How I landed a job in Fashion in Paris thanks to IFM

By IFM Institut Français de la Mode

Cité de la mode et du design

Cité de la mode et du design @Jakob+MacFarlane - Photo Cécilia Garroni Paris

Jessica Stephanou, MSc in International Fashion & Luxury Management, IFM 2017Jessica Stephanou, MSc in International Fashion & Luxury Management, IFM 2017
Fashion & Eyewear Project Manager at Chanel
I am a determined and positive Colombiana with a Marketing & Communications background. Passionate about the fashion industry since I can remember, I did various courses in universities and completed abroad experiences abroad dedicated to learning two key languages in this industry: French and Italian.
I started in an agency creating marketing strategies for different fashion brands and then switched to PepsiCo Foods Colombia to acquire experience in the mass-market business. Since I had a communications background and I dreamed of becoming a promising business executive, PepsiCo offered me a job in the Sales department that I could not reject. I was a National Account Manager for three years where I learned to negotiate commercial strategies, manage wholesale clients and coach 100+ teams.
I decided to pursue a Master’s program because I wanted to change industries. I already had a solid four-year professional experience and I finally wanted to translate this experience into the industry of my dreams. I truly wanted a Master’s program where I could have an immersive experience to study and understand fashion from a business, ethnological and semiotic point of view.
Considering these insights, I chose Paris for two reasons. One: the fashion and luxury industries were born in Paris and I needed to be here to learn from the experts; and second: Institut Français de la Mode was for me the perfect expert from whom I could acquire a certain fashion sensibility that is well needed when you are looking to work in this industry. IFM had the best network of alumni and industry veterans and offered a 6-month internship after the program. For me, this was my perfect opportunity to demonstrate my abilities within a Luxury Fashion Maison.
The power of the IFM network gave us the opportunity to experience hands-on and immersive projects by working directly with Fashion houses through real-world business cases. I never imagined being able to present to top management at Louis Vuitton headquarters as part of a winning group creating the most relevant strategy of how to boost ready-to-wear sales. Also, IFM offers career forums in March every year, where you have all the Luxury Maisons in different rooms that are willing to listen to your profile. The day Chanel was present at IFM, I made sure I was first in line to have the opportunity to be the first one to present my profile. IFM was key in this process because it is thanks to their networking that we all have the opportunity to present ourselves not only to Chanel but to the best Luxury Maisons in the industry.
Another strong contribution of IFM is learning the difference between creation and innovation. I let you come to IFM yourself to discover the answer; a beautiful and inspiring process.
I believe my profile is now more relevant to the luxury industry because my passion has been transformed into experience. The MSc program gives you a unique understanding of the industry by enabling you to have a critical point of view. This comes from analyzing how fashion is tied to history, art and even “l’air du temps,” which then translates to your unique view and perspective. This is priceless.
For students who are thinking about coming and studying Fashion in Paris, do not hesitate one single minute! You will never know the outcome if you don’t take the risk…! Stop waiting for the perfect moment to do it… if you have a hunch just follow it and come to Paris. Nonetheless, I do recommend learning French before arriving so it makes adaptation and finding a job quicker and easier.
Additionally, I also recommend to be open, listen carefully and always be willing to take into account the collective vision of the group. In this industry you will be faced with different backgrounds and profiles and it is important to keep an eye open to different insights and perspectives that will enrich your own point of view.
Finally, I would say that IFM gives you an impeccable sense of aesthetics. This has helped me to refine and understand that communication is definitely a 360° task. Having key visuals is not the only important aspect but it is all about how you put everything together into a flawless presentation that by itself communicates the essence of the brand or message.
And above all, IFM helped me to refine my point of view towards fashion and this enables you to take a stance and have a critical perspective that adds value to the industry.
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