In our new career series, How I Got My Job, we talk to real people, working real jobs in the fashion and retail industry. These people are pushing boundaries and have made their mark. They’ve found success on their own terms, and now we’re extracting their advice on how to carve your own career path.
Those who end up with a job in the fashion industry didn’t always start there. Or even go to school to study fashion in the first place.
As a linguistics and psychology graduate of the University of Toronto, Jillian Vieira leveraged her degree into a fashion job. After working at a few student-run publications and interning at Glow magazine, Vieira landed two editorial stints after graduation at Glow and Cosmetics, both focusing on beauty. She then made the transition to fashion after landing an assistant editor position at FLARE magazine, where she spent over two years honing her aesthetic in the fashion department.
Since then, the 29-year-old has become The Kit’s fashion editor and oversees the magazine’s fashion direction, styles the book’s shoots, curates the market sections and nearly everything else to do with the fashion of the magazine. We got the chance to sit down with Vieira to learn more about how she got her job in fashion.
First thing’s first, what was the first job you ever had? The job after that? How did they lead you to where you are today?
I started working quite young as a tutor and babysitter/childcare worker. Teaching children taught me a great deal about creative work culture. Dealing with difficult personalities, problem-solving on a whim, visualizing someone else’s world and of course, getting crafty. I never thought this kind of job would be meaningful in a creative setting but I’ve found those early inter-personal skills I learned come in handy often.
What’s a typical day at work for you?
It’s never ever the same! I could be brainstorming for a future issue with my team, prepping or casting for a shoot, putting together market pages, discussing art angles with our creative director, pitching web stories, attending press previews to see new collections and a million other things. Right now, I’m writing from Shanghai where I’ll be covering the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. My job takes me to weird and wonderful places!
What has been the most fulfilling project you’ve worked on so far?
It’s incredibly satisfying to see an issue from conception to planning to execution and finally, laid out in physical form. In our increasingly digital age, I’m a sucker for print media – there’s nothing like it. At The Kit, we’re committed to exploring and covering every woman and person’s experience, be it from a beauty and fashion lens or real life stuff.
This year, we worked on a Gen Z issue, filling our pages with what’s next from the teens of today. In it, I pitched a story on the unlikely religious young women of this generation and what it’s like to be of faith. I heard from a Native spiritualist who celebrates her heritage with traditional dancing, an intersectional Jew who reclaimed her faith after an oppressive version of it growing up and a couple others. Doing the interviews and shooting a special video component was inspiring to say the least. There’s hope with them and if there’s anything we need a little more of these days, it’s optimism.
What’s your advice to someone looking to get into what you do?
Be open to an indirect path to your dream job. Your big girl, brag-worthy job might not come for a while and that’s okay. Plenty of my fellow editors have started out in less-than-glamorous positions writing for B2B publications or otherwise. These jobs will always be valuable on a resumé – it’s about how you make use of your time there. Can you find a cool enough angle on benefits packages to make them interesting to millennials? Work with your art team to art the story in a cool way? This is how you translate one seemingly unconnected job to one more in line with your interests.
In your time working, what do you think has been the most important thing that you’ve learned?
Every line of work comes with its challenges and in this one, it’s constantly adapting to the future of media. That means you need to learn new skills all the time without people telling you to – it’s really a sink or swim industry. When you stay hungry and actively seek opportunities to grow your own skill set, like learning the ins and outs of SEO or taking a course on Adobe Creative Suite, which I did at the beginning of my career, you become invaluable.
Creative industries are notorious for unpaid internships or pay via “exposure.” How do you feel about this? Are you for or against unpaid internships?
This is a funny one. My internship back in the third year was what kickstarted everything for me. It was unpaid and didn’t count towards course credit (it was a different time in 2009!), but I soaked up every second of it and worked my ass off. Good work always deserves compensation, that’s no question, but for me, not being paid forced me to frame what I was really doing there. With no money coming in, how was I going to convert it into something meaningful? That means creating real opportunities for yourself: pitch (very specific) web stories, ask to shadow someone on the art team for a day or offer to assist on set if it’s a shoot that really interests you – even on your day off. It’s also about finding the right internship: ask your friends and colleagues about who offers a truly educational program. There will always be the requisite menial tasks, like transcribing and filing lookbooks, but you’ll want to look for editors who really care about your advancement in the industry.
How did you turn your dream job into a reality and get paid to do it?
Perseverance. I never had an “in” in the industry; I relied solely on my work ethic and making meaningful relationships everywhere I went. No one’s going to hold your hand and rejection will come often in those early years, but stick to it. You have to really want to be a part of this industry. Ask working creatives out for coffee, shape your one-off connections into mentors, and please, be kind. A positive attitude is mega appreciated around these parts.
To keep up with Jillian Vieira and her work, follow her on Instagram at @jillianvieira
Featured image: thekit.ca
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