Laura on Fullback and Friends | I receive a vast amount of emails, many from under-graduates soon to enter the big wide world of fashion themselves, inquisitive to know how I have managed to achieve so much in such a short space of time since graduation, and truthfully, I find it a very difficult, and personal question to answer. I have accomplished things that six months ago I could not even begin to dream about doing; and quite frankly, a lot of my opportunities have been purely down to networking, a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck.
I thought that this week I would write a bit more personally as to the key things that I feel are important to do in order to get myself as noticed as a creative when looking for opportunities, as well as some of the physical attributes I feel are important whilst working within the fashion industry;
SHOW INTEREST IN WHAT IT IS THAT YOU ARE DOING. Very important. I think that this statement is kind of obvious, however with that said, if you’re taking part in a job and realise that you are not as interested in what you are doing as you thought you would be, to me personally, I would question if this is really the kind of lifestyle/job you honestly want for yourself.
INTERN & VARY YOUR EXPERIENCES. University is great, but nobody teaches nor prepares you for what exactly is out there. It’s easy to think that all jobs in fashion are similar, but you will quickly learn how different a job working backstage in fashion can be from an atelier position making bridal gowns, just as an example. Interning in different parts of the industry is a great way to understand what it is that you want in life. I am fortunate enough to have experienced a vast range of different working environments- bridal, costume, haute couture, high-end fashion- and have quickly found out the things that I ‘don’t’ enjoy doing, in comparison to those that I am truly passionate about and can imagine myself doing in the long run.
ALWAYS BE FRIENDLY & WILLING TO GO THE EXTRA MILE. I have, so far, never come across an individual that has been negative, unpassionate or rude to work with/for. Being kind, having an approachable and friendly attitude and offering to help others without expecting anything in return, from experience, has always been met with a positive response. Having these attributes also allows your genuine interest and passion for your role to shine through. And besides, why would anyone want to be miserable for the sake of it?
“You can’t put yourself in the position to be discovered. However, your work ethic can make you stand out, and will get agencies and designers to call you back. It’s what you put into it that determines what you get out of it.”
IT’S ALL ABOUT ‘WHO’ YOU KNOW. One thing that I have definitely learnt since leaving university- it’s not always a case of what you know, but much rather, who. As cheesy as that sounds, it’s true. My two favourite attributes both for working within the fashion industry and general life are networking and making friends. From working with like minded people and professionals, life long friendships have been created from mutual interests and in turn have led to more working opportunities.
CREATE A PROFESSIONAL ONLINE PRESENCE. Linking with the above comments; It has only really been since graduating that I have built up my list of contacts/connections in the fashion industry. I’d say that besides physical face-to-face connections; the most effective (and quickest) ways to get yourself noticed as a creative would be creating an online presence, be it through a website, online CV, LinkedIn profile- whatever social media platform works for you and your desired ‘audience’.
I won’t go into great details but I feel that; a CV allows potential employers to see the types of experiences you have already gained; websites/social media platforms can be used to showcase more physical attributes (for example, my website is used as an online portfolio to see my embroidery work); and LinkedIn is a way to connect and interact with many like-minded professionals and employers, which in turn can lead to, well, anything.
DON’T BE INTIMIDATED. The one thing I really wish someone had told me about working in the fashion industry is that it’s actually not nearly as intimidating as it seems. I used to feel like I wasn’t ‘cool’ enough to even be in the same room as some of the people I have had the good fortune of working with/for. One thing I have come to learn is that people are just people. It doesn’t matter how famous someone is- they still have to eat, sleep and breathe, just like you and I do. I think understanding this has helped me go further in my career than I otherwise would have.
Different things will always work for different people and situations, but I definitely think the two main pieces of wisdom that I can give to anybody would be creating an online presence for yourself and being friendly. These attributes help within any situation.
Having a look on the internet at others’ experiences, I came across a great article, entitled ‘How To Go From Fashion Intern To Employee’ which I feel touches on many other interesting and useful hints and tips that should be kept in mind when applying/ working anywhere.