When you tell people that you want to work in fashion, you probably get a snarky reaction or a sympathetic nod. However, your passion is unwavering, so you keep your head high and heels higher.
Making a name in the industry isn't simple, but you don't have to be a model or designer to succeed. Here are seven business opportunities for fashion fanatics.
Fashion event producer
Running a fashion show isn't easy. Fashion event producers work with designers and models, sometimes even coaching them.
"You would help the designer with runway show casting and have an understanding of how clothes should be portrayed on the body and how the models should carry themselves," said Kerry Bannigan, founder of Nolcha, a New York-based fashion event production company.
While startup costs are minimal – you won't need employees or even an office – you will need to do some heavy self-promotion. Relationships and referrals are key for this type of work, Bannigan said. Business cards, a user-friendly website showing an online portfolio and a printed portfoilio are a must. Networking through industry websites is also essential, she said.
Before you embark on this career, you should understand fashion shows, work with creative people and be flexible enough to deal with diverse personalities, Bannigan said. Income potential is based on the number of clients you have and how big they are.
Fashion business coach
This business is ideal for someone with a corporate background who wants to make a move into fashion. A fashion business coach helps guide design firms in running their business, from growth plans to everyday tasks such as invoice collection and bookkeeping. It also can involve coaching the creative designer on how to perform and interact in different business settings, Bannigan said.
Startup costs for a fashion coaching business are minimal, but earning potential is significant, said Bannigan: "Research consultancy services with established businesses can make six-figure salaries with constant clientele."
Some of today's most influential fashion websites like the Sartorialist and Racked debuted as small fashion blogs. They've since come into their own as industry thought leaders, and they sell lots of advertising.
Fashion blogs don't require large investments, as website development and hosting can be quite inexpensive – but they do require lots of legwork. Whether you're stalking the city streets in search of fashionable photo ops or following the moves of leading designers, you'll need to be tracking changing trends at every moment.
On the plus side, a fashion blog can be a complement to your existing job, said Angie Wojak, director of career services at the School of Visual Arts.
"You can start a blog on your own while looking for job, and it doesn't take a big outlay of cash," Wojak said. [Want to make money from your blog? Here's how to do it.]
Photo stylists work with photographers to scout shoot locations, get clothing to shoots, buy furniture and accessories and make sure the photo shoot goes as planned. It requires a good sense of fashion, an understanding of fashion history and the smarts to know where to source your products, according to Sara Petitt, coordinator of the fabric styling program at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Successful photo stylists can come from any background. They usually make their mark by doing a good job and gaining business through word of mouth. Photo stylists can be paid hourly or by the project.
Fashion public relations rep
Do you love to talk your favorite designer brands up to friends and family? Are you always searching for the latest fashion news and sample sales? If so, you might consider starting your own fashion public relations business. Fashion PR is a difficult field to break into, but with the right skill set and connections, you can help designers and other fashion businesses get noticed by the media and fashionistas.
In an article on PR Couture, entrepreneur Jonathan Leger writes that there are several key components to success as a fashion PR professional. You must create a strong brand for your clients to differentiate them from other designers, know how to work with fashion editors to get magazine placements and with models and celebrities to get your clients' work in the public eye, have a keen understanding of media trends and can prove the value of your work.
As with any PR job, Leger noted that fashion publicists must be ready to put out fires and handle any crises that arise from unhappy clients, models or editors.
You'd be surprised at the number of people willing to pay someone a good price to scour their closet and replace dreary clothing with stylish items. You can run your own personal shopping service and revamp your clients' entire wardrobe – while getting paid by the hour.
As a fashionista, this job will keep you inspired as you help those who are unsatisfied with their own fashion sense. Using your passions and knowledge in the industry, you can help someone go from drab to fab. Depending on how much you promote your service, which is the best investment for your endeavor, you can earn enough to rely solely on this business.
If you're artistic as well as fashionable, you may find success as a fashion illustrator. Using pastels, pencils, oils, paints, markers and even computers, you can create sketches to express designs and ideas.
As an illustrator, you can work strictly for a designer/fashion company or freelance, working with high end clients from home or at a studio. You can also sell your illustrations yourself or through a third party. You should invest in the best material for your sketches and have a strong social media presence to promote your content.
Additional reporting by Jeanette Mulvey. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.