Career Advice from Industry Professionals
Last week five very interesting and inspiring women from different sectors of the fashion industry came to talk at the London College of Fashion for a talk named ‘Demystifying A Career in Fashion.’ They had some insightful things to say about how their career paths brought them to where they are now, and gave some useful tips on how to start your own career in the fashion industry.
Laura Wells – accessories product manager at Mulberry
Work so hard, and then people will always notice
– Laura Wells
She graduated from LCF 5 years ago and started at Mulberry as a Product Management Administrator. She was then put in charge of designing cufflinks, then shoes, then soft accessories. Now she manages every product that the quintessential british brand offers, apart from the ready-to-wear.
- You need to have a proactive attitude.
- It is important to find out what you don’t want to do, by way of trying out different roles.
- When starting off somewhere, admit when you don’t know how to do something, and ask for new tasks when you complete the ones given to you – don’t be passive. Take on a learning role – “learn and learn and learn.”
Geraldine Wharry – trend researcher for WGSN
When you go and talk to someone, tap into your genuine interest – not into what you think you can get out of that person.
– Geraldine Wharry
Starting off as a textile designer, Geraldine managed the transition to fashion design through an internship at DKNY. She then went on to work at Rip Curl to ‘do’ jeans and outwear, and after working for another few companies, is now part of WGSN – the worldwide leader in fashion trend forecasting.
What she said is important:
- Step outside of your comfort zone – if you don’t, it will be very difficult.
- There are some big advantages to starting off as a ‘bigger fish in a smaller pond’ – i.e. starting off at a smaller company that is just starting off, as opposed to at a larger one. It means that you will move up faster and learn more in a shorter time period.
- Fashion is a very communication-based industry – learn how to be a good communicator. Network within the student pool and try to stay in touch with your fellow students.
Sue Seel – freelance PR & styling consultant
It’s a constant process of trying to get information and you never stop studying. […] It’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle.
– Sue Seel
Sue started off studying divorce law – and realised that it was not what she wanted to do. Later she founded the company Brand Guru, and is now a consultant for companies such as Arcadia.
- Merge your working life with your personal life.
- Surround yourself with creative people.
- Try to absorb everything around you that is fashion – even just walking down Oxford Street and looking at shop windows.
Kirsty Anne Powell – creative director of Sketch creative consultancy
Be on it – always say yes if you can.
– Kirsty Anne Powell
Originally starting off in Amsterdam with her own brand, Kirsty went on to found her own creative consultancy, Sketch.
What she says is important:
- Go the extra mile and try to thrive – don’t just say ‘I don’t know’ when an employer or potential employer asks you for an opinion about something. If all that you are asked to do during an internship is make coffee, then that’s probably because that’s all the worth you’ve displayed to the company – show that you can do something from the get-go!
- Be flexible. If something is asked of you, try to do it. If you don’t go out of your way, you won’t seem enthusiastic.
- Try to mould yourself to what is needed of you.
Rebecca Taylor – campaign manager of the Soho House Group.
My whole career is based around finding a gap in a team and filling it – making myself invaluable. […] Fill that gap – and then they won’t want to get rid of you!
– Rebecca Taylor
Becky, as everyone was calling her, is also a LCF alumni who graduated five years ago. She started as Marketing Assistant at Ted Baker, then went on to become Marketing & Campaign Management Officer at Burberry before moving on to Soho House Group.
What she said:
- Have a cross-functional focus – know how a business works from different perspectives
- In a large team (such as the Marketing team at Burberry), it is very important to have good presentation skills!
- Be flexible when searching for different types of employers – often times small companies will give you more creative license.
Advice about applying to fashion companies
A CV should be like a menu in a restaurant. You want to know roughly what the dish is, but not its entire ingredients.
– Rebecca Taylor
Here’s a summary of what everyone said about making successful job applications:
- Someone needs to be able to read your CV in 30 seconds flat – make the important bits stand out (but don’t highlight too much) – make it very to-the-point.
- Use LinkedIn – the first thing that potential employers are going to do is Google you! Also, LinkedIn can be insightful for seeing what kind of jobs are currently in demand on the market.
- Imagine it as speed-dating: you only have a moment to say “This is who I am!”
- Don’t come across as too ‘cocky’ – highlight your special achievements but don’t be over-confident. Keep in mind that you will be part of a team – people are looking to find other people who they will enjoy working with. No-one wants to work with a smart-ass.
- Don’t expect too much from the get-go – companies often try out new employees as interns at starting levels.
- The initial email is very important – don’t make it look like you have just copy-pasted the same email to all the different companies! Speak about what specifically you like about the company that you are applying to.
Der Spruch von Wharry hat mir am besten gefallen. Mein Gott, Du wirst ja zur Schriftstellerin!
Dr. Matthias Abrell +41 (0)79 7432953 email@example.com