The Chronicles of a Fashion Woman: Patience
Working in fashion takes a lot of different efforts you may not have known you were capable of.
You have to be a little conniving. You have to be able to finesse your way into what you want, whether that be a share with Balenciaga so you can shoot Look 2 from their fall/winter collection for your upcoming story or the email of someone at KCD who you think can help you get to your next step. Fashion is constant forward motion; a relentless drive to be better than everyone around you.
You have to be unforgiving. If you need to get something done, you cannot take no for an answer. You allow no excuses, you allow no alternatives, you allow no exceptions. You complete the task, no questions asked.
You have to be a healthy amount of fake. Fashion, like many industries, is all about connections and relationships. Whether you actually want to get drinks with that PR director or not is irrelevant - what is relevant is how well you're deceiving her and whether or not she is going to return the love.
With this said, it's easy to confirm the stereotype: everyone in fashion is fake and out to get you. However, a few little known traits that make you invincible in the industry are patience and respect.
Sounds unfathomable coming from one of the snarkiest bitches you've ever read, right? But when it's 10 o'clock at night and you're still packing up trunks for the photo shoot tomorrow and you have no idea when you'll see your bed next, patience is going to separate you from the assistant who's been complaining since lunch. Luckily, I have the background for this.
I first learned about the importance of patience when I was working at Smart & Final. Being a cashier for five years showed me how much easier life can be if you just stay cool.
Picture being on the register in the middle of rush hour, frantically scanning items in hopes that if you go fast enough, everyone will get out of there that much sooner and you can go home. But the joke is on you, because no matter how fast you go, there's always a customer next in line.
You're bagging everything yourself because your store is too cheap to hire wiry high school boys to do it. You haven't taken a break in five hours because your backup hasn't come in yet. Your manager has been in a terrible mood all day and somehow, so have most of your customers. You're fighting with a coworker so you have to avoid calling her for anything to salvage your pride. A homeless woman comes in and drops a wine bottle. The registers go offline and debit/credit cards stop working. Carts are full of perishable items that no one is going to buy anymore. Everyone is pissed.
Now picture doing this for five years, anorexic. All of this is going on, and you can't look anyone in the eye at the moment. You can't look anyone in the eye because you can't see straight because you're so hungry. A numbness shoots up your left arm and you're hurriedly quizzing yourself on the symptoms of a heart attack. Tom from Tom's Tailgate is asking you how your weekend was and you're starting to wonder if you might have to ask him to call the paramedics.
You have 45 minutes left on your shift. Against all odds, you complete it and don't leave the building on a stretcher.
The moral of this seemingly unconnected story is that your work experience is always relevant to your current job. While I was at Smart & Final, I couldn't wait to get out. I didn't think it had a single application to my real life and certainly not to my fashion career. However, every place you come from teaches you something - it is your duty to pay attention.
"You're nice," a stylist friend told me the other day. "That's what sets you apart from most people in fashion - you're a nice person." Being in customer service for five years taught me to have extreme patience, which will help me for the rest of my life. Patience, after all, is a virtue!
Use your assets wisely.