So you want to work in fashion?The fashion industry is chaotic, fast-paced, brutal, exciting and draining all at the same time but for the right people it can be absolutely exhilarating! Many fashion enthusiasts often email me for advice on how to break into the industry and since I can't reply to every single email (although I want to!) I compiled a list of my top tips just for you!
Network- There are so many good reasons why networking should be a high priority on your list. It’s free, it’s a great way to get to know others in the industry, a great way to collaborate with others on future projects and it’s a great way to find out about potential job opportunities. If you’re really serious about networking then you may want to consider joining fashion industry networking groups like Fashion Group International. The Seattle chapter is looking for new members with high energy now!
Get Experience- No amount of classroom work can prepare you for the real world so it’s important that you supplement what you are learning in school with real work experience in the fashion industry. If you’ve never worked in retail now is the time to get a part-time job. It’s hard to grasp the concept of retail management, merchandising and personal selling if you have never had to actually do any of these things. I can also tell you that most corporate office employees have worked on the sales floor at one point or another so do yourself a favor and gain that entry-level experience now so that it won’t hold you back later.
Specialize- Find something you are good at and stick to it. People that claim to be good at “everything” are delusional. The truth is, everyone has a specialty and it’s important that you find yours now so that you can practice, develop your skills and find a niche.
Volunteer- Volunteering is another great way to gain experience so if you enjoy fashion industry events like fashion shows, consider volunteering to help out. This is a great way for you to see behind-the-scenes at your favorite events, network with event producers and add to your fashion resume.
Find a Mentor- I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t have strong, intelligent women to guide me along the way and that’s why I suggest finding a mentor who can help you navigate your path to success. A good mentor can give you advice about where to start, what moves to make and what mistakes to avoid.
Do an Internship- At many fashion schools internships are required for graduation but if they are not, consider doing one anyway. They are invaluable and can help you break into the industry upon graduation. I’ve had many interns help out at my current company and we have hired at least half a dozen of them to work for us full-time upon graduation. If you meet someone at a fashion industry event who’s working in a field you are interested in, ask them if they hire interns. Most companies won’t turn down free help. On a side note, if you do decide to pursue an internship, work hard and make yourself shine. Everything you say and do will be remembered and it’s important to be on point and professional no matter how casual the work environment appears to be. It always surprises me when interns flake out, show up late, don’t show up at all or have an attitude problem when asked to do a task. It may be unpaid work but it’s allowing you to gain insight into a potential career path and the company you work for may just extend a job offer when you are done with school. So work hard and stay on good terms with the company you intern for. [Tip: Seattle Boutique Blogspot offers fashion blogging internships on a regular basis. Email us to inquire about details!]
Stay on Top of Industry Trends- If you’re going into the fashion industry then it’s important you stay on top of what’s going on. There are numerous sites that compile industry news like Women’s Wear Daily, DNR and WGSN so make sure you check in and keep yourself in the know. You can also check out Style.com, NY Mag’s Fashion Section, or the New York Times Style Section which comes out every Thursday and Sunday.
Clean up your Image- If you’re all over the web on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social networking sites- beware! Prospective employers can easily search the web for additional information about you and they might not always like what they see. Keep it classy, be professional or do yourself a favor and set your profile to private.