Chante Dyson Is A Rockstar Fashion Intern
Meet Chante Dyson, our featured Fashion Rockstar Intern. Chante is a glowing example to all fashion students on how to stand out from the crowd and network to make things happen. She was able to land three different fashion internships and is now going through a merchandising management training program with Nordstrom. Chante can teach you how to network to land the right fashion internship and then make the most of the time you have there.
We couldn’t cover every possible angle of the fashion internship saga in just one post! This article is part of a 5 part Fashion Rockstar Internship Series. If you want to learn how to go from fashion intern to full time check out the other articles that are part of this series at the bottom of the page.
From model to fashionista…
I went to high school in Maryland and even before then, I knew that fashion really excited me on a deeper level. Modeling at an early age exposed me to the industry at large, and I always felt comfortable in that space. When I was 18 and began modeling professionally, I began to understand that I could really make money in this industry. My first paycheck was in the fashion industry, so I always felt comfortable with a career in fashion. I knew that I could make a career out of a field that is non-traditional because I was exposed to people early on that built successful careers by working in fashion. The possibilities of the industry and how I look at it now though have only expanded with time.
[What I wanted to be] has always changed and evolved with more experience and that’s what I always loved about working in fashion. In the beginning, I always thought I’d be modeling and then building a brand around that. Then I realized how many opportunities lie within the business side of the industry, although being in front of the camera is a manmade comfort zone. I now aspire to have a strong career in business as an executive and then brand/ branch off from there. I just want to keep thinking bigger and bigger.
1st fashion internship with Harper’s BAZAAR Magazine…
I attended a meeting for the Association of Women in Communication where I met the International Fashion Coordinator. I pretty much chased her down after the meeting and gave her my freshman year elevator pitch. She was incredibly kind and told me to email her the next day with my resume and cover letter. Of course, I had nothing prepared at the time that wasn’t from high school! So I stayed up that night and had something proud to show by morning. After about a month, I finally heard back from her and she offered me the position as Advertising Sales intern for the publishing team.
This position was the first time I really got to dive into the business side of a fashion company. I was so inspired and really soaked everything in like a sponge. I always wanted to be in the office. It was bigger than anything I’d experienced before. I primarily worked on prepping meetings with international clients for deals within the magazine. Prior to actually working for a magazine, I always knew I wanted to work on the editorial side, but this is when I really became curious about the business of fashion.
2nd fashion internship with Tommy Hilfiger…
Last summer while I was interning in Seattle at Nordstrom HQ, I remember getting close to the end and being really interested in taking my experience and knowledge I’d learned and applying those skills back in New York. One weekend I flew to New York to give a group presentation on retail trends to executives from various companies in the city, and I ended up meeting an exec. at Tommy. I asked about internship opportunities and she was able to connect me with HR. Next thing I knew I was accepted for a production internship beginning in the Fall.
Working in handbag production was amazing because it was the first time I got to work closely with a design and manufacturing team. I learned about the process of going from concept and design to merchandising. A lot of the time I was working with manufacturing vendors to ensure that product was accurate to design standards. It was great because it gave me the back knowledge of physically creating the items for sale.
3rd fashion internship with InStyle magazine…
It had always been my dream to work at InStyle. Many people who I look up to in the industry have worked there and I feel like the company really embodies what fashion is all about through a contemporary mass lens. I wanted to be a part of this kind of environment again. It was truly one of the best experiences I’ve had because I got to be the intern for the Editor in Chief of the magazine which is a really unique experience that taught me a lot about leadership.
I primarily worked with a team of reporters who are responsible for the print magazine monthly content. I worked with senior editors on research, fact-checking, and transcribing their stories. Also, I was the intern for the EIC Laura Brown, and the work I was doing focused on helping her manage and execute the tasks on her daily schedule.
Current role at Nordstrom…
Last summer I did the corporate internship at Nordstrom HQ. I applied through an amazing program BRAG which focuses on connecting successful students of color to retail internship opportunities around the country. I just so happened to be selected for the internship with Nordstrom, and after presenting to executives at the company I was offered the full time merchandising position for after graduation. It was amazing because I was fortunate enough to go into my senior year with a job offer, so I had less anxiety about my first post-grad steps.
Making internships fit into the schedule…
It has always been about just doing it. It’s never easy to wake up before everyone and take the 1 hr plus train ride into New York. Then go to class, do your homework at night and on weekends. It just takes dedication to balance that type of schedule consistently, but your body does get used to it. When I do feel like it’s becoming too much to handle, taking time off in between internships was vital for recharging and tapping back into my passion and creative energy.
[I did all these internships because] I only have a slight idea of the magnitude that I’d like to take my career in the future, and I have a true feeling that whatever that ends up becoming will require me to know and have experience in all facets of this business. I believe that having strong experiences from the creative and analytical side will really make me a strong candidate for the leadership positions I plan on taking in the future.
Networking is key…
Networking is why I’ve been blessed to have the opportunities that I’ve had. In all of my positions, I saw something in me that was common to the leaders I looked up to. I always wanted to feel confident enough to introduce myself to those who I look up to. These people have always been willing to help me get to the next step in life whether through them pushing me really hard or believing in me enough to literally show me the next step to take in my career.
We are so lucky to have the technology to be able to connect us to our inspirations. You can literally just reach out to people [through social media]. I’ve found that in fashion you have to be a little pushy so that doors can start opening for you. So many people want these careers and it’s about living in your passion.
My role models…
Personally, I admire my grandmother and mother. They are women who really embody the essence of unconditional love and compassion. Their love and guidance make me want to evolve into the best version of myself. This need to evolve into the higher me keeps me motivated. I would be nothing without those two incredible women.
Professionally speaking, I admire Angela Ahrendts and Bozoma Saint John. Angela for her strategic career moves and passion for continuing to take her career to new heights. I love Bozoma Saint John for being uncompromising in bringing her whole self to the table. She does not apologize for being a goddess who is impeccable in business. I aspire to carry that level of confidence into my work.
I don’t have a mentor in the traditional sense, but I do have relationships with influential people in this business. When I meet people I try to recognize genuine connections with certain people and make sure that I am doing my part to keep that business relationship strong. I know that when I return to New York, there are many people who I’ve worked with who I’ll be grabbing coffee with and making sure we’re staying connected while I’m on the West Coast.
The best advice that I’ve ever received was indirectly from Oprah Winfrey, who recommended reading a book called ‘The Power of Now.’ It was one of the best books I’ve read because it forced me to think critically about my life purpose.
If you enjoyed this interview and would like to follow Chante she can be found on Instagram @Chantedelore or on LinkedIn.
Fashion Rockstar Internship Series:
Interview With Chante Dyson