Project Description

Ilse Metchek
California Fashion Association

How did you get your first job in this field?

I started working in a showroom, holding up hangers. I was then able to work in PR which was a defining opportunity in my career. I had to describe prints and base my observations on art. It really honed my writing abilities. From there I moved onto sales, merchandising and design, corporate ownership, corporate direction and now industry development.

What personal qualities have helped you become successful?

Adaptability. It’s important to have a myriad of skills and characteristics. Not being a in a specific niche and, instead, being a generalist within all facets of the industry has been really important. It’s the best way to open up to the world around you.

What are the toughest challenges you face?

Information travels at an incredible speed and timely reaction is necessary. It is very hard to deliver that message correctly and in the right time; nothing is the same as it used to be. The biggest challenge is to make that fact hit home with the producers, retailers, educators, etc.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I never have a typical day. Every time I pick up the phone I’m answering a different question about a different issue, and I love that. Nothing is every boring. I also work with 19 different college level educators on developing new talent.

What advice would you give someone seeking a career in your field?

Don’t look in the mirror when you are trying to create product – think of the customer, not yourself. Know your customer and what they like. People’s subjectivity gets in the way of their success.

How do you see the future of the profession? What are the positions in this field with the most potential for growth?

Technology, specifically analytics and data, will be the foremost generator of growth and opportunity. Even the manufacturing process with the introduction of robotics and off sourcing will be impacted. The positions with the greatest potential will be born from these advancements. At the same time, there is a gap in the executive field. Millennials move every 3 years – that’s a new phenomenon – and that movement creates a lack of executive talent. The so-called “second bench” is the hardest to fill.