Friday, March 11, 2016

Business of Fashion: How to be a Game Changer

Starting out in the fashion/retail industry can be tough because of course you want to make a good impression while still taking something away from your experiences. Many of us start out as interns and part time employees, which can make it tough to leave a lasting impression on your employers. Knowing what your employers are looking for can be difficult in its self, what attributes are most important to them and their company. I met with Juliana Miranda to discuss just this.

 Juliana Miranda did not start out wanting to work in the fashion/retail industry she just happened to fall into. Ms. Miranda studied Political Science at York University and from there went on to work at a trading and consumer show company called MMPI where she worked for nine months in the Communications Department. Ms. Miranda was head hunted to work for a company called Octo where she took on a Human Resource roll. From there Ms. Miranda was able to make her way into the Fashion industry. The Chief Talent Officer at Octo was hired to be the president of Holt Renfrew and six month later he hired Ms. Miranda to work in Human Resources at Holt Renfrew. After three years of working in Human Resources at Holts Ms. Miranda was transitioned into the Special Projects team and from there to exclusive services. Talking to Ms. Miranda I could tell she had a broad knowledge not just of the fashion industry, but also of how a retail company should operate and what they look for in terms of employees skill sets.

What attracted Ms. Miranda to the fashion industry was the business of retail and what retailers are looking to achieve “It was important to me not only to look at fashion and the industry as a business, but understand the strategic direction of a retailer”. Ms. Miranda has always been interested in fashion, but never wanted to pursue the creative side of the industry and was more interested in the “business of fashion”. With her personal love for fashion and mind for business Ms. Miranda was able to navigate her way into a career path she truly loved and has been able to succeed within Holt Renfrew.

With Ms. Miranda’s wide range of experiences within a retail company and years of experience, I then inquired about what make an invaluable employee and how to be a game changer within your industry. She explained that there are a few key things to always do when starting out in the industry; “never have blinders on when going into a new job, have an open mind.” If you limit yourself to one specific job you will never learn the functions of other jobs within the company. This will limit your opportunities to learn and grow. Skills that will help you leave your creative stamp on them is “being a creative thinker, thinking outside the box, pushing the boundaries and not always adhering to the status quo.” When working within a company there will always be templates and certain ways to do things. However, if you want to leave your mark and better the way things are done then you need to find ways to push the status quo, but doing so respectfully.

Early on in Ms. Miranda’s career something that was beneficial to her was knowing what questions to ask, “knowing how to look at something through a critical lens, meaning is there a smarter way of doing this?”. It is important going into a role and observing how everything works and understanding why things are done a certain way and from there evaluate what can be improved. If you are able to do this you can then leave your mark and make yourself invaluable to a company. If you are able to make something your own this will show your superiors you are passionate in what you do and that you are going to put in the time to make it perfect.

When starting out in your career you should always be asking yourself where do I want to be, what are the steps that will take me there and how do I accomplish those steps, but still keeping an open mind. When starting your career you will change career paths several times, which is good and why you need to keep an open mind and continually ask yourself these questions. “One should always be eager to learn and take all opportunities as a learning experience even if you don’t see how your role at the time is going to benefit you in the future.” Even if you are in a job that is not necessarily the one you want it should be used as a stepping stone to the dream job you are striving for because every skill you learn can be applied in other fields even if it is just understanding how another field operates.

Ms. Miranda’s key piece of advice being a game changer is “always be eager to learn, take on new challenges and don’t be scared of a little risk”. Always seize opportunity and this is what will make you remember-able to people you work for or with. These key skills can take you to the next level and allow you to leave your mark, which in turn will open a lot of doors for you while navigating your career path. 

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