[The following is the final installment in a series of three guest articles written by Vianka McConville, a recent University of Florida grad with a B.S. in Public Relations. Vianka completed four internships in three years, held various leadership positions and helped create an FPRA award-winning PR campaign during college. She lives for the world of fashion and can be contacted at mcconville.vianka[at]gmail.com]
Have you looked for any fashion jobs lately? Were you amazed at the overwhelming opportunities in Nevada, Michigan and Georgia? In a word, probably, notsomuch. We all know this sad truth: the fashion world is not thriving in every city. My dream is to walk the streets of New York in a pair of coveted Louboutins. I’m currently tied down in Orlando, Florida, but I’m looking to move my way up north in two years.
Don’t fret if you are not one of the millions crawling the busy streets of New York or Los Angeles (and Paris or Milan.) The following are my thoughts on how make a career in Fashion PR happen, whether its in a fashion epicenter or your beloved small town.
Option 1 - Move It
Take your big dreams to a big city.
Before you back your bags for Manhattan, consider a few important questions. Are you an impeccably coiffed designer diva or a surfer girl with a love for flattering board shorts? Do you get homesick? Are you an independent person who likes to do things alone or do you prefer to have a circle of friends around you? What kinds of clients do you want to work with? Do you see yourself working for an agency or looking for an in-house position? Where are your favorite brands or designers corporate headquarters? For example, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and Free People are based out of Philadelphia and San Diego is home to big surf brands like Reef and fast-fashion mainstay Charlotte Russe.
Take all this research into your pot and stir until you have a few fashionable cities that meet your criteria. Then, plan to visit for a few days. Make time to visit a businesses of interest to get a feel for the atmosphere--just walk by. If you don’t know many people or anyone in the new city, think about wandering around to get to know the neighborhood - a little retail therapy, an amazing cup of rose tea, you never know what you might find that lets you know this place could be home.
The best job in the world means nothing if you are going home miserable each night, so before you move, put your networking skills to use and begin cultivating relationships with friends or professionals in the city of your choice. Ask your existing network for connections and come up with a few specific questions to ask over email or phone. These relationships can provide a couch to sleep on for a few weeks, important locals only-info or even an interview. Finding out the cost of living, consider the possibility of getting a transition job, or a transition job and a fashion internship, and transportation. Of course you can make a snap decision, pick-up and move, (you're only young once right!) however, knowing what you are getting yourself into first, can help better position you for success.
If you decide to move without a magical first job, it can be really hard to stay positive while you are in the process of getting your big break, life isn't always an Ugly Betty or Devil Wears Prada step away from a big break. But persistence and passion does pay off. Build a support system with family, friends, roommates etc. When times get hard, turn to your mentor to help you remember your dreams and how far you have already come.
Option 2 - Make it Up
If moving is not in the cards for you, find a way to bring fashion PR to you.
Most cities have at least one lifestyle magazine that showcases good food, shops, community happenings and entertainment. It may not be Vogue, but it is exactly the right place to start getting involved at a local level. Work on your writing skills by reviewing and writing about your cite from a fashion and retail perspective. Not only will you hone in on your media skills, but every boutique interviewed could be a potential client for you! No luck with the writing position? Offer to do a press kit for your favorite local spot and lobby to get them included in a local blog or event. If your city is just too small to have a dedicated fashion mag, consider starting one or look towards the internet. Digital magazines and guest posts on blogs can be a great way to offer your expertise and learn from the business. Simply find the contact information and send a compelling email with some thoughts to share to readers (that’s how I’m here right now!)
If there is a fundraising need in your community, look into arranging a charity fashion show. A friend is currently putting together such an event and the experience has been both stressful and exciting. (How appropriate for fashion huh?) She has made countless contacts with awesome vendors and donors that she can carry into other events or endeavors. I am truly excited to see the show this December!
When you are not living in the center of fashion it takes a bit more effort to stay plugged in, but it’s totally doable. Think outside the box, get creative and apply what you know in a way that will make you love what you do wherever you are. And remember, whatever path you choose, you always have the freedom to change your mind!
View the other posts in this Fashion PR Intern series: