Working in the Fashion Industry in 2014
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 is the most exciting thing about working in the fashion industry?
I think for me, being that I was on this path to becoming a lawyer, the most exciting thing about working in fashion would be being surrounded by a lot of creative people, and being able to see their point of view and get a different perspective about fashion, about life, about everything in general.
What do you wish you knew when you first started working as a lawyer and as a fashion blogger?
I wish I had known, when I first started working as a lawyer, that there are a lot of options out there when you’re deciding on embarking on a career path. I think in the beginning I felt it was a very focused profession and I didn’t think there was so much space to maneuver and do creative, cool things with my law degree. I thought if you have a law degree, then you have to be a lawyer. But I found out it’s so much more flexible than that and really, you can use the skill sets you learn as a lawyer and apply it to other things that perhaps might fuel your passion and for me that was creative writing, and in starting the fashion blog.
As far as what I wish I had known when I started the blog, I think I didn’t know there was so many great opportunities. I started my blog about three years ago during the blogging revolution was definitely starting, but was nowhere near what it is now because I think right now companies utilize bloggers to promote their products and they work with bloggers in very seamless ways. If I had been able to see the direction of blogging and how impactful of a role it would play in this marketplace, then I think I probably would have tailored it and viewed it as a business much earlier on than I did.
Was there a particular moment when you decided to bridge the gap between what you thought originally to be a straightforward career path with law and into a fashion career?
I started my blog as a hobby on the side. I would write when I got home from work and at a certain point it just became too much, I didn’t feel like I was giving 120% to my big job or moonlighting as a fashion blogger. So, for me, I knew I had to choose. At the time I felt that I could always go back to being a lawyer in the future. That law degree wasn’t going anywhere, but blogging, and fashion blogging, it was an opportunity that I needed to capture at that time and ride the momentum, and so I felt like I was at a crossroads. I chose the blog. I was really glad I did because a few weeks after I quit and started devoting all my time and energy to the blog, I got chosen to be the Saks Fifth Avenue fashion blogger, so that was a huge leap for me and just one of the defining moments in my fashion blogging career. With that I thought, okay, I can do this. If Saks has the confidence in me to put me on their site and promote me, then I felt like this is something I could make into a career and business.
As far as fashion law goes, can you tell us about an interesting case you worked on?
I worked in in-house council for tokidoki, which is this fashion company, and I did primarily intellectual property work, so I managed all our copyrights, our trademarks, I went after counterfeit infringers and things like that. One of the more colorful things that I got to do was ride with the LAPD to go on a raid in downtown LA. There was this warehouse and we knocked down the door and inside was thousands of pieces of counterfeit products, everything from denim, to handbags, to shoes. That was definitely one of the most exciting parts of my career. I felt like I was on an episode of Law and Order.
How do you feel about shows like Project Runway? These reality fashion shows, do you love them, hate them, or even watch them?
I used to watch Project Runway. For me, with fashion-based reality shows, I’m not really watching it for the specific contestants or the drama-behind-the-scenes stuff. For me it’s really about seeing their creation, seeing them emerging in fashion, seeing them in the sewing room creating the designs and seeing their inspirations. That’s what really moves me and inspires me.
I wish there were more shows like that on TV. There’s more going on than the design, there’s a business behind it. The PR world, production, marketing, advertising, and getting all that together. I would love to see a show centered on a fashion company so viewers could see the ins and outs of running one as a business. I think that would be very interesting.
We hear of a lot of people who watch reality shows and get inspired to dive into the fashion world but are surprised when it isn’t as exciting or dramatic as they thought. Do you think these shows create an unrealistic expectation of what the fashion industry is actually like?
For sure, and not just the shows. When you see fashion week blasted all over the media, on blogs and different websites, oh my gosh. Wearing 6-inch stilettos, prancing around, getting your photograph taken by photographers, it really is not like that at all. I’ve been to fashion week in both New York and Milan and it’s really interesting when I’m observing
the people there. They treat it as a job, the editors the buyers, even though they’re dressed well, they’re there to see the show because they need to decide if that collection is something they will feature in their store or editorials. For them it’s like any other job, so when you see it from the inside you realize it is definitely not as glamorous, and these people are spending all day, all night, doing their job.
Most of the time people in fashion have more stress than in other industries because they work on tight deadlines and fashion turnaround is super, super quick. They’re constantly seeking inspiration and finding the next thing to tie together, and I think for a lot of the editors that work in the fashion industry there’s a lot of pressure because they’re basically the messengers. There’s a bridge connecting the fashion business to the ads and consumers, so I definitely think there is a lot of pressure, and it is definitely not as glamorous as seen.
However, with that being said, there are also a lot of perks. Since starting my blog I have not really have had to do much shopping anymore, which is nice. And when you go to an event it’s almost expected to have champagne and cupcakes. That’s pretty much what I’ve been living off of the past couple years, the champagne and cupcakes diet.
What has fashion, the study of fashion, and working in the fashion industry taught you about yourself or life in general?
I never really thought I would be working in fashion. I grew up in a very conservative Chinese-American house where my parents stressed the importance of getting good grades and going on a very structured path. For me, it was “be a lawyer or be a doctor,” and since I was horrible at math and science, I guess I’ll be a lawyer.
Now I realize you can do whatever you want to do. If you put your mind on something and it’s something you’re passionate about and you work hard at it, the sky’s the limit, and you shouldn’t feel like you are limited to what you think you can or can’t do. I think that’s one of the life lessons I really have learned through the journey of being a lawyer to a fashion blogger. It’s something I try to inspire in my readers. I’m always trying to put out the message to live your life the way you want to. It’s way too short to live it for someone else or to live it unauthenticlly.
Anything else you would like to share that we haven’t touched on?
Speaking from personal experience, when you’re trying to figure out what you want to do with your life and embarking on a certain career, it can be very stressful and really hard in the beginning, and you kinda just have to go in on it. Even when you think “if I don’t get a job with this company or if I don’t do this my life is over.” I definitely had those moments, but what I learned over the years was it’s okay. It is okay if you don’t get your “dream job” because life has a way of working out, and you’re going to do what you’re meant to do, what you’re supposed to do. I think I’m an example of that. I started as a lawyer and now I’m this blogger, you never know what’s going to happen in life, so don’t put stress over if one particular component or thing isn’t working out the way you want it to. In the long run everything will be fine if you work hard and follow your passion.
To get more insights from Jenny, please visit her blog by clicking here!