As you, and the rest of the online population cannot failed to have realised, a couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend the Scottish Fashion Awards as a guest of Swarovski. Aside from wining, dining and getting thoroughly and undeservedly spoilt, I also managed to wangle an interview with the brand’s Creative Director, Nathalie Colin. Unbelievably chic, French (duh) and a formidible businesswoman to boot, Nathalie is a force to be reckoned with. After 5, ok more like 20, minutes chatting with her I came away with a new career (and style) idol.
LPA: You initially studied Marketing at the prestigious French Business School “Ecole Supérieure de Commerce”, before going on to study Fashion at the – equally prestigious – Fashion Institute of Technology in the US. Was a career in the business side of fashion always your ultimate goal or was it something you realised during your studies or because of a specific experience?
NC: I definitely always wanted to work in fashion or at least, an artistic field but unfortunately I was very good at maths so everyone pushed me to do that! After my graduation my parents and teachers said that first I had to do something serious, then I could do what I wanted so I did the business degree and then I could go and enjoy studying fashion.
LPA: Talk me through a typical day as Creative Director of Swarovski…
NC: There’s no such thing as a typical day. Every day is different but the fact that it’s not repetitive is the best thing about it. I generally arrive at the office at 8.45am after I’ve dropping my daughter at school. Then I have 15 minutes before my first meeting at 9am and from then on, another meeting every thirty minutes or hour either with the designers, with the collection director or the communications team… Then I also prepare information for my boss in terms of strategy and overall direction. We have so many other catagories besides jewellery – watches, eyeware, accessories and all the things we have to prepare for the shows – and a large part of my day is always spent communicating with all the different teams
LPA: From what I can gather, your role at Swarovski is both a creative and a business orientated one. How do you balance the two on a day-to-day basis? Which aspect of your job do you enjoy the most?
NC: As Creative Director for a big, international company with thousands of stores around the world and over 26,000 employees, you can’t do things purely based on intuition. The design approach has to be very structured. My background is in marketing and communication so I think that really helps me to balance the creative and the business sides of my job, which are both equally important. Everything starts with a creative vision but then during the course of the design process it has to be edited to make sure that the end product is wearable and commercially viable. I’ve never seen something start from a pure rational point of view but it’s vital to the success of the product.
LPA: Would you advise someone who hoped to work in branding or marketing for a brand like Swarovski to do a specialised degree in fashion marketing at a University like London College of Fashion? Or do you think it’s better to study a broader subject then gain experience in a specific field through internships?
NC: What was really important to me was the fact that I studied abroad, rather than specifically that I studied fashion. Getting exposed to a different culture was a great eye opener and taught me a lot about different approaches and of course, the course itself taugh me about the fashion business. I’d definitely recommend completing one’s studies with the experience of working abroad, whether you’re studying or working. Of course when you study fashion on top of your studies it will help develop your skills and knowlege in that field, but you can also learn directly in the company as long as you’re interested and motivated.
LPA: Fashion Marketing is one of the most in-demand aspects of the industry and you must be absolutely inundated with job and internship applications. What qualities do you look for in a potential employee or intern?
When I recruit people to my team I don’t necessarily look for people coming from a fashion background. For me there are two main things I look for. One is the creative side, I look at applicants’ portfolios and try to spot the people who have a real talent. The second thing I consider is whether they would fit in well with the team and the values of the brand. I don’t really look at where applicants studies, having a diploma is one thing but the talent of the person is more important.
Love Ella. X