INTOFashion participant Liz reports on her experience of building up her professional network, at women’s apparel and accessories tradeshow Scoop.
I joined the FAD’s INTO Fashion initiative, as it seemed ideal for someone like me-a recent graduate more than ready for career progression within fashion industry. I was thrilled with the opportunity to attend the Scoop International Fashion Show, at the Saatchi Gallery – the perfect opportunity to network and potentially source work opportunities, more in line with my interests than the retail sales positions which I’ve typically been stuck in before.
Overall I would say that my experience was challenging yet rewarding. At fashion events, I’m more accustomed to being a spectator, and taking a more inquisitive stance was a little out of my comfort zone. Nevertheless, feeling optimistic, I drove straight into talking to people and brands which caught my eye. This proved easier than I had initially thought, and I pretty much used the same technique with every individual that I spoke to, trying to establish an initial rapport, beginning with questions about the story behind their brands, their inception, positioning and so forth – a technique which worked great, especially amongst the small and boutique owners, as they were the most passionate in talking about their ideas. I would then take the opportunity to really market myself, offer my services and attempt to discuss potential employment possibilities. This again went well as I was able to exchange contact information with a few brands, such as a British scarf designer and Italian jewellery designer who expressed interest in someone for PR and marketing to help launch his line within the UK.
The main challenge which I faced was with the occasional sales agents who were only interested in meeting buyers. While disheartening, I remained undeterred and made a commitment to myself to persevere, and to speak to every brand which I could see myself working for. I was also able to speak to the Saatchi Gallery venue manager, who gave me some useful tips and a few companies to look at for recruitment within fashion event management, and promotion.
All in all I gained a lot from this experience, as I was able to practice my networking skills, get a few contacts and potential positions, but most of all this experience was great for character building. It has also reminded me of the difficult reality of the fashion industry, witnessing first-hand both the glamorous and less glamorous business side of fashion. For that reason I would definitely recommend joining the INTOFashion initiative, whether you’re a budding designer or buyer etc, or like me are more interested in the business side of things. Perseverance is key, and the only determinant of your potential!
INTOFashion is proudly sponsored by Trust For London.