The ins and outs of fashion Journalism, Styling, Public Relations and Events and how to work your way from Intern to Editor.
It’s a question I started asking others from about 10 years old and, ironically enough, it is now a question I am often asked: how do you crack the Fashion Industry?
Now I have by no means “made it” or necessarily “cracked it”, but I have managed to work and survive over a decade within the Queensland fashion sphere, and want to share my experiences and knowledge with those who wish to do the same.
As a girl from a small country town (my senior class consisted of 20 kids!) with no industry connections, private school education or designer clothes, I worked hard for every opportunity and job that came my way and made it my business to “know” those in the industry just as well as know ABOUT the industry.
This blog post is for the girls and boys who are genuinely passionate about fashion, design, communication and creativity. If you want to work in fashion but don’t think you have the thick skin or fat wallets to do so, this blog is to convince you that designer shoes and witty small talk don’t necessarily mean longevity - anyone can purchase new season Gucci, but not everyone can make it look fresh and unique.
The key to sartorial success (I believe) stems from a kind demeanour, enduring work ethic and unique approach to every client, job and idea. Take on every pitch with enthusiasm and positivity and take every rejection with constructive feedback and the knowledge that the next opening just might be yours.
Below are some key lessons and skills I have found valuable within this sometimes-fickle yet utterly fabulous industry, and I hope my key message resonates with all. Nice girls DO finish first.
Offer more than the job entails or what the client requires. The current fashion climate doesn't often advertise for strictly “styling” or “journalism” jobs and the competition amongst applicants is fierce so I found it valuable to explore beyond the realms of my degree and direct interests. Whether it is photography, digital strategy, graphic design, marketing, modeling, writing – whatever! - work on a secondary skill to help you secure your dream gig.
Networking. You've all heard the saying "It's not what you know, it's who you know" and unfortunately, it has merit. Majority of the jobs I've booked have never been advertised and, instead, have come my way via word of mouth. Keep an eye on the industry and get to know who works where and for who, and always take note when someone finishes up or is promoted so that you can send your resume in first!
This leads me to my next point... it is one thing to KNOW everyone, it is another to be LIKED by everyone. You don't want to make enemies in this industry (it is far too small) so whether they are an editor or assistant, be nice and be respectful. That “assistant” may one day become an editor and you'll definitely want them as a contact then.
Look after loaned garments and accessories as well as marketing/ PR relationships. The whole point of a stylist is to bring fresh, unique and on-trend garments to the table and we need stores, brands, designers and marketing teams to supply these to us. Nurture those relationships and always return clothing and accessories in time and in good condition. Send flowers, thank you notes or chocolates where appropriate and try and catch up face-to-face every couple of months to ensure you are top of mind when new styles land in store.
Work not Werk.
There are two types of people in the fashion industry - Show Ponies and Work Horses. Be a Work Horse. No matter what stage of your career you’re at: steam clothes, carry garments, do a coffee run, return garments, hold the light reflector for the photographer (get used to this job kids!) AND be confident enough to voice your opinion. Carine Roitfeld, Christine Centenera, Rachel Zoe, Monica Rose and Grace Coddington are all Work Horses. Work Horses are the ones who become successful.
Last, but not least, a little bit about me…
Studied: Bachelor of Journalism at University of Queensland
Interned: Mimco (PR/ Marketing), Sass & Bide (PR/ Marketing), Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival (Event Management), Style Magazines (Journalism/ Styling). I interned solidly through University and eventually landed a part time job with Style Magazines during my last year of study. I studied part time and worked part time.
Travelled: I struggled with University (I was frustrated with ‘studying about’ rather than ‘experiencing’ the industry) so took a gap year in London. I assisted Mimco with the opening of their UK boutiques, trained local staff members and also assisted the UK PR/ Marketing department.
Work History: I started working with Style Magazines as a Journalist and Stylist during my last year of University and then transitioned into a full time role once my studies had finished.
After 3 years I decided to make the leap into freelance styling work (scary!) and was lucky enough to join the Dissh Boutique’s team as their Stylist. A year with this go-getter company (I learned SO much from them – 50 looks in 5 hours, done!) and I started working with Westfield Queensland as a Personal Stylist (I still work with this brand today - love my Westfield family!).
I dabbled in PR and Publishing with my company, A&A Collective, however I fell pregnant and my business partner had the chance to move and work overseas so I settled into freelance styling yet again.
Four months after having my first child (and at a time where I thought my career was potentially plateauing), I was asked to join the News Corp team as the Fashion Editor and Stylist for Q Weekend and Brisbane News Magazine.
Now: I work as a Freelance Stylist with clients including News Corp (Q Weekend and Brisbane News), Westfield, Sass & Bide, Country Road and White Label Noba to name a few.
I spend my days switching between roles including Mum, Stylist, Accountant, Cleaner, Driver and Chef (I use this word VERY loosely) where some days my “work day” doesn’t even begin until 7:30pm.
I work weekdays, weekends, days and nights and there is no Sick Leave, Maternity Leave or someone to cover me if I need it. I’ve lost count of the hours I’ve worked overtime or for free but… I wouldn’t change a thing!
For me, I’ve never “worked” a day in my life! x