Want To Work In Fashion? Get Yourself A Mentor

Advice from someone who knows her miu miu from her... well you get the drift.

Ex Vogue Editor Kirstie Clements knows a thing or two about fashion -- as well as heading up the glossy mag for 13 years, she's now director of lingerie and sex toy company Porte-à-Vie (goodness, is it hot in here?).

And, if there's something else she knows, it's how to get a well-heeled foot in the door of the fashion industry.

She says you need to get yourself a mentor.

As a best-selling author, editor, consultant, and keynote speaker, superwoman Kirstie is called on regularly when it comes to all things fashion and this Melbourne Fashion Week (August 30 to  September 7) she's a panellist member for The Masters Institute of Creative Education where she will give the audience a taste of her best career advice on how to get your Prada mule in the fashion cupboard.

So here's a taster of the advice she will give -- now run get those jobs and don't say we never do anything for you.

Why should I get a mentor?

The fashion world is very big and very varied and one of the biggest challenges is finding the role that most suits your talents and your expectations. A mentor can guide you in the right direction and provide clarity.

How does it help me in my fashion career?

People starting out need to see, or at least hear about all aspects of the business and understand that there is a long path to success -- no one is an overnight sensation. Or on the off chance that you are instantly successful, how do you stay there? Learning and understanding why other people in the industry make the decisions they do is really rewarding. Hearing about other people’s mistakes helps you not to make the same ones.

How do I get myself one?

Send them an email, stating why you have chosen them, and what your expectations are. Be humble, be nice, be polite.

What’s the best approach?

DM, Linkedin, in person, whatever! People are normally really thrilled to be asked to be a mentor.

What can you expect?

Probably a catch-up every three weeks or so. Bring questions so you don't waste the mentor’s time just shooting the breeze. One of the young women I mentor asked me to lunch recently, and her question was “How should I approach my manager in order to be transferred/promoted, without upsetting anyone?”. The month before it was, “Should I focus on my career or move to the US with my new boyfriend?” We focused on each question and had a clear game plan by the end of lunch.

What are the do's and don'ts of being mentored?

You should arrange the times for the catchups and confirm a couple of days before. Think about what you want to know beforehand and then ask the relevant questions. Listen. And don’t argue back!