Thursday, June 13, 2013

Where are the jobs?

A better question... Where is the work?  It is everywhere.  And there is lots of it to be done.

Recent weeks have connected me with some truly talented people in the district, and given me opportunities to learn about what they do and why they do it.  It has been a fascinating education.  People spend so much time lamenting the demise of the garment district, its real estate woes, and the economy. While all of these are valid concerns, there are some really beautiful businesses employing workers whose heads are down, immersed in serious work, earning pay, fully engaged in the art of making things, or the business of doing so.

Truth: Some of us just love to make things, somehow being professionally involved with companies who make things, or have something to do with the fashion industry here in New York. Learn the names of the jobs you want to do.  Production assistant?  Design Assistant?  Patternmaking?  Know what the job you seek is called.

I read a book long ago, since destroyed after one of our NY hurricanes or something - I forget which recent disaster created the random basement flood... entitled, Zen and the Art of Making a Living.  A beautifully peaceful book about life and all of the challenges and joys associated with making a living, it really speaks to the working creatives among us.

I also read a book entitled The Business Side of Creativity, where, even though the book isn't about the garment industry, much of the information applies, and one particular sentence impacted me profoundly (paraphrased),

"Remember, while you are looking for opportunities, opportunities are looking for you."

  • Think about freelancing

Lots of businesses need the help, but cannot find the talent. Sometimes they aren't full businesses, but large, intense projects, where freelance help is needed.  Find out about unions for costume designers and productions, so that you know when the question, "Is this a Union set?" applies.  There are lots of reasons why that is important - I could write a blog-novel on that stuff alone...  Where do you find internship opportunities?  If you're not in school, leave the house and ask.  Find the places you want to work, learn about them, go in, and start conversations.  And no, the conversation is not, "Are you hiring interns for this summer?  No?  Okay..."  It is asking about what they do, how they do it, whether they can always find enough help, if they need help, need an intern, need YOU?

  • Think about internships

Ahhh, internships. You have to evaluate internship opportunities with a careful eye.  An internship is meant to serve an educational benefit for the intern, and a work benefit for the company.  When the two don't meet, you can end up with a situation like the one detailed in this article , detailing an internship gone wrong.

Once you've done your homework, try these resources.

Consider an interview to be a MUTUAL exchange of wants and needs, so they can see the real you, the value you bring, and the opportunity you seek.

Then, visit your school's internship placement office/site/bulletin board (if you're a student), and/or visit these sites:

  • Think about what you can do for yourself

Since 1996, I have owned and managed a website listing self-employed dressmakers and sewing professional across the United States and abroad.  If you want to list yourself on my Find a Dressmaker site, list yourself by following this link.  Note: Listings are paid, not free, and for a specified length of time.

  • More resources:

WeConnectFashion is a site with plenty of links for job seekers and fashion professionals alike.  A wealth of information available to you there.

NYC Fashion Info The name says it all, right?  Visit the page to learn more.

Above all, think positively, keep dreaming, and know that no matter what, people will continue to get dressed every single day.


  1. Thank you so much for this post. I've been wondering if I can turn a much beloved hobby into a profession. How and when still elude me but the possibility of it all is there. I'm going to read those books you mentioned. I no longer live in NYC and I'm too far away to consider looking for a job there but maybe it can be created where I live? Who knows?

    1. I am so excited to know that this post can inspire action from people who are really thinking seriously about it. Maybe it can be created where you live!

  2. I never knew the circumstances of the Hearst suit. I was a much older unpaid intern in a different industry. I worked like a dog and was treated like free labor, that's all. No one made any effort to know or help me, even when I reached out, which wasn't easy to do.

    I once met a woman who runs a small couture school in Manhattan. She said she told graduates not to take jobs at various very high-profile companies because they weren't paid well or given benefits. But they wanted the name on their resumes and were willing to do a sting.

    1. willing to do a STINT

    2. Hmmm, I think I know the school (and woman) you are referring to. Yes, the names are valuable, and yes, you can be treated poorly, but the education, even if you make your own education by meeting and talking to people, can really be valuable, if you really work it! But no, no one wants that horrible slave-like existence.


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