Work It! is a series focusing on workplace wardrobe and fashion. Each week, we will feature a blogger offering their advice and answering your questions. Ellie Krupnick is a New York City fashion intern and writes a blog called Stuff We Love Blog (which you will love!). Shes also one of our Work It! fashion bloggers. Let’s get to know Ellie:
By Synthia Salas
Q: You’re a senior at Barnard College majoring in American Studies (working on a thesis about hip-hop and race!) – how did your adventures in the NYC fashion industry begin?
A: I knew that to work in the industry I would have to intern because my liberal arts college did not offer any fashion-related courses (much less a major) and the opportunity to intern was a huge reason I picked to go to school in New York City, America’s fashion capital, in the first place. So first semester freshman year, I scanned the postings on my school’s job/internship website and sent out emails to two different fashion PR companies with internship opportunities.
“I decided I wanted to work in magazines, my passion, so I interned next at Seventeen in the fashion closet.”
One emailed me back right away, I went for an interview the next week, and I was hired on the spot. And voila— my entry into the fashion world.
Q: So you started off freshman year as an intern with a fashion PR company. How did that first experience lead you to where you are now, as a senior with 2 internships?
A: I liked it, but didn’t feel like it was stimulating enough— plus we dealt mostly with menswear, which isn’t exactly my jam. I decided I wanted to work in magazines, my passion, so I interned next at Seventeen in the fashion closet. The fashion closet, as it turns out, is much like the PR agency but just on the other side: closet interns keep track of all the clothing samples PR agencies send to us, keeping it organized until we send the samples back to the PR companies after a photo shoot. Being in the creative magazine environment was exciting, as was witnessing stylists pull pieces for shoots and seeing the sittings editor pick and dress models.
But I wanted to write, so after four months at Seventeen, I moved upstairs in the Hearst Tower to Harper’s Bazaar to intern in the fashion features department. There I finally got my own cubicle and worked side-by-side with the fashion featured editor and director, as well as the magazine’s executive editor. I stayed for a year because I absolutely loved it— I did research for my bosses when they were going to interview a high-profile subject and I would transcribe the interview tapes afterward. I would research celebrities wearing certain clothing trends for features and hunt down clothing credits when we needed to figure out what designer a celebrity was wearing in a certain picture. I would brainstorm captions and trend ideas for the magazine’s “Buy, Keep, Store” feature, which my boss hated doing but I loved. And eventually, once I worked up the nerve, I pitched a few slide show ideas to the web editor and wrote original content for HarpersBazaar.com. But I also ran lots of errands, from getting the executive editor lunch every day to more outrageous tasks (buying her daughter’s birthday party cupcakes, getting her husband a Cartier watch, returning her $2,000 Rick Owens leather jacket to Bergdorf Goodman…). After a year, I knew I needed to go somewhere else to grow, make more contacts, and learn new skills.
Which brings me to now: I intern two days a week at Women’s Wear Daily, the fashion industry newspaper and its most respected publication. A newspaper is different because it’s not so much about creative ideas but journalistic reporting. I work on “The Eye,” the section that covers parties, openings, and celebs, meaning I go to the occasional party to do some reporting … and do office work.
I also intern twice a week in a showroom, which in fashion means a company that represents clothing lines and does wholesale sales for them to get them into stores. This more business-side of the industry was a side I felt like I still did not know so well since I began interning, and I wanted to explore before I graduated. It means keeping track of our clothing samples, helping on buying appointments, going to tradeshows (viva Las Vegas!), and doing some PR for our lines.
Q: I am almost speechless at how amazing all of that sounds, and really is inspiring for all aspiring fashionistas! Any advice you want to share for those getting started?
A: You should figure out what side of the industry interests you. Do you have a head for numbers? Try sales or buying. Are you a visual person? Maybe styling or the art department of a magazine is for you. If you’re passionate about writing, a magazine, newspaper or online site is your best bet (and you better be tweeting or blogging ASAP). Love interacting with others and keeping up with the latest trends, news, and who’s who? Then PR is your game.
You might not know yet what you love, so try everything and always ask your current employers who they know in other sides of the industry—they are your best connections and can help you get your next internship.
As for looking for internships, try the career site at your college, and these websites as well: FreeFashionInternships.com and DailyFashionJobs.com (for retail, wholesale, buying, and design) and Ed2010.com and MediaBistro.com (for newspaper and magazine positions). And just start sending out those emails!
And, of course, we have opportunities in fashion on Internships.com Ellie, thanks for all of the amazing information and advice – we’re looking forward to your posts on Eye of the Intern! For more from Ellie, follow her on Twitter, read her blog or check next Tuesday’s Work It! post.