Sometimes all you need to boost your career, is someone to inspire you. Marie Claire worked with four industry experts – a celebrity chef, a fashion designer, a fitness Youtuber, and a marketing director – and paired them up with four of our readers who aspire to gain an insight into their world. After a week of the mentorship programme, we sat down for a chat with these fashion designer duos, Nurita Harith and Jannah Kamal about their experience and achievements.
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Nurita Harith, Fashion Designer
Is this your first time taking on a mentee in the fashion industry?
Yes. We’ve just started so we’re still trying to get the hang of it. Sometimes I’m around the boutique, sometimes I’m out running preparations, so I haven’t really had a chance to fully connect Jannah with the team yet.
Did you have a mentor?
Not really. It was tough breaking into the fashion industry without a mentor, but I met the right people at the right time – that led to me being able to showcase my collection. That was a great opportunity. In a way that was my first break. I also managed to get into Project Runway which was another break for me. It wasn’t that I did not have a mentor – I was working for a designer at the time, so I guess the working experience did give me some benefit.
What’s a day like in the life of you?
I get to the boutique in the morning and I have my coffee. I need at least 40 minutes alone at Ojo Coffee down the road. But if I’m really in a rush I just have it at the office. I usually sit and space out for a bit. Then I get into the office and start to delegate tasks for my assistants. Sometimes I check on the status of the work for clients. Usually it’s managing my tasks – going for press conferences, preparing for photoshoots, prep fashion shoot pieces, discussions with suppliers, so it’s a full day at the office – but I’ll be in and out. I definitely need 40 minutes alone with my coffee!
How long does it take to conceptualise a new line?
It depends on my mood. There are seasons when I can’t think of anything because I’m always so busy thinking about client fitting schedules during Raya. Sometimes my mood will be triggered, I’ll get into the zone and sketch a collection for five whole days.
How do you handle stress and difficult clients?
I definitely do have difficult clients. I’ll think about it the whole night and lose sleep. After almost 10 years, I’ve started to build a wall. I don’t take my stress home anymore, or at least I try my best not to. When I’m really really angry I will start ranting, but once it’s out, it’s gone. I think it’s a skill you need to build – when you rant about something, make sure it’s out of your system and you won’t bring the negative energy home.
How do you think your brand has stood out so far in such a saturated market?
It’s good that the local fashion scene is busy, since it gives everyone a chance to get themselves out there. I’m lucky because I started a while back, so the competition was not as heavy. I managed to get my foot in the door and took my time building and managing this brand. After the market and clients accepted our style, it was easier for us to develop our looks.
What do you think is the most important thing you need to be able to handle the fashion industry?
I think it’s the ability to balance fashion and business. You want to be able to sustain the brand and you don’t want to lose yourself.
How important are connections?
You will meet and gain contacts that will help you in the future. I think that’s very important to anyone.