“Like many recent graduates, my career was a comfortable 20-something years before I experienced a many steep learning curve.”
The first time I told a group of high school peers that I wanted to work in fashion, I could smelt collective eye roll. It felt akin to saying I wanted to be a fairy princess or a Bratz doll when I grew up, a baseless childhood fantasy concocted by a schoolgirl who read a number of Teen Vogue one time. understand.
In creative industries – especially fashion – the whole process of ‘getting there’ (to any revenue-generating destination) can be complicated. It’s rarely linear and often involves periods of relentless shaking, because being an advocate for your professional life is frankly embarrassing at times.
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Now that I really do I DO job in fashion editorial, I can say that all the uncomfortable moments I’ve been through – and the ones to come – have been worth it. Like many recent graduates, my career was a comfortable 20-something year plateau before I experienced a many steep learning curve. I by no means claim to know it all (in fact I know very little, especially when I’m hungry), but I can share my journey to becoming Fashion JournalEditorial assistant.
The beginnings of blogging
For most writers, the journey of self-discovery begins with a journal. After years of scribbling journal entries in the back of my school books, I decided to bless the internet with my profound words. My first post was about how I used to wrap toilet paper around my feet to avoid sweating on the Wii Fit board.
Unbeknownst to me, Australia was on the cusp of a blogging boom (think Fashion bloggers era of television shows). After that incredible debut, I found my niche in fashion writing. I opened my website, Views of Tani (don’t judge, I picked the name when I was 12), at an oddly opportune time.
With Tavi Gevinson as my idol, I was consistent with my posts – even when no one was reading them. While blogging isn’t something I still do (also Instagram and TikTok have really eclipsed the industry), it allowed me to exercise my writing muscles, gave me over a decade of experience, and was really the catalyst for my offline career. Plus, Views of Tani it would later serve as a valuable digital archive and portfolio of my work.
I moved from Queensland’s Sunshine Coast to inner-city Melbourne at 18. After applying to local universities, I clicked on the RMIT website and found the Associate Degree in Fashion Merchandising. It was the hybrid fashion/business course I was looking for. I applied, I was accepted and absolutely Could not afford to move cities, so chose a gap year work.
I absorbed as much as I could in my classes, approaching each subject with an open mind. The fashion umbrella is definitely a big one, and while I knew writing was a passion, I wasn’t sure where to place myself in the industry. Excited by the prospect of an internship, I took a third year at the end of my degree and turned it into a Bachelor of Fashion, specializing in Merchandise Management.
My first fashion internship taught me about areas of the industry that I wasn’t interested in, which was important. I gave all my assignments an enthusiastic spin, worked in multiple areas of the business (purchasing, quality control, visual merchandising, etc) and came away with an understanding of how a brand worked. From there I came to the conclusion that I wanted a job that allowed me to write.
For me, the first year after graduation was difficult. For the first six months, I felt a crippling sense of impostor syndrome that intensified every time I applied for a job. My struggles were clearly visible (finiteness has never been my forte) and one of my close friends helped by landing me an internship at Melbourne-based fashion brand Collective Closets. The founders Fatuma and Laurinda made me feel extremely welcome and helped me build my shaky post-graduation confidence (real life angels).
After completing my second internship, the collective closets offered me a job helping with their social media, which I gladly accepted. Despite promptly shutting down everyone on the brand’s distribution list in a business-only email (initial mistake), I persisted and ended up working for Fatuma and Laurinda for over three years.
During that time, I navigated multiple areas of the business, trying my hand at marketing, retail, social media, and copywriting. I also took every freelance opportunity that came my way, saying yes to almost everything. At this time I was juggling a lot of work – I worked two jobs, freelanced and started my MA in Writing and Publishing.
With all that already on my plate, I then applied for the Melbourne Fashion Festival (MFF) Writers Program, a program designed to nurture young writers at the start of their careers. I also applied for an internship in Fashion Journal. My (very) diligent cover letter and work with collective lockers helped me accomplish both, which was surreal. Looking back, I think it was a proactive attitude that helped me the most. Despite feeling a little awkward at times, I entered conversations, applied for positions, and attended MFF Writers Program mentor meetings (led by cultural curator, model, and writer Sabina McKenna) with a ready and open attitude.
I didn’t (and still don’t) set myself up for a learning opportunity. My first months in Fashion Journal it taught me that constructive criticism is not a personal attack, but an attempt to help you improve. Our digital editor Cait patiently helped me shape my skills, molding me into a more polished writer. I began to emphasize my attention to detail, tone of voice, and people skills, which I will never stop working on.
My parting wisdom? Be kind to everyone you meet, listen to those who are willing to share, and show enthusiasm, even when it’s a little embarrassing. It’s not that deep.
For more on getting started in the fashion industry, head here.