Tuesday, 30 August 2016

10 Things About Working In Fashion

For as long as I can remember I wanted to work within the creative industry and now working in luxury fashion is my reality. For the past 3 years I have been living and working in fashion/textile industry in London, prior to this I had spent some time living in New York. I thought I would share with you 10 important things I have learned along the way...

1. Keep An Open Mind When It Comes To Your First Job - I did a textiles degree and specialised in 'print for fashion', so naturally you may think I would have become a designer. However, whilst interning with the fashion brand Milly in New York after I had graduated, I realised there were so many other avenues within the industry that I could explore with the skills that I had. On returning to the UK I began applying for jobs keeping an open mind as to what opportunities may arise. Just remember that we all have to start our careers somewhere and the first job you get most likely won't be your last, so keep your options open.

2. Be A Team Player - Don't be the person that says 'that's not my job'... because that never goes down well in the workplace. Working as a team is key and stepping in to help out a colleague if they need assistance is always advisable.  Just because a task may not be listed in your job description, does not mean you are exempt from doing it. I've cleaned kitchens, tidied stockrooms and sat on floors whilst taping up boxes...but in the large scheme of things it is really not a big deal if it benefits the team. Be prepared to get involved and be pro-active.

3. Keep Up To Date With Everything Going On In The Industry - I avidly look at catwalk pictures, subscribe to fashion news letters, follow brands on social media and read fashion blogs, etc. Having this extra interest in the industry helps to start conversations and also shows you have a genuine love of the creative industry that you work in. You may work in design, but could also learn about visual merchandising or production for example. It is good to see the 'bigger picture' outside of your own specific role.

4. Networking - You meet so many people when you work in the fashion industry, so you want to make the right impression. When you get networking and talking to people you realise that the industry is, in effect, a small place. Chances are you will get to know people who have worked at the same places or know the people as you do, etc. Aside from my job, I have also met so many great brands through my blog and you never know what making these contacts might lead to in future.

5. Perks of The Job - I have been fortunate to travel to both New York and Paris with work...both of which were unexpected. After working in my first job for over 2 years, I was called in to the office one  morning and told I was being sent to New York, in three weeks time, on a sales trip. Why was I given this opportunity? Because I had always shown an interest in sales, even though it was not my job, and always volunteered to assist at trade shows if the sales team needed additional help. I essentially earned this opportunity through hard work and showing that I genuinely cared about the company I was working for. This was also the first time I had been back to New York since my post-graduate internship so I was very grateful for the opportunity and it subsequently became a strong talking point on my CV.

6. Internships - I feel like this is always a controversial subject to talk about, as we all have our own experiences of interning. For me, I knew that I wanted to do one long (3 month) post-grad internship as opposed to several shorter ones. My university did not offer a placement year, so instead I saved as much of my student loan as possible so that I could pay to do an internship once I had graduated. I had always dreamed of one day living and working in New York, so I set my sights on interning with my favourite New York brand, Milly. Still to this day, the internship is the best thing I have ever done. I was able to assist in so many different departments and work at events such as NYFW and Vogue's Fashion Night Out...not to mention I was living in Manhattan! When I returned to England I was ready to work, knowing I had enough qualifications and experience under my belt to properly start my career. I was later quite surprised by the number of people, who were suggesting I should do more 'unpaid' internships. This for me was not an option. Yes I wanted a job, and yes I love fashion, but like I just said I knew I was ready to work and plus I had no money to do further internships. I was not prepared to put myself in further debt (on top of my student loan) to do more internships. Some people may think this is stubborn, but I knew my skills and my willingness to work so decided to just keep applying for jobs everyday until something came my way - it took 5 months if you were wondering. I know people who have moved to London and done internships back-to-back for over a year in the hope that one of the companies will offer them a job. But with several graduates interning at the same company as you at the same time, the odds are still stacked against you and it is not to say the company will even have any vacancies at the time you are there. I guess what I am saying is, choose you internships very carefully. Only intern with a company that you love and ensure the internship will offer you the best possible experience that you are looking for...and make sure you are applying for jobs whilst you are interning, you don't want on rest on your laurels.

7. Expect To Make Sacrifices - Working in fashion is certainly not your average 9-to-5 job. Expect to work late nights prepping for photoshoots, tradeshows, runway shows and getting samples ready for clients, etc. Then there's the 6am train to Paris and the Saturday morning flight to New York (meaning you are spending your weekend on a aeroplane). When you return from a work trip abroad you will have the dreaded 'jetlag', but there is no rest for the wicked so expect to be back at your desk the next day trying to stay awake. Tradeshows often take place over a weekend and during busy periods there might not be any chance of taking the time back in lieu, meaning you could be working for three solid weeks without a day off. But my advise would be don't complain about it. Remember that you chose to work in this industry, so embrace the fact that you have a job in which you get to travel and just get on with it.

8. Dress The Part - Fashion is one of the few industries in which you can really wear whatever you want to work. I like to wear stylish outfits to work, but at the same time I still want to be comfortable. I need to think about the practicality of what I am wearing. As much as I'd love to be, I could never be the kind of person who runs around the studio all day in a pair Gianvito Rossi's...I don't know how Carine does it! You also never know when someone important will turn up at the studio, which goes back to what I said earlier about making the right impression.

9. Work Your Way Up - We all have ultimate career goals: dream company to work for, salary expectations, ideal location, etc. Whilst its good to set targets and have things to aspire to, don't expect everything to happen overnight. Sometimes getting to where you want to be in life may take a little longer than expected, but I honestly believe that everything happens for a reason. In every job you have you will gain new skills which will benefit you though the rest of your career, even if you don't realise it at the time.

10. Have Fun - Be happy that you work in a colourful and vibrant creative industry, which is every changing, and depending on what your job is no two days are every really the same!

Phillippa x

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