Starting and running your own fashion business can be a difficult process. As you look to expand your operation and hire new people, you may be unsure of the best steps to take that will put your business in the right position for the future. This is where having a mentor on your side can make a world of difference.
Company managers around the globe have mentors both within and outside of the fashion industry that they rely on every day, including at fashion agencies in NYC. These professionals can help aspiring fashion designers, merchandisers, and buyers as they develop their career. As the relationship strengthens, mentors also prove to be invaluable to established organizations looking to grow their network and place in the fashion world.
How does one get a mentor in the fashion industry? To answer that question, it is first important to understand why you want and need a mentor. You will also want to decide on the type of mentor that is best for you personally, as well as your business, before discovering ways to find that person. Use these helpful tips to be on your way to developing a mentor-mentee relationship that will do wonders for your career.
Why You Need a Mentor
You may be wondering why you would need a mentor in the fashion industry. After all, isn’t every other industry professional your competition? Quite the contrary. Not only are mentorships crucial in fashion, these relationships exist throughout every segment of the industry. From design and manufacturing to sales and technology, individuals work together to help the entire industry move forward. This is for a good reason – having a mentor can be extremely beneficial for your career.
A mentor that believes in you will challenge you and push you forward in your career. Luisa Herrera-Garcia, senior vice president of operations and production at John Varvatos Enterprise, cited the powerful relationships in her life that have helped her develop into a leading expert in menswear in a recent Q&A with WWD Magazine.
There are a number of reasons why having a mentor is good for individuals and business leaders, not least of which is being able to turn to someone for advice. Here are some of the many benefits that you get by having a mentor:
- Professional Guidance – As mentioned previously, it is good to have someone on your side that is looking out for your best interests. As your career develops in fashion, a mentor can help you make connections that will lead you even further. Whether it is by reaching out to potential employers on your behalf or recommending the next great talent that your business should hire, you know you will be able to trust what your mentor has to say.
- Experience – Your mentor will also give you an opportunity to become well-rounded in fashion. Not only will you pick up skills needed to be successful in your field, you will likely also get to put them to the test. Whether this means sitting in on meetings or assisting with projects, you will gain insight into how various departments work in an organization so you can apply the principles that will work best for your organization.
- Exposure – Being successful in the fashion industry and climbing the ladder of fashion agencies in NYC requires that you have a wealth of knowledge and understanding about all aspects of the business. It is a good idea to develop a mentoring relationship with professionals, not just in your area of expertise but also in those that you may not be as strong in. This insight will help you make the best strategic decisions for your career and, ultimately, your fashion business.
Having a mentor early on in your career sets you up for success at the next level. However, it is also smart to try to find a peer mentor when you are running a fashion business so you can create mutually beneficial relationships as well. Once you see the reasons why having a mentor in fashion will be beneficial to you, the next step is to see what type of mentor is the best fit for your career needs.
What Type of Mentor Is Best?
The type of mentor you seek out will have a profound effect on your business and career in fashion. It is important to remember that, first and foremost, a mentor should be someone with industry experience they are willing to share to help you get better. It is for this reason that you should begin your search for a mentor by deciding the area of fashion you want to be mentored in and whether or not your mentor works in the fashion industry.
The following are three things to consider before seeking out a mentor:
- Do I want someone who has done this before? A mentor who is in a position you aspire to be is great to have because he or she can give you advice on how to navigate your career path. For example, a fashion designer can give you tips on how she launched and grew her successful line prior to reaching her current position. The shared career interest can help you hone your skills, as well, and enable you to become even better at what you do.
- Third-party mentors offer a unique perspective. Don’t limit yourself to just one mentor or one type of mentor. In fact, developing a relationship with a professional that works outside of fashion can give you a unique perspective of the industry. You can learn more about merchandising, sales, business development, and how to use technology to your advantage this way.
- Focus on broadening your horizons. As your career develops, you need to have a wide range of skills that you can use to not only advance in an organization but also successfully manage your own fashion business. Startup Fashion says that more than half of your time as a fashion entrepreneur should be spent on business development, which means finding a mentor who is willing to teach you how to run a successful business.
How to Find a Mentor
Unfortunately, someone won’t just knock on your door and declare that he or she is your mentor. While there are natural relationships that can lead to getting a mentor, such as a professor or an advisor in school, the best way to find a new mentor is to do your research. After using the tips mentioned before to choose which type of mentor is best, research to find someone either inside or outside the fashion industry from whom you think you could learn the most.
Start small by reaching out on social media and insightfully commenting on posts. It is also a good idea to participate in industry-wide live chats on Twitter because you may resonate with a certain piece of advice and want to talk with that person more. Eventually, you can send them a quick email to introduce yourself and ask for a convenient time to talk.
Remember that the process of finding a mentor – and having someone agree to be your mentor – is delicate. You don’t want to be too aggressive and push someone away. Keeping an open mind and seeing how things go will allow you to network with many different people that can help you with your fashion business and can pave the way for finding a mentor who will be there for you no matter what.
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