I watched her growing up on Project Runway and never in a million years thought I would one day work for her. I met her when I was 22 years old (then an Assistant at GQ). She hired me, helped me grow, believed in me and promoted me through all of the steps from Assistant to Senior Fashion Editor. I’ve worked with her in so many different capacities and it was a beyond amazing experience. More so than advice, the best thing she ever did for me was to let me know when something wasn’t my best and pushed me to do better. With so many deadlines and a crazy schedule it’s easy to sometimes get comfortable as an editor and she would always recognize when I wasn’t doing my best and made me step it up which proved to myself how much I was really capable of doing. I would have never developed the skills, vision, tenacity, etc. to start a clothing line of my own if it wasn’t for her.
What inspired you to make this career change and start Jade Swim?
I felt that I could reflect my personal style with clothing but whenever I went swimsuit shopping it felt like I was putting on someone else’s style and it felt forced. Even while styling, it was so hard to find a clean silhouette, solid colored, high quality swimsuit/bodysuit. I also saw the emergence and need for day to night swim with so many one pieces now doubling as bodysuits and becoming true ready to wear closet components. I created the line for girls like me who have a minimal style aesthetic and need a go to destination for high quality swim in a variety of cuts and styles which can also easily translate into ready to wear pieces. The line is made in LA using Italian sustainable techno-fabric with shape retention to sculpt the body while offering UV protection.
What was the process of starting your own company like?
You have to be relentless in your determination to start a company. There are so many road blocks that come and you have to have such a passion for it that you always stick it out to fight another day.
Where did you come up with the name “Jade Swim”?
The name really came from the cut of the suits, for example a stone isn't a stone unless you cut into it the right way to bring out its beauty. Also – there’s so much more meaning to a JADE stone and that is the same for the swim. Its sustainable, sculpting, UV protective, Made in the US, etc. And it doesn’t hurt that JADE is supposed to bring love, health and creativity to your life.
What would you say was the greatest lesson you learned from working at major fashion magazines that lead to success in Jade swim?
That NO isn’t an option. In the fashion magazine industry you literally can’t come back with NO as the answer. You have to figure out how to get it done, explore alternative options, be creative, resourceful, etc. That has been the best lesson and invaluable to my company. So many people are amazed at how I can figure out solutions to problems, not give up, etc. but it’s just the fashion magazine way.
With the industry changing so quickly, what advice would you give to someone hoping to follow in your footsteps?
To be flexible and able to adapt quickly, the industry itself is changing and to succeed you can’t box yourself in. I have always suggested my interns/assistants take courses at FIT/Parsons/FIDM etc. in other topics that interest them related to the industry. Or to job shadow for a day someone who’s job interests you. Sounds crazy but you can learn so much in a day about a possible future/alternative career path. Once you leave college, I think a lot of people stop exploring other career options but that’s never a good idea. If I showed you the career path of some of my most successful friends/coworkers in the industry, it would be a long squiggly curvy line, not a straight linear path. Never stop learning or stop being curious about your career options. So many of the jobs available now were unheard of even in the past 2-3 years, so you always have to keep one eye open on the future.
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