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Jen responds: Having “transferable skills” like the ones you’re building in retail marketing (albeit in office supplies) is definitely an asset worth playing up as you look to make the transition. Try to build your resume or bio around as many of the strengths and experience you’ve gained so far that will serve you well in the new industry. The first thing anyone is going to ask you though, is what experience do you have in fashion. Only you know what you can bring to the table there. But instead of relying only on “passion” or “an strong interest” in it, start to fill your nights and weekends when you’re not working in office supplies, by hitting the fashion scene – the events, the conferences, the shows… whatever you can get yourself into.
Also start looking at volunteering your time at a non-profit that works with a lot of the top fashion retailers that you find most interesting. Give them a chance to see you shine while doing something for a good cause – offer to manage a marketing campaign, organize an activity, start a mentoring program, or chair a committee. All this will expose you (and your talents) to people in fashion, and at the same time help tilt your resume more towards that area, so you don’t look totally green on your first approach.
Lastly, I’d join GenArt right away. It’s an amazing organization that supports young professionals in fashion, music and entertainment. You’ll have a real blast at their events too and probably meet a ton of great people in the biz.
Best of luck!!! Let us know how it goes!!!