Kamile Kaselyte, 23, describes herself, as an “accidental fashion insider.” Her rushed, last minute choice to study fashion business at Istituto Marangoni London campus has evolved into an intriguing relationship with the fashion industry. She calls it a full-time marriage as since then it has taken over her life. When asked about her first job, Kamile tells The Urban Watch that when she was 18-years-old, she was confident enough to stop the CEO of Bottega Veneta at a store opening to hand in her business card, leading to a sales internship at the label. While still at the university, she was already organising sales campaigns for TOM FORD and screening people’s, who were double her age, CVs at Kering fashion conglomerate.
Her fast-paced life has not changed since. Kamile spends most of her days overseeing marketing for the influential French fashion magazine L’OFFICIEL, mingling with fashion influencers and curating her two promising fashion start-ups. Today we sit down with Kamile, a young aspiring entrepreneur, to find out how to carve out your own niche in this competitive industry.
For some, fashion means nothing more than a pair of nice shoes. For others – it’s a way of living. What does fashion industry mean to you?
I did a degree in fashion business and my first take on fashion was that it is business. It’s a perspective that very few people have before starting out, but I think it’s essential to understand that it’s based on the principles of business. Once you have this understanding, it sets you apart from others.
But, of course, that’s not the reason to fall for fashion. For me, fashion is about finding your identity. And the most fascinating thing is that it works not only for customers wearing labels; from designers sending unique messages or brands selling their well – packaged dreams, to bloggers turning into influencers only when their identities speak beyond repetitiveness.
If you had to summarise in two sentences what you do, what would you say?
I am a freelancer and an aspiring entrepreneur in fashion business. My areas of interest are PR, marketing and new fashion ventures.
What is your unique selling point?
I think my uniqueness comes from the fact that I don’t have one tagline and I have done many things in the industry. It’s harder to tell what I have NOT worked on. I may not have heard what affiliate marketing is three years ago, yet my start-up Share2Style is now based on that: we help fashion bloggers advertise thousands of brands with a purpose of monetising their influence. With each project, you learn something that broadens your mind.
When we started our second start-up with a focus on virtual styling, I still wouldn’t believe in securing funds so quickly. As a result, we are in the process of building something really exciting. So, I guess that my unique selling point is about being all – having a well-rounded personality, trying things out and attempting to understand how different things come together to shape the fashion world.
You have your hands dipped into so many different fields, from PR and sales to styling to running a start-up. Is it a sign of boredom or expertise?
Sometimes people limit themselves with one career path and I choose not to, because I like to think I can explore things. If I can give my very best to a few projects at the same time – I would prefer to do so. These days it’s about being everywhere, doing things that keep you excited because you don’t know where it’s going to end. It’s the era of freelancing, entrepreneurship and #GirlBoss attitude. But it’s good to remember to stick to one industry and mine is definitely fashion.
These days it’s about being everywhere, doing things that keep you excited because you don’t know where it’s going to end. It’s the era of freelancing, entrepreneurship and #GirlBoss attitude.
What is the hardest stereotype you had to fight in the industry? Can the fashion industry overcome it?
There are many stereotypes in the fashion industry. But what really struck me when I first came to London was the feeling that the world of fashion belongs to somewhat exclusive group of people and that it’s extremely difficult to become one of them. This industry is not what it seems to be – you don’t need to be 5’10 tall or dressed from head to toe in Alexander McQueen. But I only understood it when I landed my first internship at TOM FORD. I met the people who shape the industry and they were nothing like The Devil Wears Prada characters. They were more real: intelligent, but fun, maybe competitive, but always fair.
These days’ social media makes a great impact on what people think or believe. If people were to think and dig deeper before sharing and shouting out loud about things they never experienced, many stereotypes would be almost non-existent. It’s good to talk about things, yet some really bizarre messages become viral that way. And that’s very much applicable in fashion. That’s where people start believing in stereotypes and labelling things.
If people were to think and dig deeper before sharing and shouting out loud about things they never experienced, many stereotypes would be almost non-existent.
What are 3 best pieces of advice you can tell anyone who would like to break into the fashion world?
1. Set no limits. Experience matters, but attitude is everything. These days nobody can stop you from knocking on the doors of fashion houses, sending thousands of e-mails, contacting people on LinkedIn or inviting a CEO for a coffee to discuss future opportunities.
2. Be Fashion is the industry where unique selling point matters. Speak more languages; know the cool designers before they become mainstream and know how to differentiate yourself in your field.
3. Build solid online presence. If I can’t find you on Google – then more or less you do not exist. Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, personal page/blog and even what you share on Facebook – it does Additionally, it’s good to establish your expertise by posting on professional networks, like Quora.
And best non-career related advice for loving life and 2017?
Don’t say yes when you want to say no. Life is about doing things that make you happy and being with people that inspire you.
Fashion Weeks: 3 DO’s and 3 DON’Ts
Do look impeccable.
Do research about designers before attending their shows.
Do network with people around you.
Don’t take many selfies or pictures with celebrities.
Don’t forget to put mini snacks in your bag to keep you going throughout the day.
Don’t come late to fashion shows or presentations: since you won’t get in or your seat will be taken. Being ‘fashionably late’ does not work here.
What job would you choose outside the fashion industry?
I think I’d be a film director. I am fascinated by cinema and for years I had this secret hobby of creating short movies. Somewhere in my house I still have my Hollywood Film Institute diploma reminding my passion for aesthetics, fictional stories and evoked emotions. In a sense, it’s very much like fashion.
What is your guilty pleasure?
My guilty pleasure is binge – watching the TV series I like. I honestly can’t stop if the plot is gripping.
How do you see the fashion industry changing? Is fashion-tech the next big thing to watch out?
I see those changes from two different perspectives. The first one is that we are going through a phase where designers, models and even marketers radiate different standards of beauty. And this beauty is about defects, global problems, and, undoubtedly, uniqueness.
And the second one is definitely about being digital, tech-savvy, geared towards artificial intelligence, complex algorithms and virtual reality. I find it fascinating since fashion is so dependent on consumers. Eventually, we are starting to give customers 360 – degree experiences and at the same time we get so many insights on who they are and what they crave for. That’s when fashion becomes even more meaningful.
What is it like being a woman in the fashion industry? Have you experienced any sexism?
It’s one of those industries you would expect to be associated mainly with women. Even though fashion seems perfectly tailored for us, dominance in design – lead or other executive positions belong to men. But that doesn’t change the feeling of being in it: we represent the dreams, the glamour and at the same time we make decisions that eventually shape the face of fashion. For me— it’s empowering.
Have I experienced sexism? I thought I was being treated in a sexist way when I went for a final job interview round in Amsterdam at one of the most respected fashion corporations. After a good deal of tests and in depth interviews, they shortlisted me and another candidate who was male. When he was announced to take my dream job at the time, I immediately requested feedback. I knew my scores from tests and interviews were equal compared to my male counterpart’s. When I heard rumours that for a three – year role they’d prefer to take a man just in case a woman decided to take maternity leave— it left me speechless. But I have to acknowledge the fact that the line is always very thin and it may simply have been my character traits that didn’t open those doors for me back then.
Is the fashion industry making it work for plus-size women? Tim Gunn, Emmy-winning co-host of the show Project Runway, says it is not.
Absolutely not. Fashion industry has made some efforts, but definitely not something significant, sustainable or impactful for plus – size women to appear on the catwalks or billboards. But it’s a long process – it’s similar to overcoming stereotypes.
Edited by Demi Vitkute