I thought I’d take this sunny mid-week opportunity to sit down and talk about some of the frequently asked questions I’ve been getting across Tumblr, Twitter, my inbox, Instagram and blog comments over the past couple of months. The last time I tackled a Q&A, the post was incomprehensibly long to read and I was falling all over myself in the attempt to cover all bases on all questions, so with round two, I’m just going to spiel, and over the course of reading, I will hopefully cover all of your enquiries about my job, my degrees, my blog, my Law Society portfolio, my camera, and coconut oil.
Run at me. (But feel free to comment here with any other questions and I’ll reply below.)
“You’re crazy”, often accompanied by smatterings of exclamatory superlatives, is something that I hear quite often. Three years ago, when this whole journey started, I certainly would not have been ok with the idea of juggling a full-time job, full-time study, and blogging in what feels like a full-time capacity (though I will admit that I have been quite sporadic over the past few weeks – I’m picking it up, guys!). If I were my Mother today, I probably wouldn’t be ok with it either. But here’s the reality: the world tells me that my generation is completely unreasonable. We’re too demanding, we’re too dependent, and we burn through far more media, income and 3G data than we should. The world also tells me that Gen Y is a lost cause without a cause. We’ll change careers seven times in our first decade in the work force and we have no real direction – technology has made us distracted and lazy.
I say, baby hold it right there. Without demand, nobody would innovate to fulfill it and no industry would have grown as exponentially quickly as they have. Yes, I’m hopelessly addicted to technology, but there is no denying that this corner of the Interwebs has give me more career opportunities in the past year than any level of educational certificate will give me in five years. Having said that, education is why I still (unabashedly) live at home – how does a student who is studying to learn afford $600 a week? Tertiary education is no longer a stepping stone into the workforce as it was when our parents studied. Working and studying go hand in hand. My degree is no use to me as a standalone expenditure – I need to see how my laboriously late night readings relate to the real world. In that sense, Commerce/Law is not so far removed from the fashion industry: I major in Marketing and Corporate Law. In an industry where dollar bills do not liberally exchange hands, how do you best market your personal brand? How do you provide the best value for a touchy subject of pricing? How many labels, magazines, agencies and fashion start-ups have folded recently? As I come to the end of my Law degree in a few years, I would move towards Intellectual Property Law. Whether I practice at the end of that line is not a cause for thought at this point, but understanding the rules of content ownership, contract negotiation, commercial disclosure, and general havoc is invaluable in a line of work as unforged and as varied as ‘blogging’, if you will.
For the same reasons, I found myself in a full-time job. How do you see the impact of studying without a substantial project to be working on? Working in a corporate environment on creative concepts is probably the most perfect balance between my degrees and my work in fashion that I could have asked for, and I couldn’t be more psyched to share the fruits of our labour towards the end of the year.
As to our lack of direction? I have twenty six tabs open in Firefox because I’m replying to four emails, moodboarding editorials for Slate, drafting a campaign proposal, and writing this post. This is not about career changes at all. It’s about the return of the Renaissance (Wo)man. Global economies need this generation to stop specialising and to be across everything, or forever be missing in the masses. Building side projects and skills does not necessarily mean you’re losing focus – who says seven careers can’t come about at the same time? Not to say that I call myself a photographer or stylist or creative director when people ask (usually, my response is ‘a buttload of stuff’), but that doesn’t mean I’m not building my lens collection (Canon 85mm f1.8 and Tamron 10-24mm if anybody is interested, and I desparately want to graduate from a 7D soon…*), my portfolio and resume of work in the meantime – if I do end up needing a dramatic life change in the future, I won’t spend two years being completely broke before something clicks.
So it seems that more is more if Forbes’ 30 under 30 is on your agenda (and if you want to wear head-to-toe red while you’re at it, that’s cool too). I turn twenty in just over a month, which is god damn terrifying. So much has changed since I was fighting my brother to play PACMAN on a giant grey box of a pixelated computer monitor. That young people can be wildly successful internationally now without any focus on the novelty of their age is amazing to me, and that people don’t want that to happen amazes me even more.
All of this materialises for me most of all when I’m being shouted at by publicists backstage at shows during New York Fashion Week. But so are the guys who’ve been shooting for designers for thirty seasons or thirty years. That big city is breathing proof that if you have the skill set and the drive behind it, you’ll rise above those who fake it in due time (which could be so short as being at the right MILK party at the right time, or establishing one’s business as indispensible to an entire local industry over a year). Who cares if you have a baby face – you’re 50 with a fabulous plastic surgeon, your genes mean you won’t age until you’re 80, or your experience speaks otherwise.
In conclusion, I should move to New York.
And I use coconut oil as a moisturiser day and night, as well as a hair treatment, if you wanted to know.
And now I have to run to class.
*EDIT: I took the plunge!
Photo by Zanita during New York Fashion Week