How to Break into the Fashion Industry
Meet Our Fashion Expert: Jenny Wu
Jenny is a young fashion lawyer by day, seasoned fashion blogger by night. Born in Shanghai and raised in LA, She has come to call the City of Angels her home and playground. Growing up, she was inexplicably drawn to fashion and held an affinity for all things pretty and sparkly. However, she put her fashion inclinations on hold to pursue her childhood dream of becoming a lawyer. After graduating from USC Law School, she launched her fashion law career working as in-house counsel at an LA based fashion company. She managed the company’s intellectual property portfolio, implement anti-counterfeiting strategies, and draft/negotiate licensing, endorsement, marketing and cross-collaboration deals.
As you can imagine, her day job was quite stressful so she started a fashion blog as a platform and outlet to express and comment on the lighter and fashionable side of life. Living, breathing and talking about fashion is her passion-one that she is extremely happy to be sharing with you.
Through her blog and her fashion background, she has had the opportunity to pursue and partake in many wonderful projects. She has worked with brands like Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, BCBG, Shopbop, Sole Society, 2b by Bebe, Guess, and Gap on styling collaborations, attended Fashion Week in Milan and New York and been to countless red carpet fashion, beauty, and celebrity events all over the world. She truly believes if you do what you love, you’ll be able to reach heights that defy gravity and limitations. Where there is passion and dedication, nothing becomes impossible or out of reach.
Check out her blog >> Good Bad and Fab
What advice do you have for someone who’s trying to break into the fashion industry but may not know exactly where they want to go?
Meet as many people as you can. Go to mixers. Talk to people and just learn from conversations with them what might interest you. The idea of fashion is so broad that it’s always a great idea to get detailed information about the different paths you can follow. I think it’s very, very important to have internships and hands-on experience that will help you narrow down exactly what it is that you’re interested in.
Also, keep a very realistic expectation, because I think when people think of fashion they think of the runway shows, Paris and Milan, and all the glitz and the glamour, but when it comes down to it, fashion is a business, and like any other business, you have to do certain things that might not be very glamorous. I think keeping a realistic expectation and figuring out what it is you really want by talking to people and figuring out what certain roles in the fashion industry encompass is important for knowing what your day-to-day role will look like. It’s probably the best thing you can do.
When deciding on where to go to school, most people trying to break into the fashion industry think New York City, but are there other places you would recommend that are good for breaking in besides the city?
Yeah, definitely. It all depends on what you want to do in fashion. Of course, a lot of the American brands are based in New York, which is the hub for fashion in the US. However, fashion encompasses so much. If you’re interested in indie brands and indie clothing, then I think San Francisco would be a great place to explore. If they’re interested in the tech-side of fashion, Silicon Valley or Palo Alto would also be great areas because there are so many incubators and start-ups involved in creating fashion ads and websites that facilitate fashion.
LA actually has a very vibrant fashion scene as well. We have the fashion district; there are a lot of showrooms in the area. In terms of designers, there are local LA designers and all of the major denim companies. Denim brands are based in LA. As far as fashion PR goes, there are tons of companies, maybe just as many in LA as there are in New York, so it just really just depends on what area of fashion you’re interested in. There are different places you can go to tap into different things. But I would definitely say those three areas, up north, LA, and New York are where fashion is targeted in the US.
So, you go from studying law, wanting to be a lawyer, to starting a fashion blog that has had tremendous success. The two types of writing you do in law and fashion are very different. Did you have any professional classes or writing courses that gave you the experience, or was it all from the experience of just doing it?
I’ve always been a very literary person and have always been drawn to creative writing. I remember when I was young I would read tons of books and write short stories, so that storytelling aspect has always been a part of me. That was one thing I was always disappointed about when I started law was that I couldn’t indulge in that creativity anymore. Writing legal briefs and memos is super different from creative writing, probably the antithesis of creative writing. That was why I started my blog, so I had that creative outlet to continue to pursue creative writing.
But no, I don’t have any formal training in that. I think the writing is a personal narrative: my life, my journey through it and the ways I tie fashion, beauty, and lifestyle into it. I don’t try to be a certain person, I don’t try to put on a certain voice when writing, it’s really just me speaking through me.
Reading about your experiences studying for the three-day bar exam, if you had to go back and put yourself in the position of studying again and going through the process, is there anything you would do differently now?
The experience itself no, I wouldn’t, because I passed! I wouldn’t really do anything differently, but at the same time, it was such torture and so painful, and I wanted to close my eyes and make it go away. I think it has made me a lot stronger. It has helped me develop as a person and to build character. Every hardship you experience, if you don’t break it will make me stronger. Same with school in general. Those three years were probably the hardest three years of my life.
It’s true when they say law school is basically boot camp extended over three years, and it was definitely a difficult time in my life, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Even though I’m not practicing law, I think the analytical skills, the writing skills, and life skills I’ve learned from law school, and the sense of discipline, are invaluable. It will be there for me and carry me through everything and anything I do in life.
As a creative person, you said when you were younger you liked to write short stories. You were artsy. Transitioning from that mindset into law school, was it a difficult transition?
It was, it was very difficult. I went to law school straight from college. I didn’t take any years off. I was pretty much the youngest law student in my class. Everyone else either worked a couple years or took a few years off before law school.
The reason I did that was because growing up, I thought that was my only option in life. Based on conversations with my parents, I felt that it was the only career that would make money based on what I was good at, so I didn’t really think twice about it. I just went into it without thinking too much, so if I had had more time, and had taken a couple years off, I perhaps would have made decisions differently or done something else completely. So that is definitely something I wish I had done, taken a few years between college and law school to really think about what it was I wanted to do, and figure out who I was and what my passions in life were.
To get more insights from Jenny, please visit her blog by clicking here!
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