I used to work in corporate America before I branched off and started my own brand. I spent a total of 7 years working for big fashion corporations. I'm extremely grateful for all of the knowledge and experience that I've gained in that time. (Some things can only be learned on the job) So not only did I study the game of Fashion in college, but I've got a ton of hands-on experience working in the big league. I learned so much by working in the industry as a Production Assistant and Assistant Buyer, much of which I've been able to apply to my own business. Although it may seem like an effortless transition, leaving corporate to pursue a solopreneur career in fashion was by no means seamless.
Believe it or not, corporate fashion brands FORBID their employees to have any business endeavors outside of the company they work for. Upon hire, many employees must sign a non-compete clause which pretty much states that as long as you're employed by that company, you cannot become a competitor, nor work for a competing brand. It's literally in the sigh-on contract.
Because of this, I had to be extremely careful about starting my own brand. If I were to go against that non-compete clause, I could be sued! (and baby I needed all my coins) This also meant that asking for help or advice from anyone that i worked with for the sake of starting a brand/fashion line was OUT! I know it sounds crazy. You literally have just about all the tools you need at your disposal while you're working in the industry, but you CANNOT use them… at least not for your own personal gain. Because the industry is so small, a lot of people are reluctant to ask for help or announce any new projects until they are no longer with a company. And even after leaving a company, you can try to build relationships with old co-workers and partners that you used to work with, but they may just turn you down so as to not jeopardize their own relationship with their current employer.
The industry is not all bad though. Companies have to operate in that manner in order to keep the business alive. That’s how they maintain brand integrity and are able to provide customers with quality products year after year. I completely understand, it’s just the rules of the game.
Once you’re on the outside and doing your own thing, things do get better. But first you’ve got to find the right resources and build the necessary relationships with individuals you can trust with your dreams. It’s not an easy thing to do, but I’m proof that it’s not impossible.
I was laid off from my last corporate fashion job in March of 2020 due to the pandemic. A lot of my friends always ask me, “Do you miss it?” Absolutely NOT! But I do miss all of my amazing co-workers. It’s the system that had me fkd up, not them as individuals. I truly enjoy the freedom of being able to make my own creative decisions. I’m able to dream big no matter how unconventional it may seem. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hella risky but the reward of being able to say “that girl is wearing MY design” is far greater than any risk. Going back to work in corporate fashion is an absolute NO for me (unless, I absolutely MUST, God Forbid). As long as I have breath in my body, I’m going to continue to bet on myself and my brand.