Thursday, March 5th, Sydney Poulsen, the Partnerships and Marketing Manager of Jane.com, an eCommerce platform based out of Lehi, Utah visited UVU PR students to teach them more about the fashion and apparel industry. Poulsen, a UVU alum, advised PR students to prepare for the industry by taking more business and marketing electives while finishing their degree. In her experience, after she secured her position at Jane, she was constantly “googling all the marketing jargon,” which she says weren’t taught in her undergraduate major, but continuously used in executive meetings.
Poulsen described newer approaches to marketing as “the wild, wild, west,” explaining that the sector of influencer marketing and social media represents unexplored territory with new possibilities and potential. She explained that brands partner with social media influencers to meet goals set towards brand awareness, customer acquisition, brand engagement, and customer retention. Her guest lecture was just part of UVU’s newest class in the communications department, which connects current students with alumni working in the fashion industry.
Fashion PR, taught by Farah Sanders, a faculty member in the public relations department, prepares students by giving them an inside look at the industry, while also connecting them to professionals. Wade Draper, also a UVU alum, works as an events specialist for global label Maggie Sottero. Students in the class this semester will have the unique privilege to see the newest Maggie Sottero collection before its public release, all thanks to UVU’s connection to the brand and Sander’s relationship with Draper.
UVU’s public relations program is impressive, boasting numerous job placements into the industry directly from college. “I am most proud of bringing our alumni that have been in the fashion industry since graduating from UVU with a degree in communication to our students,” explained Sanders. “Our alumni work from coast to coast in the fashion industry, and the curriculum helps us show that students can work for companies such as MAC Cosmetics, Tiffany & Co., Kate Spade, Michael Kors, Maggie Sottero, and Target.” Fashion PR is in its first semester as a course for students, and the curriculum Sanders has prepared is intensive. Sanders, who started her career directing photoshoots for labels like Victoria’s Secret, was also able to give me inside advice for students who were interested in pursuing a career in fashion.
How do I prepare for a career in fashion?
Sander’s first piece of advice: “enter the industry as a strong writer; the better you are able to write, the more you will be able to tell the brand story.”
Secondly, “Contracts, make sure that you have a contract for everything,” Sanders continued. “ Labels and brands ask a lot of their teams that help promote them, they ask for the moon and the stars, and when one delivers that it can be amazing, but make sure that it is in the contract so that you get paid for what you delivered. Ensuring that what they need is in a contract, protects all involved, including the designers, models, and communication or marketing team.” You have to be contracted to ensure payment since a lot of designers are creative souls without a grip on finances or logistics, which can mean that you never get paid for the work you provide if you’re not careful.
The most significant piece of advice Sanders had for students interested in fashion was to learn skills that will make them more valuable to the brand. She said, “when I first started in the industry I was arranging photoshoots, I realized I would be more valuable if I not only organized the photoshoot but if I knew photography and production. I spent a year as an apprentice learning photography, in particular, how to utilize lighting to provide the best image for publication.” Students can increase their chances of working in the fashion industry by learning styling, makeup artistry, graphic design, or other practical skills that will benefit them in their careers.