career tips

Leadership Resources for Women in Fashion

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Author: Cammy Pedroja

You don’t rise and grind every morning to be ordinary. Still, who says you have to succeed in the fashion business without any help? Check out our carefully curated list of resources for professional women who have their sights set as high as 1990s hemlines.   

 

Business of Fashion Education

You may already be familiar with the British-based organization and publication, The Business of Fashion. But did you know that in 2018 they’re offering a killer selection of online courses (called BoF Masterclasses) on need-to-know subjects from how to build your own beauty brand to nailing the art and science of buying and merchandising for your fashion company? Now you do.

Catalyst

This powerhouse organization is aimed not only at supporting women in their workplaces but is also concerned with helping workplaces work for women. In addition to providing online learning courses and materials for individuals, via their knowledge center, Catalyst also does consulting and training for businesses on how to support, retain, and take full advantage of their female talent.

Camber Outdoors: Resources and Women Role Models

Historically, women have been left out of the pack when it comes to the business of outdoor adventure and the more rugged side of athletics apparel. That’s why Camber Outdoors’ commitment to connecting and championing female talent is so refreshing. From networking events, to a curated job board, to mentorship, to a coveted women’s leadership award, you’ll love what they do.

Lean In Education

Named after the bestselling book by Sheryl Sandberg, the Lean In Organization is a network of women from over 150 countries that support each other’s passions and careers. Members meet routinely in smaller regional groups and prop each other up with advice, encouragement, and resource-sharing.

Girlboss Academy

Started by Sophia Amoruso, the founder of Nasty Gal (and yes, the subject of the short-lived Netflix show) this online learning hotspot offers access to top female mentors “…over 40 hours of talks, panels, keynotes, and workshops from renowned creatives, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders.”   

WIFI: Women in the Footwear Industry

Part of the very cool Two Ten Footwear Foundation, WIFI’s founding mission is to “harnesses the collective power of women in the industry to support each other, advance the cause of the Two Ten Footwear Foundation, and to create a strong sense of community.” Not content to let the footwear industry function like a boys’ club, WIFI founders Diane Sullivan and Carol Baiocchi, are now at the head of over 4000 members who have access to mentorship programs, bi-annual national enrichment events, and the support of local chapters in addition to distance learning.

 

 

Photo: Pinterest

Ask Lucy. What’s the best way to find a mentor and ask them for help?

 
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Question

Julia from New York writes….

I am just starting out in my career and am looking for a mentor to help me understand and navigate the industry. What’s the best way to find a mentor and ask them for help?

Answer

Well, Julia that’s a great question. I’m always impressed when young people acknowledge the need for guidance and mentorship. Frankly, it’s a good idea at any age and stage in one’s career.

Before thinking about who to ask and where to look, let’s talk about what you want to achieve.

  • Are you looking for someone who can help you determine a career path or achieve your career goals?

  • Or maybe you’re looking to learn more about a specific subject i.e. merchandising, online retail or management.

Depending on what you hope to achieve could change who you approach.

Next. There are a couple of routes you can take in terms of finding the right mentor.

1. Direct Network

Ask someone in your direct network. You likely wouldn’t be asking this question if you already knew someone so let’s look beyond the obvious. Who do you have in your LinkedIn network? It may not be someone you know personally but perhaps they share a similar career path or is simply someone you respect and feel you could learn from. Spend some time getting familiar with who you’re already connected to and create a list of your top 10 prospects. Keeping in mind the reasons why you’ve chosen them and what you hope to achieve.

Craft the message

  1. Be clear from the jump that you’re seeking a mentor.

  2. Tell them why you are reaching out to them i.e. why you’ve chosen them. Flattery will get you everywhere.

  3. Clearly define what you hope to achieve no matter how simple or specific it may seem.

  4. Outline your expectations and what you are willing to do. For example, coffee, phone conversation, etc. for one hour a month. In return you will be on time, complete any assignments they give and receive constructive criticism. Things like that. This shows your commitment and that you’ve thought it through. This will no doubt be a commitment on both ends.

  5. Thank them. Even if they’re not able to become your mentor, be sure to say thanks for their time. Simple as that.

OR

2. Work with an organization

There are industry specific organizations who already have mentorship programs in place. Two that I can personally recommend are:

Camber Outdoors – Ideal for women in the outdoor industry at all levels.

Two Ten’s Women in the Footwear Industry – also for women but in the footwear industry.

Women in Digital – I’ve recently become acquainted with Women in Digital who to the best of my knowledge doesn’t have a formal “mentoring program” but does offer a similar format but in more of a group setting. I’m guessing you could find someone within this group once you get to know the members.


If this is the route you choose, I’d suggest contacting them directly with a similar message as the direct network approach. Enrollment periods to obtain a mentor may be at certain times of the year or annually. It depends on the organization’s process and timing but in this scenario you’re guaranteed working with someone who has a desire to serve as a mentor and there’s likely some parameters in place.

I hope this helps you along your journey to finding a mentor. Happy Hunting!

 

-Lucy