Alumni Insights

Gracie Carroll Headshot

Why did you decide to attend the Fashion Program at Ryerson?

When I was in high school I decided I wanted to study fashion communication in post-secondary and the Ryerson program is the best in Canada. Naturally, that's the one I wanted to go to.

How did your academic experience at Ryerson help you with getting to where you are today? What led to your interest in pursuing your job and field?

What attracted me most to the Ryerson Fashion Communication program was how well-rounded it is. So many of the skills I acquired–especially the ones I didn't expect to use very much like graphic and web design—have helped me throughout my career.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you change about your time here at Ryerson and why?

I would have paid more attention and tried harder in my graphic design, web design and video editing classes. At the time I thought they were a waste of time because "I would never use any of those skills" but fast-forward ten years later and they're the skills I use and need the most!

What does a day in the life of Gracie Carroll look like?

Every day is different, which is why I love it. A lot of my days are spent blogging (obviously) and updating social media, but you'll also find me running around the city to get to meetings with PR agencies and clients, and attending events in the evenings. Of course there are a fair amount of photo and video shoots involved as well. It can get a little hectic but it's always fun.

What is your favorite part about your job?

Getting to take part in incredible experiences that I wouldn't have been able to do without my blog.

Do you have an area of expertise you want to grow and learn about?

I launched my YouTube channel this year so honing my video production and editing skills is top of my list at the moment.

What is your favorite part about working in the Fashion industry?

I honestly don't think anyone truly understands what it means to 'get it done' and FAST unless you're in the fashion industry.

From reading your blog, it looks like you are up to many different things! How do you juggle your time to work on lots of different projects?

Along with my site GracieCarroll.com, I'm the founder of TheChicCanuck.com and the Toronto Localist-at-Large for FLARE Magazine. It's never easy to juggle everything. I've just become very used to working 18-hour days on the regular.

What advice do you have for students who are interested in having an entrepreneurial career like yours and wish to make a living out of blogging?

There is a lot of opportunity to make a living from a blog. It's important to be business savvy to help you grow, but more importantly you need to ensure you are creating content that is unique and interesting. 

Gracie Carroll

Founder and Editor at GracieCarroll.com

After graduating from the Fashion Communication program, Gracie found a career in being a blogger.

Gracie Carroll We The North Jacket and skirt
Gracie Carroll striped navy skirt
Leonie Headshot

What are your research interests/areas?

I am very interested in sustainable fashion. My research focuses on topics related to ecological and ethical fashion and garments.

Where are you now and how has your degree aided you in your current position?

I am a designer and researcher. I just launched a sustainable fashion brand, Gaia & Dubos, where we offer ecological and ethical high-end garments for women. We also educate people about the issues of the fashion industry through a blog and online courses. The MA Fashion degree really helped me to do serious research in order to make better choices and to educate consumers. It really helped orientate my company. In point of fact, my Major Research Project is market research for my business.

Who’s your favourite fashion theorist or practitioner and why?

Kate Fletcher, pioneer of slow fashion. She is brilliant, critical, and offers great insights about fashion and the way we buy, perceive and use our clothes.

What interests you most about the discipline of Fashion Studies?

Again, sustainability and all of the areas that are connected to it. It can be super deep and vast, so there are millions of sub-topics and aspects to consider.

What item in your wardrobe could you never part with and why?

A vintage brown coat with a fur collar. It is so pretty! When I wear it, I get compliments everywhere and from everybody! Some people even stop me to take photographs! I love the style, the silhouette, and the way it looks on me.

What course did you most enjoy and why?

“Sustainability in Fashion” offered great insights about every topic related to sustainability. We had various guest speakers to deepen our knowledge and perception of ecological and ethical fashion, and the professor, Dr. Lu Ann Lafrenz, is simply amazing. She knows a lot and is very open-minded.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d pass on to a student interested in applying to the program?

This is not a masters where you create only with your hands. It is very intellectual and you need to be ready to think and be critical.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years and/or what’s your dream job?

I will have developed Gaia & Dubos, my brand, even further and will live on it. I will have employees to help me with the production and distribution, and it will be well established and known as a sustainable fashion company.

Léonie Daignault-Leclerc

Designer and Researcher, Gaia & Dubos

Léonie is passionate about sustainable fashion and is aiming to grow her own personal sustainable brand, Gaia & Dubos.

Gaia & Dubos lace top
Gaia & Dubos lace top
Gaia & Dubos top
Gaia & Dubos floral dress
Gaia & Dubos floral dress
Gaia & Dubos blue tunic
Gaia & Dubos blue tunic
Andra Bogdan Headshot

Why did you decide to attend the Fashion Program at Ryerson?  

My interest in fashion design spurred at the age of 3 when I realized my Barbie dolls were in desperate need of a new wardrobe. I had pursued visual art and design all throughout elementary school and high school until my instinct and research led me to believe that the Ryerson Fashion Program would be the right fit for the development of a design career.  Fast-forward four years since graduation and I couldn’t be happier with my decision!

How did your academic experience at Ryerson help you with getting to where you are today? What led to your interest in pursuing Design?

The professors at Ryerson have been very supportive and knowledgeable in their area of expertise, so I got to spend a lot of one-on-one time learning the right techniques to perfect my sewing, drafting, graphic design, marketing, and illustration skills.  I learned all of the different elements that make up the fashion industry, including some of the programs that I now use on a daily basis.  Many schools do not have access to the type of technology that we were exposed to, so I am grateful to have acquired this knowledge first-hand.  Luckily, Abercrombie & Fitch’s partnership with the school led me to their in-house technical design information session, which eventually ended up in an exciting work opportunity only a month after graduating with my Bachelor of Design.  The decision to accept the job was impulsive and very clear at the time.  When it comes to stepping foot into such a competitive industry, I considered myself quite lucky to score a position right out of school.  Even luckier, I still love what I do to this day!

If you had to do it all over again, what would you change about your time here at Ryerson and why?

If I could re-live my experience at Ryerson I would come prepared with a more organized action plan to keep better track of my timelines.  Much of the work I do now revolves around the concept of prioritizing tasks, well-kept notes, and keeping record of useful resources to help facilitate a busy workday.  In school I had a habit of jumping from one project to another and my thoughts would become too scattered to pace myself and complete my work efficiently.  Being more organized could have reduced a lot of the unnecessary stress and mistakes that came with the territory of getting much too close to running out of time.

What does a day in the life of Andra Bogdan look like?

I begin my workday with an early commute towards the Abercrombie & Fitch campus, which averages at 25 minutes give or take.  The earlier the better, as I like to squeeze in a quick workout and freshen up before reaching my desk.  The 9 AM scene is casual and pleasant: most people are ready to chat about the day ahead and tackle their list of priorities. At A&F we stress the importance of teamwork; the workload can be heavy and overwhelming at times and communication is a key factor in successfully carrying out what we’re set to achieve. I am primarily responsible for the development of technical packets and digital patterns to be provided to our vendor partners.  My design and merchandising counterparts provide me with the conceptual and costing information I need in order to determine how a garment should be made.  Our environment is relaxed but the work itself is fast paced–we are trained to multitask and communicate efficiently in the interest of simultaneously overseeing all of the different production stages of multiple seasons.

What is your favorite part about your job?

The people! The physical environment! The enthusiasm.  These three aspects of my job often make work feel like play and keep me eager to show up and do the best that I can every day.  As it turns out, Columbus is a very lively & youthful city filled with many diversely artistic people, so having these things in common makes it extremely easy to be more social and adventurous inside and outside of work.

Do you have an area of expertise you want to grow and learn about?

The more I learn about other areas of fashion design, the more I’d like to dabble in creative design and see how far my creativity can stretch.  In technical design, I have many opportunities to solve puzzles–it is my responsibility to figure out the most efficient and production-friendly way of translating a garment design into the real life prototype.  This requires day-to-day usage of mathematical equations, organization, and common sense, but I’d be interested in perhaps conceptualizing these designs someday and learning what the back work and research process entails.

What is your favorite part about working in the Fashion industry?

My favorite aspect of working in the fashion industry as I know it is that it never becomes mundane.  Technical design isn’t just the relationship between a computer program and myself; it is a web of communication between my technical design team and our merchandising, design, sourcing, and vendor counterparts.  We always work in unison to achieve the ultimate goal whether it is developing one particular garment or foreshadowing an entire season’s worth of garments.

What advice would you give a fashion student interested in Technical Design?

With the skills and knowledge you gain during the technical design program, you can fluidly adapt and morph to the various requirements of different jobs so long as you have the confidence and willingness to learn. Adaptation is key because different companies require similar skills and knowledge for the same position, but they may have different approaches to how this knowledge is used and communicated. I will also say that emotional intelligence is a crucial determining factor between receiving an offer and facing a rejection.  Many employers nowadays prefer to observe how apt candidates are to cooperate, can effectively communicate with others, and can display the kind of problem solving skills that will keep them sharp and resourceful in such a fast paced environment.

Andra Bogdan

Technical Designer, Abercrombie & Fitch

Shortly after graduating from Fashion Design in 2012, Andra relocated to Columbus, Ohio to work with Abercrombie & Fitch as a technical designer.

Tiffany Lui Headshot

Why did you decide to attend the Fashion Program at Ryerson?

I have always loved fashion growing up and I consider myself to be quite a creative person (I love all aspects of art and design), so I thought the Fashion Communication program was perfect for me. When I was reading about the program, the classes offered sounded fun to m and I knew I would enjoy them. I also knew Ryerson's fashion program is the best in Canada, with many notable alumni, so even though the application process was tough and competitive, I was really motivated to get accepted into it.

How did your academic experience at Ryerson help you with getting to where you are today? What led to your interest in pursuing your current job?

I learned a lot during my 4 years at Ryerson, both directly and indirectly applied to fashion and my current career. I now work primarily in the beauty industry; I am the General Manager of a luxury hair and makeup company called Fancy Face Inc. I work freelance as well in social media and digital marketing for companies in different industries. Ryerson helped me immensely in further developing my creativity skills, my work ethic, and communication skills and gave me the opportunity to meet friends along the way who have the same interests as me. One of my favourite aspects of the program was how varied the types of courses were. We had practical courses (drawing, painting, sewing, etc.); business related courses (marketing, communications, etc.) as well as web and graphic design courses. For my elective courses, I always chose something entirely different such as history or finance courses. As a result, we all graduated with a diverse skill set to prepare us for any type of career. As the General Manager of a company, my current responsibilities vary greatly which the courses at Ryerson prepared me for.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you change about your time here at Ryerson and why?

I don't think I would have changed anything! My time at Ryerson shaped me into the person I am today and brought me to the career I have today, which I am very happy with, so I would not change anything.

What does a day in the life of Tiffany Lui look like?

I work entirely from home and do not have a set schedule. When I wake up, the first thing I do is check all the emails I've received overnight (which can range anywhere from 25-50+, depending on the time of year) on my phone. I've gotten pretty good with this now that I can just do a quick look through and be able to determine approximately how many hours I'd have to work that day. I do a few hours of solid work at home, and return any missed calls if needed. Then I go out for lunch (or drink - at a cafe) and if it is a busy day, I'd bring my laptop with me so I can continue working wherever I go. At the moment, our company has several hundred clients/brides per year. I handle all the communications and bookings so I get a steady flow of emails and calls coming in throughout the day. I like to get back to clients very quickly so sometimes when I'm away from the desk, I still work from my phone. Because of this, I stagger my work hours throughout the day. As we are in the wedding industry, that means Saturdays and Sundays are workdays as well! The weddings we do take place early mornings, so I also have to be "on call" during those mornings.

What is your favourite part about your job?

My favourite part about working at Fancy Face Inc. is the amazing team I work with. We currently have a team of over 20. Everyone gets along well, works well together and is motivated to help grow the company as a team and also grow individually. My favourite part about working in the wedding industry is being able to work with so many different brides and being a part of one of the biggest days of their lives. I also love the flexibility of my job/working hours, which makes it easy to plan my personal schedule as well.

Do you have an area of expertise you want to grow and learn about?

My other big passion in life is travel so I would love to travel more and learn about different cultures. On the side, I do stock trading so I'd like to learn how to get better at it!

What is your favourite part about working in the beauty industry?

I love the creative side of the industry. It is such a fast-paced industry so there is always something new to be inspired by. I also love being able to meet and work with people who have the same interests.

According to your experience, how does working in the beauty industry differ from the fashion industry?

The obvious difference is that fashion focuses more on clothing and accessories while beauty focuses more on makeup and skincare. The two industries both go hand in hand though. In the beauty industry, we often get inspiration from the hair and makeup looks we see at fashion shows. We do a lot of editorial magazine shoots to showcase our beauty work, and fashion (worn on the models) plays an equal role in directing the outcome of the shoot. Fashion shows showcase the clothing however the hair and makeup on the models have to complement the clothing to pull together the full look. So the two industries often collaborate together and use the same mediums to showcase their work.

What advice do you have for students interested in pursuing a career outside of, or closely linked to fashion?

For a career in fashion, school can only teach you so much. I believe real life experiences are equally important–if not more– so be sure to accept any opportunity as they come (it can be an unpaid internship, attending an event, etc). It is very important to build connections with people in various industries and not just in fashion/whichever industry you want to work in, as you can learn something from anyone you come across.

Tiffany Lui

General Manager, Fancy Face Inc.

Tiffany graduated from Fashion Communication and now works as the General Manager for Fancy Face Inc. The flexible hours and fast paced nature complement her busy schedule and creative nature.

Stephanie Senater Headshot

Why did you decide to attend the Fashion Program at Ryerson?

After working 5 years as a freelance Makeup Artist, I decided to attend Ryerson a little later in life at the age of 24. I started thinking about my future as a Makeup Artist and I wasn't sold on the idea of working freelance for the rest of my life. I figured I would pursue an education in an artistic field and after doing some research on available creative programs, I came across the bachelors of Fashion Communication at Ryerson and was sold on the idea of an education in fashion. I mean, I had been working in the industry already why not stay in the same field! So I applied and the rest is history!   

How did your academic experience at Ryerson help you with getting to where you are today? What led to your interest in pursuing Event Production?  

I was really thankful that in first year of the program, students are encouraged to take courses in all disciplines of the industry from fashion design, to pattern making, graphic design, illustration, and even event production. That was really helpful, as I was unsure where I wanted to concentrate my education.  2nd and 3rd year really highlighted my interest in events, but the number 1 thing that led to my career today was 100% my involvement with Mass Exodus. I had the pleasure of being the Executive Director of the 2011 show Zenith and Nadir, which really gave me the opportunity to manage and be part of every aspect of the show.  If it wasn't for that experience I definitely would not be where I am at today. 

 If you had to do it all over again, what would you change about your time here at Ryerson and why?

Academically, I wouldn't change a thing. But on a personal level,  I would have made a bigger effort of creating lasting relationships. Because I was a little older then most of the other students, I already had my "crew" of friends and I did not make many efforts of making life long friendships. I mean don't get me wrong I was very involved in many activities during my time at Ryerson but sadly after almost 4 years since I graduated I have only kept in touch with a very small group of people.

 What does a day in the life of Stephanie Senater look like?

Most of the time I am working out of the MAC Cosmetics head office downtown T.O. But working at MAC means, NEVER a dull moment. Every day is filled with challenges. On a typical day, I am meeting with local and international clothing, jewelry or shoe designers,  brainstorming and creating costumes to bring to life characters from our colour collections. On occasion I travel to NYC to work with senior MAC artists and create elaborate body paintings or shoot costumes to present to our Creative Director. And sometimes, I get to travel overseas to supervise large scale industry events. If you have ever walked into a MAC event at a retail store, a mall or a special VIP venue, chances are I have worked on all the animation and costuming for that event.  

What is your favorite part about your job? 

My favorite part is having the opportunity to challenge myself everyday to create new and innovative ways of surprising and exciting our customers! Everyday I have the opportunity to develop and bring to life amazing ideas and it's a pleasure to work with such an amazing group of individuals. I have a very close relationship with my entire team. I call them my 2nd family! We constantly bounce creative ideas off each other and it feels so good to walk into a work environment where everyone genuinely gets along and enjoys working together. I also must admit that the perks of working in the fashion industry are really nice.

What is your favorite part about working in the Fashion industry?

I love the creativity that comes along with the fashion industry. I get to meet and work with amazing individuals every day. What can be better than that? 

What advice would you give a fashion student interested in Event Production?

I would tell you to prepare yourself for insane hours, insane people and lots of problem solving. This industry is fast past and nothing ever goes as planned. You constantly have to prepare for the worst and you ALWAYS have to have a plan B in your back pocket. But above all, you have to love your job no matter what you end up doing. Wether it's in event production or not, my best advise is to love your job, because lets face it, unless you have a secret tree that produces dollar bills, you will be working for a very long time so you might as well love what you do! 

Stephanie Senater

Events Producer, MAC Cosmetics

Stephanie graduated from the Fashion Communication program in 2012 and now handles event production at MAC Cosmetics

Lauren Petroff Headshot

Why did you choose to pursue an MA in Fashion at Ryerson and what did you gain from completing the program?

Before attending Ryerson I earned a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in marketing, from McGill University. Although I found the program challenging and rewarding, I still felt uncertain about the type of career that I wanted to pursue – I didn’t necessarily want a job in marketing, but was still very interested the concept of brands and wanted to explore that further in relation to a more creative and aesthetic field like fashion. Fashion, fine art and interior design were always a passion that I was finally hoping to develop into viable career. I also knew that I loved Toronto and during my search for postgraduate options was happy to see that there was a new program that was backed by the reputable School of Fashion at Ryerson. Pursuing an MA in Fashion felt like a good option at the time because I wanted to challenge myself to learn about and explore fashion on an intellectual level. I was also intrigued by the internship component of the two-year program.

By completing the program I learned a lot about myself. For one, it became clear to me that I am more interested in interiors than fashion, per se – although they are heavily related. This was a happy evolution that I am thankful to have come to while navigating the program. I also gained a number of skills in terms of developing research questions that I was actually interested in, and producing a long-term project to explore those queries. I also feel that a valuable asset from the program is being able to work with individuals that have a wide range of interest when it comes to the very broad industry of fashion.

Where are you now and how has your degree aided you in your current position?

I am currently in a role which I greatly value, as a Design Editor at Canadian House & Home Magazine. I produce original content for the magazine, website and House & Home Online TV segments. I feel that a large reason why I was able to ‘get my foot in the door’ was because of the internship component of the MA program. I started as an intern and have progressed from there. I find that everyday, in small ways, my experience from the degree is apparent. I am able to more wholly develop ideas after understanding the importance of the ‘process’. I am also able to easily navigate between many different types of jobs from research to producing entirely visual concepts.

Who’s your favourite fashion theorist or practitioner and why?

I’m not sure that I have a favourite, but I am incredibly intrigued by Iris Apfel and Bill Cunningham. They are both incredibly authentic and don’t adhere to any pre-conceived constructs in fashion. They operate very intelligently and thoughtfully, but also purely based on their own passion for the art and not as part of a commercial pursuit.

What interests you most about the discipline of Fashion Studies?

What interests me most about the discipline of Fashion Studies is also something that I came to fully realize and appreciate while in the program: it is the fact that fashion is completely interdisciplinary – the study of fashion is almost always to study it within or in relation to another faculty such as economics, branding, anthropology or history (to name a few in a relatively endless list).

What item in your wardrobe could you never part with and why?

I don’t really adhere to trends and appreciate investing in high quality staples. I don’t necessarily have one item that I can’t live without, but find that every day I wont leave the house without wearing at least one of the following: a great pair of jeans, a simple cashmere sweater or a classic pair of black flats or ankle boots. I’m more about building a high quality and classic base uniform and embellishing in small doses.

Who’s your favourite fashion designer and why?

In the world of fashionable clothes, I’m inspired by Sarah Burton at McQueen and Raf Simons at Dior. They are both contemporary geniuses that consistently produce jaw-dropping collections in their own signature styles. I absolutely loved Dior and I, which exposed Simons’ first couture show at Dior.

In the world of Fashionable interiors, I’m intrigued by the aspirational work of Joseph Dirand and livable work (although still aspirational) of Amber Lewis. Dirand is a master when it comes to incredible, expansive Parisian interiors and always exceeds expectations. Lewis produces expertly layered yet airy spaces that are the perfect combination of SoCal aesthetics within a contemporary framework. I also love the work of British designer, Ben Pentreath because it is very much the opposite of my personal style, but his work is still so beautiful to look at.

What course did you most enjoy and why?

I most enjoyed Colour Theory and the Fashion History. I had a fun time working on the final project for Colour Theory where I designed a series of lamps using colours from portraits. I enjoyed Fashion History because it was so interesting to learn how heavily fashion has played a role in culture and society throughout history.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d pass on to a student interested in applying to the program?

Enjoy the process and don’t procrastinate! AND take advantage of the relationships you build with your fellow students and faculty – connections really help when starting and developing a career.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years and/or what’s your dream job?

I feel like I currently have my dream job. In five years I would love to be in the same role, or have been promoted to a senior design editor. I would also like to be working on more in-depth design projects, either independently or as makeovers for the magazine.

Lauren Petroff

Design Editor, Canadian House & Home Magazine

Combining a Bachelor's degree in Marketing and an MA in Fashion, Lauren is now a Design Editor at Canadian House & Home magazine.

Mayan Rajendran

Why did you choose to pursue an MA in Fashion at Ryerson and what did you gain from completing the program?

I was introduced to the fashion industry while teaching in Kenya. One of my colleagues had friends in the industry and her knowledge opened up a whole new world that I never knew existed. I registered in the MA program for two reasons: to be part of a Masters Program and to gain more insight about the industry. I gained significant hands on experience through the internship opportunities that I was presented with as a Masters student.

What are your research interests/areas?

My research interest orbits around the world of streetwear culture, a genre stemming from the skate, music, punk, and fashion scene that passes back and forth between New York, London, and Tokyo. I am very also interested in the development of military appropriation into menswear.

Where are you now and how has your degree aided you in your current position?

I am currently working in New York at a wholesale agency, where I head the marketing department for a number of men’s and women’s brands. I also am an agent for two clothing lines from Japan and London. My degree allowed me to get internship opportunities in the New York market. I also do personal shopping for clients in the music and entertainment industry.

What interests you most about the discipline of Fashion Studies?

I was intrigued by the buying and dressing habits of men who have (over the ages) adopted styles from their female counterparts. I am also interested in the political and social situations that drive sales in a specific category. For example, men that buy a certain type of footwear because they feel those shoes are a representation of their job, stature, and interests.

What item in your wardrobe could you never part with and why?

There are actually three items that I have in my wardrobe that I call my staples: a pair of really broken in denim, a pair of Visvim FBT sneakers, and a navy Yankee ball cap. The jeans have been with me for almost 7 years and are something that I always travel with. The Visvim sneakers were a pair I purchased to write a paper on and were a “grailed” item for me. The Yankee cap is something I purchased when I first moved to NY as an intern and has become something that I always have on.

Who’s your favourite fashion designer and why?

Takayuki Fuji is the designer from a Japanese line called nonnative. He finds a great balance between the cultural references he uses for each collection and incorporating current trends to result in a classic collection. His color palette is refreshing, bright at times but very wearable. The other designer and creative director that I have a very high regard for is Carlo Rivetti from STONE ISLAND. I have had the chance to work with S.I for the past year and his eagerness to revolutionize his work is inspiring. I had the chance to spend some time with him this past weekend and he told me how he always looks to the future, because he has already done what he wanted in the past.

What course did you most enjoy and why?

Color Theory with Alice Chu. She taught me many things to consider when it comes to selecting colors for specific ethnicities. It has been very useful and is a big factor in my current work. I work mostly with men and turns out 12% of men are completely colorblind.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d pass on to a student interested in applying to the program?

Get involved. Take part in anything that catches your eye and has you wondering.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years and/or what’s your dream job?

I see myself working everyday on the start-up I am currently putting together. I want to make mobile shopping for menswear an easy, comfortable experience. And I want to have a bulldog and 3 kids.

Mayan Rajendran

Brand Consultant and Stylist

Mayan sparked an interest in Fashion while teaching in Kenya and has been on the path to grow his personal brand and talents ever since.

Stefan Naccarato headshot

Why did you decide to attend the Fashion Program at Ryerson?

I was looking to pursue a career in fashion and knew at the time that Ryerson was the only school that offered a degree program. I had a friend in high school apply for the program and watched her go through the process. I knew then that this is exactly what I wanted to do, so I took some time off to travel and learn to sew and build up my portfolio. I learned early on what an all nighter looked like but knew that if I was willing to work so hard to get in that I would love the program.

How did your academic experience at Ryerson help you with getting to where you are today? What led to your interest in pursuing Buying?

My academic experience at Ryerson was amazing, I had classes that I loved and came a bit easier to me and others that I had to push myself that much harder. The experience was challenging but helped to set me up for challenges in the real world outside of Ryerson. With the necessary work hours experience lead me to try new roles and ended up working as a Brand Manager for a few brands that sold to retailers across Canada. It was there that I was able to use some of the skills learned in school in a practical work environment. Once I graduated I decided I wanted to be on the other side of the business so pursued a career at Winners which happened to be one of my favorite stores.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you change about your time here at Ryerson and why?

I think I would have slowed things down a bit more, I did my degree in five years because I wanted a better balance and because I was working more on the side. I look back and maybe even 6 years would not have been unreasonable. The program and time moves so fast and with all the projects you really have to learn time management and choose where to spend more of your time.

What does a day in the life of Stefan Naccarato look like?

As a buyer at winners I am really given the autonomy and freedom to drive my own business. I can search out new opportunities and test new trends and explore new ideas. I briefly had a moment when I thought I would open up my own store with a friend and have only things we loved in the store. I get to do that now with the power of sharing great value with customers all across Canada. I travel a lot, sometimes 3-4 times a month throughout North America and the Europe and I get to look for deals to keep our customer the excited. It’s a perfect job for me because I love travelling and I love deals, it worked out pretty well.

What is your favorite part about your job?

My favorite part about my job is that every week is different and the market is constantly changing and never standing still. There is always a new brand or a new trend to test and keep things exciting. I also love that I get the freedom to go and take risks on new things and rewarded for taking risks. At Ryerson I took an Entrepreneurship class called Identifying Opportunities and it was a turning point for me in how I saw the world. I am constantly looking for new opportunities now and what things could become and my job gives me the opportunity to do that.

Do you have an area of expertise you want to grow and learn about?

I love to teach and develop other people so I would like to continue to explore that further. I am a big people person and enjoying coaching others and helping them learn new things.

What is your favorite part about working in the Fashion industry?

I think what I love about the fashion industry is the constant change that happens, there is a pulse that is hard to pinpoint but you can feel it. When you come across something new you have not seen before there is this feeling of excitement; almost butterflies that is hard to explain unless you have lived it. That is what keeps me engaged and brings me to work every day. I love change and I love newness and that is what the Fashion industry gives me every day.

What advice would you give a fashion student interested in Buying?

My advice would be to work retail and learn as much as you can about the company, the customer, and the fabrics and soak up product knowledge. I would say build relationships early on because you never know where they can lead you. I would also try somewhere that has a commission portion to it because it can give you experience working towards sales goals and finding ways to reach those that can be creative. Also, be prepared to put some hours in above and beyond the normal. Get ready to hustle early on and will pay off later down the road.

Stefan Naccarato

Buyer, TJX Canada

Stefan's determined and dedicated spirit, coupled with his love of the constantly changing fashion world granted him an exciting position at TJX Canda.

Erin Headshot

Why did you decide to attend the Fashion Program at Ryerson?

I attended the Fashion Program at Ryerson because it was important for me to obtain a degree. I had heard first hand that it offered the most well rounded program and I knew immediately that it was the first and only choice for me.

How did your academic experience at Ryerson help you with getting to where you are today? What led to your interest in pursuing Buying?

The greatest thing about the program at Ryerson is that it forces its students out of their comfort zone and enables them to obtain an appreciation for various specialties within the industry.  Having been accepted for the Communications program it's no surprise that my strengths weren't in Design. Having said that, I wouldn't change having had the ability to explore Design fundamentals in first year because it allowed me to look at things much differently had I not been exposed to those teachings. 

If you had to do it all over again, what would you change about your time here at Ryerson and why?

In all honesty I wouldn't change anything about my time at Ryerson. The program is extremely challenging and although it was difficult to balance internships and work with the demands of school, going through that level of stress has given me a calibre of work ethic that exceeds expectation in the industry.

What does a day in the life of Erin Kiona look like?

The greatest part about my role is that each day is truly different from the last. There is always a repetitive, or perhaps cyclical undertone to the job as far as what need to be done, but it is far from mundane by any means. As an example, Mondays are always spent doing a deep dive into the business with much of the day being spent analyzing sales from the past week. It's incredibly important to do this so as to be reactive to any shortfalls in sales and/or chase a specific sales trend. Outside of that a lot of time is spent responding to vendor emails and potential new partnerships but can easily involve model selection for an upcoming campaign, store visits or product knowledge training. When traveling, my schedule will become increasingly hectic and will vary from assorting new collections in Parisian showrooms to sitting front row of some the most recognized fashion houses in the world. My role is in constant flux which inevitably keeps me on my toes and it's this aspect that brings the most satisfaction.

What is your favorite part about your job?

My favourite part of the job is without a doubt the curation of my assortments. Given that my portfolio exists in a multi-branded space, it is critical to understand the role each brand plays. Ensuring that each maintains its own identity whilst complimenting one another is the most enjoyable but also critical to the department's success. It requires a lot of editing to be done and a strong understanding of one's target demographic so as to ensure the strongest assortment is selected and maintained.

Do you have an area of expertise you want to grow and learn about?

There are vary few positions that allow the purchase of everything from Stussy to Balmain and I'm extremely lucky to have been given the opportunity to manage such a unique and aesthetically volatile portfolio. Given this, there isn't necessarily a component that I want to develop at the moment as Im able to buy a range of commodities inclusive of footwear and accessories to lifestyle my clothing assortments. For me, my primary goal is to continue to build awareness for these concept spaces and ensure a long standing and successful future for the areas.

What is your favorite part about working in the Fashion industry?

My favourite part about working in the Fashion industry is the people and travel. Being able to collaborate with creative minds in environments that fuel such creativity is extremely rewarding. 

What advice would you give a fashion student interested in Buying?

I would encourage anyone interested in buying to intern as much as possible and at a variety of different stores. Without retail experience it is difficult to become a good buyer as the fundamentals of the role are developed on the sales floor. Further, the role of buyer can vary substantially across different retail formats so it is necessary to understand the available options.  A career is earned not gifted and I encourage any student interested in pursuing buying to question their understanding of the job and why they think they'd be good at it. Buying although rewarding, is an extremely demanding career and like anything; my best advice is to explore what you're good at doing and not necessarily what you love. If you're good at something you will naturally find a rewarding career because won't be in a constant search of validation. You'll be respected for the value you bring to the table and be able to use that as fuel to continuously improve your skill set. 

Erin Kiona Thompson

Buyer, Hudson's Bay Company

After graduating from Fashion Communication in 2010, Erin is now a Buyer for Hudson's Bay Company and enjoys all the different and creative aspects of her job.

Vanessa Pulla

Why did you decide to attend the Fashion Program at Ryerson?

As a child my world revolved around art. All the other kids would be playing outside and there I was endlessly drawing and painting. Growing up my parents decided to send me to a private school where art classes were non-existent. My love for art was at a stand still. Fast forward a couple years in grade 10, I was flipping through the channels and landed on fashion television. I was mesmerized by the F/W 07 Dolce and Gabbana collection. The behind the scenes footage captivated me like nothing else before. I was so intrigued by creative process involved in making the show come to life. Little did I know that this would soon be my world. From that moment on Jeanne Beker was part of my daily routine, well that is until they took fashion television off the air! In grade 12 when I was looking to apply to universities, the fashion program at Ryerson caught my eye. I knew this was the program for me – there was no chance of saying no – I was determined to get in. It was the perfect balance of art and fashion.

How did your academic experience at Ryerson help you with getting to where you are today? What led to your interest in pursuing Retail Brand Specialization?

Ryerson gave me the skill set and basis to develop a successful career – It was on me to determine how I wanted to apply this to my life. For me, interning was such a crucial part of the process. It allowed me to decipherer exactly what areas of the fashion industry I wanted to pursue. I was endlessly building my portfolio and networks. Eventually, an opportunity came up as a visual merchandiser. After working two years in that position, another opportunity came up in retail brand. It was the right fit for me to grow both personally and professionally.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you change about your time here at Ryerson and why?

I would do a minor! Who even knew you could get a minor?!

What does a day in the life of Vanessa Pulla look like? 

6:30 – immediately open my phone and check the following in precisely this order 

  • New release properties for sale/rent
  • instagram
  • Text messages 
  • Work emails 

I then get up and meditate for 30 minutes. There is a good chance that I will fall back asleep while I do that so I also set a second alarm for 7:00 a.m.

7:00 – Shower (Brush my teeth in the shower. I try to save time where I can) 

7:15 –Put on an outfit. Not much thought goes into it because lucky me, I can wear tights and running shoes to work. 7:30 throw on some mascara, maybe some bronzer if it’s a big day. 

7:40 –head downstairs and make 1 -3 espressos (don’t judge my coffee intake I’m Italian so coffee runs through my blood). I then make breakfast, which usually consists of gluten free bread with avocado and tomato. I make a to-go bottle of hot water with lemon, ginger and cayenne pepper.  Throughout the day I alternate between this and coffee. 7:50 Pack a lunch – depends what I have in the fridge. 

8:00–Drive to work and blast music to get pumped for my day (hip-hop, kyro mix, currently Adele’s “Hello” is on replay) 

8:30–arrive at work and open my computer, make my to do list and get the day started. 

12:00 – Round up the crew for lunch

3:00 – The usual 3:00 p.m cravings go down at this point. Myself and my co-workers go to the extremes and either eat something satisfyingly unhealthy or scarily healthy. Either way it’s snack time. 

7:00 – Depending on what time I get home from work I usually eat around 7:00. Then I go for a run or do a work out. If I am feeling ambitious I will paint or read. Sometime during this time and going to bed I also make sure I take a couple minutes to connect with friends or family.

10:00 – I brush my teeth, wash my face and get to bed. I give my all throughout the day and I am exhausted by 10:00 p.m.

During my day I take a minute to breath and capture a picture to appreciate something in my life that I am grateful for, whether that something be food, scenery, a book – really anything.

What is your favorite part about your job?

I love seeing what a brand does to people and the emotional effect it has on them. I was at all star week in NYC last year and a 12-year-old kid was sitting outside a brand activation. He started chatting with myself and few other co-workers. What came out of this conversation will forever be embedded in my mind. That swoosh was so much more to him than a shoe or apparel, it triggered a strong emotional connection. He associated the brand with specific moments in his life. Sometimes you do not realize the work you do and how it impacts the world around you.

Do you have an area of expertise you want to grow and learn about? 

There is not ONE specific area that I can pinpoint. There is always opportunity for growth in life and in every situation. It is important to constantly analyze yourself and see what the next steps are: Where can you improve? What do you need to better balance yourself and your life? What do you want?

What is your favorite part about working in the Fashion industry? 

Hands down the best part about working in the fashion industry has to be working on a team with such creative, motivated and passionate people who are so dedicated to their career and to the brand. It is extremely inspiring to work with a group of such talented people on a daily basis.

What advice would you give a fashion student interested in being a Retail Brand Specialist? 

My advice to anyone trying to build a career in any field is to:

BALANCE – it is so important to ensure that you are balancing your health, relationships and work.
BE AUTHENTIC – always be true to who you are. People will love the real you. Don’t be afraid to take risks! Change is good.
NETWORK–You can never do it alone. As you grow in your career and in your life you attract people with similar passion, goals and morals. You will be so surprised at the support you will receive from these people.  Continue to strive to be the best possible you. There is always room for growth.

Vanessa Pulla

Retail Brand Specialist, Nike

Vanessa graduated from the Fashion Communication program in 2013 and has since made her way to Nike, where she works as a Retail Brand Specialst.