When we wanted an expert’s take on how to create a rewarding career in fashion,we went straight to Tracey Lomrantz Lester, senior director of brand marketing at INTERMIX. She’s responsible for all the public-facing messages at INTERMIX, from creating editorial, social and design content to managing public relations, events and retail marketing. And she got here in her own unique way, turning her lifelong obsession with fashion into stints in print and digital editorial at ELLE, Glamour and Gilt.com before landing at Gap Inc. Read on for snapshots from her journey and some of her best career advice.
When you’re starting out, it’s great to work somewhere with a small team, so you get exposure to everything. My first internship was at a now-defunct magazine called Vitals, which was helmed by Joe Zee, the former fashion director at Wand creative director at ELLE. There were nine of us on staff, including interns, so I got to do everything—I wrote my first piece with a byline, fact-checked, steamed clothes, you name it. It was an incredible introduction to magazines.
Create your own opportunities.
The best career advice I ever got: Find a hole that nobody is paying attention to, and fill it. If it’s an overlooked area of the business, you’ll have more room to take risks. And when those risks pay off, you’ll suddenly be the person responsible for that area, because you’ve already proven you can handle it.When I was an editor at Glamour back in 2009, I realized they had almost no original fashion video content. I put together a really robust pitch that I knew I could execute on an itty bitty budget,then begged my boss to let me shoot a pilot. It became a street-style series called “What Are You Wearing?” which I hosted at all of the Fashion Weeks. Eventually, it was syndicated and became a big traffic driver for the site.When the editor who did television for Glamour left a year later, I was a proven entity in front of the camera, and that’s how I found myself on the Today show with Kathie Lee and Hoda doing a monthly series! If I hadn’t had the guts to pitch that first video series, I don’t think I ever would have wound up on national television.
Use your voice.
I have seen so many smart and talented people who are afraid to speak up in meetings or in front of more senior team members. Who cares if your idea is silly? I am so much more likely to remember it—and you!—than the person who just sat in a corner yessing me.
One of the things I look for when I’m hiring is a person’s ability to think in a 360-degree way about how their component of a project fits into the bigger picture. It’s incredibly important to understand what your cross-functional partners do. Get to know the roles of those around you, which will not only make you a better collaborator, but a stronger overall contributor with a great understanding of how the pieces all come together to make the whole. The biggest mistake an entry-level employee can make is to think, “that’s not my job,” or to not ask questions about things that don’t directly affect their own workload.
Be willing to use both sides of your brain.
I oversee several different functional areas, so on any given day I could be working on anything from enlisting an influencer to collaborate on a growing category (we recently partnered with fashion blogger Arielle Charnas to launch our “Next Gen Denim” campaign) to getting the message out locally about a store opening in a new market (my team managed our Fillmore Street opening and all of the surrounding events—in Gap Inc.’s backyard!—from top to bottom). It’s an exciting challenge to manage so many different types of talent, from the ultra-creative to the super-analytical, which has helped me grow my own career tremendously.