The Devil Doesn’t Wear Prada and Neither do I
Illustrations by Daryl Feril
I remember sitting on my couch with my tomato sauce stained sweatpants on a Sunday night watching as an eager Anne Hathaway ran around NYC, cell phone glued to her side awaiting her next task from the omniscient Editor In Chief of Runway magazine played by Meryl Streep. The Devil Wears Prada? Well, I love the Lord so I shall not be dancing with the devil, grabbing coffees, or delivering Harry Potter manuscripts, I thought. I vowed that I’d become an elementary school teacher and shape the minds of 9-year-olds. Fast forward a few years and here I am—knee deep in the quicksand that is the fashion industry. Trust me when I tell you, folks are nice and the Devil doesn’t wear Prada but neither do I.
I sort of fell into my first internship. I had made the decision to go to fashion college to study the business end of the industry but I had no real experience. I had just landed my first retail job working at the Vans store in the mall but knew nothing about how the business truly functioned. At the time I was a super duper heavy researcher. I would stumble across one link online and followed that link until I found its source. I spent hours and hours looking at Rookie Mag and reading any and everything I could get my hands on. I happened to stumble upon this link on Rookie to a video on a website called StyleLikeU. Now I had never heard of this site but you know I had to follow the link right? So I clicked on through and was amazed. StyleLikeU is a sort of video blog that featured amazing women and men with amazing style. A large chunk of their site is dedicated to their “Closets” features where these individuals go into their closets and tell the story behind some of their favorite pieces. I fell into a black hole of StyleLikeU videos and only truly came up for air when need be. I was obsessed. I had decided that perhaps I could maybe intern for them for the summer and learn what happens behind the scenes. I shot them an email and to my amazement, they got back to me immediately and 2 days later we had an interview and I got the internship on the spot. I had no idea what I was doing. I hadn’t really commuted to NYC from suburban Long Island by myself before nor did I consider the costs of getting to the Soho offices each day. I didn’t have a laptop and I eventually ended up working mostly from home and on special daylong shoots while working retail to offset some of my transportation costs. I was responsible for transcribing interviews. I spent endless hours listening to audio files and transcribing those files. I would work a closing shift at my retail job then come home, turn on my laptop, and transcribe until 5 am just so I could hand in my work on time. Assisting on shoots meant that I was carrying audio equipment around New York City in the middle of the summer making sure the audio was working and that I was catching all of the interesting tidbits the subject would say.
I did this for the remainder of the summer and began my first-semester studying Fashion Merchandising. This meant that I was commuting every day from Long Island to NYC by train while working yet another part time retail job on the weekends to offset my expenses. I would be so tired that I’d just fall asleep the moment I hopped on the LIRR. But everything was so new. So exciting. I had never considered that all of these jobs made it possible for a t-shirt to go from an idea in some dude’s head to laying right there on a table in Macy’s. I was obsessed. I had taken a break from interning but during this time I worked a few shows during NYFW. Now let’s be very clear. There is nothing glamorous about working a fashion show and no one cares to make you feel comfortable. Most of my time was spent running around backstage, dressing models, and staying out of the way. Occasionally for smaller designers, I’d do a run and pick up a few last minute items from the store but other than that it was straight model dressing. It wasn’t until my sophomore year during my Textiles class where I met the homie and my very first Brainwash profile piece, Brandon Maurice. He and I became cool pretty quickly and one day he posted on Instagram asking if anyone was looking for an internship. I hit him up and told him I was interested. At the time he was a buying intern for the since closed Atrium store in NYC. I had sort of always expressed an interest in menswear and took this as an opportunity to learn first hand from people who knew way more than I did. I got the interview and landed the internship a few days later. I had the pleasure of working under Jolie Nguyen (check the profile I did on her here) as a marketing intern. My days consisted of a lot of social media stalking, adding to Pinterest boards, conducting market research, and lots and lots of excel sheets. I got to work in an office filled with young people who were making s*** happen every day and I couldn’t get enough of it. I met a lot of people that I am still friends with to this day and will forever be grateful to that experience because it taught me professionalism. It taught me how to pay attention to the details and to shut up and do the work. I was doing this two days a week during the summer—again working the same crappy retail job to have some money in my pocket. I entered into my second semester as a Junior and I needed to find a corporate internship.
My school requires that we do three internships during our 4 years there. Here I go again, falling down the rabbit hole of endless links and I realized that one of my fellow interns and now good friend Dom was working in sales for a trend forecasting company. Forecasting was an area of the industry that I was enthralled with. I hit Dom up on some "link me" tings and he gave me an email to the active and street wear editor for Fashion Snoops. I got called in for an interview and got offered the internship on the spot. I spent my days trolling the Instagram accounts of hype beasts around the world, organizing photos from trade shows, doing write-ups on rap artists and sitting in on big client meetings. I had the time of my life. To this day my former boss Kristin Petrizzo and I are still homies. When my time at Snoops came to an end I began to look for yet another summer retail job. It wasn’t until towards my last days with Kristin that I took a look at my email inbox and stumbled across an interesting proposition.
While I was interning for Jolie at Atrium I would also assist other staff members in the office should they need help with a task. One of those people was then Marketing Coordinator now Brand Manager for Cabana, a swim and resort wear tradeshow, Hillary Joseph. She had remembered that I had helped her out and liked how I worked and wanted to sit down with me and offer me a summer job at Cabana. We sat for coffee and she told me that I would no longer be an intern but that I would be considered temp staff. That meant that I now had interns at my disposal to help with day-to-day tasks. My role would be Customer Experience Associate and I would be the point of contact for all 150+ brands that were attending the show in July. Not only would I be responsible for making sure all of the brands handed in all of their forms and marketing assets on time, but I would have to keep track of large amounts of information and be able to multitask. I would also have to fly to Miami for a week to help production set up for the show as well as make sure brands had everything they needed and all of their collections made it to and from the tents without no problem. I was scared out of my mind. I had never had a job quite like this one nor did I think I could handle it but I took it anyway and made it happen.
While you were probably chilling at the beach or at somebody’s BBQ, I was working 12 hour days in Miami setting up booths and sitting on the phone with Ikea to see if they have a specific table in stock. From booking flights for buyers from retail stores to sitting on Photoshop for hours on end, the kid was working. Once the show wrapped I was able to assist Marketing for the Liberty Fairs menswear tradeshow in Las Vegas. Did way more sleeping and way less drinking than you'd imagine in LV but I met magical people and worked with an amazing team. I left Cabana with a wealth of knowledge and a network of amazing people to call on should I need a helping hand. As I continue to build Brainwash and wrap up my college career I have since pumped the breaks on working and interning to see what it is I truly want to do. I do some freelance work for Fashion Snoops but now I am faced with the million-dollar question:
So, what do you want to be when you grow up?
I have been blessed with a series of fortunate events all of which have lead up to this very moment. I say this not to brag or boast but to let you all know that it is possible. Do the work. Treat people kindly. Love what you do. Take the time to figure it all out. Fall down those rabbit holes like I did back in 2013. Now I have a small window of time to lock in my final internship for my last semester of college. All I keep doing is replaying this scene of The Devil Wears Prada where Anne Hathaway manages to get her hands on the unpublished manuscript for the next Harry Potter book and get it to Meryl Streep’s daughters before they take that train ride and slams the extra copy on her desk with lunch in hand. Make it happen. But also, trust in your struggle and know that not knowing is okay too. Take some time and work through it all. All of those feelings of self-doubt, of feeling, lost, of not knowing what to do next—I feel you. Heck, I am you. But the Universe will always conspire in your favor. Anne Hathaway never wanted to be a fashion assistant but she did it anyway. Fall down those rabbit holes and do it anyway. We got this—even if we not in Prada.