Let's be honest with each other- whether it is discovering a new opportunity by building connections or interacting with other designers, we as participants of the fashion industry focus heavily on promoting ourselves. What you post on your social media, how you portray yourself and interact with others can be considered as important factors that contribute to your place in this field.
Check out my 4 tips and advices on how to develop your own brand:
From the perspective of an outsider, the appearance of the industry can be viewed as quite BIG. With that being said, and ironically speaking, the real world of the fashion industry is actually small. Chances are, someone who is part of your network already knows a co-worker that you currently work with.
Bottom line- people TALK. One post view can lead to a co-worker or former college classmate critiquing your characteristics and choices with others. It creates an intense snowball effect.
Whether the post is in response to something personal, a verbal rant or pictures your family may not be too fond of, if you have to think twice about publishing it then it may be best to not publish it at all.
If there is a blog I love to follow, it is definitely Searching for Style. Canadian designer Alexandra Suhner Isenberg not only gives her opinion on events that have occurred within the industry but as owner of her own business, The Sleep Shirt, and previously designing for companies such as Burberry and Sonia Rykiel,* she gives out entrepreneurship advice in her Ask Alexandra column and publishes intriguing posts geared towards aspiring designers who want to start their own companies.
(*Information on Alexandra Suhner Isenberg comes from her About section*).
I came across reading this specific post which lead me to include tip no.2 for my viewers. Creating your own e-mail signature with your contact information and your well put-together design website makes it much easier for the employer to view your artwork and have immediate access to contact you rather than waiting to download your resume file in order to find your cell phone number.
Network, network, network. I guarantee you that this is the most effective and immediate method towards helping you receive that connection to a new opportunity.
Websites such as MeetUp.com allow you to interact with others by attending events or listening to a panel discussion depending on a group you choose to follow-up. At times, events are completely free or if a seminar is involved, fees may apply.
If you're tight with money but would like to expand your network, start by following brands and designers on their social media platforms or sign-up for e-mail notifications. I live for the e-mails I receive from Rebecca Minkoff- not only do you get to listen to great tips and advice from amazing successful people, they also have laid back events like a yoga class or a meet-and-greet.
This is the golden tip of building brand YOU. Gather your industry friends with strong connections for not only those get-together moments but also to help guide you during intense or confusing situations. Below is a list of types of friends you should include in your A-team:
(1) Career Counselor
Wondering if you're getting a better deal out of your negotiation or you feel unprepared for a face-to-face interview? This person's title says it all. She/he is your go-to person for all those real-world issues that a newborn designer faces. Take advantage of their knowledge but also write a thank-you letter, invest in a gift card or invite them out for coffee as small ways to express your gratitude. Remember, they don't necessarily have to help guide you but they're doing it out of the kindness of their heart.
(2) Design Mentor
This person has X amount of industry experience as a designer. Their support can help you from on-the-spot adobe program questions, provide you portfolio reviews and give you guidance when it comes to executing design decisions.
True Short Story:
I had an opportunity to be part of a private label's design team that also happened to be a client for the company I was currently working for at the time.
When you start working in the fashion industry, some companies make you sign a contract where if you are laid off or are no longer interested in working with them, you are unable to work for its competitors or clients for a certain amount of time (example: if you use work for Nike, you will not be able to work for Adidas for about a year or so). This private label opportunity presented itself through a connection I had but I was scared to give that person a definite answer especially since it happened to be the same specialization category the company was doing business with.
Working for this company was my first actual design job and I did not want to burn any bridges. At this moment, I absolutely wished I had someone to discuss this situation with in order to make a correct decision for my future. Luckily my best friend who worked as an Assistant Designer (shout out to Joannie!) had a co-worker who has a lot of industry experience and did me the biggest favor of asking her for advice.
In the end, I was able to reach out and schedule an interview. It turns out, the company that I worked for directly designed for the domestic knit division of the label instead of their imports knits division. The interview was for a position with the imports knit team and with that being said, I would not be violating or sabotaging my current employment at the time (thank God for loopholes!).
(3) Industry Friends
This small group of 4-5 people are your down-to-earth friends that you meet for dinner or drinks and catch-up with events. They arrange from designers, merchandisers to production managers or assistants.
These people keep you sane from the crazy world of fashion and if you are ever in need of a new job opportunity, they got you hands down!
I enjoyed writing this post especially since it's becoming early Saturday morning (the result of being too much of a coffee lover). When I first started working in the fashion industry, I was honestly a deer in headlights and whenever I'm feeling slightly confused, it always leads me to searching through Google, social media platforms and communicating with other fashion friends. Knowledge and experience is key.
Interview Look: Blazer & Top- LOFT,
Pants- CENTRE VILLE (PARIS),
Shoes- NINE WEST.
Thanks & Best,
**ADDITIONAL NOTE**: The Nike/Adidas example is what it is- an example. Usually, well-established companies ask for a year probation before you start applying to work for it's competitors however, I do not know if Nike's headquarters require that specific amount.