When people think about the fashion industry, they conjure up images of rifling through clothing racks all day or acting out a scene from the movie The Devil Wears Prada, but for Rag & Bone Senior Account Executive and WayUp Office Hours panelist Christina Holody, her days working in fashion look very different.
In her role, Holody works with buyers from places like Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus to help place Rag & Bone collections in their stores.
“The truth is, today I had a major breakthrough on Microsoft Excel,” she says with a laugh. “On the day to day, I’m looking at data and analyzing it. It’s taking the sales reports you get from partners and [figuring out] how to capitalize on next season [based on] what’s happening this season.”
Despite her success, Holody will tell you that she never saw herself going into the world of fashion when she was younger. After majoring in journalism in college and getting into the prestigious NBC Page Program (which only accepts 1.5% of applicants!), she left after two months of the year-long gig to become the assistant to the president of Diane von Furstenberg (DVF) after a friend told her about the opportunity.
Why take such a huge leap of faith in a notoriously tough industry? Holody lives and breathes by an important career mantra: “The biggest reason why people don’t get to where they want to go is because they don’t take a risk.”
Holody took a pretty hefty gamble, but she worked hard to make sure it paid off. After two years as an assistant, Holody was able to transition into an account executive role on DVF’s sales team, one that she greatly enjoyed. “I loved communicating with people. I loved being on the phone all day,” she recalls. “I loved getting in the nitty gritty; it’s all about numbers. I love numbers and analytics.”
Holody was eventually able to work her way up to Senior Account Executive at the storied fashion brand before leaving for Rag & Bone after four years at DVF.
To some, it might be mind-boggling to leave NBC to be an assistant. But Holody knows she made the right choice, and in addition to her strong belief in risk-taking, she has other stellar advice for young people in similar straits.
“I think [it’s] super important, especially when you’re in a creative industry, to have an open mind,” she says. “I grew up in Michigan; there’s no such thing as fashion there. You think you have to be a designer or you have to be super creative and be able to sketch; I have none of those skills!”
There are plenty of ways to be in the world of fashion without actually creating clothes; in fact, Holody points out, many of the roles in the industry with the biggest impact are those behind the scenes. “If you want think about what [you] can do in fashion and make a huge impact, in sales you have that ability,” she explains. “You get to say, ‘This is what [the design team] has given me, where am I going to put it?’ So when I say, ‘You’re going to see it in Saks [Fifth Avenue], you’re going to see it in [the Saks] in Michigan, in L.A., in Florida. [Shoppers are] all going to see what I decided is going to be in Saks from rag & bone. That’s cool!”
And for recent grads, she says there’s no better time to take the metaphorical plunge: “If you’re in a place where you can take a risk and you’re 21 years old and just graduated from college, just be open to it. Just try. Go in and meet somebody. Make every connection you can. Don’t turn away from anything.”
We couldn’t agree with her more.
Want more sage wisdom from influential young professionals? Check out the rest of our can’t-miss Summer 2016 Office Hours events in New York City and Washington D.C.