Ask Biki…

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Ask Biki: How Do I Get A Fashion Magazine Editorial Internship?

Devil Wears Prada Film Images

I recently got this lovely email (word for word) from a girl (German) who assisted me during a Berlin-based fashion shoot I styled for JNC (print magazine based in Germany).

For privacy reasons, I have hidden certain names, but everything else stands…

Hello Biki,

I thank you very much for your conversation with xxxx xxxx from the Superior Magazine! I applyed as an “editor intern” and know I got the chance to write articles and infos about fashion, Berlin hotspots and maybe I can work as styling/shooting assistent for them 🙂
So thank you very much! I wish you the best.
Kind regards,
xxxx xxxxx
This email prompted me to write a post to give advice to those seeking out an editorial internship at a fashion magazine.  And my advice is strictly based on how ‘Ms X’ got her internship.  Those who are seeking/applying for magazine fashion internships know there are many ways to skin that cat, but I’m focusing on giving tips based on how Ms X got her internship, so you can add that to the many things I’m sure you are doing.
A bit of a background story to how I came to receive this email is: after my JNC fashion shoot where I met/worked with Ms X, she stayed in contact with me by sending me emails asking if I had any fashion shoots coming up she could assist on.
I did let her know that I was focusing on other sectors of fashion, and didn’t spend as much time in Berlin anymore, but that when I was in Berlin, I would let her know if and when anything came up.  Now, most people would have stopped contacting me, but Ms X didn’t. More importantly, her tone was always polite and sweet.
So this year, when she emailed me, although I had no fashion shoots lined up, I was so impressed by her consistence that when I was having a meeting with the editor-in-chief of SUPERIOR magazine (Berlin-based), I brought up Ms X, asking if the mag had any internship availabilities.  When he replied in the affirmative, I told him of Ms X, and told him to look out for her email.  I then gave Ms X his email address to contact him with and the rest is …
Based on Ms X, my advice to magazine internship seekers are:
1) Assist a fashion stylist. Why? More often than not, fashion stylists have good relations with fashion magazines and can always refer you, providing you’ve done a good job whilst assisting them.
2) After you’ve finished assisting a stylist on a shoot, make sure you stay in regular contact with them asking if you can be of help in the future.  And here like, Ms X, you have to be persistent and patient. A lot of busy stylists get dozens of emails from stylist assistants.  To stand out, I suggest you send regular emails keeping things polite and straight to the point.  I would also advise to keep up to date with that particular stylist’s latest work, so you can butter them up with praise.  This goes a longer way than you sending them images of your latest work.
3) There are many ways to get in touch with top stylists, one way is to assist at a fashion show as a dresser. Ms X met me as she was one of the dressers for the launch of Africa Fashion Day Berlin (a partnership with the official sponsors of Berlin Fashion Week, Mercedes-Benz).  I was head stylist of the event.
Another good way is to research the top creative agencies in your district, find out which stylists they represent and then make nice with your Search Engine to find out the stylist’s contact details so you can message them directly.  In my day this would be via email, but now you can use Twitter, Facebook, the stylist’s blog etc. This is much better than contacting the agency, as your email is very likely to be ignored.
Best of luck Ms X!
Ask Biki...

How To Say 'Thank You' Professionally In The Fashion Industry

011If you have worked in the fashion industry for a good number of years and started from the bottom up, you’ll know that the industry is built on favours and working for free (as a professional).  The latter often occurs when you are a writer or stylist for those ultra-‘cool’ but not ‘paying for a damn thing’ magazines.

In my line of fashionable duty, I’ve done a number of free jobs for various companies, looking back, I did far too much but hindsight is a bitch in 9 inch heels isn’t it? The businesses I have worked for with no remuneration include magazines, designers, fashion show production companies…and it always amazed me how these organisations didn’t have the class, morality or ethical fiber in their being to thank me PROFESSIONALLY. And by this I don’t just mean uttering the glaringly obvious words, ‘Thank You’- in fashion, if one does not have the wages to give accurate remuneration, one is supposed to use their ACTIONS to give thanks.  Actions speak louder than words, baby.

Don’t know what I mean, well depending on which sector of the fashion industry you work in, here are some:

Tips On How To Say, ‘Thank You’ Professionally In The Fashion Industry

1) For upcoming designers who don’t have the funds to pay for models to walk in their fashion shows, it is common to say Thank You to each model by giving out pieces of your collection or distributing goodie bags (with products/brands that show some decent thought went into the gift!)

2) For independently owned magazines who are not able to pay their commissioned writers, stylists PRs and the like, how about giving a few of your best fashion show tickets or party invites to your editors? Fashion week is one of the best ways for independent magazine editor-in-chiefs to extend their thanks to their team.  For lack of a better word, the ingratitude of magazine editor-in-chiefs makes me sick.  I know of one Berlin-based magazine editor-in-chief, who denies his unpaid stylist editor fashion show tickets purely because he is scared of her surpassing him in the industry.

I had a recent horror story: Not too long ago, in a land not so far, far way, I did unpaid PR work to support a London-based magazine launch their first issue in Nigeria.  For this job, one of the major coups I won for the magazine was getting its launch party covered by a leading Nigerian TV network, thus exposing the new company to a large audience to increase their relevance and sales.  However, a few months later when I asked that same magazine editor-in-chief for a favour: to feature a Nigerian designer I was doing PR for on their platform- the editor-in-chief created a whole lot of b.s dog hoops for me to jump through. This is a PERFECT example, of how NOT to say Thank You in the industry when someone has done a big job for you for free.  Shame On You, Ms Editor-In-Chief.

3) Emerging designers, if an individual is doing PR for you for free on a particular project, one way to thank them is by taking them out to dinner.  A newly launched designer recently took me out for dinner to say Thank You for the PR services I did for her, and I was truly touched. Ps Ms Shameless Editor-In-Chief, THIS is how to have Class.  You should never be too busy to have Class.

4)  I’ll now demonstrate another way to say Thank You in the fashion industry.  To promote my Fashion Special TV program which aired in Nigeria recently, I sent out press release to a number of Nigerian blogs.  Many never responded, a few that did quoted RrrrRRrredunkulous charges, however 2 Golden Blogs (which fortunately happen to be the Top 10 most popular fashion & lifestyle blogs in the country), did promote my press release in a timely manner on their platforms for free.

And to show I was thankful, I delivered Goodie Bags in their places of residence yesterday.

016014020How about you guys: what other ways do you think fashion professionals in the industry can say Thank You professionally, if/when they are not able to give remuneration? Have you had similar horror stories of working for free only to get shafted (without the decency of the ‘professional’ at least having the decency to hold your hair back!!)  Do tell, I’d love to know.


Ask Biki...

Creative Job Advertisements: How To Spot The Bullshit

I’ve worked in the fashion industry in one way or the other for almost ten years now.  Before I decided to take a spin at Fashion’s Wheel, I worked in the Legal sector, therefore it came as quite a surprise when I would go for fashion/creative job interviews, only to learn that the job was either unpaid or offering minor duckets (very little money). And I wasn’t going for internship positions, I’m talking about freelance J.O.B.S.

As time went by I learnt how to decode certain job advertisements and spot the bullshit which is often deceptively encoded.  This was great as I stopped wasting precious time honing the ‘Perfect CV & Covering letter’, preparing for various interview, only to be told by the interviewer (without blinking and a straight face) that the so-called job I had applied for, was one for which I was to get little to no renumeration.

But how did I learn how to spot the bullshit? Can BS ‘job’ advertisements really be translated? Ohhh YesSS they can, and without further ado, here’s how to do so:

If you read a creative job advertisement tailored at professionals (not interns) with the following words:

‘…a fantastic opportunity to work on great projects!’: Translation- It’s Bullshit

‘…a wonderful PLATFORM to showcase your work!!’: Translation: It’s Bullshit

‘…exciting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’: Translation: It’s Bullshit

‘…work in a very open-minded and relaxed environment!’: Translation: It’s Bullshit

And what advice can you take from this?  If a job advertisement begins to sound more like a trip to Disneyland than an actual job or if you see over-zealous words like , ‘great fun’, ‘super exciting’, ‘ truly wonderful’ and then those words are punctuated by an overuse of exclamation marks: it’s Unpaid/minor duckets, and most definitely Bullshit!

Do any of you know of any other popular words, creative job adverts use to rope you in to work for free?

Ask Biki...

New Model Advice Tips, Fashion Karma, Finn Juniper Denaro…

Berlin Fashion Week A/W 2015 ran from Jan 19th to 23rd and I didn’t go to any of the shows.  Not One Daln.  Why?  I had to prioritise and this season my London Fashion Week projects came first.  I am working with two Nigerian clients, with one client, I’m doing PR for the fashion collection they are presenting during London Fashion Week.  With the other, I am co-ordinating and presenting a London Fashion Week TV Special.  So with that and the Marketing Communications work I am still doing for the school in Nigeria….going to the Berlin shows was not an option.

But I’m still all about the Par-Tays mainly for networking reasons and you know I love to dress up, so any excuse! So, fast-forward to my friends and I standing in the drizzling rain and me bumping into a model male friend of mine, who then introduced me to a model friend of his called, Finn Juniper Denaro.  Actually, he introduced us to a whole bunch of his model friends who gave us the standard ‘blank nod and mumble’.  However, one guy jumped in front of the Model Herd and introduced himself properly.  That was Finn.

finnAt the time, I remember thinking he reminded me of a new-born puppy put on skates and shoved on an ice-ring: he was just so excited as he regaled us with stories from his fashion week.  I remember telling him at the time, ‘This must be your first season….’ Turns out I was right, and as we all walked away, my friends and I spoke about how energetic he was, which was a great breadth of fresh air from the usual ‘Too Cool For School (And A Smile!!)’Berliner.

The next day, despite all the work I had to do, my mind took me to Finn: I knew there was a story there.  So I got his details via the friend we have in common and pitched Finn my idea- I told him I wanted to interview him and submit it to magazines.  I also warned him that there were no guarantees.  You know what he said? ‘Let’s do it…I’m excited!’ (New Models, Take Note…)

Finn2DYNFast forward to us having the interview and me having such fun as I was doing it, then came the next day, a Sunday: it wasn’t a day of rest for me, I sat on my bed with my recorder and wrote the article.  Then came Monday and I began the search to find ‘my baby interview’ a home.  I found one- Superior magazine.  The article made their Berlin Fashion Week A/W 2015 Special (Page 70-73)  If you want to have a great insight into Berlin Fashion Week, the designers, backstage…or you just want to have a visual feast of great photography, take a look!

So new models, what tips can you take from this article?:

1) Be Your Own Agent- You never know where and when your next client will turn up.  Always be ready to sell yourself and your work.  If Finn hadn’t told us that night on the streets what he had achieved during Berlin Fashion Week with such gusto, I would never have had the knowledge or interest to push his story.

2) Be Enthusiastic and Professional– this pretty much explains itself.  In the lead up to the interview, Finn was accessible and responded to my messages on time.  On the day of the interview, he was punctual, armed with infectious humour and energy. This is very important.  It’s because of this, I’m referring him to the Berlin-based photographers I know.  I wouldn’t (and no one else would) attach my name to a miserable, unprofessional sod!

3) Climb Every Mountain, Ford Every Stream, Follow Every Rainbow…Yes, The Sound Of Music does have a place here! What I’m saying is, as a new model/model you are likely to be sent on many castings, get pitched for interviews, editorials, commercials etc- some of them will materialise, majority will disintegrate.  However, you must approach each job like it’s ‘the one’, like it will be a success, like how Finn did when I told him the interview was not a guarantee: he said, ‘Let’s do it,  I’m excited’.  Yes this level of optimism is difficult, this is why modelling and the fashion industry ain’t for everybody.

4) ‘Do You’– You know the saying by Oscar Wilde, ‘Be Yourself:Everyone Else Is Already Taken’?  This couldn’t be more so in the modeling industry.  More and more, the models who are making ‘it’ are the ones who have personality: in the heavenly 80/90s we had The Supermodels who always looked poised and Glamazon-like, now we have Cara D and her many clown faces…anyhoo, to stand apart in the stifling modelling crowd, you need to know who you are and what you are bringing to the table.  Finn knows, in seconds he’ll proudly tell you he’s ‘from the bush’, loves surfing, is passionate about social and political change…He is walking his own path and so far, so good…

finn1RikeAs for the Fashion Karma part, well as much as I always wanted one, I didn’t get a Mentor in the fashion industry.  I had to learn the ropes via stepping and falling head first into many a ‘fashion pothole’.  Through it all, I’ve fought hard not be bitter, to retain the enthusiasm and hope I see/saw in Finn…that’s why I’m happy to answer his questions relating to modeling, I tell him what I know, I’ve started introducing him to the good photographers (with strong industry contacts) I know in Berlin because that is a key ingredient to making ‘it’ as a model.  I wish more people in the industry could be as giving…but as the saying goes, ‘Be The Change You Want To See…’ (Gandhi)

Pic By Me

Pic By Me

Pictures by Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, unless otherwise stated.





Ask Biki...

3 Tips When Dressing For A Creative & Commercial Job

Over a month ago, I left Berlin to work in the marketing communications department of a Nigerian company.  Apart from dealing with the usual hullabaloo that arises when moving continents, I was faced with a recurring female-prone problem-  What The Dickens To Wear.

In Berlin, my freelance fashion lifestyle means I can wear pretty much wear what I want; so entering a job and country where Fashion-wise: I had to mind my Ps  and Qs had me a bit on edge.  Especially, as the bulk of my wardrobe is in London, Berlin and Lagos…

I also had the challenge of working out how to play the balancing game when working for a job that was neither wholly corporate nor entirely creative.  One day I am working in a relaxed environment with the graphic designer on images and design, the next I’m acting as an ambassador for the brand at various events where a degree of formality is required.   Hmmm, how to marry the two worlds in a harmonious stylish union?

Fast forward the weeks and I think I have it sussed out, and I wanted to share my tips for the women out there who have had the same predicament.

3 Tips When Dressing For Your Creative & Commercial Job

1) Invest in a ‘stand out’ tailored garment

For me, this is a  blazer.  Blazers with interesting details like structured, patterned lapels, statement buttons et al, tend to lack the stuffiness of their older more corporate ‘Suit Jacket Sister’.

Topping my casual outfits with a blazer instantly takes my ensemble down a more chic route, which then allows me to relax my outfit with statement accessories as seen below.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????2) Play The Balancing Game With Accessories

ifb20Statement accessories are my everything but when I am doing this job, I can’t go as balls out with my jewellery as I normally do.  However because my job isn’t strictly an office nine to five, I can wear the odd one or two statement pieces, which I balance out with more ‘low profile’ accessory pieces.  I also ensure that my statement accessories are eye-catching but sophisticated, so I still look professional.

For instance, my vintage snake belt does have that Look At Me factor, but my more subtle nude toned footwear helps to tame my look.


3) Coordinate Your Colour Scheme With Care

???????????????????????????????The monochromatic effect of black and white has the power to tame otherwise seemingly edgy/racy fabrics like leather and lace, as seen above.

??????????????????????????????? If I do want to wear a print garment with a bold pop of colour, counterbalancing it with a somber hue like black helps to reign the outfit in.

???????????????????????????????And there we have it! Do you have any more tips to add?  Have you discovered more stylish winning formulae for nailing it with your job outfits?  Do tell, I’d love to know!

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