Working for next to nothing is par for the course when you’re starting out in the fashion industry, but that doesn’t mean being taken complete advantage of! Whether you’re packing those runway samples or picking up coffee, ask if you’re being paid the exact rate that those with the same title or level of experience are. Check those facts and figures. Ask your boss, or do your own research. The information is out there. If you’re being asked to work unpaid overtime, question this - you have events to attend and bills to pay!
If you feel you’re being undervalued and underpaid, request a meeting with your boss. Armed with relevant data and examples of your recent successes at work, politely state your case – be your elegant, eloquent self and your boss will see just how valuable you are to the company. You may just be walking out of that office with a well-deserved pay rise - or at the very least the growing respect of your boss.
Don’t be afraid to ask. Now more than ever you will be respected by your peers and those in more senior positions if you (politely) show you value yourself. If your boss doesn't like the fact that you questioned your current earnings, they're probably not the type of boss you want to be gaining experience from. Know your worth!
When you land that initial role and the party invites start rolling in (which they will, trust me), it may be rather daunting to find yourself hobnobbing with the major players on the social circuit. Remember, a wallflower is unlikely meet anybody that will aid her rise through the fashion ranks, so speak up!
While at any event, talk to as many people as possible. Comment on the great dress the girl powdering her nose in the loo is wearing, or make small talk with the man waiting next to you at the bar.
Ensure you smile when passing them later in the evening. You never know how much pull these people have on the social scene and you may just have flattered the right person at the right time - the next thing you know you are mingling at an exclusive gathering in their penthouse. If this all seems a little far fetched, it's not. Fashion is the one industry that will take you along for the ride and where you can expect the unexpected to happen.
Soon after I talked my way into the industry, I was invited to a party where various heavyweight industry types were standing by the bar. One complimentary comment later (see above), I found myself brought into the fold with surprising ease - the industry can be brutal, but it can also be one of the easiest places to make new friends and connections. Now, I'm not saying all these friendships are entirely genuine, but if you feel the good energy, run with it for that moment. You'll soon discover who your true friends are and they're the ones you keep close.
The friends I made early in my career, who are still great friends now, are the ones I met in the most ridiculous situations and who I laugh with about the fabulous, surprising, sometimes absurd, industry we work in.