Many who dream of working in the fashion industry have little to go on except talent, determination, a prayer, and lots of luck. And while those things are still important, Christie Lohr, the founder of Style Nine to Five, wants to make the process slightly less daunting for those dreamers. Style Nine to Five is a nationwide website and resource that connects fashion industry employers with job seekers. (Think of monster.ca but focused exclusively on fashion.) Post resumes, browse the job listings, and read the insightful industry-focused blog posts for tips.
Having worked in a variety of fashion jobs herself, Christie is the perfect person to ask about building a career out of a passion. I caught up with her for a quick Q&A about the website and asked her advice on how to break into the industry.
You've worked in all different aspects of the fashion industry. Can you talk a bit about your career background?
My very first job in fashion was as a sales associate at Le Chateau. Admittedly, it’s a position many don't want to start in, but it was an important stepping stone. After many promotions, I became store manager of the flagship store on Robson. Years later, I wanted a new challenge and soon found myself flying to Montreal to take on my next career role as an assistant menswear buyer. This job was a real eye-opener about the reality of retail and a look at a side of the industry I didn't know existed, or had only heard of in movies. At any minute of the day, I was asked to present my division to the president of the company. Ready or not, I had to deliver. I learned to always bring something valuable to the table. I also realized what amazing talent and brilliance the company has.
After a short time, I came back to Vancouver where I became an editorial intern at FASHION Magazine. I had always dreamt of working for a magazine and knew I wanted more than what I was already doing. I applied three times before I was accepted. My advice to you is if you really want something, never give up. It just might not be your time yet. Don't let the word “no” discourage you, ever. Interning at FASHION opened many doors for me in the writing world and I eventually launched my own website, christielohr.com. After the internship, I became a retail recruiter for Le Chateau. This is where the idea of Style Nine to Five came from.
As for my TV work, that all started for me when I went on as a spokesperson for Le Chateau. After I eventually left I continued the fashion segments on my own.
How did the idea for Style Nine to Five come about?
It was during my time as a recruiter that I realized the need for a fashion career website. Where were all these candidates who wanted to work in fashion? Not on other job sites I was using. I saw an opportunity to connect employers and jobs seekers in the fashion industry. During my time as a recruiter, I was also involved in HR, an area I missed when I was a store manager. I love to inspire, motive and help in the growth of someone's career. Style Nine to Five has allowed me to do this in a small way. That's really my passion.
How long has the site been around?
It will be one year in April.
What sorts of jobs can prospective job hunters find on your site?
Really anything in fashion: designers, buyers, visual merchandising, PR opportunities, retail management, editorial positions...the list goes on.
Do you ever get any job listings that make you go "Darn, I wish I could apply for this myself"?
The odd time, but running Style Nine to Five is a full time job and something that, at this time, can't take a back seat. Plus, I'm loving every minute and find it incredibly fulfilling!
What advice do you have for someone hoping to work in the fashion industry?
If it's truly your passion and love, doors will open for you but you need to be willing to put in a lot of hard work and time.
Don't be afraid to just ask. Invite someone for coffee and pick their brain, send that email, get out there and just do it.
Get a mentor, intern lots and network. Interning and starting from the bottom is not a bad thing. That's what I did and it's what will get you to where you want to be. What makes you different than the thousands of others who want the same job you do? You have to think about how you’re going to stand out. Perhaps it’s your eye for fashion or your work ethic. Being nice also goes a long way. I know it sounds simple, but be nice in everything that you do.
What's next for you, personally and/or professionally?
Continue to build Style Nine to Five, become more involved in the Canadian fashion community, and offer amazing opportunities to as many people as I can.
P.S. In case you didn't see it, I made Style Nine to Five's list of stylish Vancouver dot coms. The list includes quite a few fantastic bloggers and I'm flattered to be included. Thanks to the Style Nine to Five team!