Aliza Licht, SVP Global Communications
“I received a toy sewing machine from my Grandma Hilda for my fourth birthday. She wasn’t a designer by trade, but rather by passion, sewing my mother her own custom-designed frocks. My use of the sewing-machine was far less impressive, sewing tissues together to make a very fragile, spot-clean-only look for Barbie.”
Edguardo Osorio, Founder of Aquazurra Shoes
“I started working in fashion when I was 14 years old, but I knew I wanted to be in fashion since much earlier. Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been interested in art, and in creating things, people and spaces more beautiful. I’ve always had a fascination with shoes. I remember admiring my mother’s shoe closet when I was little – and I grew up around women – my mother had 4 sisters and they always took me shopping with them. I’ve always very much enjoyed the company of women and it was very interesting to me how shoes could change a woman. When you hear high heels, you have to stand straight, pushing your chest out as well as your behind. When you walk in heels, if you know how to, every move becomes more sensual, more elegant.”
Jennifer Fisher, Founder of Jennifer Fisher Jewellery
“My grandfather was a silversmith and I would sit outside in his workshop with him most nights before dinner. He would come over every afternoon after playing Polo, and watching him work would always make me think, ‘what I would make if I could…’, but the true moment was just before graduating college. I studied business with a marketing emphasis and a fine art minor at USC. I was interning on the ad side at a magazine in Los Angeles and would see the racks roll down the hall for shoots and was jealous on a daily basis – I ultimately knew I was working in the wrong department. I left that after a few weeks and then interned under Jeanne Yang (who was amazing and inspiring) and Luis Barajas (the founder of Flaunt magazine) at Detour magazine before graduating college. I then worked as a freelance stylist for over 12 years in Los Angeles in TV and advertising.
Justin OShea, Buying Director of MyTheresa.com
“I never thought that fashion was something I would get involved in. It’s not exactly the most masculine of professions for an Australian dude to pursue. My mum bought all my clothes until I was 18 which consisted mostly of Billabong board shorts and band t-shirts (Metallica, her least favorite). So needless to say, fashion wasn’t my forte.”
However, as I got older, became less of a little redneck, and moved to a city that had traffic lights, I soon saw that there was more to life than just flip flops.The day I arrived in Perth, Western Australia, was the start of a new me. This doesn’t mean that I started making dresses and styling my girlfriends, but it just felt nice to be in a town that you wouldn’t get beaten up for wearing something apart from Quicksilver. Anyway, after a couple of years of working in a mate’s sport store, and a stint in Amsterdam doing the same, I came to the realisation that I had to move to London. I had no job, home or career possibilities, but I just knew that it seemed pretty cool working in retail and that maybe I would find what I was looking for there.
Fresh off the boat, I found a job on the internet working in a multi-brand showroom for an Australian guy called Spyder (yes I am not making this up). I naturally bullshitted my way into the position (as a good Aussie does). My first day on the job I remember walking to work thinking that I have finally made it! I didn’t know what I had “made,” but it was such an exciting feeling to have a job in “fashion”. Naturally, I thought I was pretty cool!
But to be honest, I had no idea that I would develop a career in this industry. I just loved every minute of my work and somehow it led me to where I am today.
Luiz Mattos, IMG Models Manager
“I had absolutely no idea I wanted to work in fashion or as a model manager. My sister was modelling while I was attending law school—I got approached by the owner of her agency who offered me a job and asked for some legal advice. He also saw me trying to sell some tickets I had gotten for the music festival Rock in Rio, but couldn’t go due to my finals. He thought I was a good sales person. I never answered yes or no regarding the job offer. He called me and said, ‘you never got back to me so I’m assuming it is a yes. See you on Monday.’ I was intrigued by the industry and his boldness. So, I gave it a try and fell in love with it. The moment I realise I truly could not see myself doing anything else, was my first fashion week in New York. It was just fantastic and I will never forget it. I love the creative process that we are part of and working with visionaries – it is so inspiring and humbling to see how it all works and comes together in the end.”
Nicole Fritton, Fashion Market & Accessories Director of Harper’s BAZAAR
“The fall of my junior year in college, I called my older brother for career advice. I was studying finance and didn’t think I was on the right track. While he was sharing his brotherly wisdom and urging me to follow my dreams, I got distracted by the new issue of Harper’s BAZAAR that had arrived in the mail. I immediately started reading it, and he found out what took my attention so completely away from our conversation he said, “You should work there!”
It was my eureka moment. I began my quest for an internship at BAZAAR and after much persistence secured a summer internship starting after my final exams finished that May. The summer at BAZAAR was the ultimate decision maker for me. I knew I had found exactly what I wanted to pursue. Thank you Billy!
Tina Craig, Founder of Snob Essentials
“I don’t think there was ever a point in my life when I didn’t want to work in fashion. Growing up in a very conservative Chinese family, my grandmother didn’t allow us to wear jeans. Instead, I had dresses custom-made for every occasion, even going to the park. In the ’80s, schools in Taiwan were very strict; not only were kids required to wear the same uniform, we had to have the same haircut! Thankfully, I immigrated to the United States in the third grade, and I embraced the freedom of American culture without hesitation.
To me, fashion represented freedom of self-expression, and it still does. By the time I hit junior high, I was a full-fledged fashion addict. I devoured every magazine I could get my hands on. I had an older cousin, and I would pour over all her issues of Seventeen magazine (Seventeen was EVERYTHING). When I spotted something I liked, I would try to emulate it by cutting up my own clothes. I became very adept with a pair scissors, along with a needle and thread. (Sewing machines scared me, as did irons. Actually, I just cut up and reworked a vintage beaded fur coat by hand two days ago!). I hacked the hems off my pants and sewed on different-colored cuffs. I even cut my younger cousin’s and my own hair, based on whatever styles the top models were currently sporting. Don’t ask her about the time in seventh grade when I gave her Linda Evangelista bangs; she is still traumatised.
That natural DIY approach to fashion ignited my creative passions further. I decided I was going to be a fashion designer or a writer. Freshman year in college, I studied art history, but I ended up graduating from USC with a degree in International Finance. (My father insisted I study finance, opposed to art history. He said I could always go to the library to study art history on my own, but I needed business knowledge no matter what I did in life, and as it turned out, he was right). Upon graduating, I founded a licensing company and purchased licenses of American brands for distribution in Asia. I brought the licenses of Byron Lars and Mark Eisen to Asia and learned about the distribution and fulfilment aspects of the business.
While in Taiwan, I was presented with the opportunity to host a fashion and lifestyle TV show, and I jumped at it. Then MTV Asia came knocking, and I did a spin as a VJ, before returning to the U.S. to marry my husband. During that time, I maintained my sense of creativity by making handmade jewellery; my line was sold at Nordstrom, Yellow Boutique on La Brea in Los Angeles, and other stores across the country. A saleswoman at Nordstrom liked my jewellery, I asked her to introduce me to the buyer, and the next thing I knew, Nordstrom was hosting trunk shows for me. I have to credit a degree of pure luck, as I often found myself in the right place at the right time, and then I always followed up on breaks that were presented to me.
I don’t believe there are accidents in life. I think things happen for a reason, and everything I had done up to the point of starting BagSnob.com has led me to where I am today. When I had my baby, I longed for a career that allowed me to stay at home with him and let me stay creative. Blogging did just that. As my son grew, so did my ambitions, and I had more time to focus on the business side of the site.
When Twitter became the big thing, DKNY PR girl tweeted me after I’d given a Donna Karan bag a terrible review. We soon became friends and I pitched her an idea of designing a capsule bag collection based on our five essentials. It was the first time a major brand did a collaboration with bloggers, and it was a huge success. Most of our bags sold out on Net-a-Porter within hours of launch. Now we have our own bag line, Snob Essentials, along with plans to launch an E-commerce site.
I’m finally living my all childhood dreams: running my own business, doing something I absolutely love, in addition to having the world’s most supportive husband and adorable son. My grandmother always told me if I could see it, I could be it, and I have always dreamed big. With every accomplishment, my aspirations continue to grow, and I’m reminded that no success in life is more gratifying than realising your dreams.”