Advice to future college students

Hi! My name is Miranda Belansky. I was born in Houston, Texas. Growing up, I would always look at fashion magazines. I knew that one day I would be part of the huge fashion industry. At the age of 12, I moved to Moscow, Russia, where I quickly learned about my passion for experiencing other cultures. It is so interesting to see how fashions differ around the world! I recently graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in Retailing & Consumer Science. By traveling as much as I can, I hope to one day open a boutique catering to the luxury travel market selling unique garments from around the world.

It was the summer before my last semester of college. Racking my brain about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, I knew I needed an internship. After sending off my resume to a few fashionable places around Houston for various positions, I received a call from Chloe Dao’s publicist and sister, Sydney Dao. She wanted to interview me for their internship at the boutique. Could it be? Could I have an interview with the second season winner of Project Runway? I had seen one of her collections at fashion show a few years earlier and had been obsessed ever since. Her clothes always seem to have such a dramatic, feminine surprise in the back. After going through the interview process and waiting for what seemed like the longest days of my life, I received an email welcoming me to Dao team.
A few weeks later, my first day had finally come. From the beginning of my training, I could tell this job was different. Training included a series of activities that made me think for myself. I was given a list of tasks with no directions. I was finally able to be free and creative. I was then introduced to the other members of the team and, of course, the big family of eight sisters.
My duties for the internship were all over the place. My second day included being taught about her schedule so I was able to plan appointments and interviews. Shortly after, I was thrown into merchandising. I was told the store belonged to me and I could arrange it how I see fit. A few days after, I was able to look at sales charts to see how the floor design and merchandising worked. I was then given the chance to create the window displays. This was the most fun as I was able to create a story for the entire city to see. I was able to choose the clothing, backgrounds, jewelry, and other props. Over the next few months, I was slowly given more responsibility. After watching trends and understanding the vision of the company, I was able to participate in buying since part of her store also included clothing from local designers. I will always remember when I took a chance on a strapless dress with a bright yellow lace overlay. The buyers were not sure of my choice. It was made clear that the blame would be on me if it did not sell. I was very cautious, but sure of my decision. The order was placed and two weeks later it had arrived. I was weary to place it on the sales floor; however, knew I needed to anyway. It sold within a week! I could not believe it. This led to Chloe asking me for input on her next collection. I was given different design ideas to choose from.
Fashion Houston was quickly approaching towards the end of my interning semester. Fashion Houston is Houston’s Fashion Week. A variety of designers participate including Chloe Dao and David Peck. It is such a fast paced time of the year between prepping for the show and throwing parties to get the fashionistas, from around the city, pumped up. There were several fittings a week before the show. At these, I was able to help the models dress, pin them, and take pictures of them in different outfits. From there, we sat down to decide which model would wear each outfit. We then created the order of the garments for the fashion show based on Chloe’s vision. Choosing the music and background videos were other important decisions that had to be made. When the night finally came, it was such a rush. Everyone was running around backstage trying to get the models ready in time. Seeing the clothes on the runway during the show was a completely unique experience. All of our hard work had paid off. The story was painted perfectly.
Since the company is so small, I was quickly able to tell how my actions affected the company. I knew I had made a difference. Before the end of the semester, I was offered a position to manage the website and internet sales. My dream came true! I was able to be in a creative environment doing what interested me so much. It continues to be a learning experience since I am constantly surprised with new tasks and bigger keys to the business.
Chloe Dao will always remain one of my favorite designers. She is not only a great mentor, but also an inspiration. I was lucky enough to be welcomed into the Dao family and shown a variety of occupations in the fashion industry.

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