In the social-distanced classroom, we had an in-depth discussion on Sabrina’s experiences and advice for becoming successful in an ever-changing society and a competitive industry. The fashion scholars shared their takeaways from talking with Sabrina.
The following testimonials were written by students in Professor Andrea Kennedy's Fall 2020 Introduction to the Fashion Business class.
Sydney Byron: One of the main topics of product management Sabrina mentioned that caught my attention was the packaging. Sabrina explained to the class how she has worked in packaging and there is a lot that must be considered these days. Many companies have been more sustainable. Some examples of the sustainability aspects she has worked on are soy-based ink labels, reusable boxes/bags, and recyclable cardboard jewelry cards. Holidays have a big impact on the packaging too. I also thought it was interesting to hear how her company, Ballet Group, was already preparing for a potential factory shut down even before COVID started. Due to the Chinese New Year, which lasts about a month, most factories and businesses close in China. I realized this must have happened for several companies allowing them to have a head start to prepare for the impact they don’t even know was approaching.
Angelika Cwiklewski: Knowing what an employer expects during an interview can be challenging, Sabrina mentioned that to feel comfortable and put your best foot forward you should research the company and the person who you will be interviewed by. It shows the employer your drive and dedication which reflects the work you will be doing if you’re hired. A more important takeaway is that your resume typically doesn’t carry as much weight as your character does (especially when starting). Being a freshman at LIM, it is very interesting to hear about what happens on the inside of the industry, and coming from a high school job, interviews in the fashion business has its differences.
Jennifer Felder: A topic that Sabrina talked about that caught my attention is creativity. Most people feel that creativity is only used when designing apparel or accessories. When many different jobs and subcategories in the fashion industry utilize creativity. Whether it be in product development, fabric research, and development or packaging; you can infuse your creative ideas into the processes and help benefit the company. It was comforting to hear this from a professional individual in the industry, as I first became interested in the fashion industry from the design aspect, but I decided to broaden my knowledge and attend a fashion business college. Now I understand that I can apply my creativity to any job I have in the fashion business industry.
Stephanie Oliveira: My main takeaway from Sabrina’s visit was the importance of being open-minded in the industry. She stressed how important it is to take advantage of opportunities presented to you, even if it is not something you are initially interested in because you never know where that opportunity could take you in the future, or who you’ll meet along the way. Since fashion is such a large industry that stretches into various markets other than apparel, gaining experience in these other departments could earn you the valuable insight you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.
Kelly Cook: A great piece of advice that Sabrina Moscola shared is that everyone is human. Although this may seem like an obvious statement, it is something that could easily be forgotten in a business setting. She explained how everyone makes mistakes, even the people that we report to. A person’s job title does not exempt them from mistakes or simply having a bad day. This is important to remember in any industry. Businesses thrive off teamwork and communication. Being an understanding of others can go a long way for a company.
Sian Jackson: I find it very useful and engaging to just attentively listen to a speaker and understand their roles in their careers, how they got there and why. With Sabrina Moscola, externalizing all her knowledge and wisdom from her experience in the industry, really helped me in a personal way. She dove deep into her career by explaining to us all the means of the company she works for, her appeals, the ways to stay connected with others in the industry, and the technical aspects of it all! We got full circle in our discussions, and I found that Sabrina touching base on all the actual processes of being a director of product management opened my mind to other industries and even helped me single in on what I'm passionate about and how to be involved in future careers.
Justin Shoda: One of my main takeaways from Sabrina’s visit was the importance of knowing what you want to pursue. Sabrina talked about being able to switch market categories in the beginning, but later it is a bit harder to do so because you are considered an expert in your field. Also, if you do plan on switching fashion-career paths, it’s important to do your research, because some job titles are quite different than they may sound. For instance, in the jewelry industry, Sabrina talked about how working with costume jewelry and fine jewelry are very different, even though they’re both jewelry categories. In the end, I learned that I should figure out what I want to pursue and know that I still have flexibility with what I want to pursue in the future.
Clarise Rueda: Sabrina answered two of my questions sharing great insight on both topics. As she has immense experience with different products specifically in costume jewelry, I asked how she can be certain if a product launch is going to be a success. She noted that not everything is going to be suited for everyone so understanding consumer data is a driving force to success. Then she emphasized the importance of adjusting to the times. Right now, for a lot of situations Zoom is the only enabler to human interaction. That means only showing the top half of your body, so she mentioned how earrings and necklace sales are currently thriving.
Switching gears, I asked her about her experience in terms of overseeing production in other countries. As ethical sustainability is extremely important, Sabrina elaborated on her experiences in China. It was extremely eye-opening and heart-wrenching to her when she witnessed child-labor firsthand. It became apparent, that factories cheat in terms of labor, to reduce cost. Sabrina feels it is the industry’s responsibility to ensure elements of social compliance is incorporated.
Gabriella Qira: Something that Sabrina Moscola mentioned that immediately stood out to me was her experience with networking. Sabrina explained how she knew that to create a network, she had to reach out to different people, which scared her because she stated that she is introverted. When she mentioned this, I immediately related to what she was saying because I feel the same way. It is understood that networking is very important when pursuing a career, especially in this industry, but it certainly does not come easy. Sabrina further discussed that although it is scary to reach out at first, the outcome is completely worth it as there are more people than we may realize who are happy to help. Sabrina’s discussion taught me that it’s important to get out of your comfort zone; it will open so many opportunities for you. I also learned that you’d be surprised who you connect with, how you connect with them, and that networking will help you in the long run.
Francesca Gonzalez: One of many things I took away from Sabrina Moscola’s visit is that you don’t have to know what you want to do and stick with it. Sabrina explained she knew she wanted to work in fashion and thought she wanted to work in textiles, but switched her main career and moved to jewelry a few years after she was out of college. She said in school it's much easier because all you’re switching are a few classes. However, in the real world, when you switch fields you are pretty much starting from square one, but it is worth it. She reminded us that we’re all human and it's okay to change our minds. Rather than freaking out and worrying about starting over, people should take it in stride and enjoy the experience of learning new things. That made me realize that I do not need to be very confident in the career path I decide at first. In the end, I learned that if I don’t like what I’m doing as a career, I should just take step-by-step and start working in a new one.
Emma Rinehart: My biggest take away from talking with Ms. Moscola, would be to just be open. You never know what direction your life or your career will take you in, so you need to be pretty much on board with wherever you end up. You need to make sure to step outside your comfort zone by taking an internship that may not be exactly what you had in mind or reach out to people and make connections for your future. In today’s fast-paced, ever-changing world, it is important to learn how to “go with the flow” and make the most out of whatever comes your way. Today, more than ever, we have more opportunities and ways to be successful, we just need to be willing to try them.
Gemma Chambers: In the vast and fast-paced world of fashion it’s important to keep an open mind. One of the main takeaways from Sabrina Moscola’s insights and tips of the trade is that the fashion industry has so many unique and niche career opportunities available and you never know where you might end up or what you might find that you love doing. Throughout her own experience in the industry, she has worked in research and development for both fabric and costume jewelry. Plus, on the side, Moscola writes for a wellness blog. Sabrina served as a helpful reminder to remain open-minded to opportunities and network our way through the industry because connections and communication are key to success.
All in all, after an extended conversation with Sabrina Moscola, we gained some “out-of-the-classroom" information that we will carry into the world and our careers.
Photo credits: Andrea Kennedy