If there are three things CollegeFashionista readers all love it has to be fashion, shopping and technology. Perhaps even better is reading about someone who gets to do all three of these things as part of their job.
Emily Waite works at Trendabl, an app that allows you to explore and shop the closets of celebrities, bloggers and everyday Fashionistas is a visually stunning and curated manner. This University of Texas and Polimodo International Institute of Fashion Design & Marketing graduate knows that no two days are the same in a start-up environment and thrives from the experience of learning something new every day.
We caught up with Emily as she discussed internships, the power of networking and her favorite user on Trendabl at the moment (hint—CollegeFashionista recently featured him in our artist series).
CollegeFashionista: Tell us where you went to college and what you majored in.
Emily Waite: I attended the University of Texas at Austin (hook ‘em horns!) where I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in public relations and a Business Foundations Certificate. After graduating from UT, I went on to earn my Master of Science degree in Fashion Brand Management at Polimoda International Institute of Fashion Design & Marketing in the fashionable city of Florence, Italy.
CF: We know no two days are the same, but what does your job entail on a daily basis?
EW: The Trendabl team is very small, so my role is very diverse. On a daily basis, I do everything from social media strategy and analysis, to new merchant outreach and onboarding. I brainstorm and develop collaborations with other players in the industry, and pitch to the media about Trendabl’s latest and greatest happenings. I field business inquiries and liaise between customers and merchants. At Trendabl, every day is a learning experience!
CF: What are the challenges of working in a small start-up environment?
EW: The small start-up environment is incredibly fast-paced, which means I have to take a lot of initiative and assume a lot of responsibility. I have to be very resourceful and confident in my decisions, as everyone always has a million things to do, and I am entrusted to make the right decisions on my own. Additionally, I have to find the humility and willingness to embrace the tasks that don’t necessarily fall within my job description. They may not be glamorous, but they keep the business running and are, therefore, of utmost importance!
CF: How do you think social media is changing the fashion industry?
EW: I think social media is having a tremendous impact on the fashion industry. When it comes to communication, relatively speaking, the fashion industry is one of the more static industries. It has been slow to adopt non-traditional means of communication for branding purposes.
Social media, however, has left brands and retailers with no choice but to embrace, or to flounder. It exists as a form of brand communication, whether paid for or not. That is, there is a huge realm where companies are inevitably being talked about in social media, so the proactive strategy is to establish a presence and try to influence the consumer-made messaging.
As the fashion industry has begun to embrace social media, we have seen the industry become significantly more accessible (think Fashion Week runway shows posted live to Instagram) and relatable (think exclusive designers, supermodels, and other influencers interacting with their followers on a personal level) – and it’s super cool!
Additionally, social media is breaking down the fashion industry’s barriers to entry and allowing any ordinary person with a relevant passion and talent to gain visibility and build a brand. In fact, a big part of Trendabl’s mission is to bring the small-town talents with limited resources to an international marketplace. It is a very rewarding experience!
CF: Who is your favorite Trendabl user?
EW: There are so many really cool users on Trendabl. From brands/retailers and bloggers, to fashion icons and artists (all of whose posts are completely shoppable), we have a pretty impressive roster of users to choose from!
However, my favorite user at the moment is Donald Robertson (@donalddrawbertson), who is a fun fashion illustrator. His work is so unique and his Trendabl profile is basically a feed of downright cool fashion paintings and sculptures depicting the latest collections and trends, often in a quirky and comical way. It’s fabulous!
CF: Have any past internships or jobs helped prepare you for your role at Trendabl?
EW: While at UT, I interned at a fashion and lifestyle PR firm in Austin (POM Public Relations). I worked with many fashion clients, such as MOSS, By George and Austin Fashion Week. This internship was crucial to my understanding of the media world. It has helped me to publicize all of the awesome happenings at Trendabl, through outlet research and pitch development.
More than anything, however, it was the time spent during my academic career working on small projects and attending weekend conventions (micro-internships, if you will) that have been the most helpful. A general understanding of how the fashion industry operates has allowed me to adapt my skill set to match my unique position.
CF: What advice do you have for students looking to pursue careers in the fashion industry?
EW: A huge part of this industry is networking; so don’t be discouraged if you haven’t formally studied fashion. Jump on each and every opportunity to establish and nourish relationships, because it is the people you meet that will propel you into the industry. You have the opportunity to manage the ticket desk at a local fashion show? Do it. Your campus fashion organization is looking for models for a shoot? Apply. A new brand needs volunteers for market research? Contribute. It all adds up!
Photo credit: Jing Chen