Let’s face it, (as girls) we all dream of owning our own fashion brand one day. To become the Chanels and Louis Vuitton of the world. Working in the fashion industry is one of the hardest and most stressful career path to take… But once you make it to the top of the ladder, it has its perks.
I spent the day with #girlboss herself, Sonia Zarbatany, co-owner of Zarby International, Vince Camuto and Sanctuary Canada. Our meeting started with a brainstorm session where she gave me the best tips and tricks about her fashion industry world and finished over Shabbat dinner with her family and kids. From girlboss to bossmom to girlfriend, Sonia proves you can have it all if you’re willing to put in the work.
“Some girls have this misconception that working in fashion means you get to shop all day,” Sonia says laughing during our interview. It’s far from what a day in the life is… Don’t believe me? Come see for yourself.
Photo cred – @therealsookz
Describe a typical day at the office?
There’s misconception #1. There is nothing typical about my days at the office!
A typical day at the office at times doesn’t even include me getting to the office! Running a fashion business is a fast pace, non-stop, ever evolving industry. Between emails and meetings, previewing new collections, costing new lines, meeting with new brands trying to break into our market, a day in the life could look anything like me at the office from meeting to meeting to me hopping onto a 6 am flight to preview a new collection in L.A, New York or Europe. Once I walk into work—well, what lies ahead even surprises me at times! That’s what I love!
Photo cred – @therealsookz
What is the hardest part about being your own boss?
I am still looking for the punch clock! There are no hours, there are no days; my brain is never truly turned off. I feel like no matter how much I work I could always be doing more.
When I leave work early to pick up my daughter at daycare I leave before anyone else in my office, but countless are the nights or weekends that I log back onto my email once she is asleep to keep going. I guess, one challenging aspect is always trying to up the ante—I always want my lines to be relevant and fresh, and so I’ve always got to keep pushing myself past the point of comfort. I constantly want to be in the know with what is hot, what can I do different and better, that hasn’t been done. It’s the only way to succeed; it’s what keeps me excited and moving the business forward.
How has the industry changed over the years?
I was raised in this industry so I grew up hearing the stories about the reps and distributors on Chabanel with one garment bag in their trunk going to see accounts and selling out then coming back with bags of cash. Well, those days are long gone… Selling online has transformed the industry. Social media is the new fashion magazine and newspaper, and bloggers and influencers are the new models.
The fashion industry has evolved; the marketing and PR of brands has changed dramatically and getting to our customers has taken on new channels of selling and communication. Our generation talks social media, online selling, snapchat and IG stories selling and so so much more. The pace is faster, the competition is larger, but when you hit the right brand and apply the right formula, there is no greater industry in my books!
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What advice would you give young girls starting out in the fashion industry?
Get yourself out there. Show up to the November 2nd fashion event! Get to know the players in the industry and stay on our radar! Send us your CVs every season. Follow us on social media and build your network!
Knowledge is power, so become an expert! Know the trends, the influencers, the brands, learn what it takes to get to where you want to be. Intern in your chosen field. ‘Your net worth is your network’ is true! This is a small city, so chances are if you research and find a role-model who does what you always dreamed you could do, find out how to get to them for a quick meeting, a quick coffee, or show up to an event they are attending and ask them key questions about your dream career. If it’s fashion you love, then live it and breathe it. Take it in any way you can.
Is taking on an internship a valuable asset?
Absolutely! Any experience you gain is an opportunity to learn and meet people. If you are a fit model, which I was many moons ago, or receptionist, admin or an assistant; any internship in the industry is what you make of it. Get that experience on your CV, meet key players at that office and show them how driven, talented and helpful you are. Make that impression, so that next time you see them they will remember your name and take your call or interview… it’s a very small industry and the more friends you make in it, the greater success you will have.
Based on your experience, what stands out on a CV?
A great CV is super important. To me a cover letter is key. It shows you’ve researched the brand, researched who I am and on what capabilities you have that will make you a perfect fit for the position I am hiring. Don’t make me have to guess how your past experience or lack thereof in another field will translate into my business.
You have seconds to impress us with your CV, so make sure they count!
During an interview?
You have to know the brand! Today, information is at our fingertips, so there is no excuse for you to not know some inside info on both the company and the boss. And before leaving the house, make sure you dress the part! You are interviewing in fashion after all, let me see how you will fit into our office environment from how you dress, smile, keep a positive attitude and firm hand shake from the minute you walk into my office.
How do you know when you’ve crossed over from girl to girl boss?
ATTITUDE!!!!! To me it is not the amount of money you make, a position you have or an age. It is an attitude! When a strong, confident and successful woman walks into a room with a smile on her face, you want to know who she is and what she does! A girl boss walks to the beat of her own drum, she creates the life she wants, she is confident and empowers women all around her to be the best version of themselves. A girl boss to me is not just what she is, but what she brings out in others around her. She is about her business and is grinding daily to not only reach goals, but to set new ones; never letting a challenge go undefeated; pushing boundaries; speaking up; motivating others around her. She does not live in uncertainty, insecurity or envy, but rather in positivity, empowerment and drive to constantly achieve the best version of herself and her loved ones. THAT TO ME IS THE ULTIMATE GIRL BOSS #micdrop lol
Follow Sonia on IG @soniazarbatany
You want to know how to land your dream job in fashion? It’s simple: get your ticket and join us during the #BeGossyFashion Event.