Diving into Show Production

 

Two sophomores get a jumpstart into their careers

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When is it too early to start looking into internships? The answer is NEVER. Katlan Henderson and Chanell Portis are sophomores in the Merchandising program at UNT and have begun their interning experience NOW by working for Rhonda Sargent Chambers Show Productions as paid interns. They have both gained an abundance of skills from working with RSC that they plan to use in their future fashion careers.

A common question I’ve found that many students have about internships, is where you look to find the internships themselves. How did you find out about interning for RSC? What was the process like?

Katlan: It wasn’t really a traditional process of getting an internship. In this case I didn’t have to seek out this internship. I had volunteered for RSC numerous times and built a professional relationship with Rhonda and her team. One day I woke up and checked my email and she had offered me a spring internship with her! In this case the previous work and time I had put in with her benefitted me most. I worked her events as a volunteer for about a year before I was offered the position as an intern.

Chanell: I started as a volunteer for Rhonda, I heard about my first opportunity after getting an email because I was a member of Merchandising Inc. After working multiple shows and staying in contact with her, she offered me a position on her team. I worked hard as a volunteer and she was able to see how hard and diligently I worked.

 

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What are common tasks you do when assisting RSC?

K: My responsibilities vary depending on the event. Rhonda has allowed me to work front of house and back of house so tasks often differ. Common responsibilities with every event are usually pre-dressing and fitting models, organizing their rack, checking models in, dressing models during actual show time, taping shoes, tagging clothing, steaming clothing, etc.

C: I usually show up hours ahead of the show to help prep-garment racks, organize clothing, accessories, and shoes. My tasks can change depending on the event and the volunteers that Rhonda has working that day. Since I have worked with her team many times before, I am given more responsibility to do more difficult tasks. I have personally assisted her and worked front-of-house managing guests, organized models, and a commonly help dress and change models during the show.

 

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Can you describe a memorable moment or experience that you’ve had while working with RSC?

K: My favorite memory working with RSC is when I worked the Versace Show. Versace as a brand has always been a favorite of mine and I’m a huge Donatella fan. Being up close, touching and seeing all of the details in her designs before the show was amazing. That show was also the first time I really got to be laid back and talk personally with Rhonda. It was the first show that she gave me the chance to prove myself at the front of house and back of house. Afterwards, she stuck around and chatted with Chanell and I. We took selfies and she video-taped us pretending to go down the Versace runway after the show was over; it was great!

C: I have had many incredible and memorable experiences when working with RSC productions. Around May of last year I had worked the DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting Against Aids) fashion show. The theme was cirque, so there were grandiose costumes, painted dancers, animals, drag queens, clowns, and so much more. I was also able to meet and create relationships with a few models that I still talk to today.

Another memorable moment was when I was invited to work the Dallas Versace show. It was wonderful to see the beautiful clothes I had seen on the Fashion Week runway and be a part of something so special! All in all, I have been able to create and strengthen friendships and connections, which is something so incredibly special to me.

How do you think this job will benefit you once you graduate and enter the workforce?

K: The main skill I’ve gained from working with RSC is how to have incredible attention to detail and work swiftly at the same time. The pace of fashion shows is incredibly fast and you have to be able to keep up. There’s a strategy to everything that’s done backstage and I think the best skill that working with her gives you is the ability to think on your feet. Sometimes, things go wrong and you have a split second to figure out how to fix it so that the people watching on the other side of the wall don’t know anything is wrong. The ability to work with people efficiently is something Rhonda and her team do very well and subconsciously teach the rest of us.

C: Working in the production side of fashion shows is nothing like many would believe it to be. It is an enormous amount of work. I was able to learn to communicate with various personalities, plan and organize apparel, keep track of inventory, manage guests and models, and style looks. I believe that with these skills, a future employer will see my ability to learn quickly, my diligence with performing tasks, and my knowledge to further help my career.

 

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Would you recommend doing an internship (assuming it wasn’t a requirement to graduate) to a student wanting to enter the fashion industry?

K: Yes, I definitely would. I feel that it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into before you decide that you want to do this particular job as a career. I’ve always wanted a career, not a job, so I want to be certain that I enjoy what I do. Doing numerous internships helps you figure out exactly what niche I fit into, what doesn’t work for me and what does. My advice to anyone wondering if they should do more than their required internship is to definitely try everything you can make time for.

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C: Yes! I would highly recommend that students pursuing any career in fashion, should do an internship. An internship allows you to gain invaluable experience, make connections and fully develop the skills and knowledge within a certain field. School can only teach you so much, it is the hands-on experience that will truly push you further. Anyone can go to school, but it takes a person with passion and drive to make their dream a reality.

The skills that Katlan and Chanell have learned while interning for RSC will be incredibly beneficial in the future when it comes time for them to enter the workforce. By taking the initiative to take part in such a fast-paced position, they’re setting themselves apart from other applicants in their field of interest. While your classes give important knowledge on different aspects of the interest, the experience you gain will benefit you the most, as it has for them.

 

Follow Katlan Henderson and Chanell Portis on Instagram @kae.mechele and @chanellportis

Words by Raeleigh Hall

Edit by Reilly Farris and Maia Wilson

Images from Katlan Henderson and Chanell Portis

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The Ethics Behind What You Wear

Going to India and Interning- All While A Freshmen

Breaking the generally accepted stigma that freshman can’t find meaningful internships, Navya Kaur, gives us the inside scoop on what it’s like to shadow and work for an amazing mentor her freshman year of college. Her first internship, did what every internship should do, giving her the motivation to continue on her journey towards her dream career in fashion and not let go of who she is. She is an inspirational trendsetter that is going to show the world that it’s not hard to be stylish and socially aware of the current ethical problems the fashion industry faces.   

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Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

I am a double Merchandising and Digital Retailing major with a minor in Business. I am a sophomore. My biggest dream in life is to own my company and I really want to become an ethical fashion retailer because I think we tend to forget about the importance of sustainability and making sure that we are putting the people that work at big corporations have a viable place to work. It is important to make sure the environment is safe and healthy. Ideally I’d like to start working with third world countries and work with the artists there. I would like to bring their craft back here and sell it because the stuff they do is beautiful and I think it’s so underrated. Eventually, I want to have my own company doing this or become a fashion journalist. My other passion is writing and I actually have a blog that I work on all the time. In my free time, I’m looking at Vogue magazines and working on my blog.

What is your blog about?

I noticed that a lot of fashion bloggers have these beautiful pictures, but they don’t have any good copy to go with it. I was trying to find a good balance between having really good pictures and having meaningful copy to go with it. Whatever is going on with me personally or in the world I talk about that. I’m trying to work on a piece right now about the current political situation and I’m wearing like red, blue, and white. I just really enjoy writing about things that matter and tying that into fashion.

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What started your interest in blogging?

I was fixated on fashion, but my other passion is writing. It was really difficult because I couldn’t decide between the two. So for awhile I thought I wanted a journalism degree and I was really involved in the Journalism department in high school. I was editor-in-chief of the yearbook. Leaving high school, I didn’t want to give that up completely, so I thought having a blog in college would keep me on my toes and I still practice writing. I thought, not only will I have my degree, but I also have this blog because I really care about this. Ideally I would have a business and I would still get to write every day. Blogging is a really good way for me to project. I think that a lot of people just dismiss fashion as being a very materialistic and shallow world, which it can be, but I also think that it has a lot of meaning because what you wear shapes how you act and the situations you’re in. It just really says a lot about your environment and who you are as a person. I like to write about that and talk about what I am wearing and why it’s significant. I like to write about what’s going on in the world.    

Where did you hear about your internship?

It was my first semester at college and I was in Ms. Zorola’s Intro to Merchandising class. I really wanted to make the most of my college experience, so this woman named Marissa Heyl came in to talk to us about her company called Symbology. She works with artists in India and creates fashion apparel. It’s different than others because it’s very trendy and that’s exactly what I wanted to do. She came in as a guest speaker and afterwards I was really interested in talking with her about NuView. I was a writer at that point and I wanted to interview her. I wanted to ask her what it was like to have a fashion startup because it’s just so competitive. So I got her information and her contact. I did a phone interview with her and while we were talking we just really hit it off because we had the same beliefs and values on how important sustainability and ethical fashion are. Throughout the year, I just did a lot of different projects with her. I created a line sheet for her, attended a fashion show, and went to market with her to model her clothes. So by the time May rolled around she offered me an internship.    

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Any great experiences from your internship?

The coolest thing was that I was actually in India for six weeks this past summer for a family wedding and Marissa’s production facilities were actually only thirty minutes away from where I was staying and she had her spring collection being produced at that time. So I actually got to go where the production was happening and talk to the artists and interview them. I got to really see the process first hand and it was such a cool experience. I got to talk to the woman who was in charge of it and we talked about the design for her next tunic top. We talked about what the placement would be and what colors we would use. I got to see the fabrics she was using and whether the shades and quality were going to be right. Really just being in India and seeing the production first hand was so amazing because I got to see all this work that I was doing here in Grapevine, Texas come to life.

What did you learn from your internship?

Work ethic is so important because I remember that one of the biggest reasons she even offered me an internship as a Freshman in college is because I have personally been raised that if I make a commitment and there is a deadline I keep within that deadline and make sure not to disappoint someone who is relying on me. I think the most important thing you can do, whether it’s with your personally life, your job, or with school, is to just make sure that you really have that great work ethic. Follow those deadlines and put in your all. Just really do the best you can because people really do appreciate that. Even if you mess up they see that you are trying your hardest and that’s enough.

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What were some of your proudest moments from the internship?

Honestly, the entire internship I was just so filled with pride. I don’t know how it happened, but this awesome opportunity just fell into my lap, which combined fashion with these super important social issues that are so important to me. I had this awesome internship opportunity for me to spend my summer days just working with clothes and these awesome people that have the same mission that I do and making an impact on these tiny villages in India. It was so fulfilling. So really I don’t think I could pinpoint one moment it was just so gratifying and satisfying to have the whole experience in general.

Do you have any advice for someone looking for an internship or starting one?

You really don’t know where your opportunity is going to come from. You have to look in the weirdest places. Networking is so important because you build these relationships and that’s where the opportunities arise. I literally spoke to Marissa once after class and we had one interview and this amazing relationship came out of it and I had this great opportunity. I am still in touch with her. She is coming to one of my meetings for a business organization I’m a part of and she’s going to be a guest speaker. I know that throughout my career as I progress I’m going to have this person that can vouch for me and say that I can do a good job and that’s so encouraging. You can’t just go to class and think that it’s enough. To really make the most of this experience you really have to go out of your way to find these opportunities and make the most of it and meet as many people as you can. At first it can be really difficult to push yourself to talk to people, but once you do you feel really good about it.

Anything interesting you want to add?

For my blog for sure, I definitely intend on keeping it and if something comes out of it that’s amazing. For me it’s really more of a hobby and an outlet for me to get my thoughts out. I really enjoy writing and I hope someday that my career leads me to a place where I can be in fashion and writing. As far as my internship, I am totally a proponent for ethical fashion and making sure that we are treating employers justly and being socially conscious. It’s so important to know the consequence of what you’re buying. This internship was really helpful because it gave me the confidence because I know that other people care about these issues which means that I can further my career in this. I definitely intend on keeping ethical fashion and sustainability at the forefront of what I do. It was definitely beneficial for my career because I have a better hold on it.    

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Is ethical awareness in fashion something that you practice in your personal life?

I try really hard to stay away from Forever21, H&M, and similar stores. I’ve actually started buying a lot of my clothes from India because I go there and I have family that visit so often. A lot of those clothes are handmade and you know exactly where they are coming from. You’re helping families in need. I just love the ethical and tribal look of Indian clothes. I also get a lot of my clothes from Buffalo Exchange in Dallas. I recognize that it’s a struggle because if you’re shopping ethically the price is raised and as a college kid you can’t really afford that. But I think just taking small steps everyday to just google where your clothes come from is good. For example: What are Forever 21’s factory regulations? Even if you can’t actively act on that in your everyday life and drop like three hundred dollars on a vegan leather purse, at least try to understand the consequences for where you’re shopping and what you’re doing. I’m trying, it’s a process and I think that as we, as a society become more aware of it, it will be easier to shop ethically.

Navya is definitely not your average college student. She stands out among a sea of students and wants everyone to understand that college is a once in a lifetime experience that you must take advantage of fully. Her passion and honesty is inspiring and uplifting. To read more about Navya’s internship and travels check out her blog and Instagram.

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Visit Navya’s blog, thewitchclique.com and follow her on instagram @navyakaur.

Words by Rikki Willingham

Edit by Carolina Gonzalez and Maia Wilson

Photos from Navya

Ashley Does Anthropologie

A UNT Senior gets a styling education in Philadelphia.

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Ashley Nudge is a senior pursuing a Merchandising and Digital Retailing double major at UNT. Last summer, she landed a competitive spot as a stylist intern for Anthropologie in Philadelphia. From that experience, Ashley has a lot of wisdom about styling as a career and how to be sure you get the internship of your dreams.

Q: What was the application and interview process like for getting the internship?

A: For the styling position you have to put together a trend board and submit your resume. Then you go on to the video interview, which was terrifying, and really awkward. I thought I had ruined it after that. But I passed that round, and after that I had to fly out to Philadelphia and do an in-person interview with the two full-time stylists with Anthropologie.

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As an intern, what did you do on a typical day?

To be honest, my job was very repetitive but I enjoyed it because the company was a good culture fit for me. On a daily basis I was doing the role of assistant stylist, so I was supporting the full-time stylists. On shooting days, my job was to make sure each outfit was in the fitting room for the model, and enter in all the product information from the outfits for the website.

Did anything about being an intern for Anthropologie really surprise you?

I knew when I applied that Urban Inc. is a very laid-back company, but I was really surprised by just how casual they were. The things they said to each other were really funny and shocking, but that’s what makes the company so great, is that you can be who you are and say what you want and it’s okay.

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What advice would you give to students looking for an internship?

You have to know yourself. That’s why I think organizations like Merch Inc. are really beneficial to be a part of, because you get exposed to so many different careers. If you’re a “yes person” and you go to everything, eventually you will figure out what you’re passionate about, and once you know that you can determine what type of internship you should pursue.

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I saw on your website you had to create a lookbook at your internship. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

At Urban Inc., you do an intern project. But since Urban Inc. is all about creativity, they basically told us to do whatever we wanted. Since I was in Philadelphia, it just made sense for me to do a “what to wear, where” type of lookbook. It showcased outfits that would be appropriate to wear to different locations in Philadelphia.

Was there a defining moment for you during your internship?

The moment I got really interested in styling, was when I was helping assisting at a photoshoot, and I just fell in love with the whole studio environment. When I walked into the studio the first day at Urban Inc. it was just like that. Just that moment of realizing styling what I’m meant to do was really fulfilling.

Did you get to implement your personal style at all in your internship?

You would think because I was doing a styling internship I would get to style but I didn’t. They have to get through 30 outfits in one day, and that doesn’t sound like a lot but it is. Looking back, I understand why they didn’t let us because I’m not as fast at dressing the model –  it really is a skill.

Did you have any obstacles you had to overcome during the internship?

The initial obstacle was having a job that was so repetitive. It was really frustrating at first, because you go to an internship expecting to learn so much, especially at a top-notch company like Anthropologie. I just needed to process it and realize I had an important role and was supporting my teammates, and once I got that through my head it was easier.

photo5 Ashley will be graduating in May of 2017, and will be looking to work as a stylist either at Anthropologie or another company that suits her. She also plans to expand as much as possible with her website, “The Ashley Edit.” Interviewing her was a fantastic and eye-opening experience, and I know she’ll bring great creativity and passion to the fashion industry.

Find Ashley on Instagram @theashleyedit and visit her blog theashleyedit.com

Words by Reilly Farris

Edit by Taylar Gomez and Carolina Gonzales

Photos from Ashley Nudge

Graphic Design by Kathryn Washington

That’s So Vintage…

The perfect internship for a vintage girl

 

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Jessica Heard, a senior Merchandising major, had no idea that when she walked into her favorite local vintage shop, Circa 77, she would be offered an internship. It’s a once in a lifetime experience to land your dream internship. Jess is one of the lucky ones. Her unique personality and style can’t go unseen which is why she was the perfect person for the job when she was hired to help manage the small Denton vintage shop on The Square. She has a bright future ahead of her and had great advice for those interested in obtaining an intern or looking to flourish at their current intern position.

Did you have any experience in fashion prior to attending UNT?

“I took some classes in high school that were career classes centered around Fashion Merchandising. But I just love clothes in general!”   

What do you like most about fashion merchandising?

“I think it’s cool that there is a job, if you want to go into buying, that you could be a professional shopper. There is also a lot of opportunities available for fashion merchandising majors that I never knew about. It was really interesting to learn about all the things you could do in merchandising.”

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Jessica stands out front of Circa 77, where she had the opportunity to intern for a unique store full of a wide array of vintage collections.

Where did you intern?

“I had an internship with this vintage store in the square and I would rearrange the store, and help with buying. If someone came in the store and they wanted to consign I would help decide if the piece would fit our store’s brand and if the item was good or worth buying from the customer. It was fun! I got to help people decide and chose what they wanted or gave people ideas and advice. If they came in the store needing something I would go find what they were looking for.”

Where did you hear about the internship? What led you to them?

‘Well, I just went in the store because I always liked the store prior to getting an internship and I just asked her if she needed help around the store or anything and then she told me that she was looking for an intern!”

What did you learn from your internship?

“Social Media is really important. Especially nowadays companies are really focused on social media. It’s really important that you have a Facebook and Instagram and that you are doing things within the social media world for your company. I helped out with the shop’s Instagram account and Facebook posts.”

Did interning at Circa 77 change your style in anyway?

“Everything I wear is comfortable, but I also have vintage flair! Especially after working at Circa 77! I definitely have a lot of vintage in my closet.”

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Jessica with owner Janie Shoto, who she worked under while interning at Circa 77

Any interest pertaining to fashion outside of your major?

“Oh yeah! I really like photography. I have a photography business. I am merchandising major, but I am not sure if it’s exactly what I want to do right after I graduate, maybe more so later in life. I really like real estate. I love everything about real estate and I am going to work on getting my real estate license.”

Anything interesting you want to add or any advice for people looking for internships?

“Make sure whatever you decide to do that you are with a company that you like and that the company is a good fit for you.”

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Jessica wearing a pink Lame 1980’s Victor Costa gown, while lounging in a blue velvet 1950’s wingback chair.

Jess provides inspiration to those wanting their fashion careers to be a job that they wake up loving to go to and not just settling for unhappiness. She has a diverse background in more than just fashion and has great advice for those wishing to be the best at whatever they choose in life.

Words by Rikki Willingham

Photos by Chloe Gonzalez

Edit by Taylar Gomez and Carolina Gonzalez

Captions by Jacqui Simses

Click below for more photos from the shoot.