Where was your first internship?
Michael Kors. I met my supervisor at some launch party. I was the first production intern in that department, ever.
The production position is the middleman between having a vision for design and executing the idea. It's taking care of fabric selection and pricing of the fabrics, working with the mills that actually create the garments, making sure the garments are fitting as the designers envision it to fit and basically getting it right to be sold on the store shelves. A lot of my tasks and responsibilities were to do color swatching, making sure that it's a quality thing, making sure the same color tone is present across the collection. So that this particular green looks like that particular green, whether it's a knit, whether it's a cotton, whether it's a silk, it has to match.
We worked with fit models, a lot of Excel spreadsheets, documentation and data. It was a more analytical internship and a lot of archiving of previous seasons, and also digitizing archives, taking fabric swatches and lookbooks from seasons way before and getting them digitized, which was really interesting. Also, just being able to work with other departments. I spent half my time in menswear, half my time in women's wear. In menswear which was commercial, we had a bunch of samples because women's was collection.
What's the difference between a collection and a commercial line?
Collection is luxury so it's the line that you see on vogue.com, on the runway, but it's not sold in every Michael Kors store. It is the highest tier line. Commercial is a lower-priced target and it's sold across the board in all Michael Kors boutique shops and also in select department stores. Luxury will be a lower quantity and commercial is a high quantity.
You'll find that with commercial that you do work with a lot more samples that are in the office and with luxury, or we called it collection, you work with very specific, very finite number of samples so they come in. You fit them and you quality check them, make sure the embroidery looks right, and basically those are often sent to the red carpet. Those are the dresses that celebrities, that make it to vogue.com and all the press images in the magazines.
Yeah, how was working with the mills? What are the challenges there?
My boss would actually fly to Italy a lot to do bit sampling over there. She would come back and forth so that was a big part of her job. There was some manufacturing for the MMK commercial that was done in Asia.
We had embroidery and fur all in New York. One the most memorable moments was meeting the fur supplier that we have for all of Michael Kors. They've been using them for years and years. So charismatic, and they would tell me about what it’s like buying furs in the New York Garment District.
I think this internship, in particular, taught me a lot about how to see quality in a garment and what quality meant in terms of fabric, sewing and stitching.
I knew from the internship that it was a little bit too behind spreadsheets and I wanted something more social, more creative, more active.
What role did you take at Indego Africa?
Sales and communications was first.
I was working a lot with their social media and their newsletters. They're such a small company, I think there was only six of us. I was working a lot with their finances as well and then creative work, then also social media. So it was a very general role.
Then I became the production assistant and they asked me to go to Rwanda, Africa.
And that was with the Be Happy Trip?
Yeah. They asked me to work in production, and I'm like, I've never done that before but okay. Let me try this in a different country across the world.
How long were you there for?
For a month and a half.
Oh shit, I didn’t get that part. I thought, oh that's sweet, she was there for five days.
I went by myself and I was working with their team there. It was a great learning experience. That was my first time traveling abroad by myself. It was a culture shock.
You grew a lot.
Yeah, I grew a lot. I worked with the artisans one-on-one. I would go to cooperatives throughout the weeks and do quality control. I helped on a photo-shoot that we did in Rwanda for the kid’s line. It was a lot of hands on work.
Do you have any specific stories from that trip that brought home what you were doing?
It was when I was about to leave and we visited one of the artisans.
Her name was Theresa. We went to her house because she was working on some scarves for us. That was the first time that I went to one of their houses. She invited us in. It was a small house. She has three kids and one bedroom, but it was really nicely set up. Then she took us out to the back and she showed us the cow that she just bought and she was so proud of that because she used the money from Indego Africa that she earned to buy this cow and then she's selling milk on the side for extra income and sending her kids to school. It was just a really nice moment to experience and it brought everything home for me.
How did you get your start?
I was a little bit of a late bloomer in the internship game. When I was a sophomore in college, I became determined to get experience in the fashion industry. I just started applying and I was lucky enough to land an internship at Anna Sui. I got to learn so much about the company since it was a smaller work setting.
I was originally placed in the production department. Then I became interested in the showroom, in sales, and how each department varied. So when the time was right I told my boss that I'd love to learn everything there is to learn about this company. She was like, "That's brilliant. That's such a smart idea. You should totally be taking advantage of everything this company has to offer." So I got to try a little bit of everything. I got more face time with everyone. I think if you work really hard you can ask to try out different things or what interests you.
Also, since I was the right size, I got to be the fit model. That's another way that I got to get a lot of face time with Anna, it was everyday at four o'clock we'd go upstairs to this area outside of her office and I'd try on everything, all of the newest pieces. That was really cool that I got to try all of these amazing clothes.