Top 10 Ways To Keep Your Fashion Career On Track

Top 10 Ways To Keep Your Fashion Career On Track

It is hard enough to get your foot in the door in the fashion industry. Resting on your laurels is a sure way to get passed over for promotions or find one day that your skill set is now entry level. It is important to check in with yourself regularly to make sure your fashion career is on track. Here are ten ways to make sure your fashion career is on track.

We couldn’t cover every possible angle of designing a fashionable career in just one post! This article is part of a 8 part Fashionable Career Planning Series. If you want to learn how you can build a successful career in the fashion industry check out the other articles that are part of this series at the bottom of the page.


1. Set Smart Goals 

Before you have an amazing career in the fashion industry you need a plan of how to get there. I want you to set goals that are actually achievable and ones you will want to work towards. To do this you should write what are called SMART goals:

•S – Specific

•M – Measurable

•A – Attainable

•R – Relevant/ Rewarding

•T – Time-based/ Trackable

The first step is the write down a broad goal. Then go through each one of the SMART steps and add to the goal to make it measurable and actionable. Finally, add it all together to create one big awesome goal. The basic formula is as follows:

I will do this, in order to achieve this, by this time. For a cheat sheet on 20 different examples of SMART goals set by other fashion industry professionals click here.

2. Think Big Picture

Keeping the end in mind is the single most important rule to ensure you keep your fashion career on track. It is very easy to get sidetracked by exciting new opportunities and projects. However, if your goal is to someday have your own line of clothing, then you don’t need to worry about climbing the corporate ladder as you do building your brand and honing your craft.

Create a vision board that demonstrates the Big Picture you desire your life to be. Write down everything you need to get there. Use images to bring it to life. Use this vision board as a campus for your career path. Every time you sit down to evaluate your career or your goals make sure you are still on the right path.

3. Keep Your Résumé And LinkedIn Profile Up To Date

This seems so basic, but you would be surprised how many people don’t do it. Every time you finish a big project or achieve a new goal you need to be updating your résumé/ CV and your LinkedIn profile. You never know when you might meet someone or they find you online. If your profile is not up to date you could be missing out on a great opportunity to advance your fashion career. Also be sure to purge any old experiences that are no longer relevant to the types of opportunities you are perusing.

4. Plan At Least One Big Extra Project A Year

To help expedite your career path it is necessary to do extra work. When you review your SMART Goals and your Big Picture ideas ask yourself what else you could be doing to get there? What could you do today to teach you that extra craft, to build that network, to give you more experience?

Come up with at least one big project to work on each year that with add a little extra boost to your portfolio. Maybe you need experience if digital technology. Maybe you need to get more experience working with historic costumes. Whatever it is, brainstorm different types of projects you could work on that will give you this experience.

5. Find Good Collaboration Partners

From the list above of big projects, you want to take on this year they should include collaborating with others. By collaborating with other people outside of your team, other people become more aware of you and your work. Collaborations do not have to be big side projects or collections. They can come from within your organization to make improvements to existing processes. For a guide to different types of collaboration projects in the fashion industry click here.

The best benefit of collaborating with others is it is an easy way to spread the word about your good work without you having to open your mouth. Your collaborate partners become your army of promoters that are eager to share their experience working with you.

6. Promote Yourself & Coworkers

After each one of your special projects is complete make sure you promote it and promote the people you have worked with. Depending on the type of special project you may be able to upload it digitally on your LinkedIn or personal portfolio website.

LinkedIn is a professional environment where it is expected that one keeps their profile updated. By updating your profile with recent projects you have two opportunities. First, you can invite other collaborators to comment on the project’s success. This gives other people again the opportunity to speak for you while also attaching themselves to the project. Second, this update makes you more visible to not just your immediate team who will likely see your update on their feed, but to the world. You just might be the latest hot commodity!

Be sure any updates or projects you upload to LinkedIn in public knowledge. Fashion pros often work at least a year in advance and you should not be adding any images or giving away company secrets to the general public. Read Silent Self Promotion For Fashion Designers here.

7. Build Your Network To Build Your Net Worth

The people in your network are the ones that will most likely bring you your next big opportunity. Therefore, it is important to always be looking to meet new people. When you meet new people you can learn from them, share knowledge and insight, and connect them or yourself with others. Having a well-rounded group of people in your network can also help you to think about things in a different way or from a different perspective.

Look at your list of Big Picture ideas for the year. Who do you need to know or learn from to make this happen? Make a short list of people already in your network that you can call upon. Ask them if they know anyone who has done something similar or who can help you. You might be surprised how quickly this speeds up your projects.

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8. Find A Mentor

Having a mentor that will help guide you through the minefields of the industry that they have already successfully navigated will significantly fast-track your fashion career. If you don’t already have one look for someone who is in the position you desire at least a few years ahead of you. Schedule a reasonable amount of time with them and ask for their suggestions in specific areas of your careers that you want to improve upon.

If you don’t have a mentor read How To Find A Mentor In The Fashion Industry here.

9. Ask For Feedback

There is nothing more valuable than getting other peoples feedback on your work and yourself. Find a few people whom you respect and who have a firm grasp of your work experience. Explain to them your Big Picture goals and where you hope your career will go. Then ask them for honest feedback and suggestions.

You might be very surprised that their perception of you is not what you thought. No matter what their response is, take it in and learn from it. Make adjustments to your plan accordingly.

10. Stay Flexible

This may sound counterintuitive to staying on track. However, your hopes and dreams for your career may change over time. Through different experiences in your career, you may decide that you really don’t want to do that goal after all. Or you may learn about a new segment of the industry that really excites you.

It is sometimes very difficult to tell the difference between staying open to new opportunities that will help propel your end goal and trying any opportunity that comes along. That is why it is very important to do steps 1 and 2 often. Evaluate if this opportunity is going to help move you along the path you want. Otherwise, you need to say no and move on.

Action Steps:

  1. Brainstorm your Big Picture ideas. Create a vision board.
  2. Create SMART Goals that will guide you to your Big Picture game plan.
  3. Brainstorm some potential side projects that will accelerate your career. Find collaboration partners to make it happen.

Fashionable Career Planning Series

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If you, or someone you know, want to learn how to build a successful fashion career you can read the entire series here. Learn how to plan your goals and keep your career on track.