How do I get started in the Fashion Industry? Kara Laricks answers.

How do I get started in the fashion industry?”  Since my win on NBC’s Fashion Star, this is the question I am most frequently asked. In the University of Fashion’s newest Designer FashionSpeak video, I will share my unique journey into the fashion industry as well as my five keys to success – education, experience, defining your brand, using your resources and taking time to celebrate your success.

Getting an education

As a designer, you will be asked to communicate your vision. The more tools you have under your fabulous belt, the better. Whether you verbalize, sketch, drape, pattern or sew your entire collection, it is important to have the skills and knowledge to work intelligently alongside the press, factories and buyers – not to mention your clients and consumers.  Know your fashion history and stay up-to-date on what’s going on in the world of fashion.

Gaining experience

After graduating from the Academy of Art in San Francisco with a master’s degree in fashion design, I moved to New York City with design stars in my eyes. Little did I realize how much more I needed to learn. Internships and “real world” experience in the fashion industry helped me to shape my own brand – not to mention taught me how to create a tech pack, where to find quality silk and wool and which factories have the most experience sewing silk garments.

Defining your brand

The fashion industry is saturated with designers and the number one question to consider when developing your brand is “What sets me apart from other designers?” Make sure that everything from your business card to the detail in your garments reflect your distinct style and message to consumers.  No matter whether I am designing an accessory, ready-to-wear or a gown, my signature tie detailing and masculine meets feminine aesthetic makes an appearance.

Signature Tie Scarf

Signature Tie Scarf

Masculine Meets Feminine

Masculine Meets Feminine

Gown with Tie Detailing

Gown with Tie Detailing

Using your resources (especially the free ones) to build your brand

Often aspiring designers make the mistake of thinking that a runway show is necessary to build their brands. Before new designers realize it, they are in over their heads! Use your free resources such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to develop your message, product and following. Develop a minimal cost website and blog to further enhance your aesthetic.

Taking the time to celebrate your successes no matter how big or how small

Fashion moves fast.  It will be up to you to pat yourself on the back and enjoy your journey. Whether you are learning how to sew a french seam, selling your first tie on the streets of New York City or designing capsule collections for H&M, Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue – each accomplishment is important and will make your journey unique. For more on my experiences in the fashion industry, watch below:

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Kara Laricks is a regular contributor to the University of Fashion. She’s also a New York based women's wear and accessories designer. As the first winner of NBC's Fashion Star, Kara has designed collections for H&M, Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue. Her masculine meets feminine line, Kara Laricks, debuted at New York Fashion Week in 2012 and her S/S 2013 collection sold exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue. Kara's designs have been featured on the Today Show and HBO's True Blood as well as covered in Women's Wear Daily and on Kara holds Master's degrees in both Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Kansas and in Fashion Design from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. An educator turned designer, Kara is dedicated to supporting emerging designers and inspiring others to follow where dreams lead.