Ashley-Brooke Sandall, Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Council of Fashion Designers, Inc. (CFDA) in New York City
The CFDA is a non-profit trade association that was founded in 1962. The CFDA hosts the CFDA Fashion Awards every year and even stages New York Fashion Week: Men’s. The CFDA (whose membership count is over 500) calls many notable talents in the fashion industry its members. For example, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Rachel Zoe, Vera Wang, Yeohlee Teng, Carlos Campos, Nick Graham, Gerard Yosca, Mimi So, and Virgil Abloh are all members of the CFDA!
As the Director of Strategic Partnerships, Sandall is responsible for helping the CFDA develop and manage partnerships with companies such as IMG, Google, and Nordstrom. DFN has a lot of readers who are in university and are dreaming of a career in the fashion industry. So, we are pleased to be able to share this amazing interview with you all so that you can learn more about Sandall and also get more insight into how one can begin a career in fashion!
DFN: How would you describe your style?
Sandall: I think I am a little bit more classic. I try to dress for myself. It is also important to know your audience as well. How you present yourself is the first impression people get of you. It is also not how much money you spend it is about just being appropriate and expressing yourself through fashion.
DFN: What has been the most memorable experience in your career?
Sandall: I would say that the CFDA awards when Beyoncé was the style icon of the year. This was the first year that we partnered with Instagram in creating a custom booth. We also did the live stream with Facebook. To me to have the opportunity to a) celebrate a woman who is a style icon and b) to be able to utilize our partnerships to create a more consumer-facing initiative was super important and this was possible through our great partnerships with Instagram and Facebook. Also, standing five feet away from Beyoncé was cool as well!
DFN: I am a part of the Beyhive, are you also a member of the Beyhive?
Sandall: Yes, I am!
DFN: What was the hardest thing you had to overcome when you started out in the fashion industry?
Sandall: I would say that not having enough confidence in myself to know that I could be successful in the fashion industry.
DFN: What advice would you give people (especially high school students and college students) who would like to become a part of the fashion industry? How can they break into the industry?
Sandall: I think it is about being proactive. Definitely being on LinkedIn sending messages and getting a resume put together (even if you do not have a lot of work experience). I also think that getting an internship at a company that gives you credibility is most important (even if it is not at the exact company that you want to work for after you graduate). Then it is all about networking. If you have the opportunity to be at a major city like New York then you should take advantage of your time there by looking at the different events you can go to whether its gallery openings at Chelsea or panel discussions. This is so important because you never know who you will meet. You should also examine your skillset and sell yourself on your strengths and think of ways to differentiate yourself. For example, if your interested in business but do photography on the side then mention that in interviews that you also have a creative passion as well.
Photo – Courtesy of Decoded Fashion
Written by Kelechi Uchendu