Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking. his quote from ‘The devil wears Prada’ references Anna Wintour, the US Vogue and the general tone of (good) conversation in the fashion industry. A little sarcastic, a little pretentious but always well dressed – this is how the fashion scene is often perceived from the outside. But if you’ve worked in the industry, you’ll know: there are other ways, too. Following up our series ‘How To Get Into Fashion’ we will give you some concrete insight into everyday working life of editors, designers, PR managers and other related professions in the weeks ahead. Who are the faces behind the big brands, and what happens off the runway? Here’s the inside scoop for you:
Today we start with a little Q&A with Katharina Hogenkamp, Fashion Marketing Writer for Net-a-Porter in London.
How did you get your current job, and what were you doing before? After working in Berlin for two years I was ready for a change. It’s easy to make connections in the German capital, but there’s a distinct lack of fixed employment opportunities and international companies. I always wanted to work abroad, and have had an eye on London for some time, so I focused on finding job openings in the British metropolis. It’s true that in the UK, too, many doors open through contacts, but I ended up getting my current job with Net-a-Porter in the classic way, by answering an ad. This success was preceded by many ‘no’s’ to previous applications I had sent out to other companies. The lesson is: perseverance is everything. While still in Berlin, I was a freelance fashion writer (e.g. for Masha) after working as editor for LesMads for 6 months. Together with Katja Schwitzberger I covered fashion, beauty and lifestyle. This period was pretty exciting for me, and eventually lead to my decision to shift my focus from print to online. During my fashion journalism studies I did internships in the editorial offices of ELLE and Madame in Munich, where I supported the editors with styling, shooting requests and general organizational tasks. What does a Fashion Marketing Writer do? As Fashion Marketing Writer I currently work in Net-a-porter’s German translation department. We work closely with the English editors, and together with the French and Chinese teams we translate the contents of the website. Among several other publications, this includes the weekly magazine ‘The Edit’ as well as features from the segments fashion, beauty and travel. Product descriptions are handled by a separate, dedicated team. A crucial prerequisite for my job is a very good command of written and spoken German and English, and the ability to translate content accurately. What does your typical work-day look like at Net-a-Porter? I start work at 9:30 am. My first task is to check my e-mail inbox and the daily schedule so I get an idea which projects are on the agenda for the day. ‘The Edit’ and all the related features are published on a weekly basis, which means the schedule is precise and tight. During the mornings, until 1 pm, I work on my topics and participate in meetings with my team. Then I take a lunch break. The afternoons are usually a bit quieter than the mornings, giving me time to work on my own projects. The atmosphere at Net-a-Porter is very relaxed, and there’s room for creative ideas and engagement with other areas like styling, video editing, personal shopping etc. Other activities include events or brand academies and course events for specific brands, which are open to all staff depending on individual schedules. My work day ends at 6pm, but I often use the evenings to pursue work on my own projects or my blog. Which tips would you give fashion students and graduates to get jobs and internships? Never give up. Don’t consider yourself above anything, but don’t let anyone exploit you either! If your goal is to work in the fashion industry you have to be aware that there is a lot of tough competition. Germany is still relatively relaxed in that respect, especially in international comparison. Still, the reality is that job openings can easily attract several hundred applications. Unfortunately it’s quite normal that responses often take very long, often you won’t hear back from the company at all. In my case, regardless of whether I applied for jobs or internships, I always followed up several times, called the offices, even showed up in person to hand in my applications. These days so much is done online that your individual personality can get lost quite easily in the process. Do not expect to make big money in this industry. Minimum wage laws notwithstanding, many internships are still unpaid or – at best – underpaid. In Berlin, most jobs you can get are with freelance projects, there are not many fixed employment opportunities at all. Working in a café or at home has some advantages of course, but after a while I found that it was not a suitable option for me anymore. What do you like most about your job, and what do you see for your professional future? I’m working in a great team here at Net-a-Porter, and I really enjoy coming to work. There are many facets to my job, it’s ver diverse, and the company offers a lot of perspective for growth and to learn new things. I always wanted to work for an international and well-known company, and Net-a-Porter is perfect in that sense. Plus: living in London and meeting all the people I get to meet here really inspires and pushes me to work on my future. I can’t really say what lies ahead yet. It would be great to be my own boss at some point, but I’m not sure how or when that will be the case. London is a fascinating city to live in, and I can imagine staying here for a substantial period of my life. The right job – in my case in the online and fashion segment – makes it easier, of course.