Hello, my stylish friends! Looking back as a fall-semester senior, I can honestly say that deciding to major in fashion merchandising at the University of Delaware was the best decision I made at 17-years-old. Planning my next steps, I think about what I learned from freshman to senior year.
- Ask questions: if you’re curious and passionate about something, you’ll lie awake at night, hungry for more information beyond the surface level. You’ll want to become more involved and understand something from all angles.
- You are your biggest advocate: putting yourself out there is scary! Nonetheless, it’s necessary, since YOU stand up for what you believe in, take initiative, and reach out to people. People won’t believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself!
- Be a self starter: “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make the horse drink it”. My seventh grade math teacher said this to me, and today, this still strikes a chord. The University offers everything I need at my fingertips, and it’s up for me to optimize Blue Hen resources, job networks, and academic assistance.
- Ask for help: doing the legwork for the 2020 Fashion Scholarship Fund, I learned to take initiative (outlining a timeline, spending months of leg work, concluding how I can propose a better solution). More important, however, I learned to gain the courage to ask for help. Reaching out to professors, they (thankfully) embraced my endless questions with open arms to offer feedback. My perspective, alone, can only get me so far.
- Accept then adapt to change: even if you don’t embrace it at first (i.e., me!), learning to first accept the circumstances may help level-set what’s happening and leave you less overwhelmed. The acceptance mindset helps me adapt, based on what I can and cannot control.
- Best outcomes come with being uncomfortable: “Once you become comfortable, it’s time to move on”. A former co-worker offered me this advice for me then realize that stepping out of my comfort zone leaves me feeling the the most fulfilled, facing healthy learning curves necessary for my development.
- People will tell you no: still in this! Expressing my goal to work abroad, I’ve had countless people express their concerns and uncertainty. Once accepting that we’re different people with different goals, I then remember to still believe in myself and remain pro-active. People will always tell me “no”, and I learn to listen to their feedback , but I stick to my “why”.
- Understand your values: goes back to my “why”. Grasping who I am carves a path on who I want to surround myself with and where I want to invest myself.
Successes demonstrate how I can figure something out, listen to feedback, and take initiative, but I’ve also learned more from my mistakes.
Challenges, more importantly, push me to better my character, work through the unknown, and understand what I can improve.
- Peers: as a freshman, I looked up the E-boards for fashion-related RSOs. Two Presidents stick out to me; both gave their everything to the organizations and each worked their way up from general members to leadership positions. Their presence excited me to become involved, and I’m forever grateful that they took time to understand where I aligned for me to flourish in an area I felt passionate towards.
- Professors: You never finish in the classroom and you don’t walk away from UD with just a degree. Professors push students to reach our full potentials by encouraging us to become well-rounded leaders engaged with industry opportunities, both in and out of the university.
- Two mentors at Suitably: it wasn’t until working closely with the co-founders that I paid close attention to the progress under mentor-mentee dynamics; the concept of mentorship I seldom thought about prior to interning at Suitably. Learning about the CEO’s founder story, I then started to understand my value of mentorship for improving job performance, continuing feedback, and building leadership.
- Mentor through the Fashion Scholarship Fund: someone I admire for her breath and depth of work, she expressed how our attributes, skills, and experiences nearly align. She teaches me to narrow my goals and see the value in experiences, even if not in my original game plan.
- Mentor through Women@Dior: my mentor at Christian Dior Couture always speaks with a clear A, B, C, whereas I tend to ramble. Likewise, I admire her breath and depth of experiences and steps she took to reach success. I also look up to her for her ability to influence people with her storytelling and concise delivery.
- Mentor through Kohl’s Corporate: my summer ’21 mentor, an allocation analyst, and I couldn’t have been more different. I think as a big-picture-oriented extrovert, whereas my mentor was a concrete-minded introvert. I spent countless hours every day with her, admiring how she I). she reads the room and pitches in when appropriate II). speaks with purpose III). pinpoints details. Most significant was how she knew when to back off. Hand-holding turned into guidance for me to then push myself and dig dipper.
The Next Chapter
Where do I see myself in the next 5 years?
Stepping away from fashion (i.e., apparel/beauty/lifestyle) this summer, I now know that fashion is where I belong and find opportunities that my passion, skills, and strengths align with. I remain excited to return to fashion retail, in which I seek opportunities abroad to satisfy my hunger for learning, exploration, and continuous growth.
Past experiences with independent exploration in NYC left me feeling alive and free. I thrive with the thrill and figuring it out as I go. Here, I executed my best work. The adrenaline rush motivated me to navigate NYC alone and present my case study work to top executives through the Fashion Scholarship Fund, later bouncing around for the NRF Foundation and NYFW.
Stepping out of my comfort zone to immerse myself in new people, cultures, and environments opens a 360 view into understanding how I can best expand into global markets. I want to prove to myself that I have the tenacity to understand and apply new cultural norms to then adapt and thrive in a new ecosystem. I hope to start in Europe for its business hubs to later move into Asia for the manufacturing sides of the business.
“Think global, act local”.