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NEW YORK — Fashion wannabees got an earful of career advice from six seasoned insiders at “The Future of Fashion” discussion Tuesday night at the Fashion Institute of Technology here.
From start to finish during the 90-minute talk, moderator Mickey Boardman was pure entertainment, whether advising interns to be sure to get the right diet soda for their superiors or describing how a Romanian palace guide once gave him a free tour after recognizing him from talking about Britney Spears’ hot tub on MTV. “Bad TV changes lives around the world,” he said in reference to the latter.
Mainly, though, he and the rest of the panel were earnest and willing to share their own experiences to help newcomers find their way in the fashion industry. Cynthia Rowley recalled how, early on, she was just happy to no longer be in a bartender job.
Presented by the YMA Scholarship Fund, the event was billed as “Starting Out: What I Wish I Knew Then and Other Insights from Fashion Leaders’ Early Years.” Don’t send form letters, show up late, text or Tweet on the job was some of the advice that was doled out.
“And don’t think we’re not going on your Facebook page,” said Michael Bastian.
Other tips included:
Rowley: “The number-one thing is, you have to be able to get over it and keep going.”
Stylist Lori Goldstein: “You just do what you love and then you find your path. And you might be part of LVMH one day and have your own business with 300 of your own stores. But you don’t really know. Do what you love. Do what you believe in. Clearly, you need the business plan and all that. But don’t talk to me about that.”
Terron Schaefer, executive vice president of Saks Fifth Avenue: “Surround yourself with smart and nice people. And then hire smart and nice people.”
Bastian: “The best interns are the ones who really make themselves an indispensable part of the family, like you can’t imagine not having them there. And then you think of ways to pull them onto the team.”
Boardman: “Be yourself and be sincere. There are no tricks or things you should say if they are not true. You should really only interview in a place where you think you should be.”
Alexis Bittar: “I feel like I didn’t get going until I was 30. I started selling [my designs] on the street when I was eight and until I was 25.”