This month's insider is a recent fashion school grad who has done internships for some of the crême de la crême of fashion brands. She has worked with top luxury brands LANVIN and most recently, Christian Dior. Her calling? Marketing & PR. Her goal? To make her mark as a highly respected talent in the industry! Check out the interview with fashion insider:
KF: First of all Zainah, I have to ask,what got you into fashion and of all career paths, why Marketing & PR?
ZI: Since I was young, I was always exposed to fashion through my mom and grandmother. My grandmother made almost every dress that I owned up until the 4th grade and my mother is a hair and makeup artist. So between the both of them, I was cutting up my Barbie’s clothes and giving them new hairstyles everyday. However, it all became a reality when I was accepted into FIT. There, I learned to think as fashion business professional. Yet, I was not introduced to Marketing and PR until my senior year of college at Christian Dior where I learned how fun it is to think up ideas of how a brand can publicize their name. I love this aspect of the industry because we really have the opportunity to engage and collaborate with some the best editors, makeup artists, and influencers in the world!
KF: That sounds really cool! It is interesting how your interests can surface when you become exposed to something from a different perspective.You recently had an ongoing internship at Christian Dior, what was your day to day like?
ZI: Initially, my day-to-day activities included clipping magazines, assisting with new product mailers to editors, and sending out monthly reports. However, after showing how passionate and eager I was to learn, my team began to give me more and more real responsibilities. Before I knew it, I was writing press releases and sending out product blasts!
KF: Wow that is AWESOME! I am sure you've had other amazing career highlights thus far including, Head Intern for LANVIN during Market Week managing the models and dressers. What you would say has been the highlight along with one thing you wish could have been different?
ZI: Yes! Having the opportunity to be Head Intern at LANVIN was definitely a highlight of my career. I am so grateful that LANVIN allowed me the opportunity to prove myself so early on! I do wish that I had taken a bit more control though. Sometimes you may experience a power struggle amongst other members of your group when you are a leader, but you have to be patient and gain their trust.
KF: You have some experience under your belt with a few companies in spite of being a recent graduate, which one is your thus far and why?
ZI: My favorite brand that I have worked with thus far is by far Christian Dior. Starting out in retail 2 years ago, as a customer service representative then working my way up to their corporate office is an accomplishment that I am proud of. They always demonstrate to their employees a high level respect and appreciation of all the hard work they do, and I am forever grateful for them.
KF: I guess that list about Christian Dior being one of the best companies to work for is true! This brings me to a more general question, What are your thoughts and personal feelings on the fashion industry?
ZI: Even though the stereotype of the fashion industry can be pretty harsh at times, I do believe that it is a world full of innovative and creative professionals with brilliant ideas. From the business end to design, everyone is very unique and that is something that I think no other industry has. Plus, we all look good!
KF: Well a high-five and two snaps on that one! *both laugh Now, lets get down to business! Who is the most interesting person you've met in the industry to date, what was that experience like?
ZI: The most interesting person I have ever met is my (ex) Public Relations Vice President at Dior Beauty, Dianne Vavra . She is absolutely one of the most humble people I have ever met in my entire life! I remember sitting down with her and hearing her story of how she began her journey within the industry and it really demonstrated to me that everyone has a different path! She was never hesitant to answer any questions I had whether personal or work related. I feel honored to have been able to work side by side with her and the amazing PR team at Dior Beauty.
KF: Speaking of career beginnings, do you have any advice for someone who is trying to break into fashion? What would you say to the person who is reading this right now?
ZI: Don’t be intimated by someone who is ahead at what you are doing. A lot of people in the fashion industry are more kind than what we portray them to be, and walking on eggshells when you meet them does not help. I remember always trying to fit in when I first started at Dior. I felt the need to always impress people. Yet, I soon realized that my coworkers responded better when I showed my TRUE self. Be confident and be yourself. You would be surprised by how many people love that!
KF: Great advice, Zainah! I agree, it is VERY important to stay true to who you are. Okay. So, I have to ask, name one thing you wish people who don't work in fashion knew about the industry?
ZI: Not everyone is a fashion designer! There are so many different types of talented individuals who work together to present those beautiful pieces that you see on the runways and in stores. From the factories in Bangladesh to the runways here in New York, a lot of work is contributed to fashion and I wish people were more appreciative of that.
KF: THANK YOU! I was thinking it, but HOPED that you would say it *laughs. On a serious note, you are absolutely right! There are so many jobs in fashion that people don't talk about. Designing gets the most recognition hands down. Now, we know that all areas of fashion are NOT created equal so, if someone wanted to work in luxury, what would they need to know?
ZI: Luxury brands like to hold themselves to a very high standard. The manner in which you carry yourself on and off the job is extremely important, not only to the brand, but their reputation as well. Therefore, whether you are in an interview or simply applying for a position, be sure to articulate yourself in a very professional manner and look the part.
KF: This is VERY true! When I interviewed for LANVIN, the hiring manager remarked on my attire and how it fit the brand aesthetic. I think that helped to seal the deal of getting the job!
So, What's next for Zainah Irizarry?
ZI: LA! I am so excited to begin my journey in a beautiful place surrounded by talented individuals in the PR industry.
KF: That is INCREDIBLE! Thank you so much for sharing your insider perspective Zainah. I wish you the best of luck on the next chapter of your fashion career!
ZI: Thank you!
Want to know more about the Marketing & PR side of the industry? Do you have any additional questions that you want to ask Zainah? Comment below.