How To Travel The World working in Fashion
Cannon Hodge, 30, social media manager for Bergdorf Goodman
How I got here: I majored in English and got a job as a writer for Neiman Marcus, in Texas. I had a mentor there who told me, "Dallas is not the place for you," and said I should interview at Bergdorf (which is owned by the same company) in New York City. I started off booking models and designer appearances. After I created our YouTube page in 2007, I was known as the resident geek. I realized how important social media would be.
My plugged-in, 24/7 day: Before I'm even out of bed, I'm checking Twitter. We're on 13 platforms—Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and so on—and I manage all of them, posting updates and photos and responding to customer-service questions. At the store I live-tweet or live-pin when a designer comes in, or I see new collections. Social media truly never stops. But I have a rule that when I'm with my friends and family, I keep my phone in my bag so I can give them my attention.
My go-to look: Cigarette pants or a long skirt with a blazer. My mobile "office" is a cross-body bag so I can go hands-free and be on my phone, Instagram-ing.
My advice for breaking in to fashion: Handwrite thank-yous after interviews! (Mail them; don't send emails.) Be willing to start at the bottom. You're not going to have a shining moment right away. Stay late and volunteer to do less glamorous projects. The fashion industry is hard work.
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Phair manages teams in the U.K., the U.S., and China. "I'm always on," she says.
The Retail Mega-Boss
Stephanie Phair, 34, managing director of fashion discount retailer The Outnet
How I got here: My first fashion job was at a public relations agency, which led to working in communications at Vogue. From there, I went to The Outnet, which gave me great experience with e-tail. It helps in this job that I'm a discount shopper myself—I am our customer. At my interview, when the director happened to ask what I was wearing, I could proudly say that everything I was wearing was from Loehmann's, a sample sale, or an online discount site!
Nice perks! I get to travel between our offices in London, New York City, and Shanghai, which is exciting and a privilege. But clothes are not a perk—customers get first dibs and staffers have to wait a week before we can order an item.
My advice for breaking in to fashion: There are a lot of nondesigner jobs in fashion: tech jobs, like Web developers, and graphic design jobs. Look at your talents, and there's probably a fashion job for them.
Worst advice I ever got: When I decided to go to The Outnet, people said, "What are you thinking? A start-up? Online fashion? You're crazy!" But you wear more hats than you do in an established company, so you learn how to do more. Don't be scared of a start-up.
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To score a fashion gig, "show your unique aesthetic," say Ochs (left) and Cushnie.
Carly Cushnie, 28, and Michelle Ochs, 27, cofounders of Cushnie et Ochs
How we got started: We launched our line right out of design school, with under $100,000! For the first collection, we worked 12-hour days for months. —C.C.
Our advice for breaking in to fashion: Intern! We interned all during school, and it made us pay attention to production, like which fabric mills to use. —M.O.
Unexpected challenges: Everyone—even our parents—told us not to go out on our own right out of school. We started the collection without telling them so we could show we were serious. And because we're younger than everyone we work with, we're extra professional: organized, on time, in a pencil skirt and button-down. —M.O.
Our workday: We order fabrics and go to fittings, pricing meetings. Designing is actually a small part of what we do. I sketch on nights and weekends. —C.C.
A misconception: That fashion people don't eat! Once, we ordered dinner for the staff, and the caterer sent salads. We need steak, potatoes, mac and cheese! —M.O.
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Answer to the question Meikle's always asked: "No, we don't keep clothes we borrow!"
The Fashion Editor
Sarah Meikle, 43, fashion market director at Glamour
How I got here: In middle school I couldn't wait for Glamour, Vogue, Seventeen to show up in the mail. I got a BFA in photography, then a job in the photo department at Christie's. From there, an art department job at Glamour, then a fashion assistant job, then promotions to where I am now!
My typical day: I go to designers' showrooms, take photos, and meet with my team to discuss what trends we're seeing. Then I create a bulletin board for each story and call in the clothes, shoes, and accessories we like. We work out looks, and the editor-in-chief reviews them all. (That whole process can take two months or more!) Twice a year I have Fashion Week—actually, it's Fashion Month by the time we've seen shows in Milan, London, Paris, and New York.
My go-to look: I wear mostly black, white, and navy, so it's easy to bring in a pattern or pop of color. As a fashion editor, I look for items that don't scream a specific season, because people I know will recognize it.
My advice for breaking in to fashion: Intern. Even if it's not fashion-related, doing something can help you find out what you like and don't like. And it's important to know everything that's happening online, like street-style and shopping blogs.
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Dayani, a regular on Bravo, at work
Mandana Dayani, 30, VP and general counsel of Rachel Zoe, Inc.
How I got here: I did real estate law for a corporate firm for two years. I'd always been fashion-obsessed, but I had no idea how to get into fashion! I spent a month getting coffee with friends of friends who worked in the industry, saying, "I just want to know what you do." Networking led to a connection with Rachel, and a job!
What a business fashion person can do: With all the licensing and partnerships in fashion now, people who can structure deals, negotiate, and execute projects are needed. If you can make the hell out of a spreadsheet, I'll hire you in minutes.
Her advice for breaking in to fashion: It's not just who you know. I've hired people without connections who love Rachel's brand and sent résumés on LinkedIn. Include links to your Tumblr, Pinterest, whatever. We hired someone because we fell in love with his personal pages!