If you’re hoping to pursue a career in fashion design, listen up! Noted NYC-based designer Cristina Ottaviano is here today to spill her five key suggestions for making a name for yourself in this crazy industry. Follow her tips and you, too, could end up working alongside brands like Oscar de la Renta and Marc Jacobs!
I knew at quite a young age that I would design women’s apparel someday. As I got older, I started to make clothes for myself with the help of my great-grandmother—she was a seamstress who taught me so much, and nurtured and cultivated my love for sewing and embroidering. In high school, I started taking courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology; I knew that it was the fashion school I would eventually attend. Here are the five steps that I would encourage others to take if they have dreams of becoming a designer as well.
1. Sketch! Sketch! Sketch!
Developing your skills is the first step. Get creative and become inspired! Carry a notebook or sketchpad with you at all times, because once you’re open to it, there is no end to the inspiration you’ll find.
2. Apply to a fashion design or arts school.
If you’re still in high school, enroll in fashion design classes. If you’re applying to universities or colleges, research their design programs. Learn as much as you can about each program—make sure it is a good fit for you and will meet your expectations.
3. Get involved.
Apply for an internship and volunteer your time. You’ll gain hands-on experience from the inside of a fashion house!
4. Develop a plan.
Try to determine what specialty you prefer. For some, this will be an easy choice. Others who are interested in more than one area of fashion may have trouble narrowing down potential career paths. Just know that you can always branch out later, once you’ve become an established designer!
Get to know as many business professionals as possible, and talk to other entrepreneurs. Know that you will need a reliable and trustworthy team to help you build your business. Your team may only be made up of one or two individuals—but it’s essential to remember that you cannot do everything yourself!
Headshot photo by Chia Messina