If you’re obsessed with style, why not consider a career in fashion or beauty? No matter what your interests or strengths, there are plenty of paths you can take—buying, merchandising, designing, marketing, even writing about the fashion and beauty trends you love to follow.

But is a style career as glamorous as it seems? We sat down with two professionals in the fashion world—then peeked inside the lives of women who work for the beauty brands we love—to learn more.

Emily Hively

Regional Visual Coordinator for an International Fashion Brand

Years of Professional Experience: 2.5

Brief Description of Job: I handle all visual and merchandising aspects across three divisions for our brand displays in major department stores.

Why did you choose this field?

I wanted to find something that challenged me, inspired me, and gave me intrinsic value. Fashion offered those for me, so it made sense to pursue a passion of mine as a career. It has been my creative outlet since I was a little girl playing dress up in my mother’s closet. I see clothes as an art form: mixing pieces together like a puzzle with endless possibilities. Plus, I love the consistency of something ever-changing. Doing something I love every day is like getting paid to play.

What was your first job in this field, and how did you land it?

I started in styling. A top L.A. stylist was looking for an assistant to help her with editorial shoots and red carpet events, and I found the opportunity through a mutual work friend.

Originally, I thought styling was what I wanted to do. However, once I started doing it, I quickly found that celebrity styling was not for me—I was looking for more structure and the ability to travel. I loved this opportunity because it taught me that I loved to style, just not in that particular environment.

First jobs can tell you as much about what you want from a career as what you don’t want. For me, it was a process of elimination and trial by error until I put the pieces together of what I enjoyed doing.

What has been the most surprising thing about working in fashion?

However glamorous it can appear to be at times, it can also be just as unglamorous. It is not for the faint of heart—think extreme hours, very tight deadlines, and high-pressure situations. Fashion never sleeps, and it can change in an instant. But that is also part of what makes it fun. I recently got an early morning call from my boss in New York informing me that our President was visiting my L.A. territory as a “vacation” from our London headquarters. With the time difference in the U.K. and New York, that gave me less than 24 hours to alert all my contacts in our stores and set the floors to perfection in the event he walked into one of our locations.

Also, it’s been my experience that this intense environment quickly cultivates a family atmosphere, where everyone on the team is working toward the same goal. My colleagues have become some of my dearest and most loyal friends. I was pleasantly surprised and feel lucky to be part of a company that embraces each other.

What advice would you have for someone breaking into your field?

Start from the bottom. Start from any beginning you can find, and then build a solid foundation to use as a launching pad. For example, I knew I wanted to be on the corporate side of fashion, but to get there, I needed to know how the retail side operated. I am from Orange County, but the industry in California is centered in L.A., so I decided to commute to L.A. for work. I started on the selling floor at a department store and networked from there.

On that note, experience in this industry weighs heavily as well as your network of people, so talk to everyone you work with. The fashion industry is a small, tight network of people, and chances are high that you will start to find connections for what you are looking for in the environment around you. I actually currently work with a former co-worker from the department store I started at.

Anastasia Kouriatova

Director of Sales and Marketing, Artestar

Years of Professional Experience: 4

Brief Description of Job: I work in licensing, which means I manage and develop partnerships for artists and fashion brands with manufacturers and marketers to create and sell consumer products, retail, and media projects. Many iconic artists and designers, or their estates and foundations, are enthusiastic about integrating their ideas into popular culture through channels outside of the work itself. This provides them a way to reach a larger audience and introduce their work to new fans. I help them find strategic opportunities to do that, by connecting the artist or designer with an aligned organization that produces home goods, apparel, accessories, movies, or even food and beverage.

Why did you choose this field?

I had no idea what licensing was—and the important role it plays in the art and fashion industries—until I heard about this position from a friend of mine. I realized that licensing combined all of my interests, from art and fashion to branding, marketing, and building relationships. Working in this field has allowed me to make amazing projects come together while working with some of the most influential artists and brands around the world.

What did you want to do growing up and in college?

In college, I was a Visual Studies major, which is an interdisciplinary major combining art history, fine art, marketing, psychology, and philosophy. I had always wanted to work with art, but I knew that I didn't want to be an artist. I thought that meant my only other option was to work in a museum—so I did that for four years in college and realized that I had no interest in the museum world as a long-term career.

In high school, I was really interested in fashion. I designed and made my own clothing. I've never wanted to be a fashion designer, but I've always wanted to combine my love of art and fashion in whatever job I ended up in.

What was your first job in this field, and how did you land it?

My first job out of college was in client relations for a small digital advertising agency in Philadelphia, which I found on Craigslist, of all places! This was in the heart of the recession, when jobs were pretty scarce. I later moved to New York to work for a photography management software company as an Account Manager for advertising, entertainment, and fashion clients, where someone from my program from college also worked. I then found my current job through another friend from the Visual Studies program.

Reaching out to fellow classmates and networking with other alums has been a really successful way for me to find out about new positions that interest me and, ultimately, to land my current position.

What has been the most surprising thing about working your field?

The most surprising thing about the licensing world is that most consumers don't really think about it or realize it exists. Yet, when I tell people about what I do, all of a sudden it seems really obvious and they start talking about their favorite collaborations. This field is not as widely known, yet so many of the products and campaigns you see everyday—like when a Keith Haring dancing figure is on a Uniqlo tshirt or D'USSE Cognac's latest print advertisement features Jay-Z looking at a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting—wouldn't exist without licensing.

What job search resources would you recommend for job seekers in your field?

For licensing specific jobs, check out licensing.org/jobs or licensing.biz.

Want More?

Hear from more fashion and beauty professionals on The Muse!

Mollie Chen

Editorial Director, Birchbox

Mollie is in charge of everything content-related, from Birchbox's blog and magazine to its print marketing materials.

Kristen Hannifan

Assistant Marketing Manager for Fragrance, Giorgio Armani Beauty

Kristen is responsible for Giorgio Armani Fragrance marketing campaigns—from creating beautiful in-store displays to planning what specific inventory the store will need.

Jessica Zeller

Senior Brand Manager, Fragrance, Sephora

Jessica works with brands like Coach and Burberry to plan each and every fragrance launch and marketing initiative at Sephora stores.

Photo of shoes on runway courtesy of Shutterstock.

Updated 6/19/2020