Lessons learned: 8 fashion execs give career advice to their younger selves

We’ve all been there. Fresh out of college, a heart full of dreams and expectations… Only to enter the job market and realize building the career of our dreams isn’t as easy or glamorous as we may have imagined it to be.

Looking to know in which ways reality has differed from their initial expectations and what their biggest learning has been so far, FashionUnited hit eight fashion execs with the following question: “if you could travel back in time and give your younger self some career advice, what would it be?”. Here are their answers:

Don’t think you can predict or even map your career

Lessons learned: 8 fashion execs give career advice to their younger selves

Carla Buzasi, Managing Director at trend forecasting company WGSN:

“I’d tell my younger self to go with the flow. When I left university, I thought I wanted to write features for women’s magazines, but ended up writing about fashion for glossy magazine websites, then in their infancy, before going on to run a news and politics website. Now I run a trend forecasting company! I didn’t even know trend forecasting existed as a career option when I was studying. I don’t think you can predict or even map your career in this day and age. Entertain all options, learn as much as you can along the way and jump at new opportunities when they feel right”

Be comfortable with not knowing

Lessons learned: 8 fashion execs give career advice to their younger selves

Lucy Litwack, owner and CEO of UK lingerie label Coco de Mer:

“Opportunities rarely come with a set of instructions. Take risks from time to time or you’ll never achieve anything. You can achieve so much when you’re young, the opportunities are limitless. You need to gain as much experience as you possibly can, in any way that you can. Be comfortable not knowing anything at the beginning, there is no such thing as a stupid question when you start a new job. Learn from those around you.

If you can work in different areas of a business, it will be super helpful to understand the issues everyone in your team will face in the future. It will be stressful, sometimes you will feel you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. But it will also be inspiring, exciting and satisfying.”

The beauty of uncertainty

Lessons learned: 8 fashion execs give career advice to their younger selves

Alexandra Waldman, Co-Founder and Creative Director of American fashion brand Universal Standard:

“Choose the harder way - always! When there is a choice between comfort and uncertainty, it is the latter that will lead you to places you didn’t even know you wanted to go”

You can always reinvent yourself

Lessons learned: 8 fashion execs give career advice to their younger selves

Lise Bonnet, co-founder of European luxury label Crafted Society:

“Everything is always evolving, so stop every once and a while and look at what you are doing. Don’t be afraid to do things differently, even though it might be scary… In the end it will pay off. You can always reinvent yourself.

When we’re young we have to choose an education and career path very quickly, but that doesn’t mean you’re supposed to do that for the rest of your life or that you are defined by that choice. If you didn’t have formal training as a designer, for instance, it doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Follow your heart! It’s never too late to move in a different direction.”

Surround yourself with people who propel you forward

Martin Johnston, co-founder of European luxury label Crafted Society:

“Continually assess whether you are surrounding yourself with people who provide you with encouragement and nourishment or those who act more like weeds and only want to feed off you. To maintain your journey towards your true purpose, keep your garden in check and continually de-weed your life”.

Learn from the best

Lessons learned: 8 fashion execs give career advice to their younger selves

Ashmita Taneja, Retail Strategy Director for the Americas at fashion retail analytics firm Edited:

"Seek out coaches and leaders across the field from the onset of your career. Don't rely and expect development to be driven by your employer. The saying ‘we don’t know what we don’t know’ rings incredibly true for me to this day, which is why I'm empowered and driven by the expertise of individuals who've achieved goals I'm actively pursuing myself. I've done this by joining local industry meet-ups and free apps like Shapr that made connecting to these individuals quite easy".

All work and no play...

Lessons learned: 8 fashion execs give career advice to their younger selves

Fiona Fairhurst, Vice-president of Innovation at underwear brand Heist:

“I would tell myself to make sure I manage work-life balance. It’s very important, you can’t be creative with a tired mind!”

Go abroad

Lessons learned: 8 fashion execs give career advice to their younger selves

Rosey Cortazzi, Global Marketing Director at denim manufacturer ISKO:

"Don’t be afraid of adventure. I left my home country quite late in my career. I wish I had done it sooner. There are such huge benefits and learning from working in different countries and with different cultures".

Pictures: Pixabay, Carla Buzasi website, courtesy of Coco de Mer, courtesy of Universal Standard, courtesy of Crafted Society, Ashmita Taneja Linkedin, courtesy of Heist, Linkedin

 

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