As I have stated before, seeing former Style Gurus leave the nest and go on to conquer their fashion dreams is one of the more rewarding parts of my job. Danielle Smith, a former Saint Joseph’s University Style Guru, may have stayed in Philly post-grad, but one thing has certainly changed. Instead of style stalking Fashionistas/os on campus, she is Assistant Wholesale Planner with Free People. While her title may have changed, she is still as hardworking and passionate about fashion as ever. We caught up with Danielle as she talked about her life post-CollegeFashionista and how she got to where she is today.
The signs were there. At five the only thing that convinced me Santa was real were the very real (and hideous) pair of high-heeled lace-up booties that I found under the tree I knew my parents would NEVER buy me themselves. In the third grade, while all of the kids were bundled up on the jungle-gym, I insisted on keeping my streak of crop-tops going strong throughout the dead of winter. Growing up I was particular about what I wore but never identified it as having an interest in fashion; it was just how I was.
By the time I got to Saint Joseph’s University my freshman year pursuing a career in fashion was not even on my radar. As an accounting and finance major with a communications minor I was a passenger on a pretty direct train headed straight for a fulfilling and enthralling profession in public accounting. (Sidebar: sarcasm. Duh.)
After completing various internships within my field of study I got a summer job as a salesperson in the Individualist/Savvy departments at Nordstrom. It was there that I became aware of CollegeFashionista and wrote to Amy asking if I could start a column for Saint Joe’s. Building a fashion community on campus was the first time I felt like myself and was enjoying what I was doing. My internship with CollegeFashionista was pivotal in my quest to figuring out that I definitely wanted fashion to be a major part of my life.
However, at that point I had already accepted an assurance position with a big four accounting firm. I started with an open mind but very quickly, and by very quickly I mean when my soul died during the first week of training, I came to the conclusion I had to make a change. During that quick stint, I found my way to my current role at Free People working as an Assistant Wholesale Planner. The daily grind involves velocity, sales and budget reporting responsibilities as well as lending analytical support to the buying team. The environment at URBN is creative and entrepreneurial at every level, from design to allocation.
At Free People I work with people who were previously coffee shop managers and classically trained musicians. Regardless of the track you are now a change of direction is always an option. It is frighteningly easy to get bogged down in the day to day expectations of what we “should” be doing as opposed to what we want to be doing. One day you’re testing accounts payable controls for a battery company out in the middle-of-nowhere and you think, “What am I doing here?” Or was that just me? Risking sounding like an after school special, my internship with CollegeFashionista along with Amy’s mentorship taught me that it is critical for me to be involved with something I am passionate about every day. I could not by more grateful for the privilege of being a small part of their journey, as CollegeFashionista was such a significant part of mine.