In an industry were starting young is key, the task of launching your fashion career years after graduation can seem impossible – especially if your degree wasn’t Arts related.
The more fashion executive’s bios you read, the more inexperienced you may feel. But there is more hope than you might think!
Have you found yourself endlessly scrolling through Fashion Workie or The Dots, looking for new job listings yet haven’t found the courage to apply? As a gentle nudge and for career inspiration here are 7 women who may have been ‘fashionably late’ to the industry, but are now firmly on the VIP list.
The Boss: Carmela Acampora, Roksanda CEO
Carmela Acampora is the first female CEO of luxury fashion label, Roksanda. Since joining, Acampora has been credited with increasing revenue growth by 41% in her first financial year with the brand.
But, before she was breaking company records, this CEO was working in the Pepsi Co. PR department. After her leap into the fashion industry, Carmela admits to feeling out of her depth at times, yet believes the constant challenges and lessons provide the opportunity for her to keep learning.
Her mantra – “You will never know it all. Thrive in what you do know and learn from others what you don’t. That it was a team is for”. Wise words for all millennial women to remember!
The Business Mogul: Michèle Huiban, Lanvin CEO
Michèle Huiban, the esteemed CEO of the fashion house, Lanvin, is more of a savvy businesswoman than creative genius.
Originally focusing on a corporate career, Huiban gained an MBA from business school before beginning work in the media industry. After a career change to fashion, this CEO used her business acumen to its full advantage, focusing on transforming the ‘business’ side of fashion.
Proving that your skills from a previous industry can quickly become a must-have in the fashion sector, she was Financial Director at Lanvin before taking the helm in 2013.
The Imposter: Allyson Payer, Fashion Editor at Who, What, Wear
Having always yearning to work in fashion, Payer admitted to feeling like an imposter once she finally landed her dream job. The Fashion Editor felt uneasy verbalising her self-taught fashion knowledge, especially when surrounded by industry professionals.
Fast forward just over a year into her role, Payer is happy to report she doesn’t feel as fraudulent as she once did and realises that it just takes a little self-belief and confidence!
The Blogger: Preetma Singh, Fashion Content Producer at Nordstrom
Finding herself as a clothes addict stuck in corporate law, Preetma Singh, started her own fashion blog. She recalls documenting what it was really like to wear Balenciaga in a buttoned-up office. Preetma soon realised that her side project was fast becoming her main source of fulfilment, propelling her to focus on a future in fashion.
She started right at the bottom of the fashion food-chain as an intern at Refinery29, yet strategically worked her way through the industry and finally landing as a Fashion Content Producer at Nordstrom.
Defying the odds and the Editors of Vogue, Preetma is a genuine blogging success story. Inspiring us all to improve our streetwear game and flood our Instagrams.
The Research Queen: Cheryl Ashman, Founder and CEO of The Designer Lookbook
Working as a successful corporate lawyer in the capital, Cheryl Ashman practically stumbled upon her fashion career calling while strolling around London Fashion Week at Somerset House. She envisioned ‘The Designer Lookbook‘, a site where you can discover and shop from the best emerging talent.
Ashman has been vocal about the challenges of breaking into an industry she knew very little about. Her main advice: research!
She advises industry newbies to submerge themselves in the world of fashion, researching the industry, the people, events and to talk to anyone and everyone.
The Accident: Amanda Carter, Founder of Mode PR Agency
As a student of Social Anthropology and French, Amanda Carter never envisioned a future as PR girl. Yet, after a few years working as an English Language teacher around the globe, Carter found herself as a receptionist at, none other than, Dolce and Gabbana.
I’m sure working in the presence of Naomi Campbell was quite the fabulous introduction to the industry! It was then that she discovered her interest for the non-stop world of fashion PR. Thus beckoning the start of her fashion career.
Following several jobs at major PR firms, Carter founded her own agency, Mode PR, a company much beloved by indie brands.
The Reject: Roberta Benteler , Founder of Avenue 32
When private financier, Roberta Benteler, first tried to transition to a career in fashion she was told no. Why? Because ‘apparently she lacked a ‘fashion nous. An ironic statement in hindsight, considering the success of Avenue 32!
This lady boss was undeterred and instead took a more scenic route to the top. In order to develop her fashion experience and skills, Benteler began working with smaller, developing brands. Only then did she realise that smaller brands were in desperate need of a commercial platform to sell their collections. Fast-forward a few years and a lot of hard work later, Avenue 32 was created.
Her struggle taught her an invaluable lesson, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way!”
After this healthy dose of SHEspiration, what have we learnt? With confidence, hard work and the sheer willingness to learn, a fashion career is easily within grasp.