Growing up, I wasn’t surrounded by people in the fashion industry, but I always had an interest in being creative. As I grew older, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in fashion. With little knowledge of what that entailed, I knew, whatever path I followed, I had to be immersed in the culture and inspiration of New York City. I ended up attending LIM College, where I focused on the business side of fashion.
Through classes, working, interning, and speaking to professors, I found myself in the role of Membership Coordinator at the Council of Fashion Designers of America after I graduated. This position has taught me that my niche is in helping designers with their businesses and promoting talent in the American fashion industry. Did I ever think this is where I was going to find myself? Of course not!
On a recent Sunday morning, I was at my spin class, breathing heavy with sweat dripping down my face. About 15 minutes in, the exact moment I always question my decision to be there, my instructor said, "You can't be challenged without being inconvenienced," and my thoughts started to flow.
I began thinking about how I got to where I am today and all of the experiences and challenges I’ve had. And it all made sense. If it wasn’t for those mental and emotional challenges, and the lessons I learned from them, I wouldn't have been able to find my niche.
So here are six pieces of advice:
1. Always listen. Whether it's to your college professor during a lecture or a conversation with your coworkers, you never know where you can pick up a valuable lesson that will help you on your journey.
2.Don't be afraid of challenges. Challenges can seem overwhelming, but if you look at them in small pieces and conquer one at a time, you will be able to accomplish the big goal that seemed impossible at the start.
3.Always be humble and gracious. There will be times when you have to face someone who never has a positive thing to say. Rather than letting them push you to the edge, be their exact opposite. Be kind and understanding, show that you care and are grateful for all opportunities.
4. Award-winning fashion designer Yeohlee Teng spoke at a luncheon in honor of women who have had successful careers in fashion. She said, "The commodity you can't afford to waste is time." These words push me to achieve my goals and make the most of every opportunity.
5. As Robin Williams' character said in Dead Poets Society, "You must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all." Have confidence in what you're passionate about. Everyone is their own person and has different passions. Put the blinders on and look straight ahead. Don't worry about what other people are doing. Just because something you are passionate about may not be the norm, it doesn't mean you can't be successful and happy and have the career you desire.
6.Don't be afraid to ask for help. Starting out, I was always hesitant to ask for help or advice because I thought I was already supposed to know everything. I often tried to overcome hurdles without the benefit of knowledge from wiser, more experienced individuals. And then one day my friend called me and asked for advice on a situation at her job. I found myself explaining my experience with a similar situation and how I overcame it. Through that, I realized people are usually willing to help and you can receive great advice and learn important lessons from them.
I leave you with a line from Robert Frost: "Two roads diverged in the woods and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."
I encourage you to find your niche and be confident in your journey!