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How To Get Experience In The Fashion Industry With No Experience

interns + grads Feb 08, 2022

This is the most popular question that we get asked in FYI IG camp: 'How do I get experience with no experience?'. Yep, that old chestnut which I know you are asking yourself and punching into Google on the reg. But fear not honey, I am here to tell and SHOW you how!

After the s**t show that was the Coronacoaster, it has had a huge impact on you students and Grads getting some experience in the bank, not to mention what it did to your confidence levels. BUT. We are here to show you that you can get some valuable experience in the bag, in a fun, creative and non-overwhelming way.

Check out my tried and tested methods (that seriously work) to help you work your way into industry in no time…

 

1. DAZZLE THEM WITH YOUR CREATIVITY

BTW… You are a creative genius. You have incredible skills. You have talent. You have a creative and strategic brain no one else in this world has. So like a peacock shows its feathers to attract — you need also! Yes, your CV might not have ‘relevant’ experience, but you can visually show the brand you would be an addition to their team. So how? I got my first role at Cosmopolitan Magazine when I was a second-year Fashion Promotion student with NO relevant experience in the magazine industry. So how did I do it?

I made sure my portfolio was professionally FIRE and industry-relevant to the brand. All of the projects in my folio were fashion editorial-related and contemporary. Everything I designed and created, I had my dream fashion editorials in the back of my mind (Cosmo, Elle, Vogue). So that when it came to reaching out and presenting my work they could SEE I was capable.

Fashion editorial page example from my Fashion Promotion portfolio, 2013

 

It’s time you do the same! Yes, this method is considered easier when trying to land visual roles like Graphic Design, but let’s say you are in Fashion Journalism and want to become a writer for Refinery 29 — have a modern blog with articles that align with their vibe, but also represent you. Let’s say you want to be a Content Creator for a brand like Poster Girl — have an IG account that features posts, Reels and videos that they would love. This could legit be 9 posts, it isn’t about quantity but on-brand and professional quality.

Please don’t let this new work get lost! What ever you choose to do, just make sure you showcase this folio, website, blog, or Instagram account EVERYWHERE a brand would see it. Hyperlink it on your CV, Cover Letter, reach-out email, Instagram bio, email signature. Oh and please don’t forget to attach if you say: ‘Please see attached…’. It's every employer's pet peeve.

βœ… ACTION STEP βœ… Go make a hit-list of the brands you want to work for and start to think about how you could visually show them, you have what it takes. Choose your medium (folio, blog, IG) and then content. You don’t always have to create new content or projects, you can repurpose them. Update, refine or reorganize previous projects. Less is more with this!

 

2. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

Let’s say you want to apply for a Fashion Buying role at ASOS, but you have no relevant experience or degree. I am all about positivity, but it’s likely the people with some relevant experience will stand a better chance of getting through to the next round. Don’t be disheartened by this, you just have some foundations to lay first and it’s pretty easy! It’s time to think about where you could get some hands-on experience before you apply for roles like this. It’s all about thinking outside the box and the answers are closer than you think… Look around your local area for experience to start building your CV!

You know that Fashion Boutique in town, that’s potential Fashion Buying experience! From working closely with the owner to understand what pieces they buy and why, what sells and what doesn't, how they order products, and what consumer behaviour is — this is a hands-on experience! Not in Fashion Buying? Check this out:

πŸ‘— Looking for Fashion Design experience? Go get some experience in a bridal shop.

🎨 Looking for Graphic Design experience? Go get some experience in printers or an independent magazine shop.

🎟 Looking for Event experience? Go get some experience in an art gallery or museum.

πŸ› Looking for Styling experience? Go get some experience on the shop floor.

The answer to getting hands-on experience is just under you nose and you don’t have to go to London!

βœ… ACTION STEP βœ… Make a list of the potential places in your area that would give you relevant experience. Go pop in, have a conversation with them and take/email/show them your CV.

 

3. NETWORK TO FIND WORK

The word “Networking” can feel a little icky and overwhelming, I get it. How? What? When? Where? But Honey, this could be your golden ticket into the industry. My top three roles at fashion mags Cosmopolitan, Harpers Baazar and Marie Claire were NOT obtained via applying online but all through connections and reaching out. Conversation really is your currency and to put it simply, networking simply just means having a conversation! 

I want you to start having conversations. The more conversations you have with industry professionals, the more potential opportunities arise! 

Start conversations in the gym, cafes, shops, the pub, on LinkedIn, events you attend. I was at a spinning class last year and got chatting to one of the women there… it turns out she was a Sportswear Designer for M&S and was previously at Adidas. I had 2 options at that point:

  1. Leave and never speak to her again
  2. Exchange details and form a connection

What do you think I did? I exchanged LinkedIn details (wrote her name down in my Notes) and followed up with her as soon as I got home. We have since formed an industry friendship. She has hosted an event for my members and has opened her VERY broad prestige fashion network with me. You need to be doing the same, don’t just have a conversation with someone. Exchange professional details, your biz card and follow up! I don’t need a job, but if I was you I would ask if she knew of any work experience.

You know those times where you wish you got that persons number because they were πŸ”₯ and you let them slip away and they disappear into the dead of night. This is the same thing. Don’t let it happen!!!

So, be committed. As well as making conversations, go to at least ONE industry event per month — digital or physical. Intro yourself, take your cards, connect with everyone you speak to on LinkedIn, add the event speakers on LinkedIn and say you loved the event. By going to events, not only are you networking but you are also filling your knowledge pot simultaneously. Boom.

Comissioned Artwork by Grad Megan Siggers

 

βœ… ACTION STEP βœ… I want you to have at least ONE conversation with industry that pushes you out of your comfort zone this month AND go to one industry event. Do it? Share it on the gram and tag us so we can seeee!

 

IN CONCLUSION...

I know how tough this finding experience game can be, I’ve been there and got the FML tshirt. BUT. It doesn’t always have to feel like this treacherous mountain to climb. Just do the 3 things listed above and I PROMISE you will start seeing traction.

Learn from the traction. What worked, what didn’t? Remember 'failing' is all part of the process too. Tried to start a convo that didn't work? Move on to the next and try to understand why.

Remember you have skills NO ONE ELSE HAS — so show them off. You have potential opportunities close to home — so go find them. You have the ability to network from home, at Uni, with your mates, in the pub, at events — so go show up.

I believe in you!!! If I can do it, you can 1000000000% do it.

Jasmine 🌸

πŸ€‘ TRANSFORM YOUR CV IN JUST 4 STEPS πŸ€‘

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