Next in our Women Who Win Series, Debra Oludare caught up with the inspirational Giada Graziano to talk about taking the leap into entrepreneurship, women in leadership and what it really takes to break into the fashion industry...
If you’ve ever dreamt about working in fashion, then Giada Graziano is a name you need to have on your radar. Recognised by Forbes in the prestigious 30 Under 30 list, Giada is the Founder and CEO of Glam Observer; the fashion career advice platform aimed at inspiring and supporting fashion enthusiasts to bag their dream job. She’s also the author of “Your Fashion Dream Plan”, the ultimate career manual dispelling industry misconceptions and shedding light on what you need to make it in fashion.
Despite the highly competitive nature of the industry, Giada is on a mission to make fashion accessible to as many people as possible, by sharing tried and tested strategies, building a collaborative community and empowering the next generation of women in fashion.
What was it about fashion that attracted you to the industry?
Like many others, I was attracted by the products and the creativity. Whenever I imagined being at work, I couldn’t see myself anywhere but in fashion.
What was your first fashion job?
I was an intern managing eCommerce for Alexander McQueen and McQ. Working in eCommerce was my dream job and YOOX NET-A-PORTER was my dream company. I was very glad I got that internship and started my career exactly where I wanted to be.
What inspired you to create Glam Observer?
When I realised I wanted to work in fashion, I didn’t know anyone in the industry. At the time I was living in the South of Italy, where fashion is just retail. There were no fashion companies and no fashion schools. I tried to search online but there were no websites explaining how to break into fashion, or the different career opportunities that were possible.
So, I started Glam Observer. It began as a blog where I shared my learnings from online courses, my Master’s degree, and my own career in fashion. I soon realised that many things I believed in were just myths (like the idea that you need to study fashion to work in the industry). I’ve always read a lot of career and business books, and applied what I learned and landed positions at all three internships I applied for. When I shared these tips, many other women were getting my same results! After three years, I packaged everything I had learned and created the first online course of its kind.
How did you make the pivot from side hustle to full-time entrepreneur?
During the summer of 2017, I was reevaluating Glam Observer (which at the time I was running alongside my full-time job). After a while, I realised I had workable systems in place. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset, so that September I returned to the office and told my boss I will be focusing on Glam Observer full-time. In the first few years I used my savings and cut a lot of expenses to keep going.
What are some pandemic-proof ways women within the fashion industry can network?
One of the strategies I teach my students is to use informational interviews, which can be done via email or Zoom. Informational interviews allow you to ask about someone’s career, how they got there and can help you make a real connection. With this method of networking, you immediately remove the embarrassment of not knowing what to say when reaching out to someone. It’s a great way to break the ice.
What do you hope to see for the future of the fashion industry?
I always say that you should work to make the industry how you wish it was when you wanted to get inside. For me, that means a more collaborative, friendly and inclusive industry. In the last year, we have seen a huge emphasis on inclusion. It’s crazy to me that companies are only beginning to take this seriously when it should already be the standard.
On representation, how important is it to see women in leadership positions within the fashion industry?
As a CEO, I cannot stress the importance of seeing women in leadership positions. We are capable of unbelievable things. Having a family and being a successful leader is possible, so please don’t believe the lie that you have to choose one or the other.
I’ll be getting married this summer and I’ve started to think about my role as CEO and what my future will be as a mother and wife. I have to be honest, I feel the pressure as I want to be excellent in all of the above – but know I’ll find the balance.
What would you say to other women who desire to launch their own business?
Don’t wait for the perfect moment to start, because you’ll never feel totally ready. Start today and work every single day thereafter to improve it. Glam Observer began as a blog and today is home to a podcast, a book, and several courses and events, but it took me six years to get here. Being scared is normal, but you’ll make the difference if you feel the fear and decide to do it anyway!