DECA Member Goes Behind-the-Scenes with Joseph Abboud at New York Fashion Week
DECA has always been known for opening doors for its members, and Rachel Lynch, a New Jersey DECA association officer, experienced the power of DECA firsthand this winter.
Rachel was invited to participate in a special project in August 2017 to help promote the 2018 DECA International Career Development Conference keynote speaker, Mr. Joseph Abboud. Rachel spent a day in Mr. Abboud’s flagship store on Madison Avenue in New York City, interviewing the fashion designer about his career for a series of videos DECA Inc. was producing.
“Once we wrapped up filming, I asked Mr. Abboud’s public relations and marketing manager, Caroline Passe, if there were any opportunities to intern with Mr. Abboud for Fashion Week,” Rachel, who’s had an interest in the fashion industry for years, explained. “At first, Mrs. Passe said that Tailored Brands [the umbrella company that oversees Joseph Abboud’s brand] doesn’t take interns, but that there could be some job-shadowing opportunities available instead.”
Rachel took Mrs. Passe’s information and stayed persistent through the next few months.
“That same day I followed up with an email, and then I just kept checking in with Mrs. Passe’s throughout the fall to see if there were any times they needed me leading up to Fashion Week,” Rachel said. “I was pretty persistent with emailing her, but I was just so excited about the possibility of helping them!”
Rachel’s persistence paid off, and in early January, she took the train into New York City to spend the day at 1400 Broadway assisting Joseph Abboud’s team prepare for Fashion Week.
“When I first got there, I was given a desk and a folder with all the inspiration boards and the back story of this collection so I could have a better idea of the theme Mr. Abboud was going for,” Rachel said. “Then I spent a lot of time going through shoes from past seasons and finding ones that would work for the models in this show.”
Another big task was moving boxes and materials from Mr. Abboud’s main office space to a much larger area in the building where all the pre-show styling and modeling would take place.
And although there were some typical “intern” tasks like getting coffee and picking up lunch for the team, Rachel also was able to help Mrs. Passe with some interesting, PR-related projects too.
“I got to help [Mrs. Passe] put together a presentation that would be shown to Tailored Brands after Mr. Abboud’s show was over, and would show [Tailored Brands] who was invited to the show, which editors were there and who wrote about the show.”
On the actual show day, Rachel got to watch the models run through their dress rehearsal, as well as escort guests to their seats before the show began.
The entire experience was something Rachel will never forget, and changed her idea of what the fashion industry is really like.
“I always had a Devil Wears Prada idea about the fashion industry, and thought everyone was very intense and high strung, especially before Fashion Week, but my own experience couldn’t have been more of the opposite,” Rachel shared. “Everyone was working together, no one had a negative attitude and it was just a really warm and friendly environment.”
Rachel’s favorite moment of her experience however was on show day. “I couldn’t believe that Mr. Abboud remembered me and he told me that he was so happy I was able to be there that day,” Rachel said. “We were able to take a photo together before the show started and we just had a great, really casual conversation together. Mr. Abboud talked to me about the importance of staying true to your brand, but also taking risks, which this collection definitely had some big risks in it with color combinations, so that was a really neat experience to have with him.”
For someone who had always thought they wanted to pursue a career in the fashion industry, Rachel said this Fashion Week experience only solidified her dreams.
“You never know going into a job or major if you’re going to love it, but having this experience under my belt has helped me realize that I will love working in this industry and I feel like now I can just focus on my studies instead of wondering if this is the right path. The day dreams I’ve had seem more real now.”
While not every DECA member can be randomly selected to spend a day interviewing a fashion designer like Rachel did, there are still plenty of ways you can get your foot in the door of the fashion industry too!
“Being in close proximity to New York City is definitely helpful, but there are so many programs and colleges with opportunities for students. Don’t let your location limit you and be open to any opportunity you come across,” Rachel advised. “You never know who you’re going to meet, and how any experience whether it’s in a classroom or touring a company, will benefit you in the long run.”
Rachel’s other piece of advice to DECA members: don’t underestimate the power of a handwritten card.
“I hand-wrote two thank you cards, one for Mr. Abboud and one for Mrs. Passe, simply thanking them for the incredible experience. They both really appreciated it, and I think that a tangible card is much better than an email. It was something simple, but I feel DECA members should really know the power behind a handwritten card!”
DECA is so excited to have Mr. Abboud at this year’s #DECAICDC in Atlanta, Ga.! Be sure to check out the #DECAICDC Video Series to get a better idea of who Mr. Abboud is and discover his top tips on entrepreneurship, success, leadership and more!
Follow DECA on Twitter @DECAInc.