At the beginning of the year Jennifer Varekemp, one of my former professors at MassArt, emailed me and asked if I would come into her class and give a presentation on starting my own company. I was thrilled to do it and, I have to admit, a little nervous.
I immediately began asking advice of my boyfriend Cruz and my friend/ fashion enthusiast Kate. I wanted them to tell me things about starting my company that I may have never taken into consideration since I was thinking of the business and production processes of running a business and nothing more. Cruz said I should address the sacrifices that come personally when pursuing a career as an entrepreneur. Kate said I should be candid about the ups and downs of starting a business, to speak equally of the triumphs and failures. I was so glad to get both of their input while making my speech outline. It allowed me to take a step back and figure out how to paint an overall picture of what my life both career and personal is like.
I decided I would address the things that I had wanted to know and had to seek out when I was graduating in 2010, like mentors and finding them, networking, and how to get a boutique interested in my work. I also decided to talk with the students about the realization of making a sale and production. That in fashion making one of an item isn’t always the case, especially when you are selling to boutiques, and online. And lastly I would address the personal side of my life. Let the students know that I don’t get many breaks and I have to fit my personal life around the company, until it is successful enough, in my opinion, that I can then fit the company around my personal life. This means bringing work with me when we travel, and taking emails first thing in the morning and possibly phone meetings while running errands or before a movie night. All of these things factor into starting your own company, and I wanted the students to know this. I also wanted to touch base on other fashion careers like stylist, make-up artist, buyer, in-house designer and blogger, because all of these professions are amazing as well, and can become very successful careers with a lot of work as well.
Jenn and I agreed on March 28th as the date I would speak at MassArt. After reviewing my notes on the subject, she decided to open the talk up to any fashion design student interested in hearing me speak. When I arrived on Thursday, I brought samples of my past and current collections and a lot of websites to reference while I was talking (While in school I hated presentations that lacked visuals). When beginning my speech I was a little nervous and wondered how many of these students were actually listening, and had any interest in the things I was saying. But soon, when the questions started rolling in and the speech became more of a back and forth discussion, I knew they were interested and I had advice and knowledge to give. It was a great experience and one I would gladly do again.
I hope each student walked away from my presentation with a little more clarity than they began with and hopefully a lot more inspiration and motivation to begin their own journey in the fashion industry.