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Succeeding Through Determination

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Alex Suarez backstage at Academy of Art University’s New York Fashion Week Spring 2015 show, interviewing designer Madison Detro. Courtesy of Alex Suarez.

Alex Suarez, a graduate of Academy of Art University, received her B.A. in fashion journalism in 2014. I caught up with Suarez about her successes after graduation, which include writing gigs for Modeconnect and Fashion Times. During our chat she shared incredible advice, encouraging experiences and a clever sense of humor. Suarez considers herself “still far from making it” right now, but is motivated to keep “moving onward and upward.” This is her story.

“No two days are the same,” said Suarez. She is currently working for Fashion Times, a New York-based fashion media company, in lower Manhattan as an assistant features editor. Her main focus at Fashion Times is covering accessories and footwear. Her days can easily start out at home with phone interviews with designers or company founders before heading into the office for the day.

As soon as Suarez is at the office, she has a daily routine of checking emails and beginning to work on stories in her beat. She describes the range of stories she writes, which include “write-ups on new store or product launches, new designer or company startup interviews, and brand collaborations and round ups of ‘must have items’ to accessory packing lists.” Her work is not just limited to writing at her desk; she often finds herself outside of the office, attending press previews at showrooms, trade shows, launch events and Q&As with different brands. “There’s never a dull moment and it’s definitely fast-paced, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she said.

Before her gig at Fashion Times, Suarez was putting in work to find jobs in her field. Using sites such as Glassdoor and LinkedIn, which she considered her “lifelines” when it came to reaching out to companies about jobs, she diligently looked for editorial work. One of the obstacles that made things difficult for Suarez was getting a response through LinkedIn without having a personal connection. Because she found that she didn’t have many responses at the time, she had to work extra hard to get her name out there. “Asking questions and telling people how I honestly feel has helped me overcome the obstacles,” she said. “You’d be surprised by how comforting a little extra information can be.”

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Alex Suarez, B.A. fashion journalism alumna. Courtesy of Alex Suarez.

Suarez is currently living in Brooklyn, N.Y. But she didn’t plan it that way; her alma mater played an unintended role in getting her there. While she was a student at the Academy, fashion journalism instructor Paul Wilner put Modeconnect, a company that serves to spotlight upcoming talent in the UK and internationally, in London, on Suarez’s radar, and she eventually took a summer internship at the publication. In September 2014, after her internship was wrapping up, Suarez was on her way back from London, when she changed her flight to go to New York for Fashion Week. She thought she was just going to attend the Academy’s show, but she ended up covering the show for Modeconnect and decided she should just stay in New York. “There is a wealth of incredibly supportive staff at the Academy and they definitely played the biggest role in leading me to my career path,” Suarez told me. Living out of her suitcase, Suarez was able to find a job after months of looking.

Becoming an assistant features editor for Fashion Times is a huge success for Suarez, one that comes as a result of her previous internship. She first learned about Fashion Times before moving to New York City while she was doing an internship for Modeconnect. While in London, she helped manage Modeconnect’s Twitter handle, which is where she shared a couple of Fashion Times stories. Remembering the company later because of her interest in how they cover the business side of fashion, she realized they were very straightforward and honest in their approach to fashion writing. “By the time I reached out, I knew I wanted to write feature stories and cover a wider range of subjects.”

Suarez got in touch with the features editor of Fashion Times just by shooting her an email. “I can’t quite remember what I said, but I believe I asked if she needed an assistant or wanted to meet for coffee. It felt like an invasive thing to do, but I really wanted the job.” With her determination, not long after her email she got a response back. She headed in for a meeting, which landed her an internship for three months, followed by an offer for a full-time job. Now Suarez is focused on following her dreams and succeeding in her goals.

Her future goals are based on how she wants to see her work perceived. “Fashion is an ever-evolving industry, and a job you may want, especially in publishing and writing, may not exist or it may be completely different than what you expected,” she said. Suarez advises current students to do their research. “It’s good to set yourself up for success and aim for a company that has your best interests [at] heart and that wants to see you advance and grow in your position or department.”

Suarez has been able to start her career in fashion journalism because of her determination, devotion and hard work. She is not afraid to just go for it. “My goal for now will be to push my writing and how I package pieces to see what people respond to. I hope to continue to try new things and to just try to keep ahead of the curve,” she said. Suarez has a lot of tenacity and we can’t wait to see what else she will achieve to continue in her successes.