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Fashion Careers

How much should I be making?

Q: I live in Vancouver, have worked in freelance marketing (lifestyle/fashion) for 4 years and managed marketing for two small fashion boutiques. I also just obtained a Fashion Marketing diploma from Kwantlen University. I recently started a Marketing Coordinator position with a boutique marketing agency specializing in fashion. I am making $14/hr. What should I be making?

Susan Langdon says:
Salaries vary depending on where you're located, what school you attended, what industry you're working in, how much related experience you have and what the job responsibilities are so it's impossible to say that you should be making $x. According to Payscale.com, a Marketing Coordinator in Vancouver should be making C$12.58 - C$24.83 per hour based on the number of years of experience. Since you only have 4 years under your belt, and because the fashion industry (in Canada anyway) usually doesn't pay well, your hourly wage is probably correct. Here is the link to Payscale.com:
www.payscale.com/research/CA/Job=Marketing_Coordinator/Salary/7f78b1e3/Vancouver-BC.


Advice on transitioning from graphic design to fashion

Q: I am a graphic/product designer. I used to work in an accessories company and a hosiery company. I want to pursue my career in the apparel world as a product developer for commercial business and maybe later end up in fashion marketing. Do you have any advice?

Susan Langdon says:
You didn’t mention if you have any technical skills in apparel design such as patternmaking, drafting or construction however you likely have some transferable, non-technical skills from your accessories and hosiery experience such as material sourcing, costing, trend researching etc. But without any technical skills, it would be very difficult to get a placement as an apparel product developer because the field is highly competitive and employers will likely hire the most qualified and experienced. If you’re good in sales, like people and are a good communicator, it would probably be easier to get into fashion marketing because every company wants to increase sales. You could try to intern at a professional apparel sales agency to gain experience as long as you don’t volunteer more than 10 hours per week or longer than 90 days. You can gain extremely beneficial knowledge by working at a sales agency like what sells, what doesn’t, why, the timing of the seasons; not to mention meeting key retail buyers and distributors. Another great option is to get a sales job at a clothing store you love. Many stores promote from the “floor” because sales people know who the customer is, what he or she likes to buy, what sells and what doesn’t. All of that hands-on learning would give you a hiring advantage for a fashion marketing position within the same company.


How to get a fashion job in Toronto?

Q: I have 10+ years in fashion design in China. Since I came here, I have found it is difficult to find a job in the fashion field not only due to the language but also the culture barriers. Can you give me some advice on how to continue my career in Toronto? Thanks!

Susan Langdon says:
Welcome to Toronto, one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world! Being new to a city and trying to find employment is often challenging so here are some suggestions:

· Join TFI & become a TFI Outreach member. As a member you can meet with our career mentor who will give you some tips to improve your resume and/or suggest where to find work.

· Once your resume is revised so that it effectively describes your skills, education and work experience, send it to fashion placement agencies located in Toronto. You can find a listing of fashion placement agencies in the “Resources” section of the TFI site here www.fashionincubator.com/resources/working_in_fashion/index.shtml. Agencies are always looking for employable recruits (as that’s how they make money) so if your resume looks good, agencies will actively try to find you a job.

· Toronto has a huge Chinese population so perhaps you can check out the help wanted sections in various local Chinese newspapers like Sing Tao

· As a TFI member, you can visit our Resource Centre and review our list of apparel production contractors located in the Greater Toronto Area. Many of these companies are owned and operated by Chinese immigrants or Chinese-Canadians and if would be a bonus for them to find someone who understands the language, and who understands design and production


Good luck and I hope to see you at TFI!


Finding a fashion management job in Canada

Q: I graduated from accessory design in India and am now planning to do my masters in fashion management in Canada. Will it be difficult for me to find a job in Canada in this field after the completion of my course? Please help.

Susan Langdon says:
There are too many variable factors that affect whether or not you find a job, in Canada or elsewhere, that it’s impossible to give you a definite answer. Earning a Masters degree is wonderful but be sure to consider some of these things an employer looks for:

•Target the company and position you hope to secure and do some research to see if a Masters in Fashion Management is required

•Do you have any relevant Canadian fashion work experience and if not, how can you gain some to enhance your resume?

•Do you have excellent English- and/or French-language skills? If you’re applying for a position in Quebec, you need to be fluent in French (verbal & written)

•What soft and hard skills can you list on your resume to make you desirable to an employer? Are you responsible, mature, loyal, have excellent creative problem solving skills, have excellent communication and computer skills etc.?

•How do you present yourself? Are you well groomed, articulate, intelligent, fashionable, outgoing, shy, social?

Good luck with your studies & future fashion career in Canada!


Qualified to be a Product Developer or Fashion Marketer?

Q: I am a graphic/product designer. I used to work in an accessories company and a hosiery company. I want to pursue my career in the apparel world as a product developer for commercial business and maybe later end up in fashion marketing. Do you have any advice?

Susan Langdon says:
You didn’t mention if you have any technical skills in apparel design such as patternmaking, drafting or construction however you likely have some transferable, non-technical skills from your accessories and hosiery experience such as material sourcing, costing, trend researching etc. But without any technical skills, it would be very difficult to get a placement as an apparel product developer because the field is highly competitive and employers will likely hire the most qualified and experienced. If you’re good in sales, like people and are a good communicator, it would probably be easier to get into fashion marketing because every company wants to increase sales. You could try to intern at a professional apparel sales agency to gain experience as long as you don’t volunteer more than 10 hours per week or longer than 90 days. You can gain extremely beneficial knowledge by working at a sales agency like what sells, what doesn’t, why, the timing of the seasons; not to mention meeting key retail buyers and distributors. Another great option is to get a sales job at a clothing store you love. Many stores promote from the “floor” because sales people know who the customer is, what he or she likes to buy, what sells and what doesn’t. All of that hands-on learning would give you a hiring advantage for a fashion marketing position within the same company.


Looking for a job in PR or Event Coordination

Q: I am a 26 year old graduate with an Honours Degree in Communications and a Fashion Arts Diploma. I want to work for a fashion retailer head office in either PR or event coordination, but am finding it extremely difficult to land a job. Any advice?

Susan Langdon says:
If you check the websites of the companies you're targeting, you'll discover that most companies don't have their own in-house PR and event teams. These positions are usually outsourced to public relations firms and/or to special events firms. On the TFI website under "Resources, Promoting Your Line" here bit.ly/19tDCFh, we have a list of Public Relations firms who have fashion clients (retailers, designers etc.). My advice is to start by contacting the companies on the list because many PR firms also do event planning and management for their clients. You don’t mention if you studied communications or event planning in school but it’s very important to an employer that you have some basic skills and experience in these areas. If you don’t have any experience, start volunteering to work backstage at fashion shows, at fashion galas and events, and start writing a blog to demonstrate your written communication skill and style.


I have no fashion background; where should I start?

Q: I want to enter the fashion world with hopes to design my own line some day. I have limited time with family planning so 4 yr programs look too long. I am a hands on learner. Any place I can learn as I go even with a little income? Where should I start?

Susan Langdon says:
Each year, there are about 500 post-secondary fashion graduates who enter the industry and hope to find a job. Employers are more likely to give an opportunity to someone who’s gone through school because they’ve learned basic skills, understand how the industry functions and know the technical jargon used every day. The learning curve is shorter and to an employer, time is money. Your best starting point is to identify schools that offer a shorter fashion design program such as the Academy of Design in Toronto or take some part time technical courses at night such as those offered by George Brown College.


What other cities in Canada offer fashion jobs?

Q: I want a career in the fashion industry, but I don't want to move to Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal. Is there another city in Canada that would be a good option?

Susan Langdon says:
Calgary, Halifax and Ottawa are emerging fashion design cities; you may wish to Google them and check them out. If you’re looking for a production job, there are many denim and outerwear producers in Winnipeg.


Career as a Home Product Designer

Q: Q: Hi, I have been working in the fashion industry for 8 years now and am looking to make the transition into "HOME" product development much like Elena Conte did. I would love to get her advice on how to do so.

Elena Conte says:
A: The transition is actually not a difficult one at all. Most people working in this industry have a fashion apparel background and hold fashion diplomas/degrees. As long as you have a solid knowledge of textiles, an understanding of production, and an eye for design, most companies will view your experience in the fashion industry as relevant and transferable. You should however be prepared to enter into an entry level position while you build experience in this particular industry.

Research the companies you would like to target for employment opportunities and begin forwarding your resumé - sounds simple, but that’s how I approached it. I would be pleased to provide guidance on specific questions as you get further into pursuing opportunities.

If you would like, I can also review your resumé and cover letter to make recommendations for areas of focus. Please contact TFI if you wish to pursue this, 416-971-7117 x 21.




What should I include in my resume?

Q: I've been doing freelance costume commissions for a couple years now but I don't do it as part of an official company. Is it wise to include my commissioned work on my resume when applying to jobs?

Susan Langdon says:
It depends on the type of position you're looking for. If you're searching for a costume or fashion design position, then yes, all related experience is valid and credible. If you're applying for an administrative position, then no, it's not relevant so don't include it. An effective resume is tailored and customized for each type of job to which you're applying. Don't have just one version that's good for all.


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