3 LIM College Grads — and Their Bosses! — Share Fashion Career Advice

by Aria Darcella

For fashion and media industry aspirants, LIM College preps its students for success. Below, three alums and their supervisors share their journeys.

Nandini Vaid: Marketing Manager,The Daily Front Row

Nandini Viad (Courtesy)

What did you study at LIM, and what jobs or internships did you have?
I moved to NYC from Mumbai, India, for grad school at LIM College to do my master’s in fashion marketing; I graduated in 2015. Before coming to NYC, I worked for six years in the Indian media industry as a TV host for several prime-time fashion and lifestyle shows. Going to grad school was a career shift for me. I knew I had to maximize my 12 months at LIM with internships, to learn all aspects of brand management. I interned at Bally in PR, and at Adidas Fashion Group in marketing for brand collaborations. I also worked in retail as a weekend stylist at BCBG MAXAZRIA. After graduation, I worked at a start-up brand for about two years, with an amazing team, working directly with the founder, right from the brand’s inception. The first collection was still on the rack in the office! It was a great experience, and it helped me develop a well-rounded skill set.

Tell us about your position now!
I work in marketing at The Daily. I started working here a year ago. I report to the EIC and CEO, Brandusa Niro, and work on a lot of brand partnership and event-related aspects of the company. My job entails a little bit of everything, including bringing on new business, managing existing clients, creating brand-specific marketing strategies to pitch, and executing the deliverables. No day is ever the same. I could be at an event wearing a fabulous dress, hanging out in the same room with celebrities like Lady Gaga, Kate Moss, or Adriana Lima. I try hard not to be starstruck! The next day, I’ll be at my desk, making decks on InDesign for a client pitch, working on styling shoots, coordinating deliveries of gorgeous couture to the office, and so on. There’s always something exciting happening. The most satisfying feeling is bringing the brand vision to life, whether it’s in the form of an event or a series of print ads in the magazine or experiential campaigns. I also love the office environment. We’re a small team, supporting one another, doing great things, and having fun along the way.

What have you learned about the publishing world during your time at The Daily?
I learn something new from Brandusa all the time, from managing client expectations to getting creative and coming up with innovative ideas or troubleshooting problems. She has a solution for everything, even simple things, like finding the best sushi restaurant near the office. There’s a saying: “A lot of people can be a boss, but not everyone can be a leader.” Brandusa is a dynamic leader in every sense.

What did you learn at LIM that’s still beneficial today?
Going to LIM was probably the best decision I could’ve made! The MPS in marketing is curated in a way that gives students real-world career experience while still being in grad school. Also, the professors are industry professionals and known names in the fashion world. I still keep in touch with many of them—every person you meet at LIM adds to your network. Learning never stops.

Brandusa Niro: CEO & Editor in chief, The Daily Front Row

Brandusa Niro (Courtesy)

So you started your own glossy?
I launched The Daily Front Row 17 years ago, and it became an instant hit with fashion and media insiders. At the time, hardly anybody wrote or cared about the fashion world’s behind-the-scenes people. We’re a very targeted, unique media product, so we were able to prove our business model almost instantly. I started the magazine under IMG, and bought it from them in 2010. Then I immediately launched a summer version for fashion and beauty-savvy Hamptons weekenders. In 2012, we started the Fashion Media Awards. Our two tentpole events—the Fashion Media Awards and the Fashion Los Angeles Awards—have become a big part of our DNA. We’ve since added lots of other events, usually hosted with brands. We also publish The Daily Art Basel in December. This March, we’re launching The Daily Palm Beach. Our next stop is Aspen. By the end of 2021, we plan to be the first true luxury regional for fashion and beauty.

What do you look for when you hire recent graduates?
I look for someone who can become me, or better than me. Some editors and execs hire people who could never replace them; they hire fearfully. My ideal hire has talent, passion, beautiful writing and visual skills, substance, taste, fashion, beauty, and media knowledge. LIM students are extremely prepared and well rounded. If I see LIM on a résumé, I’ll definitely look at the candidate.

Why were you compelled to hire Nandini?
I was hiring an assistant, so we put out an ad. I got the most brilliant letter from her, with passion, humor, knowledge, and sweetness—the exact mix I was looking for. It was honest, and appealed to me in every way. I’d never received a letter like that. When I met Nandini, she took my breath away. So smart, prepared, educated, talented, ready to learn, and profoundly dedicated. I thought, this is someone I’d love to have in our family at The Daily for a very long time. Rara avis! She quickly became our marketing manager, and the sky’s the limit. Literally.

Jianna Luongo: Visual Production Coordinator, John Varvatos

Jianna Luongo (Courtesy)

What did you study at LIM, and what jobs or internships did you have while you were a student?
I graduated in 2017 with a bachelor of business administration (BBA) degree in visual merchandising. We were encouraged—and required—to participate in retail, as well as corporate internships. I worked for LIM in the Student Life office as a graphic designer and content editor for college programs and events from freshman to senior year. Sophomore year, I started a retail job as an accessories associate/visual merchandiser at the Upper East Side location of Lester’s. Then, my first corporate internship was at Giorgio Armani in visual merchandising. I also had the opportunity to spend a month in Italy working for Grottini Advanced Retail World as a store design/graphic design intern. My final internship was at John Varvatos during my senior year, as a creative service intern.

How did you land your first job?
My first job after graduation was at John Varvatos, where I did my internship senior year. I took the summer after finishing college off, and as soon as I started looking for a job, my former supervisor at John Varvatos asked if I was working in the field yet. I interviewed for a visual production assistant role with the company the following week; I’ve been working here since October 2017.

Tell us about your current position?
I work on showrooms and windows, so a lot of my day-to-day is concepting a showroom or window layout, coordinating the logistics of production, whether in-house or outsourced, scheduling the installations, and creating renderings of the concepts for pitch meetings or composing them into a directive. Managing the budget for the showroom and windows also fall under my daily responsibilities. Some days, I’m at my desk, working on Photoshop and InDesign all day; others I’m in the workroom producing props for an install, and others I’m installing a new window concept in the NYC stores or traveling to assist the East Coast team. I also assist with new store openings in terms of fixture logistics and store opening team assistance.

What do you love most about the brand?
The best part about working at JV is the creative freedom and ability to collaborate on projects while having my voice heard. My team is one of the best; we are small but mighty. Although I’m the youngest member of the team, I’m given responsibilities of a senior member, and the opportunity to give my creative input and provide suggestions or solutions to creative roadblocks. I’m trusted to completely own a project from conception to installation, and the support to ask for help if I need it. I’m constantly learning from my supervisor, while challenging his process with experience and ideas of my own.

What did you learn at LIM that’s useful and relevant to your career?
I learned time-management skills almost immediately. I’m an organized person, but two jobs and six classes a semester can really test how you spend every hour of the day! I also developed people and customer service skills from my on-campus jobs and internships. LIM’s public speaking and professional communications courses also helped me overcome my shy nature—allowing me to speak in a meeting to present showroom and window concepts or draft an e-mail to the CEO. As for technical skills, I furthered my knowledge of computer programs, such as Excel, Adobe Suite, and SketchUp. I use Photoshop and Illustrator just about every day, as well as InDesign when creating window directives.

Santiago Casanova: Director of Visual Production, John Varvatos

Santiago Casanova (Courtesy)

Tell us about your job!
As director of visual production, my day-to-day duties include everything from designing new stores to sitting in budget meetings. Our department oversees the visual elements of the brand, exclusive of the clothes. We’re responsible for designing and installing our global store windows, our showrooms, shop-in-shops, fixturing, and any other element that is ultimately used throughout the brand.

What was your career path, pre-John Varvatos?
I’ve always been adamant about the fashion industry in one way or another, though my background was originally in womenswear design. While working in retail when I was younger, I’d always help the visual team in my free time and learned a lot through the day-to-day experience. As I got to know more people and helped out more often, I was eventually taken on as a full-time freelancer for a division of Ralph Lauren, working with its visual team, while running my own company. Working with such a powerhouse brand was a great education; you really learn that any idea is achievable. After a few years, I joined John Varvatos, and worked my way into my current role.

What do you look for when hiring recent graduates?
Passion and drive, first and foremost. There are tons of creative people in the world, but there aren’t many creative people who can get up every day and turn what they like doing into a successful career. Designing and executing are two different things, so it’s important that you hone both skills and absorb as much as you can to be able to consistently turn out good work. I always urge our team to be hands-on. Learn to use tools; know how to paint; learn about fabrics. It’s the best way to develop your skills and it will be infinitely useful as you try to figure out how to turn the ideas in your head into real projects. Finally, Photoshop is your friend!

What’s it like working with LIM grads?
Great! We’ve worked with so many LIM students over the years. It’s awesome to see what the future of the industry looks like.

Daniela Robles: General Manager, Diane Von Furstenberg

Daniela Robles (Courtesy)

What did you study at LIM, and what jobs or internships did you have while you were a student?
I graduated from LIM with a master’s in fashion marketing in 2015. Before that, in 2012, I earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Before moving to NYC, I organized events for a video game company in South America. I also worked for the Chamber of Commerce’s events team back home in Colombia. After moving to NYC, I interned at the PR firm People’s Revolution while going to LIM; I assisted with several Fashion Week shows for clients, collaborated with stylists to feature clients in music videos, TV shows, movies, and celebrity appearances, as well as tracked press articles on those clients. I also freelanced for many fashion companies and worked backstage at NYFW shows for several seasons. One of the most memorable events was working with Vogue’s events team for the Met Gala in 2016.

How did you land your first job?
My first full-time job in NYC after graduating from LIM was as a stylist at DVF. At the time, I was focused on learning as much as I could about the industry and working in many different departments to see what I was good at and enjoyed. I’ve always been passionate about styling. During college, I used to bring clothes from New York to Colombia when none of the international fashion brands were there yet. I styled my friends in the back of my car in college and also dressed my best friends and took pictures to sell through my Facebook page. It ended up being such a success that I sold my selection in a well-known boutique in Bogotá. I also remember making jewelry and selling it in middle school when I was really young, not knowing that it would become my career one day!

Tell us about your position now!
I started as a stylist in the brand’s flagship. I quickly learned I was good at putting looks together and creating meaningful connections with clients, which reflected in my sales. I soon became one of the top sellers. Last year, I got involved in management, moving up to selling supervisor, then assistant manager quickly after, and now to general manager. I’m responsible for my team’s performance and ability to meet assigned sales goals, so I train them in product knowledge, engagement, clientele, and selling ceremony. I also do administrative duties to ensure that the store runs smoothly at all levels. Being a stylist is being an expert on the collection and being able to read the client and their needs in order to advise them in the best possible way. You create a memorable experience and earn their trust as their personal stylist, so they appreciate your knowledge and enjoying the experience of working with you so much, they will never shop without you! That’s what it’s all about.

What do you love most about the brand? Any thoughts on Diane von Furstenberg receiving a Doctor of Humane Letters degree from LIM this spring?
I love everything the brand stands for! Empowering women and inspiring confidence is something we do every day, and that’s fulfilling to me. I also feel connected with everything Diane preaches, mostly when she emphasizes the importance of having a relationship with yourself, as well as to connect people and do things for others every day. I’ve been lucky to get to work closely with, and learn from, her. I feel so incredibly lucky to be able to have a job I love, and to work for a company that supports me in my professional development.

What have you learned on the job?
I’ve learned that managing a team has so many details involved, from HR to the responsibility of developing someone else’s skills.

Tedi Burgos:Global Director, Retail and Customer Experience, Diane Von Furstenberg

Tedi Burgos (Courtesy)

Tell us about your job!
It’s a key leadership role within the retail management team, and a member of DVF’s senior leadership team. I’m responsible for leading global retail stores and global e-commerce customer service in delivering exceptional results and providing the highest standard of customer service, always striving for excellence, and am responsible for defining and executing strategic action plans to ensure a strong control and deliverables of KPI’s, product strategies, and CRM activities. I also identify key talent, create and implement development plans and ongoing education.

What was your career path, pre-DVF?
I started in retail as a sales associate at Nordstrom in 2009 when I was in college, and didn’t have a clear career path. I knew I always wanted to work in fashion, but my parents didn’t share the same dream. While at Nordstrom, I quickly fell in love with working with customers and climbed up the ranks, achieving top sales and ultimately receiving two promotions before taking a break to focus on school. As fate would have it, I couldn’t stay away from the sales floor for too long; I quickly took on a sales role at Saks Fifth Avenue. Shortly after, I was recruited by a former co-worker to join Michael Kors, and to relocate to Connecticut. Without hesitation, I picked up and moved there to open up a new store as the assistant store manager. I was promoted four times while at Michael Kors; when I left, I was running a $4M store while serving as the district operations manager. Then I began my journey with DVF. I was hired to run one of our newer stores (at the time) in Brookfield Place. I took a leap of faith a year later and applied for the field operations manager position, I was awarded the job and moved into the corporate office. In late 2018, I took on my current role. I’ve been with DVF for nearly four years now, and have had the best growth and development experience.

How has the retail landscape changed in recent years?
It’s truly transformed in the past 10 years since I started my career, and even more so in the past three to five years. Shoppers are looking for convenience—hello, e-commerce!—and brick-and-mortar stores who are surviving the decrease in footfall need to adapt to advanced technology and experiences.

Any tips for recent college grads entering the workforce?
I look for hunger, drive, and a can-do attitude. For corporate roles, I look for corporate experience. I’ve learned there is a big learning curve adjusting to office life and it benefits the candidate to have the experience behind them, in some capacity. My biggest advice is to get as much experience as you possibly can. Take advantage of every internship and work opportunity. No opportunity is too small.

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