Imagine if you booked a private session with a famous costume designer and stylist, a body-positive fashion influencer, two fashion and media founders and the Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue. Then imagine you could ask any question and their answers would be candid, impactful and action-oriented. Now imagine someone handed you a ticket and a workbook, saying welcome to your future.
That’s what happened this weekend when Teen Vogue held the first of it’s Road to Summit workshops, focused on Fashion and Media. Led by Lindsay Peoples Wagner and featuring luminaries like Sandrine Charles (founder & co-founder of Sandrine Charles Consulting / Black in Fashion Council), Gabi Gregg (body-positive fashion influencer and designer), Cami Téllez (CEO and co-founder of Parade) and Shiona Turini (costume designer and stylist), it was a morning not to be missed.
We couldn’t possibly get it all down, but here are some takeaways from Saturday’s workshop, amplified by enthusiastic girls in attendance, on:
Serious career advice:
“Trust your gut,” led off Gabi Gregg. “If something doesn’t feel right to you – trust that instinct.” “Agreed,” noted Sandrine Charles, “and then take the best and forget the rest.”
“Do what you love, and the money will follow,” advised Shiona Turini to more nodding and agreement, and Cami Téllez capped the opening sequence by encouraging new fashion founders to “Swing for the fences!”
What Cami Téllez said about your superpower being that you know the customer because you ARE the customer really stuck with me. I also love how Parade is such a sustainable and inclusive brand for all female-identifying people…we talked a lot about how important it is to know what brands you are supporting and their values before indulging in their products.Keren F., college student – NJ
Mistakes NOT to make:
“Asking can I pick your brain? What does that really mean?” asked Sandrine Charles. “Be more explicit about your intention for a meeting or conversation.” “Can you be my mentor?” added Shiona Turini, “Do not ask us this. Be more intentional with your ask – maybe can I shadow you for a day?”
“Introduce yourself – explain what you’ve done and what your interests are – and then come to me with a specific request,” explained Gabi Gregg. “Show me first that you’ve done the work.”
“Yes,” confirmed Cami Téllez, “Come to us with specific questions: How did you do X or Y? This all comes down to being self-aware about the relationship you are trying to build.”
Gabi Gregg emphasized the importance of finding a niche. You need to be very specific about your consumers and your brand because that allows you to build and connect with a community and create impact. I think this advice is important for so many businesses—especially a fashion brand.Emma P., high school student – NY
Authentic diversity and inclusion:
We heard Gabi Gregg talk about why she created her website (“I didn’t see myself represented…we are now getting closer to what actual plus-sized women look like”), how Cami Téllez feels about the cultural shift we’re witnessing (“I wake up tremendously excited and hopeful about what’s to come”) and what she sees as our next steps (“The only way to keep creating lasting change is to speak truth to power.”)
I was so happy to hear about how the fashion industry is changing to incorporate more plus-sized models! It is exciting to think about how this next generation is going to change the stigma around the industry to make it more inclusive. In the breakout room with Sandrine Charles I also learned some great tips for making connections and launching my own campaign. I left the workshop feeling really inspired about the future of the fashion industry and it’s increasing diversity – I am excited to be a part of it!Meghan K., high school student – NJ
But, “are brands really changing or just being performative?” asked Lindsay Peoples Wagner. “I’ve seen brands that posted a black square but really aren’t changing internally,” mused Gabi Gregg, “but then I’ve seen other brands really step up and commit.”
“We’ll be able to tell the one’s that were just performative,” Shiona Turini pointed out. “Even with influencers, I’ve had to unfollow some…a large chunk of people went right back to their regularly scheduled programs.” “But,” she added in her breakout session, “when you are an ambitious person you are never going to feel that you’re doing enough. I want to make sure that my teams and environments are as diverse as possible. I want to open roads and open gates.”
Looking towards the future:
So, what’s next for the fashion and media industries? What do these experts want the next generation of founders, designers, stylists and change-makers to know right now?
“Be open to opportunities…find lessons in your failures…and connect with others,” instructed Shiona Turini. “Build around your values,” Cami Téllez added, “[and] find a community you can lean on.” Networking, internships or even five minute informational phone-calls can reap big rewards according to Sandrine Charles, and vision boarding to reflect your niche is key for Gabi Gregg.
Overall, concluded Lindsay Peoples Wagner in the workbook attendees walked away with, now is the time for “working to create impactful change that’s essential to pushing the fashion industry forward.”
When Shiona Turini said ‘We are not islands; we cannot survive by ourselves,’ it really struck me because it reminds us of how important it is to work together as a collective unit. Collaboration, diversity of ideas and inclusivity are important elements in finding solutions that demand creativity and innovation, and we cannot advance if we don’t help each other out. We – all of us – are the future.Sophie C., high school student – VA
You are the future, and these icons are your instructors. Follow each of them for more industry tips, and keep an eye out for the next Teen Vogue workshop (hint: Politics & Culture is coming up on October 3rd). You won’t want to miss the wisdom given or what your workbook will reveal!
Stay tuned, and see you in class.