If you attended our AAS Reception in June, then you would have heard the lovely Candace Salim discuss her experiences in the Fashion Marketing AAS program, juggling school with part-time work and full-time parenting. I’m pretty sure she’s one of those people that squeeze 25 hours into a day. We’ll be keeping an eye out for her once she graduates.
Hi Candace, could you talk a little bit about where you’re from and what you did before. How did you end up coming to Parsons?
My family advised against going to fashion school when I was young because they didn’t think it’d be a “respected” career move; this may have been true at the time since I lived in the South, which didn’t boast a huge fashion industry. So, during undergrad I studied Sociology and Education, but started hosting small fashion shows on campus and soon created a PR/event planning company called Couture Angels Marketing Agency at age 21. However, I eventually put my dreams and passions to the side and started working a regular 9-5. Two years ago, I moved to NYC to do graduate work at Columbia University, but I really felt like I should give fashion another try. Without telling friends and family, I applied to Parsons, and when I was accepted, I was so overjoyed! I felt that I was finally going to embark on what I’d been denying myself for over ten years. And the reward has been amazing. I firmly believe that timing is everything and we are always right where we need to be.
What was your favorite course last semester?
My favorite course would have to be New York Trend Spotting which is taught by Professor Suzanne Piazza. I learned so much about fashion history, street style, and how to create fashion forecasting presentations. We took field trips to Doneger and Trend Union. My peers were from Brazil, Canada, Germany, and so many other places. The wealth of knowledge that I gained from working with an international group of students plus a renowned professor was immeasurable.
What was the most interesting project you’ve completed thus far?
My Trend Spotting course required me to stretch my creative muscle farther than I ever knew that I could! One of my favorite projects was my first fashion history presentation. We all chose a decade to study, and mine was the 1980s. I took a more “radical” approach and studied 80s Urban Street Style in NYC. My project focused on the influence of hip-hop in designer fashion, and vice-versa. I highlighted the historical Run DMC/Adidas endorsement, Yves St. Laurent’s use of Black models in his international shows, and much more! My peers and my Professor really enjoyed it.
Be honest, what were the best and worst things about moving to New York City?
Best things about living in NYC: bragging to all of my family back home that I live in the greatest city in the world! Meeting diverse people. Attending glamorous events. The food!
Worst things about living in NYC: Not having my car. The ridiculous rent prices. Being away from my family and friends back home.
Do you have any tips for incoming first-time New Yorkers?
Why, yes I do!
#1 – Pack light. NY is such a transient city that people are always moving in and moving out. Bring the basics and you can find the rest on Craigslist.
#2 – Be realistic. This is a tough place to live, but keep it all in perspective. You’re here for a purpose. Don’t let anything take you off of that course.
#3 – Explore! Once you drop your bags, head right back out and learn the neighborhood. Believe me, as a non-native New Yorker you’re normally in the majority and people are actually very willing to offer a helping hand!
I know you’ve done some online coursework? Did you feel it was as rigorous as your other courses?
My Spring 2012 online course was “Fashion Textile Survey” and was taught by Professor Tiffany Webber. Honestly, she was the best professor that I had this year! Although we never met in person I felt as though she knew me. She posted introductory videos of herself, held “virtual field trips” where she interviewed fashion industry professionals, and she provided an extensive syllabus with detailed instructions and rules. Also, she was always on hand to help. She replied to everyone personally each week and I learned so much!
Who in the industry do you hope to emulate?
I don’t actually hope to emulate anyone. I have a very unusual life story that has brought me to where I am today so because of that I had to blaze my own trail. The road less traveled is always more difficult because there isn’t a model to follow, but it’s always worth it in the end. Some of my favorite fashion industry professionals are: Andre Leon Talley, Tyra Banks, and Russell Simmons. I’m also a HUGE fan of the LVMH Group‘s business model and track record. They run the luxury world!
-by Victoria O’Neill-